I wasn't sure if this post was necessary. I know several people who have already written about the topic and they've given some great advice. But I guess I have my own opinion and point of view (which doesn't necessarily disagree with anyone else's but is different in its own way), and I realized I do have something I wanted to say about this topic. I will addressing issues specific to Liz Lisa since I get asked about it the most personally, but many of these "tips" can definitely be applied to alternative or Japanese fashion as a whole.
I will be offering insight into the way I personally react to certain
situations based on past questions and maybe a little just general advice?
However, what works for me will not necessarily work for everyone and I would
implore you to try different things and see what feels best for you. It's not a
one size fits all mold and I don't even react the same way all of the time.
There's no right or wrong way to do it. I'm not saying you should be doing what
I'm doing, but I'm just trying to share what works for me and attempt to
address repeat concerns or excuses that I’ve seen.
"I wish I could dress like that but no one dresses like that here and people
think it's weird!"
I think one of the misconceptions I see most often is that it's common to wear Liz Lisa. Okay, let me tell you, it's weird where I live too.
In fact, in most places, especially outside East Asia (which lbr is, like,
most of the world), people WILL look at you for a little while longer because
you're wearing something different. That's just how it is. Because, guess what?
what you're wearing is a little different. But here's the thing -
THAT'S OKAY! Like honestly, even in East Asia people might still look
at you weird. I feel like some people have this warped view of Japan that makes
them think that everyone is walking around in alternative fashion over there!
That's really not the case. If you see what people are wearing in the
background of some of my trip photos, it's not full of people in lolita or
visual kei or agejo or anything like that. It's full of relatively
"normal" clothing. I don't really like to use the word normal in this
context but I think you get what I mean. It's like, clothes that don't stand
out or grab attention because it's so incredibly average. Jfashion brands are
not particularly special in Japan because people will usually have some element
of awareness of it but during my 7 day trip, I could probably count the number
of other girls (or I guess people since let's not eliminate just based on
gender) I saw wearing Liz Lisa (a major outfit item like an OP, coat or skirt
from the last 3 years) on one hand, even if I count Ebony lol. If you're
counting having a Liz Lisa accessory like a purse, necklace, hair clip etc,
that number increases slightly but still isn't anywhere near half or a
majority. It really depends where you are and when you’re going out. I’m not
saying that Liz Lisa is not worn by people in Japan because that’s far from
true, but just on a scale of things, gyaru or alternative fashion is not worn
by the majority of people even in Japan,
and depending on your location, you may not see anyone with obvious or
intentional fashion choices and you will stick out if you do. (This is, of
course, different in some specific areas like Shibuya, Harajuku, Namba, etc
where fashion is more of a focus.) People may not stare at you as much but that may, in fact, be a
cultural thing. And of course, it really depends who you are and what the
situation is because there may be more than one thing at play.
What I’m trying to get at is that what you’re wearing (or what you want to
wear) is different. Period. That’s it. It doesn’t matter where in the world you
“But I see lots of people [on the internet] doing it [therefore, it must be
I think sometimes people get a warped view of what is actually “popular”
based on their selective dashboards or newsfeeds. Here’s the thing - You often
cater those to yourself so you see what you want to see and don’t usually see
what you’re not interested in. You might see lots of different people on the
internet wearing Jfashion/alt fashion, but you’re probably somewhat
intentionally seeking that out by selectively choosing whom you follow and/or are
possibly being part of that community. It’d be a lot different if you were interested
in American/western fashion and mostly just followed blogs related to that. If
you follow a bunch of Jfashion/“Asian fashion" bloggers, you’re going to see a
lot of that kind of fashion and that’s going to make it seem like it’s really
popular and that people are wearing it all the time, everywhere. The reality is
that these people are likely from all different parts of the world, and while
some will have their local comms and lots of friends they can meet in person,
many others will not and they seek the internet as well to share their fashion
because they don’t have any IRL/local
support but online they do. I feel like I fall into the latter category.
I don’t personally have any really good friends IRL who I go out with and we
twin or dress up and talk about Liz Lisa, etc. (Whether this is my own fault
for not reaching out to anyone or not, let’s just leave that on the side for
now lol.) I strongly rely on social media to share and get feedback or
inspiration and I try to give back when I can. But when I’m going out of the
house and wearing Liz Lisa, I will not see anyone else who is dressed like me.
I know there are other people on Oahu who own Liz Lisa and are interested in
the fashion, but I just have personally never seen them or have been able to
discuss it with them (besides Rei who I wouldn’t have even met if she didn’t
take the initiative to reach out to me). The island isn’t even that big, but I
have somehow never managed to randomly bump into someone also wearing Liz Lisa.
