Tuesday, 12 August 2014

5 Things I've Noticed When Shopping in Japan

From the talking trucks to singing train stations Japan is very different to Australia including your shopping experience. Good service is very important in Japan and shop staff work very hard just to offer the service which is expected of them. Furthermore, there are some different rules of etiquette required of a customer when they enter a store. Here are some points I've noticed after spending 5 months in Japan.

Be sure to let me know about your experience shopping overseas in the comments section!

1. Umbrellas in the rack

During the rainy season an umbrella rack will be placed at the door of the shop. It's expected that customers place their umbrellas in there. Bringing them into the store may wet the floor, making it dangerous for other customers or simply damage the merchandise. Angelic Pretty has an umbrella stand outside for customer umbrellas and inside for their umbrellas - just be careful not to mix up the two or forget your umbrella when you leave.

2. Bags don't belong on the floor

In Australia I didn't worry about putting my bag on the floor when I went to cafe or restaurant. In Japan, cafes, restaurants and some shops offer baskets or tables to put your bags on. Victorian Maiden have a coat rack and a chaise lounge to put your belongings on and shop staff will kindly take your coat and bag when you enter the store. 

3. I'll see you to the door

If you purchase something at a store the staff will often carry your shopping to the door for you! If available they will also get you a new version of the item from the back of the store, wrap it up all nicely in a bag and perhaps include a sticker or postcard form the store. It's a way to thank you for your patronage and ensure that each customer feels attended to individually.

4. Kawaiiiiiiiiiii <3

Shop staff will compliment you if you try something on - without fail. I'm still not used of it myself but it's all a part of serving the customer individually and encouraging further patronage. The most popular comments I've heard are kawaii - "cute", suteki - "incredible/amazing" and o-niai desu - "it suits you". Shop staff are also forth coming when you're browsing the blouses: yoroshikereba, hirogete mite kudasai - "you can unfold it to see what its looks like if you wish" and when you're drooling over dresses: yoroshikereba, kagami de awasete mite kudasai - "you can hold it up in the mirror to see what it's like if you wish". They will also help tie up bonnets and do up your shoes if you try them on.

5. No shoes in the house

Or rather in the change rooms. Change rooms will often be carpeted and you will need to take your shoes off before you enter. There are also stores which have make up covers that you're encouraged to wear over your head and some places won't let you try anything on unless you're wearing a camisole.

I've always thought that shopping in Japan was like that feeling you get in your dream where you're in your school... but it's not actually your school. The setting seems to be the same but the feelings and things you experience are completely different. I take my hat off to the shop staff who work so hard to make everyone's shopping experience so special.

Let me know about your shopping experiences in foreign countries in the comments. What happened? How did it make you feel?

Until next time...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Osaka Adventures in August

Hello again!  The weather is terrible today so it's a perfect time to update the blog.

I am so happy with the way the under-dress
compliments the VM over-dress.

As I mentioned at the end of my last post I went out to Osaka again with one of the lovely friends I've made in Japan. It was a lolita Date!

This was our second date together, our first was when we went to the chocolate cafe Godiva for Easter.

Our first date in April
I love her BABY x Disney Snow White dress.

We headed to Victorian Maiden first to reserve a dress for my friend. I nearly bought the marine style skirt with the open back but decided against it at the last minute.

We then headed over to Angelic Pretty where I bought a couple of cutsews and the Romantic Rose Letter necklace that I've been eyeing off for ages. Then at the second hand shop next door I nearly gave into the BABY x Disney's Alice in Wonderland JSK in sax but decided it was a little beyond my budget after the purchase at AP.

When we went to BABY I couldn't go past some wrist cuffs that were on sale.

In the end this was the result of my mini-haul.
Clockwise from top left:
AP - Romantic Rose Letter Necklace in Red x Pink
AP - Pure Ribbon Cutsew in  Pink
AP - Airy Square Cutsew in Ivory
BTSSB - Scarlet Wrist Cuffs in Ivory
We also popped by the KERA shop and drooled over Juliette et Justine but agreed that we should wear cute prints while we are young. 

In the dying hours of the afternoon we went to a photo booth and then in the evening went to see another friend who runs a bar near Ibaraki called Precieuxse Endroit. We had a barbeque (yes, a barbeque) and ate watermelon (the summer fruit in Japan). I didn't get home until after midnight but it sure was worth it.
My friend and I both wore Rococo Bouquet
in different cuts and colours. I was so happy to
wear the under-dress I bought from VM
last time I went to Osaka.
Having a rest at Starbucks after going to AP.
I was very quick to put on the Romantic Rose Letter necklace.
I was recommended the red by my friend and I have no regrets.

Eating watermelon, taking purikura and meeting up with old and new friends at Precieuxse Endroit.

