Wa Lolita

Wa Lolita 101

Wa, the dread beast of lolita. Metamorphose and Taobao have been stepping up their game in recent years, but mixing two sets of complicated rules makes for a confusing turnout most of the time.

This is a relatively new substyle so there is ample room for experimentation. This post will briefly cover each approach to the style, listing known brands/sources and some pros and cons.

metamorphose_waloli_single
Metamorphose – Romantic Kimono

I. Wa-lolita releases by brands

Of the main JP brands, Metamorphose (left) is known for producing wa releases.

This is the easiest style to wear.

Other notable brands:

  • Triple Fortune (Japanese indie, has international resellers)
  • Souffle Song/Neverland (Chinese indie. Offers international shipping.)
  • Fanplusfriend (Chinese indie; some releases have dubious trim or color combinations. Offers int’l shipping.)
  • Grove Deer (Chinese indie, new. Requires a Taobao shopping service.)
  • Excalibur (Chinese indie, new. Requires a Taobao shopping service.)

Pros:

  • typical lolita styling, usually of the classic or gothic variety: blouse, headgear, socks, and shoes.
  • easy to wear
  • Metamorphose’s wa releases usually have a very high resale value. They also have several cuts (shirred JSK, hakama-style (kimono Y-fold in front) and skirts.

Cons:

  • expense. The high resale value means that secondhand Metamorphose’s releases sell for even more than retail price.
  • Some indie brands are prone to construction flaws or use flimsy fabric that is unsuited to wafuku; if it is too light, the drape is different and it looks cheap
type2_haori_akari-DSC04218_w Akari – haori over an Angelic Pretty JSK, Bodyline underskirt and offbrand blouse

II. Wa lolita via haori

There are wafuku items made to be worn as outerwear: haori and  michiyuki are the most common. With a bit of tweaking they can fit over light to medium poof.

This is the 2nd easiest style to wear.

Brand new, wafuku is expensive, but luckily there are lots of places that sell them secondhand.

Pros:

  • depending on the colors and design of your haori, you can make coords in a variety of substyles. Since it is just outerwear, a lot of the details will come from your own accessories.
  • super convenient and easy to wear. If you feel too warm, you can remove it without any fuss because you still have your regular lolita clothes underneath.
  • generally more affordable than full-length kimono robes.

Cons:

  • some haori are very long; pay close attention to the length! The longer it is, the more difficult it will be to wear with poofy skirts.
type3_kimono

Chihiro – coordinating a tomesode kimono with a Bodyline skirt

III. Wa lolita via kimono

 As kimonos come in long lengths, the excess must be folded to suit the wearer. In the case of wa, there are several ways to fold the kimono to fit a full skirt.

However most kimono are made of heavy fabric and are fully lined, making them difficult to fold and manipulate.

  1. a JSK or hakama-style with a high waisted skirt with no obi (least difficult)
  2. add an obi and leave the hem hanging outside to mimic a short top (bit more difficult)
  3. add an ohashori fold (pictured left- it looks easy but there was much tucking, tugging, and cussing involved)

Pros:

  • This is about as traditional as you can get. Wa-lolita releases from indie brands tend to get several details wrong or make the thing look costumey, but real kimonos have beautifully textured fabric and elaborate designs.
  • If you’re from a colder climate, the layering will keep you nice and toasty.

Cons:

  • ‘Toasty’ in the tropics translates to ‘death in a fire’. The long and short of it is it doesn’t work for warmer climates.
  • The more formal and/or elaborate your kimono is, the more important it is that you have all the necessary accessories and undergarments. Soft fabrics have a different drape and tend to hug the body, so having a juban under-layer is much more important.
  • There is no way to ‘normalize’ this sort of outfit. You cannot just remove a layer- if you get tired or too hot, you will have to change out of the outfit altogether.
type4_yukata_tumblr_oatyto4TOF1trg65uo4_1280

 Yuu – coordinating a yukata with a skirt from Little Dipper

IV. Wa lolita via yukata

Yukata are light cotton robes favored for summer wear. They come in a huge variety of colors and are layering-friendly even for warmer countries.

This is the 3rd easiest style to wear, folding the excess underneath. The same process applies as kimono, except with less fuss because of the crispness of the fabric.

  1. a JSK or hakama-style with a high waisted skirt with no obi (easy)
  2. add an obi and leave the hem hanging outside to mimic a short top (pictured left- bit more difficult)
  3. add an ohashori fold (challenging but doable as the cotton is easy to fold)

Pros:

  • God bless cotton. Light, breathable, washable (note that this does not mean the print on cotton is washable- do a patch test), dries quickly, and holds a pleasing crisp fold- what more do you want?

Cons:

  • Not recommended for beginners. Little details matter to the overall balance of the outfit- getting the length or shade of an item slightly wrong may throw the whole coordinate ‘off’.
  • There is no way to ‘normalize’ this sort of outfit. You cannot just remove a layer- if you get tired or too hot, you will have to change out of the outfit altogether.
  • You may end up with a ‘tourist kimono’ instead of a real yukata- read up on parts of the kimono on sites such as Wafuku so you don’t end up with a fake!
  • Some of the prints can be garish and/or difficult to match; pick one that goes with your wardrobe!
hayajiro-2 Hayajiro – a military coordinate given a Wa touch with a yukata

V. Wa lolita via accessories

Unlike the other types, this is mostly a ‘normal’ coordinate with the addition of an accessory usually associated with kitsuke, such as a belt.

An obi, obijime, or kanzashi can be worked into one of the other substyles. The effect ranges from subtle to OTT depending on the formality and colors of the items used.

Pros:

  • follows typical lolita styling rules; in the example above the ‘base’ coordinate is Military
  • accessories are easy to remove to shift into ‘low-key’ mode from OTT

Cons:

  • debatable if this style is truly ‘wa’ as it is much less defined than the above examples.

2 thoughts on “Wa Lolita 101

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