There is also a well-established Lolita fashion comm here but I think I’ve seen
maybe 5 people total IRL (not just in pictures) wearing lolita in Hawaii in my
life. So when it comes to “no one else dresses like this here”, there’s two
components to this – 1. there may, in fact, be others out there who dress in
your same fashion style but you just never
see them and 2. it’s still okay to wear what you want even if there isn’t
anyone else doing it.
Okay but there are some social obstacles, so how to go about it?
"People stare/look at me."
Liz Lisa clothes are not too similar to a lot of other clothes, especially
outside of East Asia, and that’s one of the things that’s so great about it.
Because they are so different, many people are not used to seeing them and they
likely want to “stare” to figure it out. I feel like this is especially
true for some of Liz Lisa’s beautiful prints!
But honestly, the way I see it, this happens regardless of
what you are wearing. Sometimes you could be wearing something super ugly and
you'll get stares. Sometimes you could be wearing something super fabulous and
get stares. Sometimes you could be wearing jeans and a tshirt and you'll get
stares. This isn't something that you (as yourself) can do anything about.
We simply can't control what other people do. The best thing you
can do on your own is “manage” your reaction (on the outside at least) to
that whether it's passive, a little more aggressive or
no reaction. There's no right answer.
On the “aggressive” or action-taking side: When I catch someone intently
staring at me (not just like a glance to make sure they don’t walk into me
wtf), I find that when I catch their gaze and put on a smile or say hi, I’ll
get a lot of smiles back! And sometimes people will even take that as an
opportunity to deliver a compliment or ask a simple question about the clothes.
Honestly, I feel like a decent number of women and children really like the
clothes and are staring just because they think it’s nice to look at. Those who
don’t return the smile and quickly avert their gaze? Well now they’re embarrassed
because they got caught being rude as hell. This helps remind them that you’re
a person too and not an object and that you have feelings as well. Looking back
at them helps remind them of that. If it’s obvious that someone is just
gawking (like you can hear them making lewd or inappropriate comments), I’ll
probably throw in an eyebrow raise + frown (like really? Are you really that
obnoxious?) or some kind of stink eye but those are usually far and few
On the “passive”/no reaction side: I’ll probably just keep looking straight in
front of me at where I’m going and focus on walking, try to maintain some sort
of neutral or slightly positive facial expression and not falling down or
tripping. Or I might look to the side if there’s anything there and start
window shopping to avoid any kind of “confrontation” and pretend that I’m
completely content just being who I am lol. I’m not always in the mood to
challenge people tbh. And I don’t really feel like I’m on the “losing” side of
anything because sometimes I just don’t want to defend my fashion choices with overly
fierce confidence lol. I think really what I get in my head is a way to portray that I'm not embarrassed to be who I am or wear what I'm wearing and that others cannot make me feel bad about it because I feel so neutral or care so little about their reaction.
Again, these are not things I do to keep people from looking at me. There’s
no way to way to avoid that that I’ve been able to find. These are more like
coping mechanisms depending on my mood, where I am and what I’m wearing. There
are certainly many other ways to address staring but these are two basic ones
that I typically utilize without thinking too much. Regardless of how rude
other people may be, you’re doing the best you can and rocking what you’ve got,
and that’s already fantastic. It also doesn’t help to assume that all stares are
bad when in fact many of them might just be due to curiosity or in admiration. Keep
this in mind!
"People make comments about what I'm wearing." (you're overdressed,
why are you wearing that? etc)
I’ve definitely had people ask me why I’m wearing what I’m wearing or ask
where I’m going because of how I’m dressed. These questions are mostly annoying
but I know that sometimes it’s just someone trying to make conversation who
doesn’t have any malicious intentions at all. But of course, there are people
who are rude as well and just lack tact.
My reaction to someone engaging me about what I’m wearing will depend on who is
saying these things to me and what the situation is + what kind of mood I’m in.
Complete stranger that I’ll never see again who is likely just curious and
doesn’t realize why the question might be rude: I’ll probably just paste on a
smile and simply just explain to them that this is what I wanted to wear and I
like it. And more often than not, that’s the truth, is it not? Why else would I
be wearing it?
Acquaintance with mutual friends/acquaintances that I will see again
without a doubt or students/peers (when I was a student): I might take the time to explain my fashion choices and my interest in particular styles and brands. But I rarely go into full detail unless it seems like someone actually has a shared interest. I usually like to keep it short and to-the-point. Sometimes I also just flat out lie and make up a reason I'm wearing something if I don’t feel like explaining myself and feel like that will end the conversation the quickest. However, what I would ideally like to avoid is similar questions in the future, every single time I wear an outfit of similar "dressiness", so that doesn't always work.