This outing probably marks my last haul until November. I've decided to take a trip to Tokyo to go to my best friend's wedding reception. I have to save, save, save. However, I do have some meets coming up, in particular a meet for international lolitas in Kyoto at the end of the month. I hope to write a post about that and perhaps one more in between.

Until next time...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Maidens in July

In mid-July my friends and I headed to Osaka to visit Victorian Maiden. It had been really hot lately so I decided to wear the lightest and breathable piece in my wardrobe - Abandoned Night Chiffon OP from Korean indie brand Baroque.

I've been really into the false crown braid recently. It's rather quick, uses my own hair and looks really smart with most coordinates. It's definitely my recommendation for a Summer hair-style. My hair is growing quite long too so it means the plaits are nice and thick. For make-up I've been following a Misako Aoki tutorial with false top lashes but only mascara on the bottom. I think it has a nice look without being too heavy.

When I met up with the girls they were both wearing BABY the Stars Shine Bright x Disney Alice in Wonderland dress in different cuts and colour-ways. I have the Angelic Pretty x Disney Alice in Wonderland collaboration dress so I wished I'd have known!

It's the most stunning print. I'm falling more and more in love
with BABY!

The day was completely packed we went to Victorian Maiden where I finally bought the under-dress I've wanted for a year. They were having a sale so my one of my friends also bought a Rococo Bouquet OP in blue which looks stunning on her.

 Then we headed to Angelic Pretty with the most incredible time sale on. Some of the merchandise was 70% off! I wanted to buy the trump bag from the Wonder Queen series but decided against it because of it's somewhat small size and limited coordinating options.

Wonder Queen Shoulder Bag
It only really goes with my Disney x AP print :(

Victorian Maiden is like the wardrobe of a Victorian well-to-do lady.
Angelic Pretty is like putting on a pair of rose coloured glasses and stepping into the frilliest closet of your dreams.

After heading to Bikkuri Donkey for lunch (STEAK... but I had a hamburger patty) we went to Baby, where I fawned over an amazing headdress which was lacy, flowery and surprisingly gorgeous from the Rosa Mistica series. 

Then we all headed home. I swear I had sore feet for the next 3 days. We walked so much. Next time I'm going buy feet cushions for inside my shoes! I was so tired that I didn't even try on my dress, which is why I waited until today.

Ta-Da!! I'm heading out again today to Victorian Maiden with one friend who is going to wear the Rose Bouquet that she bought recently! Hopefully I can come home with a new blouse. 

Until next time...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Coordinating using three colours - The Tri-Colour Challenge (image heavy)

I began my foray into Lolita fashion in September 2012 and I would still consider myself a beginner. I do a lot of web browsing and reading in order to become better acquainted with lolita, fashion, history and even coordinating.

A post for coordinating, which I always come back to, is from lolita blogger, Ramble Rori"Coordinating 101: How to Create an Awesome Lolita Fashion Coordinate". The post is very detailed, laid out into clear sections and easy to read. The information is really useful for a beginner but is extensive enough to be inspiring to an experienced lolita.

I tend to stick to the main or secondary
print colours or just coordinate with
black, white or ivory.
In the post, Christine, writer of Ramble Rori, approaches coordinating from a colour perspective from single up to tri-colour coordinating.

I usually coordinate using two colours or match colours and themes from the prints but I want to give myself a challenge today and try coordinating with three colours.

I'm going to be using Paletton to help me to coordinate the outfits in this post. This website is a designer tool that assists in creating custom colour palettes that work well together. What I love about this website is that you can customise the palette and it will adjust itself so that the colours are still in balance.

(I've also used this quirky website called "Name that Colour" when a usual "brown" or "yellow" wouldn't suffice. When you input the hexadecimal code or pick the colour using the colour swatch the website gives you the name of the closest colour.)

The Tri-colour Challenge

What I want to do is create some tri-colour coordinates: first, using a dress with tri-colours already present in the fabric and then attempt to create an outfit with a piece I have in my own wardrobe. If you're also feeling like a Lolita challenge why not try the Tri-colour challenge with me?

First of all, I want to show you a blogger who, I think, is a great example for tri-colour coordinating.

Leii, is a lolita and Japanese fashion enthusiast who blogs under the name of Sinneddonuts. It goes without saying that she has an enviable wardrobe and her ability to put together surprising colour combinations which look as delicious as they are eye-catching, is astounding!

I chose some of the stand-out coordinates where the three colours coordinated were very obvious. Please check out Leii's tumblr or her instagram where she has many more mouth watering outfits uploaded.

Tri-Colour Challenge - Fabric Coordinate

A recent print from Angelic Pretty called Fantasy Theatre has made use of the tri-colour scheme. 

As you can see, it uses the colours yellow, blue and pink to create a really interesting contrast. Using pink as my main colour I have attempted to use these three colours throughout the coordinate and below is what I came up with.

