Lolita Fashion in Anime

Lolita Fashion in Anime


If you’ve ever been to any page on this website before, then you’ve probably already seen an example of Lolita fashion. The header image on all my pages (currently) is Yotsugi Ononoki, from the Monogatari series, who is dressed in Lolita fashion.

A while back on Quora I answered a question about my favorite anime character outfits and mentioned that most of them would probably be in the Lolita fashion category. I can’t really pinpoint one reason why, but this style is just aesthetically pleasing.

Maybe I enjoy the style due to character designs that make use of it well like with Yotsugi, or maybe it’s just that some of my favorite characters are dressed in this style such as Betty from Re:ZERO or Kyōko Sakura (magical girl outfit) from Madoka Magica.

Yotsugi Ononoki from the Monogatari series anime
Yotsugi Ononoki (Monogatari series)

Lolita Fashion

There are many different kinds of Lolita fashion, but the main one I’ll be talking about today is Classic Lolita. Lolita fashion is all about “cuteness” and this is achieved through the use of frills, a lot of frills, and bows.

While the frills and bows are a must for just about any character dressed in Lolita fashion, other clothing items such as tiny hats and striped thigh high socks are frequent as well. Yotsugi, Chocolat, and Beatrice (the girls in the first three gifs in this post) all have both of these items.

While looking “cute” is the main objective of Lolita fashion, it’s also typically associated with looking “doll-like.”

For a character like Yotsugi (pictured above), dressing in Lolita fashion is more than just a style since she is, in fact, a doll made from a corpse. However, for a character like Chocolat (pictured below) the Lolita fashion highlights her child-like nature.

Chocolat from the anime My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy
Chocolat (My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy)

Beatrice (pictured below) dresses in Lolita fashion, not to show that she’s a doll or to show how she acts like a child, but to instead emphasize the difference between how she looks and how she acts. Despite having a child-like appearance, Beatrice is one of the most dependable and powerful characters in Re:ZERO.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Beatrice is very similar to my favorite anime character, Mayoi Hachikuji from the Monogatari series, in this regard. While you would typically assume they’re just children due to their appearances, these are actually the most mature characters in their respective anime.

Although just going by appearances it would seem you could group characters who dress in Lolita fashion into a single group such as you can with tsunderes, this isn’t the case. Out of just the three girls I used as examples so far, we have a character who functions as a tool, a child-like airhead, and a mentor/guardian.

Beatrice (Betty/Beako) from the anime Re:ZERO
Beatrice (Re:ZERO)

Gothic Lolita

The other major type of Lolita fashion seen in anime is known as Gothic Lolita. For a majority of the Haganai first season, Kobato Hasegawa (pictured below) dresses in Gothic Lolita fashion, although this isn’t her only outfit of the series.

As you may have guessed by the name, Gothic Lolita fashion involves a generally darker color palette which includes black instead of the bright, vibrant colors of Classic Lolita. However, the emphasis on cuteness and being doll-like is still applicable.

When worn by child characters, Gothic Lolita fashion is often paired with chūnibyō, or Middle Schooler Syndrome (as is the case with Kobato).

Another example of a Gothic Lolita character is Rory Mercury from GATE (which is currently the next anime on my “Plan to Watch” list). Simply due to her character design, I have a feeling she’ll be my favorite character of that series, which I think is how most people feel about her.

Kobato Hasegawa from the anime Haganai
Kobato Hasegawa (Haganai)


There are many more characters who dress in various Lolita fashions, but these are the few I could remember off the top of my head since MAL‘s character list pages are still down. Who’s your favorite anime character who dresses in Lolita fashion?

* As a final note, although Lolita fashion is styled after old English children’s and doll’s clothing, it has nothing to do with the term Lolita as it is frequently used. Sure, there are some characters who would be considered “Lolita” and also happen to wear Lolita fashion, but the two are not related.

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9 Replies to “Lolita Fashion in Anime”

  1. Please do more research on lolita fashion before you talk about it. These characters’ designs may have been inspired by lolita but they’re not lolita in actuality, and when you post content like this you contribute to spreading misinformation.
    The designs are very costumey and would look horrific in real life, not to mention that some of these characters have their breasts exposed which is extremely looked down upon in lolita. Anyone attempting to wear these designs irl and call them lolita would immediately be called an ita, and for good reason, because they are in fact painful to look at.

    Please remember that lolita is an actual fashion style with specific characteristics and history and it’s worn by actual living people. It’s not a costume or cosplay and not everything that has frills and bows is immediately lolita.

    If you want good examples of lolita in anime and manga, look at Ai Yazawa’s work. Some of her characters like Miwako Sakurada and Mai Oota may not always be wearing clothes that resemble the fashion but are directly inspired by it. Also look at Deka Wanko and of course, Shimotsumoa Monogatari, the latter of which was actually written about and features clothing and concepts from the lolita fashion subculture.