Family members, friends, people who know me well and who I know well: I
usually don’t bother with the over polite stuff and the people who fall into this
category usually don’t comment on what I’m wearing because they have to accept
me anyway regardless of how I’m dressed lol. But if someone does make a comment
and it’s a little on the rude side but in a joking way, I’ll usually make a
joke back. If I were to get a “why are you wearing that?” type of comment, I’ll
probably say something like “why not??” or “why, want to trade?” especially if
it’s a male family member or friend or something along those lines, trying not
to take it too seriously. If they’re actually trying to give me a critique (like
they honestly think there’s something wrong with what I’m wearing), I’ll
probably listen and depending on what the criticism is, I’ll make changes but
usually not. These are the only people I’d be willing to actually deal with
comments from. Thankfully none of my family or friends are really outwardly
malicious to me intentionally and I don’t usually have to hear comments from
them about my outfits unless it’s a compliment.
Someone in a position of authority (over me or someone I know, for
example a supervisor, teacher, etc) that I don’t know on a personal or
friendly level: First and foremost, someone like your teacher shouldn’t be
commenting on what you’re wearing unless it has to do with an infraction of
school policy, especially if these comments make you feel uncomfortable and
you’ve voiced that. This is doubly true if you are a minor. If this happens to
you often, be sure to tell an authority figure (like a counselor, other teacher
or your parents) that you can trust what is going on. If it continues to be a problem, be sure to
keep a written record of the comments (the date it happened, what was said,
etc) and take it with you to someone in the administration. This can also be
the case for certain situations between supervisors and subordinates if it
turns into sexual harassment depending on the language being used and how often
it’s brought up when not in relation to company policy or employee conduct. But
if it’s not either of those situations and they’re just trying to make
conversation but are a bit awkward or don’t know that their comments about what
I’m wearing are unwelcome, it’s usually best and easiest to be polite unless
you already have a friendly relationship with them. In these cases, I’ll sometimes
make up some excuse about just grabbing whatever was at the front of my closet
or going out to dinner after or something because I just want to have a quick
explanation. Other times, I may just politely explain that this is the kind of
clothes I like to wear and ask if there’s something wrong with it (usually it
is not even remotely a problem so I already know the answer but want to make
them feel just a little uncomfortable for asking but not in an overt way so
they don’t do it again). In general (when it’s not harassment), it’s best to
keep the conversation light and cordial just because of the power they have
Someone regardless of relation who is clearly just trying to be a prick: If I
just have no patience that day and someone asks me why I’m “so dressed up”,
I’ll usually look at them directly in the eye with a completely serious face
and just say “I’m not”. Usually the way I say this doesn’t really leave
too much room for further discussion and shuts them up, but if they do try to
justify their comment in some way, I usually ask them why they think
that or say “what’s it to you?” and they really don’t typically have a
good reason tbh.
On the first day of an internship I was just starting, literally within about 15 minutes of walking through the door, a male coworker asked me "Oh, going to prom?" I had no idea what this meant at first since I didn't have a corsage or a date in formal wear and I wasn't wearing a prom dress. I was wearing a hi-lo black dress with blue hearts on it paired with sensible black pumps which overall could possibly be even deemed casual. I was caught off-guard so much that I didn't know what to say except, "No." Lmao. I mean, it's the first day of my new job and I didn't want to come off as someone without a sense of humor but 1. I didn't even know if it was a joke at all, and 2. Was that even remotely funny and how was I expected to respond to it? Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches, but I felt really self-conscious about what I was wearing for the rest of the day after that and I don't even think it was all that weird of an outfit.
I’ll accept comments about what I’m wearing if I agree that what I’m wearing
is inappropriate but there is a specific reason I’m dressed that way. Otherwise, clearly, I'm wearing something "out of the ordinary" because I like it, and I think I look cute. Duh. What else am I supposed to say?
"I feel self-conscious."
There's no secret way to get rid of this! I am self-conscious all the time
but it doesn't always have to do with what I'm wearing (it usually has to do
with eating) - although occasionally it does.
There are items I feel totally amazing in or think are outrageously
cute but just don't want to wear in public because I don't want to deal
with people's reactions. Like I said earlier, I know they are unavoidable and
not something I can help, so I usually don’t go out in anything I would deem a
little more out-of-the-ordinary unless I really feel confident enough to do it.
However, I would say that it does get easier the more you do it and being able
to employ whatever coping mechanisms you find. I know that confidence does not
just magically manifest overnight!
