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.
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.
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.
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!