Friday, August 24, 2018

My Five Favorite Taobao Shops

Happy Friday, dear readers! This post came to mind while I was browsing the Lolita Updates group on FB. Throughout my time in the fashion, I've discovered certain Taobao shops that I trust unconditionally. No matter what they release, I can absolutely guarantee that the item will be worth every penny.

I won't say that I'm the toughest consumer, but there are certain things that can make or break my opinion of a shop. First of all, if a Taobao shop doesn't, or barely, makes items in my size range, that means I am not their target customer. If a shop can't meet my needs in sizing, there's really no need for me to shop from them.

Inconsistent quality is another mood-killer for me. There are a few shops out there that release a few gems, and then, all their other items are sub par. Or others, where their floral pieces are A++, but everything else is awful. I can't handle wishy-washy shops, and that will push them off this list as quickly as poor sizing.

If I'm spending my money, I want to feel confident in the shop's ability to make great items every time.

Unreasonable pricing is something else that will completely turn me off from a Taobao shop. Most people turn to Taobao for overall affordability -- most go to Taobao because they don't want to pay brand prices. So to me, it makes no sense for a Taobao shop to charge the same prices as the big brands because that's not what I go to Taobao for.

If I wanted to spend $300 on a piece, I'd just buy new releases from the brands. That's not to say that all higher priced Taobao items aren't worth the price -- some of the brands pump out an amazing quality that warrants the cost (think Elpress L, Classical Puppets, and Krad Lanrete). Still, I don't own any items from any of those shops, haha. I know the term "unreasonable" is subjective given the cost of Lolita fashion in general, but I'm mostly just explaining my thought process.

The final gauge I use to form my opinion on a Taobao shop is timeliness. I refuse to order anything from a shop that takes forever and a year to make items. It's one thing to go into a reservation knowing that you'll be waiting a while; it's a whole other discussion for a shop to take 6 months to make a headband, -_-

There are a few shops that I will never order from because every review I've seen mentions a 4-month+ wait time on simple items like blouses and hats. Imagine how long it'll take for a JSK?? I know that demanding a fast turn around time on custom items may seem a bit unreasonable, but there are shops out there that have been reported to take over a year for some pieces. By the point, I'd probably forget what I ordered. No, thanks.


Now that we have a clear picture of the criterion I use for a "favorite" Taobao shop, here are my five favorite Taobao shops, in no particular order.

Pennyhouse

Pandora Crown OP stock photo, I do not own!
I love Pennyhouse so much. Their items are just so classy and wonderfully designed. I've purchased an OP (review here) from them, and it's a really comfortable piece with beautiful detailing.

One noticeable feature of Pennyhouse's main pieces is that they consistently make their L or XL size fit over a 100 CM bust. For the OP pictured above, the max bust is 110 CM, which is well within my range. So far, there have been only a few items that I couldn't fit from Pennyhouse, and while those items were lovely, I wasn't particularly heartbroken over it, XP

Stock photo, I do not own.
In addition to main pieces, Pennyhouse makes cutsews, blouses, shoes, bags, coats, and accessories. I covet their shoes and bags more so than the main pieces, if I'm honest. Their shoes put most other shops to shame, and even though they're a little on the pricer side, the quality makes it worth it.

Shoes stock photo, I do not own!
Can I also just say that I really appreciate their stock photos? These pictures have me reaching for my wallet, and I can't do that right now!

To check out more of Pennyhouse's fabulously photographed catalog, visit their storefront with this link.

Milky Way

Stock photo, I do not own!
Milky Way is my go-to shop for Lolita bags on Taobao. I love that they create such unique designs, and the fact that the bags are actually functional just blows my mind!

Pricing wise, I think the prices are extremely reasonable for their bags, and they are crafted beautifully. I've had my Milky Way star bag (pictured above) for about a year now and so far, nothing on the bag has ripped, torn, or broken off. I love the versatility of my 3-way bag, and it feels really sturdy, so I never worry about it breaking on me when I'm using it. 

Stock photo, I do not own.
Milky Way's bags also come in a wide variety of colors, which is not always something that other bag shops offer. The wait time for each piece isn't awful, though some reservation bags will obviously take a longer time period. Still, the bags are beautiful, sturdy, and unique so they're well worth the expense.

You can grab your own cute bag from Milky Way from their shop, found here.

Elegant Cat

Stock photo, I do not own!
Oh, Elegant Cat, let me count the ways in which I love you. For accessories, Elegant Cat is the first shop I check for coord planning. They have wristcuffs, headbands, hats, brooches, and everything in between. I've purchased a headband and wristcuffs (read about it in Taobao Haul #7) from Elegant Cat, and was 100% pleased with both pieces.

The prices there are crazy affordable for the quality, and I haven't had an item break on me yet! I really appreciate Elegant Cat's color selections for each accessories. They don't just stick with a particular set of colors, and instead offer about 10 or more unique color options for certain items, like their wristcuffs. The items with only a few color options are just as good as their more diverse counterparts, though.

Their items are made quickly as well. When I ordered my wristcuffs, it took about a week for them to be made and shipped to the SS, which is a really great turnaround time for Taobao items. They also tend to include freebies -- I received free items both times I ordered from them!

