Lolita Fashion – An Extraordinary and Captivating Japanese Trend

Von John Griffith / October 12 2018

When it comes to unique (and sometimes puzzling) trends, Japan is the world’s undisputed champion. The country that gave us anime, instant ramen, and video games, is also the home of many original and highly expressive fashion trends. Arguably, the most popular among them is the Lolita style. Characterized by clothes and accessories inspired by historical children’s garments, this unique way of dressing has become a major alternative subculture in the Land of The Rising Sun. So much so, in fact, that it currently has dozens of different sub variations – the Classic Lolita, the Sweet Lolita, and the Gothic Lolita are only a few of the many choices available to aspiring fashionistas.

In this article, we would like to invite you on a journey into the colorful – and sometimes strange – world of lolita fashion. Join us as we explore the origins of this extraordinary style and identify some of it’s most popular varieties.

Welcome to the world of Lolita fashion!

tights decorated with white patterns, and a knee-length pale blue dress, with lots of flounces and frills, worn by a slim brunette japanese woman

Frills, bows, lace, and cute patterns are an absolute must when it comes to Lolita fashion

lolita fashion, off-white dress, with beige and brown motifs, worn over a pale pink shirt, with frilly sleeves, by a pale slim woman, in a brunette wig, featuring side buns

A short documentary, exploring the social significance of Lolita fashion

Gothic Lolita – like goths, but cuter

gothic lolita dress in black, worn by a pale girl, with faux elf ears, and a platinum blonde wig

The origins of Lolita fashion date back to 1960s Osaka, where like-minded young people began creating and wearing apparel inspired by Victorian garments. During the 70s and 80s the trend grew, giving rise to clothing brands such as Baby The Stars Shine Bright and Angelic Pretty. By the 1990s Lolita style was already a well-established streetwear subculture that had followers all over Japan and internationally.

The Lolita style holds a special place in the new history of Japanese fashion

A Classic Lolita in a cutesy caped coat

caped coat in beige plaid, with a red bow near the neck, worn by a brunette girl, in a white knitted baret, lolita fashion

Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Lolita variations! The Princess Lolita is first on our list, because it’s one of the most popular styles.

The Princess Lolita – a delicate and doll-like beauty (with plenty of frills!)

baby blue and white dress, with lace and frills, decorated with ribbons and bows, lolita fashion, worn by a girl, in a long platinum blonde wig, with faux flowers and a veil

The Princess Lolita is a very oppulent and colorful style, inspired by doll outfits and baroque fashion. Dresses of this type feature lots of lace, frills, ribbons, bows and flower motifs. The the preferred colors are white, baby pink and blue. The accessories are usually pearl necklaces, floral crowns and bonnets, miniature crowns, and lacy parasols. It’s a great choice for ultra feminine ladies who want to awaken their inner princess!

Transform yourself into a living doll

tiered dress with lace incerts and flounces, featuring a floral pattern, in pink and green, lolita fashion on a girl, wearing a florak bonnet, with faux flowers, and a long ash blond wig

If the Princess Lolita attire is not cute enough for you, we have the solution – the Sweet Lolita style. This look turns adorableness up to eleven! It features candy colored doll-like clothes and shoes, peppered with cutesy prints, frills and bows. Wigs in pink and blue hues are a very common accessory for Sweet Lolitas, as are DIY pendants featuring small plastic toys. The aim of ths style is to look as cute as humanly possible, so there is no such thing as too much pink, or too many adorable ornaments! If you’re not turning heads wherever you go – you’re not doing it right!

Being yourself requires a lot of confidence! This is especially true for Lolitas:

A charming example of a Sweet Lolita

hot pink wig, with straight bangs and curls, on a smiling girl, dressed in a pastel pink, lolita fashion coat

Note the doll-like shoes and patterned tights

pastel pink lolita fashion coat, with faux fur trims, on a girl wearing a hot pink wig, and a cream dress with light blue motifs

The Gothic Lolita is another very popular version, intended for edgier ladies, who like a bit of darkness in their life. This style features elements of the goth aesthetics, paired up with elegant feminine clothing. The result is an intriguing mash-up, that is both intimidating and cute. Gothic lolita dresses and accessories are predominantly black, burgundy red, navy, or dark purple, and feature elements such as corsets, sheer black veils, and cameo brooches.

Girls explain why they became fans of the Lolita fashion:

A beautiful Gothic Lolita

serious looking gir, with dark curled hair, dressed in a black, gothic lolita dress, with a lace up detail, and frilly sheer sleeves

The Gothic Lolita subculture has become very popular in the West in recent years

slim young woman, with long brunette hair, wearing a frilly, black gothic lolita dress, with a cameo brooch

So you want to be a Lolita? This video has some helpful tips on how to get started:

Fans of Chinese culture will appreciate the Qi Lolita style – a look inspired by the Qipao (cheongsam) dress. These garments come in a rich variety of colors, and feature red tassels, high collars, and traditional prints with elements such as penoies and dragons.

