Ah, the parasol. Fashion from all over the globe has prized keeping the sun off our face and out of our eyes. Cultures from Ancient Egypt to Aztecs of Tenochtitlan to Ancient China have all used umbrellas to use against the sun and rain. The advent of the folding umbrella in the early 18th century led to its widespread use in France and beyond for people of all stations in life. And of course there’s no image that’s more emblematic of European Victorian fashion than a ruffled, silk parasol shading a woman’s face as she takes a leisurely stroll.
It’s no surprise then that lolita fashion (which takes its cues from Rococo and Victorian fashion) long ago adopted parasols as an accessory. Japanese brands have long offered umbrellas (both waterproofed and not) decked out with prints and ruffles.
However, unlike a pony bag or Usakumya, parasols don’t even hold a chapstick. They tie up our hands and poke our walking companions in the eye. They sit awkwardly under our table at tea, where someone is constantly kicking them.
“But Jenna!” you’re undoubtedly saying. “Parasols keep the sun off our faces and out of our eyes! They keep us out of a light drizzle.” Sure, hypothetical armchair critic, but they aren’t even the most effective tools for those jobs. I have three hats that provide just as much shade as a parasol. Plus, if it’s actively raining, my parasol is going to at most keep water off my head, not off my brand.
Of course, dear reader, this is ignoring the most vital reason that we carry parasols at all: because we can. The parasol is a commitment to an aesthetic that can’t be toned down or abandoned. Carrying a parasol says, “I thought about what I was wearing this morning and I chose frills.”
Moreover, I think that no one gets into lolita fashion because they want to blend in. We want to express ourselves with our style choices. Parasols in the modern age stand out just as much as a petticoat. They suggest bygone fashion eras. They telegraph leisure and luxury even if the average observer knows nothing about lolita fashion.
So while they’re silly, bulky, and expensive to ship, parasols are perhaps the best accessory for lolita fashion. We don’t use them because they are the best tool for the job, but because they are the most beautiful.