let's talk dress-up

marrow #4 | posted 29.05.2022

oh i don't know. i love fashion and wanna talk about it! specifically, let's take a trip down memory lane so i can be a bit of an armchair lolita about stuff.

the girls go games era

i've always (and i mean always) been very particular about the way i present myself (what was likely the beginnings of my dysphoria made me absolutely unbearable to be around when i needed to get ready to get out when i was 10-13, let me tell you that). i've sent my mom on many a clothes-buying quest in the past. and as a kid, i absolutely loved dollmakers and dress-up games. despite the language barrier, i got really into poupeé girl and please if you have any tasty poupee girl rabbitholes to point me towards i'd love love to hear it because there's absolutely nothing about it online. like no detailed post-mortems or anything, and i was too young to really remember much of it. anyway.

once i got my ds lite (and a flashcart, piracy is Thee brazilian gamer staple) a whole new world of gaming presented opened its doors to me. which means i discovered one of the most games of all time: style savvy (aka style boutique in europe)

style savvy

in case you never heard of it (fair), style savvy is a ds game and game franchise released in 2008 in japan and 2009 elsewhere. it has a painfully short wikipedia page, and the single line in the "reception" segment reads: "Style Savvy received "mixed or average reviews" according to Metacritic."

in the game (played sideways), you manage a boutique, buying clothes, fulfilling client requests, making advertisements etc. you can of course dress up your avatar (and buy makeup and go to the hair salon), and also join fashion contests. it's a dress-up game with the barebones of a story.

so, the core gameplay loop is: you buy clothes to sell at your shop. your clients come in asking for things like "a gothic top", "an elegant skirt", "a green hat". you sell clothes, use the money to buy more clothes, and so on. the game has 16 brands, each with a very 2008 aesthetic. two brands are present in every single game and are the most important to me: raven candle and marble lily.

raven candle sells gothic clothes, namely EGA and EGL, whereas marble lily sells mostly sweet lolita, though the game doesn't mention the styles by name (styling star calls marble lily "baby doll style" but i don't remember if the first game did too). i didn't care much for marble lily, but raven candle was absolutely my favorite brand, along with mad-jack (the edgy, rock brand), and this is where, when and how the lolita sleeper agent in me was born.

the chicken or the egg?

well, fast forward several years and we're in 2020 now. i truly do not remember which came first: (re)discovering lolita fashion or replaying style savvy for the sake of nostalgia (it actually didn't work at first so i played style savvy 3: styling star (2017) instead, and i maxxed out my level without even realizing it). it probably was the latter, since animal crossing new horizons came out and made me play new leaf and overall use my 3ds more often. well, the fact of the matter is that both things fed off each other. just playing virtual dress-up wasn't enough anymore, and now i wasn't a middle-schooler! so i began putting together silly little coords, making do with what i had, and slowly picking up loliable (and oujiable!) stuff around. and that's just even more fun than virtual dress-up.

(virtual dress-up is still very fun though. wish there was still any chance to have a style savvy 4 for the 3ds, where you're not stuck playing as a girl + the men's clothes aren't so afterthought-y)


ok, so let's talk about coording. lolita fashion is interesting to me, because it has its own lingo. it's not a dress, it's an OP (one piece) or a JSK (jumperskirt). it's not a shirt, it's a blouse. it's not a t-shirt, it's a cutsew. and instead of outfit, it's a coordinate, or simply coord. not only does the specific language make sense ("dress" isn't descriptive enough since there are two very different main styles, a cutsew is often much more than a t-shirt), but the coording mindset is entirely different, at least to me.

what's the difference between a coord and an outfit? effectively none, not really. but lolita is a fairly "standardized" fashion: there's an expected sillhouette, main pieces have their names (and people know them by these names — hell, there's an online database of garmnents!), and pieces and coords can feel formulaic at first glance. coords are usually centered around a main piece, that is, a skirt, jsk or op, and built on top of that with the intent of creating something cohesive. it's a case of limitation breeding creativity, like an outfit puzzle. like playing dress-up with virtual paper dolls.

what i call the coording mindset turns making an outfit into a creative exercise or challenge. i can build a coord, take a photo, and save it for a rainy day (not that i'm not a casual outfit repeater as well, but it feelds different idk). i like creating little themes and thinking about what i can layer to change the vibe of a garment. and since i own a grand total of zero brand pieces, i have the added challenge / fun of twisting mainstream clothes into the role i want them to take.

my lolita radical wardrobe

so let's make a wardrobe post? i'm calling it lolita radical because i'm thinking of those purist-moderate-radical table memes, since it's all offbrand (thrifted mostly) or handmade, and because i skew towards longer skirts than usual. no photos, use your mind's eye! i'll link to some similar pieces on lolibrary though.

my style is kinda ecletic. i like vintage stuff a lot, i love using historical fashion for inspiration, i dress masc, femme and androgynous, i have more blazers than reasonable for any 21-year-old. i mostly dress vaguely goth-y though so there's a shred of cohesion in my wardrobe. anyway, let's get to it.

main pieces


bustiers and vests


final thoughts

well, that's it for this silly little post. i didn't even get into how lolita feels like genderless femininity* to me, favorite / dream pieces, how ouji scratches the lady oscar / utena itch, how i think old school and proto lolita are more my thing on a vibes level if not on the actual clothes i wear... i love fashion, i love window shopping on lolibrary, i love sketching designs, and i just figured i'd talk a little bit about it ^v^

* genderless femininity post currently only on geminispace (idk why either), but also proxied here. you should download lagrange though. get into the small web.