A lovely example of a Qi Lolita

chinese inspired gothic lolita, in a black sleeveless dress, with grey and white dragon print, and red details

The Steampunk Lolita look is perfect for ladies who love adventure, but also have a soft spot for vintage, feminine clothing. Think of it as a combination between a graceful Vicotrian princess and Indiana Jones! Corsets are a popular accessory for this look, as are antique looking goggles and jewelry featuring gears and bolts.

A Steampunk Gothic Lolita

leather corset in black, with several belts, worn over a striped dress, in purple and black, by a smiling young gothic lolita, with faux flowers, and a venetian mask in her hair

So far we’ve briefly examined the classic and most widely spread Lolita variations. Now, let’s take a short look at a few truly bizzare styles! The Military Lolita is a great example – it blends cutesy and ultra-feminine apparel, with sharp Napoleonic military uniforms and accessories. The predominat colors are black, dark grey, navy blue and deep green, while the decorations can include black leather gloves, epaulettes, faux (or authentic) soldier medals, and decorative canes.

Fierce meets cute – the Military Lolita

kane held by a young pale woman, dressed in a black military style, gothic lolita dress, with a shoulder cape

Kawaii army general

black-haired girl, wearing a gothic lolita dress, a long cape with epaulettes, black leather gloves, and a black leather cap

We have saved the best for last – the Hijab Lolita the most unexpected variation of all (and also our personal favorite)! It’s exactly what it sounds like – a lolita trend especially defelopped by and for Muslim girls. Adorable and feminine, it offers the perfect blend of cutesy Japanese aesthetics and Muslim sensibility, and is a great example of how fashion-driven subcultures can unite people all around the globe!

A Charming Hijab Lolita

what is lolita, two images showing a close up, and a medium shot, of a young woman, with a pastel colored hijab, dresed in a girly, pale blue patterned dress

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article! Of course, there are many more Lolita variations out there. Describing them all will probably fill an entire book. So instead of  bombarding you with text, we cordially invite you to take a look at our gallery. Have fun, and don’t forget to let us know which Lolita style is your favorite!

If you like Lolita fashion, but would like to keep things more subtle and casual – this is the dress for you!

laughing slim young woman, with wavy ginger hair, wearing an off-white lace mini dress, with a black ribbon, what is lolita

teenage girl in a pale blue wig, dressed in a pastel blue dress, with pastel pink and gold motifs, what is lolita, matching pastel parasol with frills

garden with pink blossoms, behind a girl in a blonde wig, wearing a white frilly dress, decorated with a subtle rose pattern, she holds a fan and a pink parasol

wavy platinum blonde hair, on a pale woman, wearing an extravagant black hat, with large feathers and faux flowers, black gothic dress, large bouquet of pale pink, and purple flowers

A charming Lolita dress in navy and white

navy blue dress, with lace trims, and ribbon details, decorated with several small bows, worn over a frilly cream shirt, what is lolita fashion

You can never have too many lace petticoats and frills!

close up of a circular, pale pink skirt, with cute white and beige, blue and yellow motifs, what is lolita, worn over white patterned tights

carousel near a young woman, dressed in a violet dress, with lace trims, a sailor-style collar, and a dark blue bow, what is lolita, white opaque tights

baby blue dress, with lots of frills, a peter pan collar, lace trims and small bows, what is lolita, worn by a slim young woman, with dark blonde pigtails

Sweet Lolita makeup (and head gear)

glossy pink lipstick, white and pink eye shadow, and white hand-drawn freckles, shaped like stars, on the face of a young woman, wearing a blue wig, what is lolita, two plush toys on her head

two girls dressed in gothic lolita dresses, brown and black shirts, worn under patterned pinafores, a large bow and a black hat

brunette woman with long smooth hair, dressed in a black corset, over a black tiered dress, lolita fashion, black knitted tights

Sailor motifs are often used in Japanese school uniforms. This inspired the creation of the Sailor Lolita style

front and back view of a dress, in white and navy, resembling a sailor's uniform, lolita fashion, white lace incerts, ribbons and bows

lolita style dress, made from black lace, with a purple detail, two bows and a cameo brooch, on a mannequin

cross detail in black, on a black and white, lolita style dress, featuring a long white collar and cuffs, lace trims and a black belt

A ghostly pale Gothic Lolita

slender girl in a white wig, wearing a black and white dress, with white collar and cuffs, lace trim and a cross detail, lolita style

velour lolita style dress in black, with frilly sleeves, and a lace up corset detail, small face veil made from black mesh, and a large black hair bow

grey wig with bangs, worn by a pale slim girl, dressed in a blue and white frilly skirt, and a white blouse with flounces, lolita style outfit, cream frilly parasol

We love this living doll costume

doll-like lolita style outfit, featuring a voluminous, frilly pale pink dress, a straw hat decorated with faux flowers, and a basket bag, worn by a woman with a curly ginger wig, and exaggerated makeup

purple and white lolita style dress, with black details, frills and bows, worn by a slim girl, seen from two angles

braided brunette hair, on a smiling girl, dressed in a white and beige gown, decorated with a print featuring houses