Visit Elegant Cat's front page here.

Yidhra

Stock photo, I do not own!
Size? √
Great Quality? √
Price? √√√
Timeliness? √+

If you're looking for plus sized, stretchy, soft, beautiful tights, you will never, ever go wrong with Yidhra. I haven't bought a bad pair of tights from Yidhra yet, and I own three pairs. Lately, Yidhra has been making OTK socks and thinner tights. I can't vouch for the sizing on those items, but for their usual tights, the description page explains clearly both the height and size range of each item.

For a more detailed look at my Yidhra tights, see Taobao Haul #9 and my King's Key review. Once you've read up on that, hurry on over to their shop and grab some gorgeousness for yo legs with this link.

Rainbow

Stock photo, I do not own!
Last, but certainly not least is the newest shop to join my Favorites: Rainbow! They produce high-quality shoes that are carefully packaged with love and care. I took a shot at buying shoes from Rainbow just a few months ago, and now I can't wait to order my next pair! Read my review here.

My shoes are comfortable, look beautiful in photos, and they were shipped in a lovely box with their own shoe bags for protection. Rainbow sells their shoes at perfect price for the great quality, and they have a pretty wide size range -- between Chinese size 34 and 42.

Though the shoes took a little over two weeks to be made, I was more than willing to wait. Though their color and shoe selection isn't as large as a store like Sosic Shop, I can safely say that the quality of the shoes I got from Rainbow is definitely better.

Take a look at Rainbow's catalog of shoes at their store front

I hope that all of my readers are able to find something to buy from my favorite Taobao shops! At the start of this year, I made it a personal Lolita goal to support the Taobao shops that consistently create pieces that fit my size range or larger.

Since this hobby is so consumer based, I feel the most powerful when I'm able to vote with my dollars. Though that may not be important to everyone, I really appreciate the shops that do their best to cater to a market as diverse as the global Lolita community. 

Tell me, dear readers, do you have a favorite, go-to Taobao shop? Share it with me in the comment box below!

Until next time, my loves, <3

Stay beautiful, stay true,
~J

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Lost Forest: Rose Castle JSK

I was supposed to write this review a lonnnnng time ago -- I'm sorry for the delay, everyone! I was super hype when I ordered this gorgeous JSK. It fit every checkbox on my visuals list. The moment I saw the pictures, I knew I had to have it!

This was my first time ordering a piece from Lost Forest, and I definitely would order from them again! The amount of detail in this JSK is superb. But enough of me talking about it; it's better to show you, right?

Rose Castle JSK

Stock photo, I do not own!
I ordered the Rose Castle JSK in navy and it's sooooooo lovely~! I was so happy to discover that the color is a close match with many of the other navy items that I own. I'm all about wardrobe cohesion lately, and it's really hard to build up your wardrobe when every item is a different shade of blue, X_X

My package.
Right out of the box, the package comes with the JSK, matching accessories, a pair of (random) socks, and the coolest hanger I've ever seen. I'll talk more about the fancy hanger later, but I was pleasantly surprised to see all of these items, as the socks, hanger, and accessories were all freebies.

My freebies!
I hope I can use the ankle socks for a coord at some point, but I'm really excited about the hanger! It folds up, which will make it perfect for travel. I don't think I've ever seen a hanger like this before, so I was excited to find a folding hanger that extends to a full size. What a world we live in!

My JSK!
After taking everything out of the package, I unfolded my JSK and hung it up with the foldable hanger. The JSK is absolutely beautiful in person. There are so many details to be found in this piece, and I appreciated the craftsmanship behind it.

The JSK has back shirring, which makes it great for a variety of sizes. At 104 cm bust, I wouldn't recommend this JSK for anyone with a larger bust than mine. It fits, and thankfully the straps are adjustable which makes for a more comfortable wear.

Back of the JSK.
In addition to the back shirring, the JSK has waist ties, adjustable straps with buttons at both the front and the back, two bustle ties at the front of the skirt, and a zipper. Putting on this JSK was a lot easier than some of my other pieces with the button at the front -- I was able to leave one strap buttoned, at the proper length, while I zipped up the JSK, and once it was zipped, I simply hooked the front button to put it on completely. It's such a simple concept, but many of my other JSKs don't have that feature.

The border print.
The color, print, and fabric of this JSK are absolutely wonderful. The piece feels comfortable, and the lace isn't itchy at all. I love the design so much, and I love that this JSK is versatile -- I can make it OTT as heck, or just wear it as a simplistic coord.

JSK Bodice
My biggest complaint about this JSK is the way the bodice is shaped. The center portion of the dress is built a little oddly, where the torso is a bit longer than I need and the seam where the skirt starts does something weird with my bust/petticoat. To combat that, I tried wearing the JSK with my petticoats above my belly button and while that fixed the issue somewhat, it still made for a somewhat unusual fit. Still, it's not that big of an issue, and I feel like that problem has more to do with my own body shape than anything.