    1. Thanks for the comment, but allow me to defend some of the choices I made for this post.

      You’re correct in your assertion that many outfits which are considered to be Lolita fashion in anime are actually just Lolita inspired, but at the same time you need to keep in mind the medium of anime and how I’m actually using Lolita fashion within the context of this post. This isn’t a post about Lolita fashion, it’s a post about the use of Lolita fashion in anime, specifically as an element of character design.

      As you mentioned, Lolita fashion is an entire subculture within Japan, but the entire subculture isn’t what this post is about. It’s about how Lolita fashion can be used as a part of character design to tell the viewer something about the character who’s wearing it.

      For example, I mentioned how Yotsugi’s outfit is a reference to the fact that she is an actual living doll, or how Chocolat’s outfit signifies her child-like personality, or even how Beatrice’s character design, including her outfit, represents a conflict between how she looks and how she acts. At no time did I assert that these characters are attempting to be considered Lolita, simply that they wear the fashion.

      In Kobato’s case, her Gothic Lolita outfit is definitely cosplay and not something she would normally wear. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a Gothic Lolita outfit. I don’t wear dresses, but if I put one on it wouldn’t suddenly not be considered a dress simply because I’m not a girl. The person wearing the outfit, and the reason behind wearing it, doesn’t change the style of the outfit.

      Further, you mention how the designs would look horrific in real life. In response, I’ll just use Yotsugi as an example. Maybe you haven’t seen the Monogatari series, but like with many anime the point is to be aesthetically pleasing within the medium. Of course Yotsugi’s outfit would look horrific in real life, but it’s not supposed to be an actual outfit, it’s an anime outfit.

      Her hair color also wouldn’t look normal in real life, but since it’s anime we don’t really question that. The color palette of her outfit is supposed to match both her hair and overall color style which is referred to as “orange mint.” Anime as a medium doesn’t always realistically represent the world, and it’s not expected to; just look at anime eyes.

      The final thing I’ll mention is that yes, there are better characters I could have chosen to mention within this post, but as I believe I mentioned, since MAL is still half down (including all of the character pages) it was more difficult to go through characters than it normally would be. So, as I also mentioned, there are plenty of other examples out there.

      Leen from In Another World With My Smartphone is a better example of Gothic Lolita than Kobato, but that’s not an anime I think about frequently because it’s so bad so I simply didn’t think of her at the time. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I stand by my assertions that these characters use Lolita fashion as part of their character designs to tell viewers something about the character.

  2. The other anon was right. These characters are not lolita and they are not wearing the fashion. The outfits are either too revealing (chocolat),not the right length(beatrice) or just overall ita (tacky.) The same can be said for Misa Misa from deathnote. I’m curious to know where you got your info.

    1. As I mentioned in my previous response, this is anime, not the real world. In anime, things are stylized frequently and so they don’t accurately represent things in the real world; instead, they give the impression of the things they’re based on. I’ll again use eyes as an example of this. Nobody really has anime eyes, but we understand what they represent: eyes.

      In response to your inquiry about where I got my information, it came straight from the sources I used as examples. These anime refer to these characters as being dressed in Lolita fashion, so you’ll have to take up any further complaints with their respective authors. I didn’t write these anime, I’m simply letting you know what they say.

      1. The creators only have a vague sense of the fashion and this is why the outfits are not considered lolita by real Lolitas.

          1. You’re right in the whole character appearance vs personality part, but someone who did not previously know of the fashion might get the wrong idea and people who like to actively wear this fashion may feel like they’re being put down by that. I completely agree with the interesting idea of anime characters with images that contradict personality, but others may feel like this article was attacked against them and the fashion.

          2. If anything, reading this post would make more people look further into Lolita fashion which I think you would agree is a good thing. If someone didn’t know about it previously, perhaps maybe they’re interested now and have learned more about it from other sources. If they didn’t know about it and still aren’t interested in it after reading what I had to say, then there’s still no harm done.

            What everyone needs to keep in mind is that I’m looking at this topic from a character design perspective, not from the perspective of someone trying to spread Lolita fashion or culture. If anyone has an issue with that, I invite them to write their own piece from their perspective.

  3. Whether it’s in an anime or not, those outfits are not lolita. Lolita has a specific skirt shape and length that you cannot deviate. Once you change or “stylize it”, its no longer considered lolita.

    As for the creators, they only have a vague knowledge of the fashion.
    To them, a maid dress with a super short, panty showing skirt or a nun outfit covered in frills is lolita, which is wrong.

    If you don’t want to take our word for it, go ask the actual Lolitas.

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