Monday, 3 February 2014

Parasols and the Modern Lolita

Hello dollies! 

Winter is nearly past us now! In the northern hemisphere we can maybe even say once again that winter is coming with a hint of truth. Here in England, amidst our many rainy days (well, I do live in England) we’ve also had a surprising amount of sunny days. And yesterday, for the first time in months, the sunshine was actually warm on my face!

It got me thinking about spring, and the warmer weather to come. There are so many things I look forward to in spring: flowers, budding leaves, lower necklines, calves and lambs leaping about in the nearby fields… and, of course, parasols.

According to a few opinion pieces I’ve read recently— such as this one at Poppy Noir— the parasol is going out of style, even no longer relevant to the modern Lolita. It’s bulky, impractical, and it's ridiculous to be carrying an “umbrella” in the sunshine. It’s true that I have seen very few English Lolitas carrying them lately— even at Austen and the Abbey last year, on the hottest days of summer, I don’t remember a single Lolita with a parasol (fans, on the other hand, were very much in fashion that weekend!).

I'm sure I'm exaggerating: brand parasols still sell out every summer, and every moderately veteran Lolita I know at least owns one, if not several. But personally, I find this opinion immensely sad. When I first entered Lolita fashion parasols were to me one of the quintessential elements of a wardrobe; you didn’t have everything you needed without one.

Sunglasses just don’t compete: there's something so delightfully baroque about carrying such an impractical, indulgent accessory. One might as well complain about a print running as a parasol being stained in the rain, or an extra-fluffy petticoat knocking people's valuables off low tables as a parasol poking someone on the street, but we still take pleasure in wearing (and being terribly careful with!) non-colourfast prints and voluminous skirts, because it's considered the norm for Lolitas to sacrifice ease for beauty. To me, a parasol tops off an outfit, adding the last elegant little touch to a lighter outfit or a mysterious daystar-shielding shadow to a darker one. 

Of course, it’s silly to object to something going out of style purely on the basis of nostalgia, or sentimentalism. Perhaps it’s true that parasols are going the way of the giant rectangle headdress and the frilly knee sock, and maybe it will turn out to be for the better. I do hope, however, that they won’t become just another footnote in the history of our fashion’s development. 

So here's to parasols, in all their bulky, difficult, and thoroughly extravagant glory. Will you be carrying one this spring?

With love,

Images from the Gothic and Lolita Bible; public domain Victorian greeting card, artist unknown.

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