Since I was trying out my new dress, I decided to put together a coord for this review! Unfortunately, it rained, and my backyard was a muddy mess, but I was still able to get my coord picture. Take a look, :)

Coord photo!
All in all, I'm thoroughly impressed with the JSK! The only thing that would make me like the piece more is pockets, but that's a rare commodity in this fashion, XP

I'll give Lost Forest a 6 out of 8 for the Rose Castle JSK! Check out their storefront featuring a variety of Lolita clothes, coats, bags, and accessories with this link!

I have another sponsored review coming soon, and after that, I'm going out of the country for a week! I wanted to blog about my trip, but I might just record a bunch of videos instead! Would you be interested in reading some travel posts, dear readers? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope all of you are doing well, and I hope all of you are living your best life. Until next time, my loves!

Stay beautiful, stay true,
~J

Saturday, July 21, 2018

**Sponsored** Glimmer Bat Studio: Bath and Beauty Review

Hello, hello! I'm back again with a sponsored review this time!

A few weeks ago, I was sent a lovely package of goodies from Glimmer Bat Studio, and it took me a bit of time to test out everything I received. In order to form a more well-rounded opinion, I even recruited some help this time -- my boyfriend tried out some of the products with me, <3 

Given that this is a sponsored review, I won't assign an actual rating on the products, like I do for my other items, but I will highlight my feelings on each item. Be sure to check out Glimmer Bat Studio's shop over on Etsy with this link!

So many awesome goodies!
In my box, I received:

-Two Lip Balms in Lavender Honey
-Two Sample sizes of the Tabula Rasa soap
-One Lip Sugar Scrub
-One Hair Re-Animator Hot Oil Treatment

Each product is vegetarian, and made with ingredients that are geared towards helping your body, as well as the environment! 

Lavender Honey Lip Balm

The lip balm.
Since I was given two lip balms in my box, I decided to give one of them to my boyfriend to test with me. Both of us enjoyed the light scent of the lip balm, and I felt like it was pretty moisturizing without being greasy. It didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth either, which is a problem I seem to have with some of my lipsticks, X_X

I also applaud Glimmer Bat for putting a label on the chapstick that's legible and easy-to-understand. My biggest issue with a lot homemade products is that the labels tend to slide off as the products sweat or dissolve, but this label hasn't had any issues at all.

All and all, it's a great balm! A single balm retails for $3 on Glimmer Bat Studio's Etsy store, or you can grab 2 for $5.

Tabula Rasa Soap

Tabula Rasa Soap
I'll be 1000% honest here and say that I had no idea what the heck "tabula rasa soap" was until I Googled it. Tabula Rasa Soap is supposed to be used as a shaving soap, to replace shaving cream or whatever other substance one might use while shaving. I was completely unaware of this fact, so I've used up one of my two soap samples as just a plain jane soap: mostly to wash my hands and clean my makeup brushes. In those aspects, it worked pretty well, so I have no complaints.

I used my second sample for the proper shaving purposes, and it was great! My skin felt so smooth and soft after shaving, and like the lip balm, the soap has a pleasant scent that isn't extremely overwhelming.

My small complaint with this product is mostly due to my own ignorance -- I would have liked more of an explanation about tabula rasa soap, such as the benefits of it, and its uses. A little info card included in the package would make sure that customers are utilizing the product to its full potential.  

You can grab your own bar of tabula rasa soap from Glimmer Bat Studios for just $5.

Lip Sugar Scrub

Lip Sugar Scrub!
The last two products in my box were definitely my most favorite items. This fantastic sugar scrub is $3 for 2 fluid ounces and it comes with a spatula. It made my lips so smooth and soft.

The sugar scrub is made from all natural ingredients and it's actually edible! Though I personally don't go around eating sugar scrubs, I'm glad that if I accidentally ingest some of this, I won't have to rush to the ER, XP

The lip scrub plus the lip balm work perfectly together. Though I wouldn't say that the lip scrub is particularly drying, it does feel like it strips away whatever is on my lips (including lipstick), so I always follow up with the lip balm I received. It's a great routine for nighttime, and you'll wake up with supple, moisturized lips! 

Hair Re-Animator Hot Oil Treatment

I accidentally used up the product before I could take an individual shot, X_X
Out of everything, both my boyfriend and I loved the Hair Re-Animator Hot Oil Treatment the most. Since we both have African American hair, we opted to just leave the treatment in our hair instead of washing it out, since our hair needs the oil anyway.

My boyfriend has really dry hair, and an even drier scalp that tends to flake up quite often. In the past, he's used shampoos that specifically targeted these issues, but none have worked as well as this Hair Re-Animator -- that's how amazing this product is.

To heat the oil, I filled a mug with hot water and placed the entire single-use packet in hot water for about 5 to 10 minutes. Since we both have short hair, that one packet was more than enough oil for the both of us. I applied the treatment to our freshly washed hair with my hair still a little damp while his hair was towel dried. I made sure to massage it into my boyfriend's scalp really well. 

Immediately after application, I could see the sheen on his scalp from the oil treatment. That same sheen lasted a full three days later. By day four, my boyfriend told me that his scalp felt a lot less itchy than usual and he also hadn't noticed seen dry flakes at all. Unfortunately, we used up the packet during our first test, so by the end of the week, his scalp was back to acting up.

