Lolita Dresses – WTF?

Cosplay-Japan Expo 2012. Photo by Lomita. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

I was minding my own business on Facebook (hardy har), and all of a sudden – an ad for Lolita dresses popped up. Always a fan of Nabakov and a costume historian (and a healthy interest in the foibles of man), I decided to check out the link. As an aside – what, in my ever waning FB use patterns, indicated that I might be a potential consumer of this clothing? I am well over Lolita x 3 in age.


While I’m solidly rooted in the creation of authentic historic reproductions of dress, I appreciate theatrical costuming as well. The role dictates the clothes; the clothes make the role. I’m also well aware of the adoption of “Lolita” to refer to anything seedy and sexual with a youthful bent. I’m not the first to comment on this – check out The Fashion Culturist‘s “Lolita vs. Lolita” post for a comment on the Japanese Lolita “kawaii” (cute) phenom and Pink Chocolate’s Break on the different types of Japanese street fashion.

Huh? Gothic Lolita fashion, Tokyo, 2013. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.


But the clothing is hilarious. Lolita’s rather hum-drum small-town New Hampshire upbringing pales in comparison to her new identity: goth-French-maid-sheep-herder-sailor-wild-West-madam-cocktail-waitress.

One of the first times Humbert sees Lolita, from the bathroom window of the Haze house, he describes her appearance:

Thursday. Very warm day. From a vantage point (bathroom window) saw Dolores taking things off a clothesline in the apple-green light behind the house. Strolled out. She wore a plaid shirt, blue jeans and sneakers.” (41)

Poor Lo hardly lives up to her tribute.

Check out this Wiki-how on how to “Become a Lifestyle Lolita.” I love number 10.

Photo: Pink Chocolate Break

10. Have good hygiene. Remember to always be clean: run a comb through your hair, keep your nails dirt-free and neat, brush your teeth and bathe/shower. When spraying perfume, be sure to use just enough, but not too much. Excessive use of perfume isn’t attractive and does not improve your hygiene, despite popular belief. Being clean is important; being grubby isn’t lifestyle lolita at all, and isn’t pleasing. Never have greasy hair. It is gross and very ita-lolita.

Humbert Humbert himself notes “Although I do love that intoxicating brown fragrance of hers, I really think she should wash her hair once in a while.” (43)

All this would leave Dolores Haze scratching her head.


About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.