Much has been made on the interwebs about the rivalries and snarking that goes on between various alternative scenes. There are many Goths who dabble in Lolita fashion. Lots of us are attracted to the elegance, attention to detail, and of course the proliferation of beautiful clothes and accessories. Gothic Lolita and EGL are, unsurprisingly, the most popular Lolita styles amongst Goths, but there are a few of us (myself included) who have a strong admiration for other styles, such as Sweet Lolita, as well. There are also some similarities between Goth fashion and Gothic Lolita fashion, particularly if your preferred Goth style is Victorian-tinged - petticoats, high-collared blouses, corsets, cross necklaces, lace gloves and mini top hats, to name but a few.
There are no rules or even really guidelines to Goth fashion, other than 'black is good' and 'watch what you're doing with your make-up, unless you want to look like an angry panda'. Lolita fashion generally takes a more structured approach; for example, there is a preferred silhouette. In issue 26 of Gothic Beauty, an article by Io entitled The Laws of EGL quoted Megan McHugh, a Lolita who organises Loli panels at conventions and runs her own label, MeganMaude; "Regular Goths are more 'anything goes' than Lolitas. Lolitas are very brand-oriented and want to have a very specific look. Experimentation is not exactly looked down on, but if you're going to try something different, it needs to stay within the 'rules'."
Goths who have done their research into Lolita fashion beforehand are less likely to make such errors and as such may find a place within both the Goth and the Lolita communities quite happily. Goths who do not wish to fully adopt a Lolita look but would simply like to give a nod to this style may describe their outfit as 'Lolita-inspired', to show that they are aware their outfit is not 'properly Lolita' and as such avoid causing any offense.
My own run-in with a community of Lolitas ensued when a well-meaning post I made on Piczo regarding Gothic Lolita and Visual Kei fashion was re-posted by some mischievous so-and-so on a Lolita community forum. A throwaway comment about there being patterns in the Gothic and Lolita Bible so that you can sew your own clothes, whilst being harmless when mentioned to young Gothlings who might not have read the G&L Bibles, was somewhat inflammatory and more than a tad ridiculous when posted on a forum where everyone has a copy and where almost everyone probably sews their own everyday wear from scratch. As the cherry on the cake, I discovered that a previous post had been made to this community using a photo of me in a decidedly non-Lolita brand name Goth dress (Living Dead Souls I do believe, black and strappy with hot pink accents), accompanied by a comment along the lines of 'OMG, this is my Lolita dress, isn't it pretty?'... (just in case I need to spell this out, said comment was not at any point made by me and I had never described said outfit as Lolita, because it wasn't. At all. This was just somebody trying to cause trouble.)
Cue a massive round of flaming and bitching from around thirty strangers. *facepalm*
I did post a comment explaining that yes, the photos were mine, but that I hadn't posted them on the forum, and that I had never once said that the outfit they were - metaphorically - ripping to shreds was Lolita, but no one replied. Instead, immediately, like a flock of frilly vultures, they all changed tack and started dissecting my music taste instead (the post that the anonymous mischievous so-and-so copied from Piczo mentioned Girugamesh, a J-rock band that I like, and the Goth rock band RazorBladeKisses, who describe themselves as the 'UK's only Gothic Lolita band').
Whilst I was there, I had a look around at some of the other posts on this community. One girl who was new to Lolita had posted some sketches for an outfit she wanted to make, asking for constructive criticism. Instead of offering help or advice on how she could improve her design, she was instead lampooned with comments along the lines of "How is THIS Lolita?", and more, littered with swearwords and general nastiness.
I am sure that this small group of people is not an accurate reflection of the Lolita community as a whole (or even of that forum as a whole), and I have been on many, many Lolita communities, forums and blogs where people are largely pleasant, polite and helpful both to each other, experienced Lolitas, and those who are curious and would like to learn a little bit more about the subculture and the fashion. However, examples of interscene bitching and snarkery between Goths and Lolitas (or between curious would-be Lolitas and experienced Lolitas) have the same effect as nastiness from established Goths towards babybats - it's offputting and upsetting for those who think they would like to become more involved with the subculture or community.
Spooky tip: It may sound a little harsh, Gothlings, but don't let any non-Goth, no matter how helpful and well-meaning, tidy your clothes. Yes, the thought of letting your neat freak friend or parent convert your floordrobe into something resembling its former glory can be a tempting one, especially for lazygoths, but you may well regret it. You will find your PVC folded, your petticoats crushed, and your multibuckled boots will end up stuffed into a bag where they will leave deep gouges on each other. You might even re-enter the room in time to feel your knees go wobbly in horror as your vintage hat collection is flung around with abandon. I speak from bitter experience, darklings - no matter how lovely and kind your friend's helpful intentions may be, non-Goths sometimes just don't get the delicate treatment which a flamboyant dark wardrobe may require.