Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Am I too old for Liz Lisa? & the idea of "Adult Cute" / 大人可愛い Otona Kawaii

To me, the simple answer is "no". No, I am not too old for Liz Lisa. I honestly don't feel like there is an age limit to the brand. Do I think each piece could work for every person is every situation? No, but I think that's true regardless of age.

I've seen this question pop up a few times on social media (especially Tumblr bc that's where I lurk the most) - sometimes directed at me and sometimes just out there as an open ended question popping up in the #liz lisa tag. I'm not really writing this post as a "guide" or what I think everyone should do, but rather as a opportunity for a little personal self (fashion) reflection/evaluation. If someone in a similar situation to me finds it helpful, that's great, but I definitely don't expect everyone to agree. Taste and style can be very personal and specific things and I think that's great and just offers more variety in fashion.

Wearing Liz Lisa (or any brand for that matter) is obviously a personal decision that each person can make for themselves. We're all in different places in our lives with different priorities and individual styles and what makes sense for each of us. How I would wear Liz Lisa items as an "adult" might be really fugly to someone else. I mean, hell, even how I dress now might be atrocious to some people. But I think the main point is to wear what you want and what you feel good/comfortable in. You're 16 and you feel like Liz Lisa is no longer right for you? That's cool. You're 36 and only learning more about the brand and want to start purchasing pieces? Also nothing wrong with that. What's right for one person doesn't necessarily define what's proper for another.
To me, as long as you're not (intentionally or not) harming yourself or other people with your fashion choices (i.e. racist messages or imagery), you should be able to wear what you want (in your free time).

I'm not here to tell you that I think there is or isn't any kind of age restriction on wearing any particular type of garment, or that if you're XX age, you SHOULD still continue to wear Liz Lisa if you simply don't want to. What I really want to say is that it's okay for your style to evolve and that's it's not impossible to use existing Liz Lisa items in a new, more "sophisticated" way if you want to. I want to just encourage people to maybe look at their wardrobe in a different light and challenge yourself to re-style a particular item that you would have otherwise dismissed.

What's great for me as a Liz Lisa customer and how my personal style is evolving is the introduction of more 大人可愛い / otona kawaii / adult cute items by the brand in the past few seasons.
Certainly there have been items even years back that could easily be incorporated into this style genre as well but I think it's especially prevalent in some of the more recent pieces and that might be a reflection of Liz Lisa examining a portion of their customer base who has been "growing up" with them. (Though tbh I have no idea if that's really true.) They are definitely still producing the very girly prints and designs that we've become used to over the last several years but they've also been producing some slightly more "adult" pieces as well.

Two of my bigger inspirations for otona kawaii or just more "adult" style have been ex-LL Gals Chiharu and Michiko.

I swear Chiharu can pull off almost everything.
I especially love Chiharu in pants. I s2g I have almost bought pants so many times because I loved how she modeled them lol. But tbh freesize pants fit me kind of weird which is why I would typically prefer to try them on first which is rarely possible with online shopping. I have to admit that I didn't pay much attention to Chiharu until after she graduated from the LL Gals which is such a pity. I do honestly feel like the clothes look and feel different on her, mainly because she seems to fit many freesize items so well but also due to other styling elements including hair and shoes. There always seems to be at least a small element of fun to the outfits whether it be a color or funky print or another detail but it's not overpowering. She can wear the trends but still completely own the outfit and wear the clothes instead of having the clothes wear her.

Michiko's style in these photos is a bit different.
In contrast to Chiharu, Michiko's fashion is definitely more on the sweet/cute side rather than heavy on "trends". I don't think one is better than the other and I definitely like to see both sides. I feel like I see myself in Michiko's coordinates a bit more because they seem more achievable in a way. I absolutely admire Chiharu's looks at the same time but I know it's not something everyone can pull off due to the fit of the items being quite important. Recently from Michiko, I've been loving her medium length straight hair! It's not something you often see with himekaji but I'm kind of obsessed with it in transitioning the mood of clothes to match a slightly more otona coordinate. The shoes she's chosen to match are quite important as well.

Imo, an essential part of otona kawaii is the balance between cute and classic/"mature". Adult doesn't necessarily always mean longer length or more conservative but that definitely can help. I know that as I grow older, while I still might love my body, I just don't always feel the need to show so much of bare skin and I want to coordinate clothes in a different way that's still comfortable for me. And obviously there are different ways to wear clothes that flatter your body. Sexy doesn't always mean skimpy. Thinking again about balance, consider covering up a little more on your lower half (ex. legs) if your upper half (ex. arms or chest) is more exposed or vice versa.
Consider doing a more classic hairstyle than one that's over the top and cutsey. Curls aren't out of the picture by any means (because obviously people can have curly hair at any age) but the way it's styled or accessorized can make a difference. I particularly like the way Chiharu does her hair in long, loose curls that doesn't look overstyled. But I also really like Michiko's recent looks with her straight hair as well which really feels very sophisticated.
Consider your color palate. A really cutesy design in a more muted or downplayed color can often make it more adult. This is, of course, not to say that adults cannot wear exciting colors or pastels or anything like that but again, it's the way you wear them. If the design is cute, a certain other aspect of it, whether it be the print or the color or the other items in the outfit, should help balance it out.
Consider a cardigan lol. Idk why but to me, I feel like plain cardigans or cardigans with a single statement detail (for example, a bijou collar) can instantly make an outfit slightly more "adult" feeling. Especially scoop neck cardigans. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who feels that way but I do think they can definitely tone down an otherwise loud outfit whether worn tied around the shoulders or actually on the body.