One thing that really helps me feel a little less self-conscious when I’m
out and about in Liz Lisa is having a really good idea of what I look like
before I go anywhere. By this I basically mean that I’m looking exactly as I
want to look and I like it. If I’m unsure about anything, I’ll look in the
mirror from a variety of angles and fix and adjust and make sure that
everything is as it should be. I do not leave until I feel 110% about the way I
look. (Or if there’s a problem area, that I’m at least already aware of it and
can make adjustments as necessary.) That way, when I’m walking around and people
are having any sort of reaction (positive or negative), I won’t care because I know that I look exactly as I
intended. And I’m not going to give two fluffs as to whether they like it or
agree or not. I like it. That’s what matters. And I know I look good ;P It
sounds kind of silly and maybe even a little conceited to write it out like
this, but it’s honest. There are times when I won’t care what I look like, but
when I do and when I’m wearing something I know may garner attention, I want to
look as good as I can. I do whatever I can to make that happen before I leave
the house and then keep that in mind as I walk around.
If you’re new to dressing in himekaji/alt fashion/Liz Lisa and really nervous
about how it will be perceived by strangers in public, a decent way to ease
yourself into it might be to go out with your friends first. One of the things
that helps me feel less self-conscious in public is having someone with me – my
mom, my bf, a friend, whoever. That way, I just don’t feel “alone” and there’s
someone else there who can distract me from whatever nonsense or rudeness is
going on around me by just talking or interacting or just basic human things
lol. I think on some level I think that having someone else with me also
validates to other people that “I have friends or people who tolerate me and
I’m not a hopeless loser who dresses weird”. This is probably not true but I
know that I unconsciously think that sometimes.
Of course, that doesn’t help me when I’m alone. I can’t always be attached
at the hip to someone whenever I want to wear Liz Lisa. There are many times
when I’m just out shopping by myself or killing time or whatever or I’m even
just walking somewhere to meet my friend lol.
If you’re alone and feeling a bit nervous, if it helps, you can imagine that
I’m walking with you. In fact, I’m sure that many of us from all different
parts of the world would gladly walk beside you in confidence while you’re
wearing Liz Lisa – or really, whatever you’re wearing.
“Only Asians/skinny people can pull it off."
BS. You can miss me with this one. This excuse has never been directed at me
personally but I’ve seen it floating around on comments on social media. The
idea that only Asians can feasibly wear or “pull off” girly or cute fashion/wearing
Liz Lisa is, frankly, ridiculous and not true. Asian should also not be synonymous
with skinny. Asian people come in all different shapes and sizes and their body
type is not indicative of race. But really, the point is that you don’t need to
be a size 0 to wear Liz Lisa – in public or not. Sure, freesize is not the most
inclusive of sizing options but that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t
wear Liz Lisa if you’re not a XS/S. And you certainly don’t have to be Asian.
I’m not sure what else I have to say about this. It just….It’s not fffing true.
DO NOT USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE. It can be incredibly insulting. I can understand
any of the other excuses on some level, but not this one.
[To be fair, if you don’t fit freesize at all (some freesize items don’t
even fit me well), then yes, I understand that to be a general complaint about Japanese brands and their sizing conventions,
but to say that only skinny people can “pull it off” is not valid.]
Anyway, what I want to say is throughout this entire post is that even
though it might be hard, you should wear what you feel confident in. The
more you wear things for yourself, the easier it gets. Your closet full of Liz
Lisa really needs to shine! High school can be a horrible place so maybe the
rude comments are inevitable (*even though they shouldn’t be*). It helps if your
friends can support you too. My friends didn’t always like what I was wearing,
but I don’t think they were ever too embarrassed to sit by me :)
There’s no correct way to handle these situations, so please do what you
feel comfortable with, but I hope that you continue to keep rocking your own
style and know that many of us who wear Liz Lisa stand with and support
I know it’s not always that simple though. Believe me, I do. I would suggest
maybe trying a few different things and see what you feel comfortable with and
what works best for you.
Truthfully I recycled some stuff from past asks, but only because I really
like how I wrote it the first time and it’s still what I think! (Sometimes you
can’t think of a way to write it any better lol.) Sorry this post was a bit of a text wall.
I may have come down with “tough love” and a bit too much
straightforwardness in this post, but at some point I have to stop dancing
around and trying to make everything seem magical. I understand that some
people may have severe social anxiety or certain illnesses that they cannot
simply "just get over" and this post may not be for you and you are
not who I am trying to address. This post may not be helpful if you require
professional or medical assistance. But for others who just need a little
fluffing or confidence boost or to know that you are not alone, I hope it might
be insightful in some way.
Feedback, comments or other advice are welcome!