29 June 2015

Country Lolita: The Perfect Summer Substyle

Country is a subtly we’ve known about for a long time but don’t see too often. When mentioned, usually gingham and straw hats come to mind, but it can be so much more! If strawberry prints and flower headdresses are exactly what you want, I’m not here to stop you! Here I have compiled some ideas, inspirations, and guidelines for the perfect summer substyle.


The material

There aren’t too many restrictions on the fabric material, although silk and wool may be too hot for the summer. They can work if you don’t mind piling on the deodorant and hauling a parasol around with you. I’ve included a personal example of a country coordinate using wool, but balancing it out with ankle socks and a short-sleeved blouse. I spent most of the outing inside this beautiful Victorian house tour, but it works just the same.

I could go on more in detail about which fabrics and cuts are best for the summer months, but Lace a la Mode already did such a great job. I couldn't have said it better myself! Click here to visit my friend’s blog post of surviving summer in Lolita for more tips specifically about how to dress for the heat.

The patterns

Gingham and florals are the most common patterns for country Lolita, but get creative with different delicate designs and seasonal colors. Below are some sample coordinates using patterns other than traditional gingham/florals. Different patterns to consider include thin stripes, tiny polka dots, pale plaids, darling embroidery, and calico.

The cuts

The country substyle is great in its ability to use many different cuts of collar and dress. Because you can blend it with sweet, classic, and gothic, there is no end to the possibilities of necklines and collars. For sweet, peter pan and high-neck collars are most popular, but even square necklines with crossed straps work. For classic, the same applies. For gothic, you would be better off sticking to high-neck collars to keep that midwestern-Victorian aesthetic.

There are trims you should avoid, because not all blouses are created equal! Trims with satin ribbons, glitter, star lace, pompoms, tassels, etc. are no-no's. But in the end it's really up to your discretion what will work with your wardrobe and the outfit you are trying to create.

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Motifs and Themes

Think fawns and your grandmother’s table cloth. Every year brands release scores of prints and non-prints that can easily be worked into a country-styled coordinate. Among the many strawberries, birds, flowers, and rabbits, there are so many other motifs and themes you can incorporate. For some inspiration, visit a local garden, historical house, or meadow. Go antique shopping or watch some of the many country-themed TV shows and movies. A few of my favorites to watch (and get inspiration from for country Lolita) include Gone With the Wind, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, and Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman. What are your favorites?

Take a look below at some outfits from different styles in themes you may not have thought of before:


As with any coordinate, accessories can make or break  a look. Just as you wouldn’t really pair combat boots with Mary Magdalene, there are certain things that don’t really mesh with the country aesthetic. This applies to what separates any specific substyle from its big sister.

Try to avoid:
    • Bright or pastel colored wigs
    • Crowns or anything related to royalty
    • Odd shaped bags (ex: ponies, seashells, shooting stars, coffins, etc.)
    • Too many accessories; with country, less is more
    • Glitter or jewels
    • Motifs that are too unrelated/elegant (ex: swan lake, carnivals, cathedrals, paris, etc.)

Country Lolita is distinct with straw elements- hats and bags - but also with flowers, aprons, and braids. Just like with motifs and themes, just looking at Victorian Western and prairie sources will show you a whole range of ideas. With the right ones, you can wear bonnets, wide brimmed vintage hats, cameo brooches, boots, shawls, your natural hair, and so much more!


All in all, you don’t have to look like a walking picnic to pull off country Lolita. Pull inspiration from the old American west and European fairytales. If you are yearning for more simple, down-to-earth styles this summer - then country is the substyle for you!

Spend some time in nature and reconnect with what summer really feels like. I know you probably spend too much time indoors just like I do! Show me some of your favorite country looks down below in the comments. I would really love to see them, and may even find new ideas that I never thought of before.

13 June 2015

Larme-Kei on a Budget

Larme-Kei is a recent Japanese fashion trend that many of you have probably seen floating around on Instagram, Tumblr, and other sources that showcase Japanese street fashion. Now, I won't bother going into detail about the origins of this trend and what makes an outfit larme or not - because Universal Doll does a fantastic job at that here.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with a few options on how to dress larme without dropping hundreds of dollars on brands such as Swankiss and Katie.

1. DreamV / Yumetenbo

I love Dreamv to bits ever since I found out about the brand several years ago. While you used to be able to find their items a little bit cheaper on their Taobao store, they have since taken it down. But not to fret! You can still get DreamV over on the Rakuten english site where they will ship it all around the world.

DreamV has a line of pastel clothing just perfect for Larme-kei called "Mon Lily", and most of their items are fairly inexpensive. Clothing pieces typically range from ~$20 to ~$50.

2. Taobao Resellers

Since not everyone wants to deal with using a shopping service and Google Translator to fish around on Taobao, there are numerous resellers that operate on Storenvy. Of course, the prices are marked up but nothing much more than you would pay with a shopping service anyways.

Two pretty popular resellers on Storenvy are Himi Shop and Syndrome.

3. Common Retailers

Fast-fashion retailers such as Forever21 and H&M are great places to get trendy items for low prices. It is difficult to find a lotafter their spring/summer collections, but if you stock up now you may find some great deals on Larme-kei ready pieces!

I recently purchased some really inexpensive tops that work perfectly with Larme-kei from H&M, the pink one with tiny white hearts was only $10 and the frilly white one was only $5!

A photo posted by Ashlyn Smith (@itsvanillabear) on

4. Thrifting

As with any fashion style, thrifting is pretty much the cheapest way to find clothing. I cannot imagine Larme-kei will be easy to find in Goodwill, but if you persevere and hunker down in those second-hand isles, you may end up with some great pastel sweaters, high-waisted skirts or shorts, and loose-fitting chiffon blouses!

11 June 2015

Welcome to My New Blog

Hello! I'm Vanilla Bear, and this is my new blog. If you've followed me from any social media for a while, you probably knew me as smithsonian/smithsoninian. Unfortunately, I could never get continuity with that handle - as the Smithsonian institute often has dibs already - so I decided on completely rebranding myself.

Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page. You can click here or look to the right in the sidebar.

I have some good content planned out for future posts. As I currently have two jobs and attend university, it may take some time for me to finish constructing the layout and general content of this blog before I can start writing. Have patience with me please!

(P.S. Kudos to you if you know where my old, ugly blog is. But I'll never tell!)