Hard to Pull off: Wa Lolita

Firstly, I want to apologize for my absence from this blog, things have been crazy in the real world, but here I am. Still alive and kicking! 

Dorotee Sweetlips creation for a customer

Wa Lolita is a style the blends together the Lolita silhouette and elements of Japanese kimono or yukata. Outside of Japan, it's a style not attempted by many Lolitas and when done wrong, it looks really wrong. Like, costume wrong.

So how on earth do you pull off Wa Lolita?

1. Avoid cheap material.
            ~ Anything shiny, flimsy, or brightly colored should be avoided at all costs. This is a standard "rule" in Lolita but I believe it's one you really can't break when it comes to the Wa style. Some summer yukata can be fun and colorful, but likely you're seeing neon pink or primary blue as base colors. Treat your color palette the same as you would if you were shopping for a kimono. And contrary to mainstream (read: idiot) belief, kimono are typically not shiny. Some can be made from luxurious brocade, but cotton is also a popular fabric choice.

2. Sleeve choice is important.
             ~ The wider the sleeve, the higher chance you risk of your coordinate looking like a costume. If you're new to the style or have never worn a kimono ( all that sleeve flapping can be REALLY annoying ) opt for a sleeve type that flairs out slightly. This is especially true if you have an item with a busy floral pattern - you don't want to be drowning in your Wa style.

3. Black and Red - Don't do it!
           ~ The two colors together can be pretty sketchy in a regular Gothic coordinate, so they don't work much better in Wa, and this is especially true if you're going for something along the lines of authentic Japanese aesthetic. The only way I see this working well is if you're aiming for a Punk/Wa mash-up and then at best you've got yourself a darker red tone and LOT less lace and ruffles.

4. Color Blocking is your Friend! :)
          ~ When you've a sumptuous looking design or pattern, break it up with some solids. In this example you've got a solid red trim near the collar and swatches of white on the hem and in the obi. Wearing this with a simple hair style and some textured (and dark stockings) would make for a lovely Wa Lolita coordinate. 

5. Ama Wa = Normal Sweet
          ~ Taking the Sweet Lolita approach to the Wa style is pretty similar to dolling up a regular Sweet coordinate. Colors are obviously important if you're rocking a sweet print, so stick to a theme. The girl in the photo above is sporting a very Angelic Pretty-esque (it might be, goes to show what I know about brands ^_^ ) print on her Wa dress, but she's also wearing a very popular hairstyle found in Sweet. The most notable differences between this and regular sweet is the addition of Japanese sandals and an adorable pink parasol. The blending of the two styles is seamless and works very well.

Here are some examples of Wa Lolita done well. These are all my opinion of course, feel free to think differently. ;)


  1. It's definitely hard tu pull off a wa lolita outfit that does not seem tacky or cheap. Unfortunately, most of the pics I've seen on the Internet feature exactly the items and schemes you suggested to avoid!
    By the way I overall agree with your "rules", especially the first one!

  2. I think my favorite takes on Wa Lolita are the kimono print JSKs and skirts that Meta has released in the past several years. They still have the clear visual nod in the print (and design in cases like the crossover JSK), but they're really toned down.

    They also don't have the issue of visual weight that is sometimes posed by having large sleeves paired with a poofy skirt.

  3. Very good point Emily, that's definitely another option if you're more into the color palette of kimono and not so much the shape.