Attending a Convention as a Lolita

One of the biggest highlights in the Lolita calendar is attending a Convention.  There are many different types of conventions to attend: big pop-culture events, anime conventions and even specialist Lolita conventions.  Many Lolitas will save up all year to attend a convention and will go all out with their co-ords. Expect to see a variety of styles that are not usually spotted at a local community meet-up, such as Over-the-Top (OOT), Hime/Ouji (Princess or Prince) and Wa-Lolita or Qi-Lolita.  Attending a convention as a Lolita presents some unique challenges, and this article aims to address them with some helpful hints.

A Lolita wearing Holy Lantern at Brisbane Comic Con

A Lolita wearing Holy Lantern by Angelic Pretty at Brisbane Comic Con

Getting your Ruffles to the Convention

If you are lucky enough to be attending a convention in your home city, this won’t apply to you.  However, if attending a conference where plane, coach or train travel is essential there are a few things to remember.  My top tip would be to plan a group of co-ords that is cohesive and can be worn together. For a two day conference, you can get away with one pair of shoes, one blouse, two JSKs or two skirts, one set of jewellery, one basic cardigan and one basic piece of head wear. I highly recommend bringing your comfiest flat Tea Party shoes and packing spare socks.

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This essential collection will get you through a two day convention.

Packing your petticoat may be the biggest task when it comes to packing for the conference.  There are several ways to tackle the problem.  The first solution is to wear your petticoat while you travel.  This will save you a lot of space; however it may make dealing with airport security and small plane seats problematic.  The second solution is to roll your petticoat into a cylinder and secure it tight with rubber bands or extra hair ties.  I have done this before and it works great for chiffon petticoats, however it doesn’t work for tulle petticoats.  The third solution is to buy a set of vacuum bags to save space in your suitcase.  This is the easiest solution to implement, however it requires having access to a vacuum when it comes time to pack your bags to go home.

As soon as you arrive at the hotel, unpack your dresses and petticoat so your items can hang and un-wrinkle.  You may need to iron your blouses before you get dressed for the conference.  Just remember – the worst part (traveling) is over and now it’s time to relax. You’re on holidays!

The Frilly Essentials

Nothing ruins a convention like forgetting something important or having to pay $5 for a bottle of water!  Here’s a quick list of items that will make your convention experience much more pleasant.  I recommend starting with two bags at a convention: the cute purse that matches your co-ord and a larger tote for all your essentials.

Food prices are always over-inflated at a convention.  Save money by bringing your own water bottle (most venues will have a chilled water fountain) and some snacks (like chocolate trail mix or granola bars).  For hairy situations, pack spare bobby pins, hair ties and a little hair brush.  You may need to touch up your make-up during the day, so don’t forget your face powder, lip gloss/lipstick and a compact mirror.  Grab a pen and a notebook in case you want to write down vendors information or workshop notes.  I also take a business card holder, in case I want to contact a vendor or shop at their online store. Lastly, take a second fabric tote bag for all that sweet loot you are going to buy.

Don't leave home without the essentials!

Don’t leave home without the essentials!

Your Ruffles at the Convention

Conventions are fun, high-energy events that lots of people attend.  Conventions can range from massive events that over thousands of people attend to small exclusive events.  Wearing Lolita to a convention presents a unique set of challenges.  Many people will be interested in what you are wearing and may want to take your photo. There will be lots of things to see and do, and you may not get to do all of it.

Brisbane Rufflesbutts member Ria explains the essentials of a Lolita co-ord in the Lolita Style Workshop at Brisbane Comic Con. She's wearing Rabbit Letter by Innocent World

Brisbane Rufflebutts member Ria explains the essentials of a Lolita co-ord in the Lolita Style Workshop at Brisbane Comic Con. She’s wearing Rabbit Letter by Innocent World.

You don’t just need to budget your money, you need to budget your time. In the days ahead, scope out what panels and workshops are happening.  Make a timetable or set reminders in your phone.  It’s also OK to be a leaf in the breeze, and cruise around the convention at your own pace.  Find out what vendors are attending and if they will be selling Lolita items.  The smaller vendors and Artist Alley are great for finding a treasure trove of Lolita-able accessories (especially jewellery).

Spotted in the wild: A rare vendor selling Lolita Brand dresses at Brisbane Comic Con

Spotted in the wild: A rare vendor selling Lolita Brand dresses at Brisbane Comic Con.

Ruffles and the General Public

Interactions with the general public can go one of two ways.  People will be polite and respectful or people can be rude, pushy, or touchy.  Remember that like Cosplay, wearing Lolita isn’t consent.  You always have the right to refuse photos, refuse to talk to people, and tell people not to touch you or your outfit.  Pop Culture Conventions (such as Comic Con Oz) go to massive lengths to ensure that convention attendees feel safe and welcome.  If you feel unsafe at any point, remember that it is always your right to feel safe, and the convention staff are there to protect you.  If you feel uncomfortable, inform the convention staff or the convention security and they will help you out. On that note, at a big Pop Culture or Anime convention most people won’t be able to tell the difference between a person in Cosplay and a person in a Lolita co-ord.  You may get asked “what are you cosplaying as?” a lot.  This is my go-to response when I am asked “what is your costume”:

“I am wearing a style of clothing called Elegant Gothic Lolita (or Lolita/EGA).  This is a street fashion from Japan that is popular all over the world.  Thank you for asking; however this is not a Cosplay. I’m wearing Vampire Requiem by a brand called Alice and the Pirates. Have a nice day!”

This Lolita had been asked about her "cosplay" all day. She's wearing Mercator Antique Shop by Angelic Pretty

This Lolita had been asked about her “cosplay” all day. She’s wearing Mercator Antique Shop by Angelic Pretty

Just remember that it’s not your job to educate the general public about Lolita fashion.  You can say as much or as little about the outfit you are wearing.  Just remember to be polite and you’ll be fine.

In the days before the convention, investigate on Facebook if the convention city has a local Lolita community and ask to join.  This is a good idea because local communities often host a lunch meet up or an after-convention dinner as a meet. Ask for an invitation to attend the Convention meet and have a fun time with your host-city’s comm.  Don’t be afraid to make new friends.  If you are polite and respectful to the local Lolitas attending the conference you will be fine.  On that note, the best way to avoid drama is NOT to start drama.  Don’t be a Lolita Drama Lama.

So there you are! Follow these simple tips and you should have an excellent time at your next convention.

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