September 25, 2016

2016/09/16 Chocolate afternoon in Prague

Finally going to a lolita fashion meetup after over two years break! I travelled to our capital, beautiful historical city Prague, to meet organized by Mitsu and Yuki. It looked like the whole country is going to have a rainy day, but a sudden weather change gave us chance for our photoshoot!

September 24, 2016

LBC: Skills every lolita should have

Its not actually necessary to have any particular skills to wear lolita fashion clothing - yeah you read it right, its actually 'wearing clothing'. Even a four year old can do it! However there certainly are skills advantageous to have! 

Kaya, famous 4 year old lolita from Japan

  • Refined taste made it to the top of my list due to it's impact on how the fashion is seen. Without taste, you are going to end up hot mess regardless of your amount of brand. On the other hand, with refined taste you can look fabulous without even single brand piece!

  • Patience is important with any niche hobby. It takes time to find resources, skim the sales groups for a decently priced dress, waiting for a release you'd like instead of jumping at first dress you come across, or waiting for your package from across the globe.. it would drive you crazy if you were not a patient person!

  • Frugality is on par with patience. Saving up for an expensive dress requires good expense managment. Getting local opaque tights and faux pearl bracelet instead of splurging on brand OTKs and plastic jewelry is an excellent example of frugality. Most of lolitas are middle class people with jobs or studying and have to actually put money aside for lolita, so we have to be efficient with what we spend the money on.

  • Computer skills come handy on many occasions. Maybe I'm overrating computers, but for us people outside Japan it would be outright impossible to be lolitas without internet. It's usually how we found about the fashion, how we shop for our clothes and how we keep in contact with friends. Its also handy to know how to autotranslate foreign shop pages, adjust your tumblr layout or personify your blog to meet your ideas... lolitas greatly benefit from being proficient with computers.

  • Photography is another important skill related to community aspect of niche fashion. Who wouldn't want to share the joy of a great outfit with their online friends? Bad time to realize you have a cheap smartphone for your only camera and no idea how to pose or enhance images. You may also want to simply keep a diary of daily outfits, take some detail pictures for your blog or decent photos for a sales post. Knowing basics of photography is in no way necessary in the era of smartphone cameras, but it certainly makes the picture better! Look up my tips for better outfit photos!

  • Makeup actually comes into play before photography is taken. Even if you're lone lolita, photoshop has its limits if you want to look natually beautiful. Additionally, fancy clothes just need decent make-up and hair care for finished look. I'm not a fan of circle lenses or false eyelashes, but at least some care should be given to the face for coherent look.

  • Housework doesn't sound very useful for dressing up, but in the long run really helps. How many times you end up wondering how you should store your precious dresses, if that elastic wont stretch out, how to clean that little spot on your shoes, or if you can just throw that expensive blouse into a washing machine? Upkeep of such fancy clothing is demanding and errors are costy, so previous experience certainly helps

  • Sewing is a bit specific to be thrown into housework. In no way required, though still advantageous to have. One doesnt have to be a trained seamstress to benefit from sewing. Bloomers and small knick-knacks are easy for a beginner. Brooches, bracelets, decorating a beret or sewing a strip of lace to your socks.. there's numerous small ways to get accessories cheaply and save your money for the big pieces!

  • Bonus skill: Manners! Rather a skill every person should have, its doubly saddening to see a beautifully dressed person misbehaving.. maybe just a pet peeve of mine, though I really think good manners go a long way, even if people without manners wont see the difference.

September 14, 2016

7 steps for great outfit photo

Far from being a professional photographer, I nevertheless got much better in handling a camera since I joined the fashion. I'm particularly invested in outfit photos, to keep a nice memory of my dresses as well as to show friends what I like to wear. Here's seven basics to keep in mind while taking an oufit photo beginners could find useful.

1. Camera mode

Take a look at various settings of your camera. For a smartphone, its best to shoot using timer so you have time to move the phone and raise your gaze. Cameras tend to have time lapse mode where they automatically shoot a photo every x seconds. That is ideal because you aim, shoot first photo then go stand in front of camera and you can take pictures as long as you want to without having to go back behind the camera.

2. Camera settings

Look into camera's settings for these crucial options:

  • File size: the bigger the better, you can always make it smaller later.
  • ISO: Means chip sensitivity to light, but for our purposes its basically resolution. If your outfit shot is dark, high ISO will help, but the image will be grainy and there won't be details when you zoom your image. ISO set to Automatic is kept very high! Set a manual value (ISO 200 is good) and take outfit photos in good light for the best results

3. Light

Light is critical for good outfit photo. Lightbulb does not do, its not bright enough. Daylight is better. Light room with big windows on daytime is great, as it provides soft, bright enough light. Slightly cloudy day outside is the best. Generally, try to avoid

  • direct sunlight, it causes deep shadows on images
  • standing in front of window, it will make you become just dark                                  silhouette against the bright window
  • using flash, it makes face look oily beyond hope and the rest                                               of the picture is either too bright or in deep shadow

4. Camera position

The best height of camera for outfit photos is waist-high to chest-high. Put the camera farther away rather than closer, even if you have to zoom in slightly - it makes figure more flattering than closer photo. Lean slightly toward the camera in you want to emphasize your head, what is closer is bigger on the picture.

5. Clutter

Look at what else is going to be in the picture with you. Push the clutter away from the view, close the door. Untidy room can ruin the feel of otherwise nice picture! 

6. Pose

Practice your poses in front of a mirror. If you can turn the LCD of the camera to see it when shooting, do so, or you can install small mirror right behind to have a glimpse on your pose. Save picture of other lolitas nice poses to practice. Good pose looks easy, light and natural, but it may be slightly acrobatic feat of balance and angles. Here's an excellent guide on lolita poses I came across: Lolita Posing on Mintkismet's blog .

7. Adjusting the photo

There is a lot of apps available for finishing touches on smartphones. Some favorite among lolitas are: Decopic, Line camera, CunPic, PhotoWonder, or even filters of Instagram app. They usually allow cropping, adjusting brightness, contrast and color, beauty effect and different filters, and even  decorative frames and stamps. For a camera, you'll have to do finishing touches in computer (Photoshop, Gimp) or email the picture to your smartphone. I use Photoshop especially to remove disrupting items from background, Photoshop's Liquify tool is great as well.