I'm a fairly new Lolita as far as wearing the fashion goes, but I've been watching the trends for years. I finally (within the last year and a half or so) got the money to buy a few pieces. They're things I like, but, they're all considered "off-brand" by many lolitas (such as FanPlus Friend, whom I actually love).
There are a lot of brand dresses I would love to own, but I'm almost six feet tall, and very muscular (fencing!). Because of this, a lot of what I wear are brands like Bodyline and F+F, because they have custom (or, in Bodyline's case, larger) sizing. AP doesn't make a lot of dresses for people with a 110cm bust. They just don't.
In that regard, I always worry about going to meetups; is it terribly frowned upon to wear less "well-known" pieces like this? I don't want to seem cheap (or like an ita) but I'm also a full-time student at a private university, so my money and time are pretty tight too.