Deinty Lolita gown in cream with cute black bows

define lolita, dress in white and cream, decorated with multiple black bows, and featuring frills, a peter pan collar, and a lace bib detail

old ripped ornamental wallpaper, behind a young woman, in a black wig, wearing a black and white dress, with frills and a bow, define lolita

bib detail on a white shirt, featuring a black bow around the collar, define lolita, black frilled high-waisted skirt

White or angelic lolitas often wear cross motifs

white dress with bell-shaped sleeves, a corset-like lace-up detail, and a large collar, featuring gold details, and cross motifs, define lolita, on a girl, wearing a brunette wig

belted corset detail, on a strappy dress, with a full skirt and frills, in purple and black, define lolita, pale grey background

frilly black dress, with lace trims, worn over black, meshy sheer tights, with floral shapes, define lolita, on a young woman with black hair, and red lipstick

Everything must be cute!

sweet lolita dress, in pale purple, off white and cream, worn by a girl, in a straw blonde wig, holding a pink frilly parasol

baroque inspired dress, in pale blue, with a tiered skirt, light peach pink bows, and lots of white lace, worn by a pale and slender girl, with light brunette hair

six different lolita dresses, in dark navy and black, pink and white, with patterns and bows and lace trims, define lolita, girl in a blonde wig, wearing a frilly red dress

long brunette hair, on a pale girl, wearing a black frilly dress, with a black corset, and white tights, define lolita, black shoes with multiple straps, and a cameo brooch

Fall outfit for a Classic Lolita

japanese lolita, in a light grey mini dress, featuring a white bib detail, a peter pan collar, and a bow on the waist line, grey over-the-knee socks, with black polka dots and bows

giant book behind a girl, in a long curled brunette wig, with straight bangs, wearing a light peach pink and white dress, with cutesy print, frills and bows, sweet lolita

sheer black veil, with lace trim, worn over a pale purple dress, with a black pattern, japanese lolita outfit, with black shoes and opaque tights

A beautiful, burgundy velvet gown with gold embroidery

velvet dress in burgundy, with gold print, worn over a black lacy shirt, by a japanese lolita, in a long blonde wig, decorated with a miniature crown

v-neck pinafore dress, in dark navy blue, featuring white lace and decorative bows, worn over a frilly white blouse, by a japanese lolita, with long dark brunette hair

red wig with curls and side bangs, worn by a young woman, in a floral pink sweet lolita dress, with white lace sleeves

Pretty in white

bonnet in white, with lacy frills, worn by a japanese lolita, in a tiered, off-the-shoulder white lace dress

fake roses in cream, decorating the black hair of a japanese lolita, dressed in a white tiered dress, with lace and frills

lipstick in red and black eyeliner, on a pale young woman, wearing a blue dress, and a matching blue bow in her hair

Which Lolita style is your favorite?

examples of the gothic and sweet lolita styles, five girls in different lolita dresses, pale blue and pink, black and light violet, multicolored with frills and cutesy pattens

muslim sweet lolita, in a pale pink hijab, wearing a black dress, with a cutesy pattern in pastel colors

very pale japanese lolita, with pink eyeshadow and lipstick, seen in close up, wearing a semi sheer, frilly blouse and a black lace bonnet

Fancy or cute?

side by side comparison, of two japanese lolita styles, kuro lolita dressed in all black, and gothic lolita in a black and white mini dress, with patterned pink over-the-knee socks

parasol in black, and a coffer bag, carried by a gothic style lolita, with a black lace bonnet, dressed in a wine red velvet coat, over a black and red dress, featuring a corset

pattern in white, decorating a black dress, with a frilled hem, worn by a slim woman, with long brunette hair

Gothic, classic and sweet Lolitas

variations of the lolita style, gothic lolita dressed in black, classic lolita in a burgundy dress, with lace trims, and a sweet lolita, in a pastel pink and blue gown, with a sheer white veil

blonde wig with pigtails, worn by a slim girl, dressed in a teal dress, with a white and pink pattern, large teal bow in her hair

black frilly dress, with a velvet corset detail, worn by a pale girl, with long brunette hair

Although it was invented for young girls, Lolita fashion is popular among all genders and age groups

oatmeal colored lolita dress, with a cream lace bib detail, and a belt featuring a rose motif, worn over opaque, white and gold tights

crow props held by a girl, dressed in a grey lolita outfit, with a white collar, lace details and small dark bows, frilly bonnet and a cross necklace

several bows and a pink pattern, decorating a white frilly sweet lolita dress, worn by a slim girl, in a long strawberry blonde wig

Gorgeous outfit in black and white

mural of an antique wooden door, behind a girl, dressed in a black and white lolita outfit, blouse with a frilly bib detail, and a black ribbon, tiered skirt with flounces

lavender colored short wig, on a girl wearing a black dress, with white trims, and a print depicting cats holding crosses

short pink wig, featuring pigtails decorated with white bows, on a pale girl, dressed in a cream dress, with a frilly white collar, and a pattern with colorful donuts and sweets

We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection!

cross motifs on a black bonnet, decorated with white lace trims, worn by a girl, in a long ash blonde wig, with a black and white lolita dress, featuring bell-shaped sleeves, frills and bows

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