For my own hair, I didn't notice a huge difference, but I also use a lot more products in my hair on a daily basis. I will say that the hot oil treatment felt nice and I noticed my own scalp was a lot less itchy, so it seemed like the product worked for me.

Mostly, I was just shocked at how well it worked in my boyfriend's hair! He's already asked me if we'll be getting more of "that oil stuff" so it sounds like we'll have to get a full sized bottle of Hair Re-Animator very soon. A single-use packet is only $1.50 and a 2-oz. bottle is $8.

As I mentioned earlier, I won't be giving a numbered rating for Glimmer Bat Studio's products since this review is sponsored, but I'll leave with the exact same note that I left on my Pixel Spa review: please support small businesses! These items are crafted with thoughtful care and consideration for both you and the environment, and they're crazy affordable! There's no reason not to, :)

I finally received a Taobao dress after a three month long pre-order, so that review is coming up next. I also have two concerts to attend at the end of the month, so I might make a blog post about one of them, and share my coord with you, <3

Thanks for sticking with me for this review and I'll see y'all in the next one!

Stay beautiful, stay true,
~J

Monday, June 25, 2018

Paradiso 2018: A Model's Perspective **Lengthy Post**

I know, I know -- I'm ssssuuuuppperr late. I'm sorry, y'all. When I say I have been busy~! Actually "busy" can barely describe what's been going on in my life for the last couple of weeks. Maybe "hectic" is a better fit.

Anyways, I'm finally here with my review of Paradiso! For those who don't know, Paradiso is a 2-day Japanese fashion event in Kansas City. This year's Paradiso was a year full of firsts for me: Goth Bae and I got to participate in the fashion show, and I finally got to go to the tea party!

Paradiso banner, I do not own!
Since I have a lot to say, I just want to get right into my breakdown of the weekend. I'll try to highlight as many points as I can, so please bear with me, dear readers: this one is gonna be pretty lengthy.

If you'd like to read my previous post on Paradiso before starting this one, you can read about Paradiso 2017 here.

Pre-Party: Meet, Greet, and Swap
People with their goods to swap and sell!
The Pre-Party Meet, Greet, and Swap was held the day before the actual event, on the second floor of the event space. I was so pleased to see that instead of having a consignment shop at Paradiso, they created a "Day 0" type of event, which made it much easier for attendees to swap or sell their stuff.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short event, as it gave me a chance to see my fellow attendees in their "civilian" clothes, and say hey to everyone in a more casual atmosphere. 

The swap event was free for all attendees with a Paradiso badge, or $10 for those that didn't have a badge, but still wanted to attend the swap. I didn't hear of anyone that paid the extra $10, but given that we were in such a contained space, I'm sure it would have been easy to tell who didn't belong.

However, not once did I worry about randoms appearing out of nowhere with no idea what was happening, which was a minor issue at the hotel last year.

I had a fairly successful swap too -- I managed to trade a skirt that I never wore for a gorgeous second-hand blouse!

Table full of swap goods!
The swap also gave us the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the Athenaeum a bit. I was able to find out where the bathrooms were located throughout the space, the exit doors, and the general location of all the events taking place on Saturday. 

The Athenaeum, I do not own this image!
All and all, I loved the Pre-Party! I really hope Paradiso continues to have additional events like this one to make their weekend celebration a more well-rounded experience.

Day One: Fashion Show
My AirBnB!
On Day One, Goth Bae and I had to report to the venue by 8:30 am for model prep and rehearsal. We stayed at an AirBnB that was a mere fifteen minutes from the venue so to give ourselves a bit of time, we woke up at about 7 am. We got all our modeling gear together, ate a little bit, and did our base makeup before heading back over tothe Athenaeum to start off our busy day.

As a side-note: I love AirBnB! I've been using it to book rooms for every con and event I've gone to since last year. Book a room (or house!) for your next trip and get $40 off with my referral link!

Like I mentioned earlier, this was my first time modeling in a J-Fashion Show, even though I've hosted two of my own shows previously. To be on the model's side of things was an eye-opening experience, and one that I'm extremely thankful for. 

Goth Bae and I modeled for the awesome J-Fashion Indie brand, Puvithel, though sadly, our designer wasn't able to attend Paradiso. For more information about Puvthiel's brand, and to check out her fantastic pieces, visit her Etsy shop here.

Puvithel brand logo, I do not own!
I definitely wasn't expecting to be accepted to model for Puvithel, but once I found out, I was really excited to push my style limits by modeling her clothing. 

Once we arrived to the Athenaeum, we were gathered up by brand, and given instructions on the schedule by the Fashion Show coordinator. From there, we had our fashion show rehearsal on the stage downstairs, and then sent back upstairs to do our hair and makeup.

Models and MUAs prepping for the fashion show.
After doing our hair and makeup, we were given some time to shop at the booths before attendees arrived to officially begin the event. I will say that it seemed like we were given a little more time than was necessary to get dressed and ready for the fashion show, but at the same time, I know that having extra time is better than not having enough time. 

Eventually, showtime rolled around and the models were all lined up by brand order. I was grouped with the rest of the Puvithel models, and in case y'all are reading this -- All of y'all are absolutely incredible! Thanks for chatting with me and letting me run my mouth about random topics to get rid of my nervousness and jitters.

