When my friend Victoria of Lolita Charm was planning to try out her first LARP experience in a local boffer LARP, she wasn’t sure quite what to expect and came to me for advice on how to incorporate Lolita fashion into her character’s wardrobe. I felt that this would be an ideal topic to discuss here, since I know many other lolitas who are also gamers, or lolitas who are interested in getting started in LARPs.
LARPs (Live Action Role Playing) can be broken down into two basic forms – demonstrative and salon. Demonstrative LARPs include “Boffer” style LARPs in which the actions of the characters are played out. The combat is done in real time with fake, boffer weapons. These types of LARPs usually take place in campgrounds over long weekends. You will be expected to remain in-character the entire time and will have to actually perform anything you want your character to accomplish. For example, in a table top game, you might play a bard and explain to the DM that your character sings a song in the local tavern to earn some money. In a demonstrative LARP you would be required to actually sit and sing if that’s what you wanted to do.
Salon style LARPs are more theatrical in nature. These include the MET (Mind’s Eye Theater) and Cthulu Live systems. In salon style LARPs, your character can perform actions you may not be able to. If you are playing a thief, you could make an ability check to see if you can open a lock rather than actually have to open the lock yourself. While dialogue and basic movements are all acted out, combat and abilities are determined by a system, often using rock-paper-scissors and dice rolling to determine the outcome.
In Demonstrative LARPs, you will likely be spending a lot of time outdoors being physically active and getting dirty. It is not an ideal LARP form for strict Lolita fashion, and in most cases demonstrative LARPs tend toward historical and/or fantasy genres, so straight up Lolita fashion is really not the way to go (you don’t want that Angelic Pretty OP covered in sweat and mud, do you?). However, you can create a wardrobe that is “Lolita inspired”. There are two ways to go about this; create your own outfit or shop around and build up a costume.
If you want to wear Lolita in a demonstrative LARP, I would advise staying away from brand and keep with inexpensive offbrand that you will be okay with possibly getting dirty or damaged. You may wish to consider delving into mori girl or dolly kei fashions which may be more appropriate. However, if you prefer to stick with Lolita, then I would suggest wearing more classic lines like the Innocent World JSK shown above. Since, as I mentioned, the majority of demonstrative LARPs are more fantasy based and take place in forest campgrounds, you will probably want to stick with more muted, natural tones. You can wear a faux-fur wrap or cloak over your dress. To add a touch of whimsy consider playing a fairy or an elf and add elf ears, fairy wings and/or a crown of flowers. Pair this with leather arm bracers and a good pair of comfortable boots as you can easily portray an elven archer or a fairy enchantress.
In Salon style, it is much easier to wear regular Lolita fashion since you will not be asked to participate in simulated combat nor will it be as physically taxing. Additionally, many salon style LARPs setting take place in modern times.
However, in cases of historical games taking place before the Victorian era, I would caution against wearing Lolita fashion in favor of working with the game’s aesthetic. In these cases, it’s best to just wear a costume of the appropriate time period to help with being consistent with historical accuracy. Likewise, a sci-fi or futuristic game setting may also not be appropriate. But for games taking place from the Victorian era to modern times, you should be all set.
The majority of salon style LARPs tend toward gothic and steampunk aesthetics, therefore classic and gothic Lolita attire will likely be the most appropriate. You can easily wear whatever attire you would normally wear out around the town for a salon style LARP since you will not be in any more danger of damaging your brand any more than you would going out on a shopping excursion. If you’ve never delved into steampunk, often times just adding a pair of goggles and a pocketwatch to your outfit will do. Character concepts like an occult scholar or an airship captain could be ideal for these type of games.
Surely you have noticed the lack of concepts here for sweet lolitas. That is because sweet Lolita style generally will only work in salon style LARPs set in modern settings. In that case, there’s not much you will need to do to adjust your outfit to the setting.
So in conclusion, if you are a Lolita wishing to get involved into LARPs and want to incorporate your fashion into the game, the key things to remember are the type of LARP it will be and what the game’s setting will be. It may simply not be appropriate for you to wear your frills at game, but there are plenty of times you can. Just do your research before jumping in.