Tri-colour coordinate 1: Fantasy Theatre
Fantasy Theatre Skirt - Angelic Pretty
Dream Shiny Blouse - Angelic Pretty
Maiden in Love Ribbon Knit Cardigan - Angelic Pretty
Antique Ribbon Shoes - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Ribbon Heart Bag - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright

Going further with this coordinate, I would add both pink and mint accessories and a deep pink hair barette or brooch, such as the one that comes with the series. Other options I thought of were to change out the bag for a Shyness Bear Bag or a Lyrical Bunny Bag who feature in the print.

Tri-Colour Challenge - from my wardrobe

Chess Chocolate is the most recent dress I purchased. I really love the print, however, the high neck OP style is quite difficult to coordinate. For the colour palette I've used the brown as the base colour and created a tri-colour palette to work with.

The fact that the print, itself, only contains one colour from my chosen palette presents the obstacle of balancing the colours in the three zones. This could usually be overcome by a belt but this is not an option in Chess Chocolate's case because of the waist bow. Other options to put colour into the mid-zone are bags, badges, sashes and outer-wear. 

Tri-Colour Coordinate 2 - Chess Chocolate
Chess Chocolate OP - Angelic Pretty
Doll Coronet Aria Bonnet - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Kingdom OTK - Beth
Antique Ribbon Shoes - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright

I really love the mature look of the colours in this coordinate and I'm so happy I could find pieces which mirror the crown and chess themes of the print. I couldn't find a blue or green colour for the mid-zone but, ideally, I would finish off the coordinate with a deep green purse.

So there you have it! I have completed the tri-colour challenge. I'm really glad I took the time to do this as I've had to think outside of what I would usually do for coordinating and it's also given me a good insight into creating balanced coordinates. If you decide you'd like to give it a try link me in the comments so I can see it!

Until next time...

BONUS: Here's a coordinate I was going to use for the blog until I realised that it was actually a two colour coordinate. I chose the popular Kuma Kumya's Sweet Chocolate Print from 2013 and deliberately chose the dark brown colour-way because pink, my go-to colour for sweet lolita coordinates, is absent. In the picture below you can see that the light beige colour is actually a really light brown and the mint colour is a really light "Chill Blue".

I really liked the way this coordinate turned out so I just couldn't delete it from the post. It also shows the what a two colour coordinate looks like compared to a three-colour.
Tri-colour coordinate 2: Kuma Kumya's Sweet Chocolate
Chocolate Cardigan - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Stripe patissier blouse - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Mermaid in the jewellery box plastic bag - Alice and the Pirates
Kuma kumya mini mini - BABY, the Stars Shine Bright
Mary Jane Croco Shoes - Vivienne Westwood x Mellissa

Why two bags? I couldn't resist adding the mini Kuma Kumya chan into the coordinate. Too cute to pass by. Also I think I may have just added another dress to my wish list.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Tanabata 2014

What's Tanabata?

Tanabata is a festival celebrated in Japan on the 7th day of the 7th month (July). Although it originated from the Chinese Qixi Festival the way the festival is thought of and celebrated in each country is very different. The legend of the weaver and the cowherd, which inspires this day, tells the story of two lovers who can only meet on this day once a year if the weather is clear. The story varies between the countries and even between different regions in Japan.

The main traditions for tanabata are writing wishes on pieces of paper and hanging them, as well as various other symbolic decorations, onto bamboo trees.

Sourced from http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/folk/tanabata/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanabata

This is the Sweet Jam yukaka I own from
Angelic Pretty. I apologise for the poor
quality of the mirror shot.
This year I was hoping to wear my yukata and maybe visit Kamogawa, the river that runs through Kyoto. However, the weather was rather dismal so I had to change my plans. Instead I spent the morning designing a Lolita dress with the theme of Tanabata.

There were many ideas that came into my head including tanabata wish tree inspired designs and I would like to think more about the possibilities. However, the design I came up with was inspired by the accent designs popular in Moi Meme Moitie and chiffon, which I love and seems to be experiencing popularity in Lolita fashion at the moment.

A close up of the accent design featured on the dress.

The Mysterious Tanabata Miracle - part I

Just as I thought that the weaver and the cowherd were not going to be able to meet this year the weather cleared to reveal one of the most stunning sunsets I have seen since I arrived in Kyoto. I was so lucky to be able to capture the photographs that I did as I was on my way to work.

I was actually quite moved by the sunset and thought how glad the weaver and the cowherd would have been now that they could meet. I, however, was feeling a little depressed that I had to miss the Tanabata festival.

The Mysterious Tanabata Miracle - part II

Here's a photo from the website
of the illumination! 
While I was doing channelling my Google-fu for this post I came across the Kyo no Tanabata site to find that there's a week long festival held in Kyoto at the beginning of August! This means I can still participate in a Tanabata festival and wear my Angelic Pretty yukata. The excitement is endless.

So, in the end it seems like Tanabata 2014 has been a magical experience after all. Until next time...

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