Bibliotheca: Headwear pt. 2: Who needs it?

For the second half of my Bibliotheca headwear themed posts this month, I'm trotting out an even hotter take than usual. 

I love headdresses, hats mini and huge, stupid little clips and cakes and bows that make people look like the most conspicuous shoplifter in Clair's. But with all that affection for headwear, I still don't think headwear is required. 

This is a pretty controversial opinion, if you get your knowledge of lolita strictly from hungover panelists (including me) at any given anime convention lolita 101 panel. According to the solemn dogma of traditional lolita anatomy, lolitas are meant to cap off our coordinates with either a matching headbow or headdress, a coordinating full-size hat, or a mini hat, if you're being spicy. This lolita orthodoxy has been passed down the internet for generations, so it has to be true, right?

A BTSSB ad from Gothic & Lolita Bible 3 with no visible hair accessories

Apparently not. Since the get-go, the Gothic & Lolita Bibles have featured coordinates without any visible hair accessories. But maybe that's just old school. Once lolita hit its OTT heyday around 2010, surely accessories have to have become practically mandatory, right?

So here's an image with a coordinate without headwear from 2010. 

GLB 36, Spring/Summer 2010

These coordinates, of course, aren't truly representative of what lolitas actually wore in 2010-- the lolitas chose these coordinates knowing they would be photographed. Furthermore, the Gothic & Lolita Bible is not an objective news source: it's a publication by Kera Shop. Every article on every page is designed not just to inform people about lolita style, but to entice people into buying stuff, preferably from Kera Shop. The outfits themselves are advertising. Knowing this, if headwear really was expected for every lolita coordinate, omitting a hair accessory isn't just unusual, it's a potential reduction in profit. 

Luckily, not all lolita sources are solely created for the purpose of selling things. The popular 2008 mook Alice Deco (which I love dearly) is focused on styling lolita pieces that the reader already owns, not selling more pieces. Naturally, the styling in Alice Deco is a lot more eccentric and casual, with less exact matching and more playfulness. These outfits belong at the grocery store more than the tea party.

Alice Deco (2008), page 103

So, there's plenty of evidence for lolitas showing their unaccessorized hair. But that's just past examples, not anything instructive as to how to pull off a lolita coordinate sans headdress. 

I'm going to reference the incredible Cupcake Kamisama here: really, it comes down to harmony and cohesion. A lot of newer and more OTT lolitas tend to think that the only way to have a good lolita coordinate is to exactly match, balance, and distribute colors and accessories throughout, which often translates to a voluminous wig, a matching headbow, and often a swarm of smaller clips and accessories. The size, color, and visual interest of the wig and accessories balance the visual weight of the ultra-poofy petticoat, thus making the outfit more cohesive. But this isn't the only way to wear lolita.

Lolitas who want to make their coord cohesive by adding more visual weight onto the top of their coordinate can use hairstyles with or without accessories-- my hair is currently pretty short, but it holds a lot of volume (making my apparent height about 8cm taller). I especially find intricate braids and natural afro textured hair are really good for adding visual interest on top, but there are plenty of styles to try (or wigs to buy) to suit coordinates. 

Cupcake Kamisama references the word "harmony" on her blog and in her videos. The idea is that a coordinate with intentional, meaningful styling can be harmonious without being strictly balanced in the textbook sense. Basically, once someone's coordination skills are strong enough, they can discard the rules like the training wheels they are. It takes confidence to reach a point where someone is ready to ignore the lolita orthodoxy. 

I've focused on lolita, but in other similar fashions like ouji and J-punk, head accessories have never been seen as mandatory. This disconnect might be because of the distinctive feeling of lolita being special-- the headbow is almost as central as the petticoat in the mythos of the lolita style.

Although I primarily wear lolita as a casual, everyday style, it can be a real chance to dress up for many people, and headwear is part of making those special occasions feel special. Still, I think that the lolita community in general is slowly growing beyond dressing to a checklist. We need to open our minds to lolita possibilities, and making room for that might just mean taking off our matching headbows.

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