Group shot with my fellow Puvithel models!
Photo credit: Fatimah Roberts
Goth Bae and I were spooky sisters, wearing Puvithel's Slaughterhouse 413 print. I was assigned the JSK to wear, and Lorelai was paired with the high waisted skirt. Here are our fashion show coords!

My fashion show coord!
Coord Breakdown-
JSK: Puvithel Slaughterhouse 413 JSK
Blouse: Ebay
Everything Else: Offbrand or Taobao
Photo credit: Shintaro Maeda. 

Goth Bae's coord! I love those shoes and her dramatic eye makeup!
Photo credit: Shintaro Maeda.
After the fashion show, we were asked to return the fashion show pieces to our Brand Coordinator, and change into our normal coords. It was at this time that we were able to shop a little more, and eat.

Day One: Shopping
Lolita Collective Room.
One thing that I always look forward to at Paradiso is the shopping experience! This year, Paradiso offered an extensive selection of J-Fashion brands to shop from. The set-up was pretty nice as well: the Lolita Collective (who had the most merch) got an entire room to themselves, and then the other brands that had a table or two worth of goods were given space in the Main Event room.

Remote vending.
There was also a slew of shops that were vending remotely; AKA Paradiso staff was shipped their goods, and selling them on-site for them. I appreciate Paradiso for offering this opportunity for brands across the world to sell their goods, but I have to say that the Wunderwelt selection was a bit underwhelming. 

Wunderwelt table.
However, I know something like that is entirely out of Paradiso's control, so hey, at least they were able to offer some of Wunderwelt's secondhand goods at the event! Look at that silver lining, ^_^

Ouji Accessory Auction stand
In the Remote Vending Room, there was also a table selling Paradiso specific goodies, and this stand, for the Ouji Accessory Silent Auction. I think the auction was a cute idea, especially since the proceeds went towards helping the event, but I'm not exactly sure how I felt about it.

Mostly, I wondered how staff would handle having two of their main staff members attached at the hip to an attendee for the majority of Sunday's tea party, but I'll talk more about that later, XP

Dreamholic booth.
In the Main Room, there was a good amount to keep people occupied, like shopping (as mentioned previously), eating small appetizers, taking pictures the unique photo booths, or just socializing in general. 

Personally, I felt like the food during Day One was SO GOOD! After modeling all morning, I was starving, and the selection of foods and sweets was exactly what I needed to regain my energy! Since I had already gone shopping before the fashion show, I only spent a little more time around the booths, taking a break to get my bearings and chill out before the Ouji-Sama Pageant. I wasn't the only person either, haha.

We live in a digital world.
An announcement was made at the front stage when the Ouji-Sama Pageant was about to begin, so I stayed in my seat and just waited for the show to start.

Day One: Ouji-Sama Pageant
Ouji-sama contestants.
If you recall in my review from last year, I admitted my skepticism about the pageant. After seeing it successfully completed without being super cringe-y last year, I had an idea of what to expect for this year. 

There were some new and returning contestants to this year's pageant, and I personally think everyone did a good job. I really liked the creativity of the coords presented, and even though I wasn't in attendance for the entire event, what I did see was fun! I especially liked the section where each Ouji had to court his Princess.

A Woodland Prince courting his Princess.
And those Princesses, wow!! Their coords were impeccable! Just like last year, the pageant was really cute and, though you could tell some of Princes were just playing a character, it went over pretty well. During the pageant judging, there was a raffle, and I won a prize! YAY!

After the pageant ended, people were able to take a few more pictures and shop a bit more, and then it was time to leave. I was happy to go to my temporary home, and get out of my coord (but mostly my dang contacts), so Goth Bae and I went back and took some coord picture, before we changed.

Here's my coord for Day One!

Coord Breakdown-
Rectangle Headdress: Soufflesong
JSK: Angelic Pretty Romantic Rose Letter Special Set 2018
Blouse: Ebay
Tights: Target
Shoes: Taobao



Day Two: Tea Party, Art in Bloom Museum Tour
Welcome sign at the Tea Party!
Day Two was the Paradiso Tea Party! I was excited to attend since I had missed out on the tea party last year. The tea party was hosted in the historic Webster House, which I'll fully admit I was worried about. 

Those that know me, know I don't do well in historic venues. For some reason, the dust and cobwebs that are typically found in historic homes, vintage tea houses, and the like are just really unappealing to me. It's a weird personality quirk that I've had for as long as I can remember, but I digress.

The Webster House is niiiiiceee. It's not some old, ancient building that's crumbling to pieces -- it's a really nice venue with amazing decor and service. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the venue to see just how pretty and well kept it was. 

Everyone was dressed in their finest, so I can only hope that we fit in with the rest of the attendees. I'll let you be the judge, XP

Me and Lorelai, <3
We arrived at the tea party, took a selfie (LOL), and immediately walked a few steps from the check-in directly to the food line. The tea party menu was served buffet style, with tea cups, water glasses, and napkins already set on the table. 

Tables at the tea party
Now, I know that many people aren't too fond of buffet style for Lolita tea parties, but I'm not opposed to it as long as there's enough food to go around. The staff at the Webster House were really good about bringing out trays of food as items got low. 

