I've been on this board for only a few days and all I keep seeing is "I'm new to the world of lolitas", "what am I gonna do", "it's so expensive", etc. So maybe I should share some tips about how to be a good lolita, and still respecting your budget. It's not that hard, you just need to know where to go and what to look for.
First of all, I hope you already read what EGL is all about, I will take this for granted. Second, you should have a look at http://www.freewebs.com/brokendolly/index.html
under "lolita styles" to try to find a style that is yours. People tend to think it's only gothic lolita, but there are many other styles, and you should find one that is good for you. Knowing a little more will get you out of the stereotype of the "cosplay lolita" who does it wrong.
Another site you should absolutely visit is: http://www.avantgauche.co.uk/
If you were buying the Gothic Lolita Bibles only for pictures of your favourite brands, this will save you a lot of money! By surfing in the gallery, you will find an incredible number of possibilities for your own clothes. It also gives you previews of some books (I'll come back on this later in this text).
If you are a beginner lolita and have no loli clothes at all, adding this new style to your closet will probably be a hard time. So we have to start being creative. The casual lolita style is fairly easy to do and great for beginners. You can still wear your favourite t-shirts with a nice skirt. On this site http://www.geocities.com/roriitapage/
you will find simple patterns for two skirts under "DIY". So you've already got 2 free patterns, how nice is that?
Plus, if you're starting, do not do things you don,t like because you've been told it's lolita, and do not do things you don't understand. Keep it simple and clean, and be yourself. You'll feel much better that way.
The "Bibles" are well known and they were probably your first purchase if you ever bought anything loli-related. But you will certainly agree it's quite expensive for a big catalogue. And since most of the brands shown do not ship outside of Japan, and anyway are very expensive clothing, they do not fit on our list for the budget lolita.
But don't be sad, Japaneses are very intelligent people and they produced more than one magazine on the subject. The "Gossu Loli" ("Gothic & Lolita"?) magazines are published twice a year and are filled with patterns to make your own clothes. So you can order those and make nice and elegant clothes you will like without sending all your precious money to Japan (and you'll keep some bread on your table). Plus, the patterns come in 4 sizes (S, M, L, LL) which is already a plus for us tall and strong Occidentals who cannot fit in a japanese small. If you have money only for one book, check on Avant Gauche (see the link earlier in this message) and pick the one that you like the most and that will be the most useful for you.
They usually have some tips for beginners too, like easy clothes and mix-match clothes (see this exemple: http://www.avantgauche.co.uk/gr6/19.jpg
it shows how to make 4 different looks with the same clothes). So I highly recommend them.
To use the Gossu Loli books, you will need to know how to sew (if you're here, I guess you have some notions). If you're used to american patterns, forget the slogan "it's so easy, it's Simplicity". The patterns are all printed on the same paper (don't worry, they use colors to seperate the pieces) and you will need to trace those on your own paper (I recommend the kind of half-transparent paper that we use for gift bags, you can buy this bulk). The instructions are numbered and illustrated, so you don't need to understand japanese so well to get the idea. I heard (could someone confirm this?) that the patterns in Cosplay magazines come in a similar format, so if you can understand those you will be fine.
In order to help you with the Gossu Loli patterns, you should print the PDF on this site: http://www.antipope.org/feorag/gosurori/
I think the file is self-explainative.
Other books you might want to look at if you can are:
- Homemade Gothic Lolita: It has been out of print for quite a long time now and I don't think we can expect it to come back. But apparently it contains all the basic clothes a good lolita would ever need. If you can find it (and you'll be lucky), it's an interesting purchase.
- G-L Bible Extras: There are only 2 of those so far. They contain a lot more patterns than a Bible could ever afford and some tips as well. I've never seen those in person but they look quite well done. It might be a must.
I know many online stores have those books and if you want to order them from your favourite place, that's ok. However, I will recommend http://www.hlj.com/
because they are the cheapest I've seen so far.
I think that's all for now. If I can think of something else, I'll add it later.
Have a good day and take care.