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I’d like to start by saying that this post is NOT meant to be taken as though I’m trying to tell you how to dress, or trying to sway you either way with brand or offbrand. (And it’s also got nothing to do with replicas!) I’m hoping that somebody will find this useful, and maybe be inspired to try out offbrand if they haven’t or try out brand if they haven’t, or at least help to inform of whether or not it’s for them. I encourage everyone to try out their own styles, always! I’d like to highlight some of the advantages of buying either one.

Oh and just to be safe, I realise that what I wear doesn’t always co-ordinate perfectly. I do not seek any criticism etc, but you can always feel free to give me suggestions!

So can you tell the difference?


Well, you can tell the difference, because most of you will have seen the first dress before (I was harking on about it on Facebook in the not-so-distant past), but what do you think if you haven’t? Do you prefer the dress on the right?

LEFT: Offbrand dress found at a local non-high street store. 
RIGHT: Lolita Brand from Japan, BTSSB.

I’ve seen this lovely cutsew dress on the right made by Baby, The Stars Shine Bright sell second hand and BNWOT for $85-$125 USD.

Now here’s the thing. In comparison, even at the cheapest I’ve seen the example BTSSB dress is still almost 5x the price of the offbrand one. Which begs the question, “Do most Lolita’s buy for the brand tag?”

Most probably. But there are other reasons to pay the heftier charge. I’ve compiled a little table to help you decide whether those reasons are enough to warrant buying brand over cute offbrand when you see it. The table is only based on my observations of brand and offbrand dresses (and accessories!) that I own, as all brands and offbrands are different and have varying quality and details!





·         It’s often a lot cheaper to buy offbrand, as you can pick up items for as little as £10

·         It comes in a range of sizes, including larger sizes which most “brand” doesn’t accommodate. (My example is up to 40” bust!)

·         Usually, they’re washer safe

·         Offbrand can be found in your local shops, so you can actually try things on and see them in person.

·         It’s been specifically designed for lolita fashion

·         Fabric tends to be thicker and of better quality (and mostly anti-wrinkle!)

·         Trims tend to be expensive looking and of the best quality (i.e. cotton lace, thick ribbon etc)

·         There are some unique and detailed prints

·         Brand tends to be easier to sell if you decide to part with it. The pieces are recognisable and usually have names which make them easier to identify.


·         Fabric wrinkles easily because the jersey is quite thin

·         It was probably not designed with Lolita fashion in mind

·         Often, thin fabric makes offbrand more suitable for summer only, or for layering

·         There tend not to be any trims or adornments

·         OR they can have cheap trims that are best just being taken off

·         It’s expensive. (You can pick up 2nd Hand brand dresses for about £70-£350, or new ones for around £120-£450)

·         Generally only comes in the lolita size “M” or standard size, which fits a UK 8, through 10, to a 12 but rarely comes larger. Some brands do carry larger sizes, but they are limited.

·         Some brand can be difficult to look after. In general, they are dry or steam clean only, and prints can run and contaminate other parts of the fabric or trims.

·         Most of the time, you’re going to have to buy off the internet. This means you can’t see it in real life or try it on, plus you have to pay shipping fees and import fees on top.


My example offbrand is white, and with it I want to watch what underwear I have even beneath my petti, so I’ll put on bloomers, because the fabric is very thin!

I have to admit, the fabric that my BTSSB example is made from is very soft to the touch and doesn’t wrinkle up. I had to wash a mark out of the front and it was fine.

 If you decide to buy offbrand, here’s a quick checklist of things you might like to consider before parting with cash:

Blouses & Cutsews:

Can you see through the fabric? (not a problem if you wear a JSK over it); Does it fasten up to the collar?; Does it have lolita features such as ruffles, lace, or bows?; Is the length acceptable?; Will it wrinkle awkwardly if you try to wear it with a puffy skirt or under a JSK?; Does it have sleeves? Are they cute, or at least acceptable?; Is the colour okay? i.e. will it go with other Loli staples such as things in saxon blue, loli pink, antique cream, white, offwhite, mint, pale yellow etc?

Skirts & JSK & OP:

Is the length acceptable? Even ero-loli and punk loli co-ordinates tend to have their limits on shortness; Is the fabric lolita? i.e. does it have a print? Is it made from something tacky and shiny or is it nice, heavy weight and closely weaved fabric?; Does it have trims? Are they plastic looking or are they soft and nice?; Can you fit a petti underneath it for the lolita silhouette? (This can be a-line, cupcake, or otherwise, but most lolita skirts have the loli shape)

Offbrand skirts that are made by high street stores tend to have lining in them that inhibits any petti you try to wear with it. Check that you can fit your poof underneath it!

Indie brand skirts (“goth/punk” labels) can sometimes use lace which is a little tacky and plastic and itchy to the skin.

If you’re not sure that the offbrand you want to buy is classically “Lolita Fashion” then it’s a good idea to consult the ever-growing guidelines of this wonderful little article:  http://lolita-handbook.livejournal.com/

Remember! If you see something cute but it won't fit into a Lolita co-ordinate, there's a chance you can still wear it hime, gyaru, or some other cute style! (A lot of cute skirts are great for summer when it might be just TOO hot to wear lolita layers.)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 24th, 2011 09:37 am (UTC)
Great article! ^^

I think you look awesome with the bonnet! ^^
Apr. 24th, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)
Thank you dear! I just get the comment of "Little Bo Peep" a lot from the nursery rhyme when I wear it ^^' But I really like it!
Dominic Abbott
Apr. 25th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
offbrand seems better cos of the cost really doesnt look that different, u look great in both btw x :D
Apr. 26th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah the cost of brand lolita clothes really throws people for a loop when they find out how much we can spend on our clothes! Thanks for your input :) And thank you for the kind compliment!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

About the Candescent Carousel Blog

A mish-mash blog of cosplay updates, fashion and vanity intrigue, and life as I know it in the hectic wonderland of Natasha Lee Tyler.

Please enjoy my various misadventures!

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