I will say that as a meat eater, I was a little disappointed to see that there wasn't any actual meat related items on the menu, but I understand that everyone is different, so it's best to offer a diverse menu that everyone can enjoy. I really liked that the menu catered to so many different palates even if it didn't meet mine. Luckily, I'm not a picky eater, and I enjoy veggies too!

Buffet table!
Earlier, I voiced my concern about the staff members that would have to serve as an Ouji Accessory during the tea party for the lucky attendees that won the silent auctions. Thankfully, it seemed like each staff member was able to cater to their assigned Lolita, and still do whatever they needed to do. Shout-out to them for managing so many things at once while still looking flawlessly put together!

Tea party attendees.
During the tea party, the guest of honor, Lovely Lor, gave a Q&A and picked the winner of the coord contest. This was a little unusual to me, as the space wasn't really designed to have this type of presentation. The dining room was split into two separate rooms with the large buffet table right in the center. When the crowd gathered around Lor, I found a seat off to the side, and though I could hear Lor speaking plus attendees asking her questions, I couldn't see anything because I'm short, and I also didn't want to stand near so many people when I was already warm in my coord.

Lor was super cute and sweet! She chose the coord contest winner based on someone that actively follows her Youtube channel, which made sense to me. I would have like to see the other guests choose coord contest winners too, and hear from them as well, but I know that one of them was busy working as an Ouji Accessory. In my opinion, it would have helped to incorporate the guests in the event a bit more, especially since they only served as judges the day before, during the pageant. 

The biggest complaint I had for the tea party was how short it was. After waking up at around 10 am to put together a full coord with makeup and circle lenses, the last thing I want to do, after all that work, is attend an event that lasts for less time than it took me to get ready. 

To be fair, if I had to guess, that's most likely a time constraint set by the venue. Thankfully, there was ample time to get group photos and individual shots for as long as we wanted. I had a blast taking pictures in the venue too! Here's my coord picture for the tea party.

Starry coord for the Woodland Arcadia!
After the tea party ended, there were two events -- a VIP event at another venue, and a free, guided tour at The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Since my feet were killing me, and I'm not a VIP this year, we went home to change clothes, and then headed over to the museum.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.
I really enjoyed the art museum once I changed shoes (lol), and it was a nice way to do some sight-seeing in the city before heading home on Monday.

Final Thoughts
Modeling selfie!
After last year, I didn't think Paradiso could get any better, but it did! I had so much fun, and I feel like this year, I was fully immersed in the entire experience. Though both venues were definitely warmer than I (and many others) would have liked, that's to be expected with this fashion.

I feel like the Paradiso staff listened to everyone's concerns, and made their best efforts to improve the event based on that. 

Last year, I addressed several issues and left some comments, so I feel like it wouldn't be a thorough review if I completely ignored my own words from last year.

Security - I felt a lot more secure at Paradiso this year, given the location of the event on Day One. Because we had the entire venue for the event, we didn't have to worry about people being there that shouldn't have been there. I know that some people voiced concerns due to the location of Day One, but I personally didn't have an issue with it.

I will say that as a model, there was a bit of an issue -- we were instructed not to leave the second floor area once we were in our modeling clothes to avoid exposure, but then normal attendees somehow were able to make their way up the stairs, and see a lot of us models before the show. I'm not sure how or why, and I know that the issue was resolved fairly quickly, but it took a few of us telling lost attendees that they weren't supposed to be in the area for them to realize they needed to go back downstairs.

Staff Identification/Signage - Again, this was a lot better this year. I was given a Press badge, in addition to my normal attendee badge, and I loved that everyone's badges were wooden pieces that we'll all be able to have as a keepsake. Beautiful idea, and very well executed.

Events - Paradiso staff knocked it right out of the park with all the additional events planned for the weekend. It gave attendees not only a chance to socialize with one another in multiple settings, but it also allowed us to sight-see in Kansas City, something that I truly regret not really doing when I went to Paradiso last year.

Please keep having additional events besides your main event. I loved the curated experience of KC through the eyes of people who actually live there.

Consignment Shop/Vendors - I applaud Paradiso's staff for truly listening to the attendees, and getting rid of the consignment shop format altogether. 

Hosting a Swap instead served two purposes -- attendees were able to attend an additional event, as a Day 0 experience, and it was a lot easier to get my stuff in the hands of the people that wanted them instead of trying to pay attention to the Main Events while also checking my phone to see if someone wanted to buy/swap my stuff. 

A swap is waaayyy better, and I had a lot of fun during the Friday event. Please keep doing this!

Panels - Last year, I mentioned that there weren't any panels, though if I remember correctly, someone, somewhere called Lovely Lor's Q&A during the tea party a "panel".

If that's the case, I have to say that I'm not a fan of having a Q&A in the middle of the tea party, especially in such a small, cramped space. Since I could hardly see Lor during her Q&A, I just mostly just listened to her speak, sort of like a podcast, lol.

Actually, I think the Q&A would have been better served as the "half-time" event during the Ouji-Sama pageant, and attendees could submit questions for all three guests to answer while the VIPs focus on filling out their ballots.... Or something to that effect.

