Lolita Fashion is perhaps one of the most popular fashion subculture which originated from Japan. Originally, the theme of Lolita Dresses are based from the aristocratic clothing from the Victorian Era, with all its gaudy and detailed designs. Rococo-styled costumes had also been an original theme of Lolita Fashion clothing, with its prominently jocular, graceful and florid approach. Recently, though, the theme had expanded greatly beyond these two, but the prominent features of Lolita Fashion can still be seen.
Generally, Lolita dresses are characterized by a knee-length skirt or dress, which had the 'cupcake' shape only achieved with the assistance of petticoats, blouses, knee-high socks or stockings and certain headdresses, but its development had gradually included other types of garments like corsets or even floor-length skirts.
Lolita Fashion had been influenced mostly by the more feminine visual kei artists, which often involves crossdressing, since most Visual Kei artists are males. Mana, a Visual Kei musician, had been widely known for helping in the popularization of Gothic Lolita. It didn't take long for Lolita fashion to spread outside Japan's confines, and people are often seen wearing lolita dresses in venues such as concerts and anime conventions, but now it's becoming more and more popular as a daily subculture style.
The rise of the Lolita fashion had paved the way for its styles and themes to expand, but these themes are the closest to the original, and therefore the most popular:
Sometimes shortened to GothLoli, Gothic Lolita, as its name implies, is the product of entwining Gothic and Lolita fashion together. It originated from Harajuku in the 90's, characterized by darker colors in both make-up and clothing. Its color schemes include black, dark blue, purple, and other dark colors. In the Western setting, most Gothic Lolita dresses are accented by additional accessories like cross jewelry, bat-, crucifix-, or coffin-shaped bags and purses, and religious symbols.
This style focuses more in the Rococo, Regency, and Victorian styles, which makes it more mature. It's a style that is sort of close to Gothic Lolita, but its color scheme is lighter and its design certainly more sophisticated, because of its more intricate patterns and muted colors. Yet even so, the characteristics of Classic Lolita is the closest to the basics, since shoes and accessories are less functional and whimsical in design and the make up aims to have more emphasis placed on natural looks.
Rococo, Victorian and Edwardian styles are used for this, but it mainly focuses on Lolita's fantasy aspects, so its design is often more imbued with child-like motifs sporting lighter hues.
Dresses aligned with Sweet Lolita are often pastel-colored, with either fruit, flowers, laces, or animal themes. Of course, ribbons, laces and bows are added to emphasize the overall cuteness of the design. Also, to accent Sweet Lolita dresses, bags, bonnets, oversized bows, and hair accessories that have a Princess-like theme can be used. The most common theme for Sweet Lolita is Alice in Wonderland or other classic fairy tales.