In 2016, despite promising myself I would blog more often, I just didn't get around to it, and I regret that. I worried too much about what to post, whether anyone would find it interesting, and what I wanted to write about. So the only thing I ended up writing about was Wicked and Whimsy in the summer. I know I keep saying it, but this year I want to change that by having a better plan. I have a blog writing app on my phone now, which I'll use to make drafts and notes; I have a better camera to use; and I have a list of "lolita lifestyle" and creative activities to give me inspiration; as well as talking about my pursuits in the world of illustration. So I'll split each post into two halves, and you can read either, both, or neither!
Part one: life and illustration
Instead of New Year's resolutions, I discovered #MyOneWord, choosing just one word to live your year by. I knew within a couple of hours of thinking about it on NYE that my word is "opportunity" – it terrifies and excites me all at the same time, so it took a full week into this before I accepted it. So far, I'm not living the word every day, but using it to push myself and branch out.
Interestingly, my tarot summary card this year is the Hermit, which seems opposite to this. The Hermit is all about introspection, solitude, and seeking wisdom. I'm still fairly new to tarot reading, so if anyone has other insights into this card, I'd be interested to hear them! Weirdly, the card relates to the number 9 (my birthday) and to Virgo, so I feel it's definitely a sign.
|It's fun to customise your journal. I added postcards from Paperchase, charms from Miyaabi London, and lots of stickers and paper that my friend brought me back from China. The opening page features the word I chose at the beginning of the year.|
This year, I started a Hobonichi – a special Japanese tiny journal/scrapbook to log every day events to look back on. What I want to achieve with the journal and this blog, is something more thought out and interesting to look back on at the end of the year, than just an Instagram feed. I looked at many options before I settled on this type of notebook, such as Filofax, bullet journals, and moleskine, but in the end the Hobonichi just felt right. Each page has its own day attached to it, it's incredibly charming, and there is a great online community with inspiring ways other people have used theirs.
|A spread from this week – my written pages aren't pretty, but I'm practising|
My year has had its ups and downs. I lost my part time job as the company I worked for suffered in the economy, and my health conditions prevented me from staying in a full time one a month after, but being "forced" into full time freelance has been the best challenge so far - scary and financially difficult, but it has given me confidence and the realisation that while my work is far from perfect, it is good enough.
|Some of the pieces created and exhibited this year.|
My work featured in Neo magazine and MYM, and I was part of the J-Style UK exhibition in London this summer. I created illustrations for children's educational books, which was my first real illustration gig – bearing in mind I graduated 5 years ago, it has been a slow journey, but a lot of that was me beating myself up about my work not being good enough, being too scared to approach potential clients, and "keeping my head down" in unfulfilling graphic design and typesetting work. Who knows, if I had more energy to commute to Oxford every day, I might never have realised my potential. I'm crossing my fingers that this will continue.
My last illustration:
|"Omnia Vanitas" for Street Fashion Europe|
I created an illustration for the art exhibition that makes up part of Omnia Vanitas, the Street Fashion Europe event in Barcelona. It's the longest amount of time I've spent on any one piece, and also my favourite image to date. I'd love nothing more than to be able to create this type of artwork all the time. You can view a larger version here.
Part two: lolita fashion and lifestyle
|My Christmas coord with Cirque Du L'étoile|
I'm not alone in thinking 2016 was a disappointing year in lolita. I had a blog post drawn up of a top ten list of new releases, and I could only think of eight, that I wasn't even that excited by. I saved money for Angelic Pretty's Cirque Du L'étoile, which I do love, but even that doesn't feel as exciting as 2015's Chess Emblem or British Bear (both of which I missed out on). I think the brands are just releasing a lot of new pieces all the time, and I don't want to call it a cash-grab situation – I'm really happy if they're doing well – but it's almost like lolita is turning into a fast-fashion with less well executed designs and more of a focus on wearing pieces to grand events.
Instead this year I bought plain pieces, Taobao, and 2nd hand. A lot of releases for me have been too busy, OTT, or just not my style, which has led me to feel apathetic towards lolita fashion in general, and I think it doesn't help that a lot of my wardrobe is bordering on OTT and therefore difficult to wear on a daily basis. I'm changing that by making more by hand and looking out for more cutsews and skirts.
|Leur Getter ♡ images from twitter.com/leur_osaka|
I love Otome Kei fashion, but often the designs go for two or even three times that of a lolita dress, even second hand. Its also harder to put an outfit together as it relies more on an individual sense of cohesion and not rules to follow. It's funny, I feel like Otome Kei is becoming what lolita used to be; it has a calm, soft and demure feeling about it.
|Larmé Fashion Brands image from mitsuru-hime.blogspot.co.uk|
I've also become interested in Larmé fashion this year, although so far have just put one outfit together; I'm mainly reading Larmé magazine and following related instagram accounts. I'm trying to build up a Larmé wardrobe using only UK high street pieces, which is fun to hunt for but not always exactly what I want.
|Local Heroes. I discovered them in Selfridges and love their style.|
I'm interested in young UK fashion brands too, and dreaming of exploring brands like Sister Jane, Lazy Oaf and Local Heroes in the future. Whenever I have enough money to go shopping, I always end up saying to myself, "I could buy a lolita blouse/jsk/accessory for this price". While that has helped me to build a lolita wardrobe, it has kept me from expressing myself in other ways and stopped my style from evolving, so I want to change that when I can.
My last look
|A little OTT, but cosy for January weather|
I wore a Mary Magdalen OP to Milton Keynes to go shopping for New Year's bargains. MK is a big shopping mall in a town with about a hundred roundabouts, which makes it confusing to drive to. There isn't much in the way of alternative fashion there at all, but it's the one place I never get hassled wearing lolita. One person told me they liked what I was wearing once, and the rest of the time it's ignored, so it's easier than Birmingham or Oxford in that regard. I ended up just getting a Pusheen pencil case and reduced pouch, but I had been on the lookout for the former for a while, so I was happy!
|I had to save the label! Pusheen is so cute|
My last make
|The fabric. I wish I'd bought enough for a dress now, but I wanted a small project.|
I'm in the process of making a skirt to go with a brown Innocent World bustier, and found this fabric which is perfect for it. Cats, macarons and Paris themes in cream and dusty pastels – I'm sold! I just need to finish the hem, iron, and remove the tacking stitches now, but I decided at the last moment it needed lace. I don't have enough to hand, so I'm waiting for a Taobao order that won't get here for another month. It will be worth it in the end!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
I promise not all my posts will be this long, I felt I had a lot to write about this time.
Do you have any New Year resolutions, and are you managing to stick to them? Or are you part of the #MyOneWord crowd too?
Do you have thoughts on the direction lolita is moving in, and last year's releases? Are you experimenting with new fashions too?
Let me know if your part of the Hobonichi / journal / Filofax crowd! So many people think it's odd to keep a diary these days so it's nice to meet others that are interested.