June 23, 2016

How I discovered lolita fashion

A tomboy scientist went to a conference.. that's not a start of a bad joke, but beginning of my lolita adventures.

I had no skirts whatsoever, let alone a dress suitable for a formal dinner on a conference. I sat down to google yet another time, exasperated. The dresses I found in shops were mostly elastic tubes or tasteless heaps of fabric. But then, I saw.. a wine dress, well fitted, decently long and with a comfortable A-line cut. The perfect dress popped out between the images.

Little did I know its the often coveted Mary Magdalene's Emmelia OP. I went to the shop, called milanoo.com, and looked around. So many beautiful dresses! I spent the evening browsing the site.. but fear not! Before ordering the dress from the well known scammer site I saw earlier, I noticed most of the nice dresses have 'lolita' in the name and went back to google to find more about it.

Forward to two weeks of googling later, a bit of a confusion when stumbling upon the OTT sweet lolita photos, and fumbling around with making a livejournal account, I bought my very first lolita piece. A secondhand Innocent World's Florence OP. The lace was nothing like I had ever seen before, the dress was comfortable but pretty! And I felt pretty too! I was hooked.

In the end, I didn't find a dress for the conference dinner, but I found something more precious. I found beauty and softness I didn't think existed. World of innocent cuteness free of struggle and bland reality of daily existence. I found lolita fashion and for the first time in my life became interested in clothes.

June 1, 2016

2016-06 My TaobaoNow experience: Positive (with reservation)

For quite a time I was looking on all the cheap lolita items on chinese shopping portal TaoBao, and I finally decided to do the plunge. TaoBao is basically a chinese ebay, full of smaller shops you can order goods from in China, and also of over a hundred of small lolita fashion makers. Of course, it has a chatch - only domestic shipping, that is in China. To get the goodies abroad you need a shopping service. Someone whom you pay to make the order on your behalf, then collect the items and send them abroad to you. So I read up on TaoBao shopping services reviews and decided to try TaobaoNow. They have an easy to navigate website, 10% service fee and reasonable shipping costs.

I had to decide on the items I'm going to buy. TaoBao uses a chinese symbols, so I used Google's addon to Chrome web browser to automatically translate webpages. Some of the translations are weird though, for example cream or nude color translated as 'generating'. To find the lolita shops on TaoBao, I looked around for lists of TaoBao lolita shops, which are more or less outdated, so I put them together and added whichever other suitable shops I came across and this is the result (to be still improved in future): 

If I wanted to buy all I want, I'd need a small truck for it (and bigger bank account!) so I had to narrow down what I am after. Secondhand dresses are easy to come by, I got stocked on boots from Bodyline and An*Tai*na, and tights and socks can be bought locally or on ebay. What I'm missing badly is decent lolita accessories. Most items in local stores are shiny, glittery, or just wrong color and easthetics for my sweet lolita outfits! Good accessories can be bought secondhand too, but its rare to find more than one I'd want to buy from one seller so I'd have to get them shipped to me one by one from all over the globe. The total shipping cost would be such a waste of money I could use better! It's decided, its accessories time! I ordered 8 items from total 3 TaoBao shops. Here is a part of the order details.

During ordering, you simply copypaste into their form links to items on Taobao and state details (color, size, amount ect.). I wrote exactly what the translator showed for the options, to make sure they understand. At any time you can write comments to your order and any of the items, they reply quickly and politely. They check the availability of the items and invoice you the amount of (item price) + (domestic shipping) + (10% fee). After receiving your payment, they order the items, wait for them to get to their warehouse, check them, pack them all together. weight them and write you what are your shipping options. 

One of my items was unavailable by the time they ordered it, bad luck I guess. So in the end my small order of 7 items and 0.24kg was offered 4 ways of shipping, ranging from 10 USD China AirMail Small Parcel to 48 USD EMS. After paying for shipping, they send you the packet and let you know the tracking number. I picked the cheapest, slowest method. It took a few weeks to arrive, but eventually it came!

Every item was packed separately and they were clumped together and tightly wrapped in a bubble wrap. There were a few cute stickers on the packaging and a few gifts from the shops.When I laid everything out...

One item turned out to be wrong  - the silver double star clip was supposed to be a stars on a string clip. My order comment was correct but they messed up and ordered different variant of the item. Oh well.. not much damage done. They apologized and thats it, I guess. I got the goods I paid for (thought not what I ordered) so even if they wanted to refund me those 1.80 yuan for the item, I'd have to pay shipping of the wrong item back to them, which would be many times more expensive. Can't have both the money and the item.  

There is one additional feature on their website worth mentioning -  tracking bars with icons, which allow you to quickly asesss the progress of any item and the whole order as well.

All in all, my order went smoothly. They were quite quick and communicated well, most of the time was spent waiting on the shops to deliver the goods domestically. I ordered 8 items from 3 shops, 1 item was unavailable and 1 they messed up. In the end, I got 2 headbows, 3 hair clips with bows and 7 hair clips with stars, together for 30 USD + 10 USD shipping. Not bad deal, not at all.  Maybe I'll throw the stars string to my next order.