These are some Liz Lisa staff snaps with items that I think could easily be used in otona kawaii coordinates or just already otona kawaii coordinates on their own -
photos from lizlisa.com
I feel like at this point it's pretty obvious that Liz Lisa can be used to create many different coordinates and looks. These may not be every Liz Lisa fan's favorite type of look (since many different customers use the items in very different ways which is one thing that I think is good about the brand), but it does offer opportunity. The chance is there.

Pulling from past blog posts, here are a few of my personal coordinates that I think already have a little bit of the otona kawaii vibe that use Liz Lisa, Juge Etta or Tralala items -
These aren't all perfect for otona kawaii, especially because I wasn't specifically aiming for an adult cute outfit at the time I was putting these together, but you can see that without me even really trying, it's not so hard to make these items a little more sophisticated. You can definitely also use many of these items in a more cutesy way though (and likely I did in a different coordinate from the same blog post) - it's all in the balance and styling. I feel pretty confident that I'd be able to dress "up" or "down" many of my existing Liz Lisa pieces.

What people might not realize about me is that my wardrobe and style is not completely consumed by Liz Lisa. Actually, I'd say that days and sometimes even periods of a week or two could go by without me wearing any Liz Lisa at all. I am lucky to have many different options for clothes to wear in my wardrobe (due, in part, to me rarely giving or throwing away any of my clothes because I always think there will be a situation in which I might need something), and really do look forward to utilizing these and other pieces in a whole new way as I grow older and my style inevitably changes.
I do honestly think that a style change is inevitable for me personally. I'm not someone who will stick to one thing for too long because I like to change it up. I haven't gotten bored with Liz Lisa yet likely because I'm not only wearing this one brand but also because they constantly release such a plethora of different items and it's not always the same old thing. I really do love and admire the variety of items they produce and I'm not one of those people who hope they release the same items year after year. If I had a little more disposable income, I'd love to buy a more "irregular" item every season and challenge myself to style it.
All that being said, I can already tell that I'm not ready to transition my wardrobe 100% yet. I look at some Liz Lisa items that are currently released and I know that they're what I would consider a bit young for me and I don't have a lot of places to wear these pieces and yet I'm still considering purchasing them haha! But in the same vein, I'm very much also keeping an eye on more "practical" pieces too. I don't feel the need to make a drastic change right now so maybe I'll end up purchasing 50% cutesy and 50% adult for a while whereas I might have been purchasing 100% cutesy several years ago lol. I think this is a good compromise for myself :3

As I look to slowly transition my wardrobe into a slightly new genre, I'm quite sad that Liz Lisa's sister brand Juge Etta is no longer producing new pieces because I had been looking forward to purchasing more from them in the future.

I also find that brands like ByeBye and Dazzlin are also good for otona kawaii coordinate inspiration -

What I think these brands do well is incorporate cute details such as a ribbon, lace, ruffle or even a print or cut of a garment but keep the overall look more classic and not so over the top. I do think I would be able to indulge the "cute" aspect of my fashion as well as balance the growing need for slightly more "mature" looks by purchasing items from brands like this in the future. The accessories tend to be more "classy" as well - you tend to see a lot of pearl stands or chunkier stone pieces that help enhance the outfit. There aren't as many character pendants (like wearing My Little Pony around your neck) or things like that.
I especially love the way these brands do separates in coordinates. While I love a fun A-line or flare skirt, I think my favorite kind of bottom is actually a fitted skirt that sits nicely on the waist. With a simpler skirt, I might do a more fantastical top (maybe something with an attention grabbing collar or print) and with a statement skirt, I would pair it with a plainer top. I think with the right shoes and bag, this creates a very simple but elegant coordinate that would be good in many different situations.

I was very nearly done with this post several weeks ago and then something got fckd up on Blogger and the draft was deleted. Tbh, I had been working on the content for this post little by little over maybe 7 or 8 days and had finally a lot of the verbiage exactly as I wanted. I also had everything almost perfectly sourced. I did my best to re-source the photos but I've had to be a little more general than I wanted to be with some. (I had initially uploaded and sourced immediately into the post so I didn't take extra time to track where I was looking and that specific information was lost.) The more I think about how much time I spent on this and how much effort I wasted, the more pissed I feel like. I almost didn't want to redo this post since honestly the topic is more or less inconsequential and it's basically just a opinion piece that I put way too much work into. I did have some somewhat strong motivation when I first started writing it but since the deletion, it has waned a bit and now looking at this is just making me irritated lol. Anyway, this post is definitely not exactly as I wanted it to be and I'm a bit forlorn about the whole deletion ordeal and yet here it is in this new form lol. I have to admit, this ended up less than I wanted it to be but I just can't see myself putting any more hours into it at this point. I felt really strongly when I started out weeks ago, but now feel almost resentful of this post lol.

As always, comments are welcome or appreciated, but the point of the post wasn't to garner any kind of reaction or asking for approval or reassurance about my age. Like I said at the beginning, this post is inadvertently serving as a somewhat personal reflection for me about my own sense of style and (gradual) changes in my life that will eventually lead me to wearing a slighting different genre of clothing while hopefully still being able to utilize some pieces from my past. If you like the idea of otona kawaii and how I would personally incorporate it into my own looks, that's great. If you don't, I hope our difference in taste will just add a little more variety into the world.
If you feel you are in a similar situation to me (no matter what your age), I hope you continue to explore your fashion profile and alternative coordinate options. You are not defined by your birthday and you are never too old to wear what you look and feel best in.