Mostly, I feel like having guests at the event are great, and I'd like to see more of them, outside of the pageant.

Last year, I was offered a discounted badge to Paradiso as Press, but this year, I paid full price for both days. I would absolutely pay full price again, and attend this event for as long as it runs, it's just really hard for me to do that with my other obligations.

Still, I love that the Midwestern Lolita communities have gotten together to create something magical, and I applaud them for all their hard work. Like I've said before, this event has so much potential and it continues to grow, so I can only hope that next year, they'll be back, bigger and better than ever.

Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. Every day, I'm astounded by this community I stumbled upon, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Events like Paradiso are proof that J-Fashion is alive and well in the United States, and I can only hope that the Paradiso staff will continue to persevere.

I'm waiting on a few orders to come in plus I've got some sponsored goodies (w00t!!), so expect some more reviews coming your way! I'll be back before you know it, <3

Stay beautiful, stay true,

~J 


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Taobao Haul #9: Con Season Haul

I'm back from Paradiso! I had a blast and I can't wait to share all my pictures and thoughts with all of you!

In order to get ready for this con season, I placed a giant Taobao order a couple of months ago, and while I got most of my pieces in time for Paradiso, we ended up with a few stragglers. Since I was waiting on the rest of my order to arrive (just in time for A-Kon, I might add), I decided to wait until I had everything in hand before writing my review post.

As per usual, I'd like to do a bit of self-promotion and mention that I'm an Affiliate with SpreeNow! Feel free to use my affiliate link!

Let's get right into it, shall we?

My Taobao haul!
Apologies for the ridiculous blob of white in the lower left corner: I had already taken the blouse out of the bag, and there was no way it was going back in the package, XP

All in all, I ordered lots of navy items and a few accent pieces. I was super excited for the shoes and blouse, mostly because I needed to replace my current navy pair of shoes.

Most of the items I ordered came from new (to me) shops, but there are a few old ones sprinkled in this review. I also decided to give one store in particular, a second chance.

Rainbow
Stock photo! I do not own!
I know that I constantly sing Sosic Shop's praises, but Rainbow has won my heart in one strike. Rainbow doesn't have the widest selection of shoes, but the shoes that they sell are beautiful, and they come packaged so beautifully.

The shoes arrived in this #fancyAF shoe box, wrapped in cloth bags to keep each shoe carefully protected. I've honestly never seen a shoe box so pretty in my life.

#fancyAF
Underneath the shoes was an adorable metallic tote bag, featuring the shop's logo. The bag is the perfect size for my shoes!

Shoe bag!
Since I ordered my "multiway" shoes (check out the review for these lovely shoes here!) in a size 38, and they were a bit tight on my feet, I made the wise choice to order a full size up and get a size 39. I'm a US size 7.5 with a wide foot, so I normally buy size 8 shoes. Either these shoes are getting more narrow or my feet have "grown", XP 

Still, I'm glad that Past Me was looking out for Future Me because the 39s are so comfortable and perfect! I don't have to worry about my toes getting squeezed or the ankle straps getting too tight when my feet swell during the day. Hooray!

Navy shoes.
The color and quality of these shoes are top-notch. There are even comfort soles built into the sole of the shoe! I give Rainbow a 10 out of 8 because I'm just that happy about these shoes!! The icing on this awesome cake is that these shoes were only $25!

For more affordable, cute shoes and shoe clips from Rainbow, visit their storefront with this link.

Red Maria

Stock photo, I do not own!
I've tried to purchase items from Red Maria before without any success. Since Red Maria is a fairly well-known Taobao shop, many of their items went out of stock before I could get my hands on them.

Another issue I have with them is a Lolita pet-peeve of mine -- instead of charging for a pair of items, they charge individually for each piece.
Take these cuffs, for example: instead of buying a set of wristcuffs at a higher price, you have to buy two cuffs at a time to "make" a set. I discovered this practice the very first time I ordered from Red Maria.... and I received one sad and lonely wristcuff for my trouble, -__-

I've found a few other Taobao shops that do this and frankly, it annoys me. I understand that they want to make money regardless, but that's like selling one sock by itself and making me pay extra for the other; it's ridiculous.

Anywho, stepping off my soapbox; I got these cute wristcuffs in navy and sax! They're really pretty and the navy matches all the other navy items I bought in this order, thank goodness.

Red Maria wristcuffs and tights.
I also bought a pair of beauuuuutiful navy and white tights from Red Maria. They're super stretchy and comfortable! I also like the way that the pattern was printed on the tights.Unlike other pairs I've had, I don't see these running after the first wash or staining my shoes.

Stock photo, I do not own!
The most exciting thing about the tights (besides the fit) is the number of colorways it comes in. In addition to a white x navy colorway, there's also an inverted pair that comes with a navy background and white accents. All the other color options also have an inverted colorway.

I'm really happy that I gave Red Maria a second chance. I never thought the shop had bad quality -- on the contrary, I've heard nothing but good things about their pieces, I was just a bit annoyed by the whole "you have to buy two separate wristcuffs" nonsense. Maybe they'll change that practice in the future, but if they don't, that's okay too. Thankfully, I noticed that they put that information on the listing for these cuffs, so hopefully, they've
put that notice on all of their other items.

