LBC: Creating a Cohesive Coord

This week’s Lolita Blog Carnival challenge actually tied in well to a post I had been writing already, so it was just the push I needed to get my butt in gear and finish it by the deadline: today! I’m sorry that it’s so long, but I felt I had a lot to say on the subject and just couldn’t bring myself to cut any more than this (^^)

Cohesion is an essential part of Lolita fashion. A coordinate without cohesion isn’t, well, coordinated. Luckily, I feel that achieving balance and harmony is more science than art, so it can be explained. There are three major elements to unifying a coord: color, style, and theme. These three elements, when working together, bring pieces together to create cohesive outfits.

Color

The easiest way to unify a coordinate is through color, especially with regard to matching both shade and pigment and to balancing the colors throughout the coord. In the above example, the mismatched reds give a disorganized effect which is emphasized when they are all presented in a solid block of color on the torso. Additionally, the colors in the first coord are out of balance. The accent color, red, is only found in the top half of the coord while the lower half is entirely ivory. Luckily, color balance is usually easily achieved with just a few tweaks and added accessories. Think of the coord as being divided into five sections: the skirt, the upper torso, the head, the legs/feet, and the arms/hands. A fairly foolproof method of achieving balance is to choose one to three colors from the skirt, then to ensure that those colors are represented in roughly equal proportions in the other four sections.

To rectify these issues, I started by removing the most clearly mismatched reds; the cutsew and the headbow. I replaced them with neutrals to break up the remaining red blocks thus deemphasizing the difference between them. Next, I designated an accent color based on my availabile accessories. I chose chocolate brown in this case. The headbow I had chosen already had a fair amount of brown on it, so my color was already represented on the skirt and head. I switched the shoes out for brown ones to add my accent to the leg area, then I chose a matching chocolate necklace and ring from ShinyStuffCreations to cover the upper torso and hands, respectively. The result is a much more unified and balanced coord.

Style

Every Lolita item will be (at least) one of the major styles: Gothic, Classic, and/or Sweet. One of the most frequent beginner mistakes that I encounter is incorporating an item of the wrong style into a coord simply because the colors match. It is essential to a coord’s cohesion that each item match the overall style. Personally, I find it especially jarring when one very Sweet piece is incorporated into a Gothic or Classic coord, like black tea party shoes paired with a mature Gothic JSK, for example. I find that the more juvenile Sweet item throws off the elegance of the rest of the pieces involved. In the coordinate above, I illustrated this by pairing it with a very Sweet Angelic Pretty purse in a black color way. The result is disjointed, despite the black working well with the coord’s other colors. By replacing the bag with a Classic-styled one, the coord becomes unified.

Theme

An outfit’s theme can manifest in several ways. Most obviously there are themes which are so frequently seen in Lolita that some people classify them as their own styles (sailor or princess, for example). It’s easy to understand why a crown could work for a hime coord but might seem out of place in a sailor coord even if it matched in color and style. However, there are more subtle variations on this scenario. In my example above, I’ve used the Chocomint star clip that everyone seems to own and paired it with two Sweet JSKs; Blooming Garden and the Ticking Clock. I wouldn’t recommend pairing the clip with Blooming Garden even if the coord incorporated gold accents because a night star seems strange when paired with the dress, which invokes images of a Rose garden on a Spring afternoon. On the other hand, it pairs perfectly with the Ticking Clock, which already has star details throughout the dress. In fact, considering these sorts of repeating motifs when accessorizing can work wonders in unifying a coord, especially if it uses more than one accent color. When working with a printed main piece, consider the theme of that print. Often the theme can be repeated in lace (lace on Lolita blouses usually contains motifs like stars or flowers), headwear, and jewelry. Continuing the same pattern in many places throughout the coord can add subtle dimension and is excellent for this detail-oriented fashion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on other ways to create cohesion and balance in a coordinate, since I’m sure I’ve missed at least a few things. Feel free to comment below, and read through this week’s other posts for different perspectives!

Cupcake Kamisama’s Lolita World

How to Lolita: Building a Basic Coordinate

Hello, all! So I want to apologize in advance for what will definitely be a pretty long post. One of my goals in creating this blog is to provide detailed information on how to get started in Lolita. It seems to me that I should begin with the most basic and fundamental aspect of being a Lolita: coording! I’m generally mechanically-minded and the way that I coordinate outfits is decidedly formulaic, which has advantages and disadvantages. A major advantage is that my thinking is fairly simple to explain and does result in some nice outfits. I think at the very least it’s a great way for beginners to get the hang of Lolita fashion. I have a few methods for building coords, but this one is easiest and fastest. It can be done in just four steps, and typically takes me about 5 to 15 minutes to throw together a passable outfit. I’m planning on covering methods for creating more complicated coords as well as including contributions from friends in various styles, but I thought it would be best to have some basic information here too so it can be referenced later.

Think of a coord as having three to four layers. The bottom layer is foundation garments, which for me includes bloomers, petticoats, a bra, a camisole, and sometimes a corset. Next is my base layer, which usually consists of just a blouse and legwear. Third, I have my main piece; a skirt, JSK, or OP. The fourth (and totally optional) layer is outerwear, usually a coat, cardigan, bolero, or cape. For true beginners, these pieces are covered in way more detail at the Lolita Guidebook.

Step 1: Normally, when I’m planning a coordinate, the first thing I choose is my main piece. Whether it’s a solid color, an all-over pattern, or a print, this will probably be the focal point. Once you have your main piece, you can determine whether you’ll be creating a Classic, Gothic, or Sweet coord. For my example, I’ll be starting out with a skirt that is firmly planted in Sweet territory.

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Step 2: Next, I use my main piece to determine what color my base layer should be. The blouse and legwear don’t necessarily need to match each other in every coordinate of course, but for this method I match both to the color of the lace on the main piece, in this case white. Remember, matching both style and color is extremely important to the overall finished look! Plain white tights would be perfectly acceptable here, but I think that having patterned tights or OTKs make the completed coord look a little more polished. I choose a white blouse and printed white OTKs that match the color scheme of the skirt, making sure that both suit the Sweet style.img_3210

 

Step 3: At this point, I decide on an accent color. Now, in this case it’s pretty simple because the only color in the main piece is red, so my accent color is naturally going to be red. Sometimes, especially with prints, there will be a few colors to choose from. Choose whichever you’d like, but stick with just one for this method. Once you’ve decided on your accent color, choose shoes, a bag, and headwear that use that color, again being sure to consider the overall style. I definitely get a Summery vibe from what I have so far, so I try to echo that in my choices.

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At this point we’re nearly done. The last step s to accessorize. This is where the concept of color balance comes into play, so I’ll explain that briefly before I continue.

In order to ensure that a coord is balanced, think of it as being divided into five sections: head, torso, arms (including hands), skirt, and legs (including feet). The idea is just to ensure that the accent color is represented in all five sections.

Step four: In this case, there’s no red on the torso yet and the arms are completely bare, so we’ll have to correct that! I do notice that the socks have strawberries on them and I don’t want them to be the only strawberries in the whole coordinate as that might look a little strange. Echoing motifs from a printed piece (stars for a sky print, for example) is generally a good idea. I start looking for red strawberry accessories for the arms and torso. It doesn’t take me long to find a few.

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So there you have it! It may not be the most innovative coord in the world, but it’s totally acceptable to wear to a meet. This is my go-to method when I need to get ready in a hurry or when I’m just feeling uninspired. As long as you pay close attention to the style of each piece and make sure that any print motifs appear a few times throughout the coord, it should yield some nice results.

Happy coording!