I give Red Maria a 7 out of 8! I can't deny that their quality is good, even if they do some weird things, haha.

Take a look at Red Maria's diverse catalog of goodies here.

Yidhara

Yidhara stock photo, I do not own!
Who am I kidding? At this point, Yidhara can do no wrong in my eyes. I love their tights so much! I grabbed two pairs of these gorgeous tights in black and navy, because I have no self-control, X_X

Yidhara sent each pair of tights in these handy plastic bags, which I thought was pretty nice of them. It seems like the glitter on these tights may not stay put, so that's possibly why they decided to use some unique packaging.

Tights and travel bags.
At first glance, the black and navy tights look like they're the exact same color. After taking them both out of their respective bags, though, I quickly learned that wasn't the case. See for yourself.

Black x navy tights, side-by-side.
I absolutely cannot wait to wear these, but that won't be anytime soon. It was 102°F today, X_X

I love Yidhara, so I won't be rating their shop because I've done it so many times before. You can visit the store with this link.

Cerinth/Den Lille Idas Blomster (????)

Stock photo, I do not own!
I decided to use both the shop name that SpreeNow provided and the name in the image because I'm not actually sure which name the shop goes by. Either way, this shop has some really pretty accessories, especially HATS!

Navy hat!
I love my hat so much. It fits really well and the color is so beautiful! It didn't come with any weird or random hot glue strings on it either, which is always a plus. I also have to give them props on both their photography and craftsmanship: the hat looks exactly like the picture!

I regret not ordering more items from this shop, but that's okay because I'm adding Den Lille Idas to my list of shops! 8 out of 8, I'll definitely be buying more items from them.

Get your own lovely hat from Cerinth here.

Fox Cherry

Stock photo, I do not own!
A while back, Fox Cherry was known as the Taobao shop that took forrrreeevvverrr to make each order. At one point, the wait time was something between three weeks and three months. It was crazy, to be honest.

Nowadays though, it seems only a few shops still have crazy wait times like that. Fox Cherry surprised me because they made this French hood (and the other 2 in our GO) in about a month. The French hood is freaking gorgeous and so is the starry veil I bought with it. I can't wait to wear this out either! 

French hood in navy.
My one complaint is the length of the head chain. I'm not sure who these were made for, but the bottom part of the head chain hits my eyebrows, which makes no sense. If I move the French hood any closer to the front of my head, the dangling parts of the chain actually stop directly in front of my eyes and blocks my vision. Not cool.

Thankfully, I paid a little extra money to make the head chain removable, and thank goodness I did! For some reason, my intuition really worked to my benefit in this GO. Unfortunately, that means that until I figure out a way to shorten the links on the head chain, there's no way I can wear it, T_T

As I said earlier, since I've rated Fox Cherry before (read my previous reveiw here!), I won't give them a new rating. The glaring head chain issue definitely keeps them right where they are on my peresonal scale, regardless of how pretty the headpiece is. 

Tea Sauce Studio

Stock Photo, I do not own!
Out of all the items in my order, I was the most disappointed by this blouse. Even though the blouse was exactly what I needed, it doesn't hold up to the expectations that I had for it. In pictures, this 2-way blouse looks fantastic! In real life though, the fabric feels a bit cheap, it still looks great... until I put on the hime sleeves, X_X

The blouse and string ties.
The way the hime sleeves are cut takes this blouse from "ok" to "awful" in 3.5 seconds or less. They're three-quarter hime sleeves that fall in a weird place on my arm, and I immediately disliked it.

They also look a little bizarre when attached to the blouse. The sleeves attach to the rest of the blouse with two buttons on the inner sleeves, using two elastic loops that you basically just hook on to the buttons. Layered together, it's completely obvious that the sleeves are attachments. I wasn't a fan.

Blouse without the hime sleeves attached.
So, I've decided that I'll wear this blouse without the hime sleeves. I have no idea what I'm going to do with an extra pair of sleeves just laying around, but I ain't wearing them, that's for sure. Other than that, I like the versatility of this blouse: it can be worn normally with the straps crisscrossed across the front, off-the-shoulder with the four strings tied to create a cold-shoulder effect, or all four straps can be tucked in to just have a normal, short-sleeved blouse.

The material is sub-par, but it's still better than that blouse awful crop blouse from my last Taobao haul (Confused? I was too; Read about my last Taobao Haul here!) and it was cheaper than the other one so while I had high expectations, I was sort just left feeling pretty "meh" after I tried it on.

I definitely wouldn't order from this shop again, because the quality is risky, but they have a fairly high, 5-Crown rating so maybe I just ordered a not-so-great item. I give them a 3 out of 8, because I wasn't impressed, but I don't hate the blouse either.

If you'd like to take a chance on Tea Sauce Studio, you can visit their Taobao shop with this link.

I have so many more things to write about and so little time. I'll do my best to get my Paradiso review up by the end of next week, but if I can't, I'll come back as soon as I can! <3 In the meantime, never forget that you, my lovely readers, are wonderful and amazing, and I appreciate each and every one of you so, so much.

Until next time, y'all~!

Stay beautiful, stay true,
~J