Thursday, 6 January 2011

Winter woes

I strongly dislike being cold. Actually, I dislike being too hot as well, so let's just say that I disagree with the notion of 'weather' in general. I don't do weather. Why get hot, or cold, or damp when one can stay indoors with a good book and a cup of tea?

All right, I'm exaggerating. But in the midst of the coldest, darkest months, the only solace for a shivering Goth is the awareness that despite the rain or snow and the biting wind, they are not only better-dressed than ever, but thanks to a Gothy wardrobe, possibly better equipped for the cold than your average mortal. (Australian readers - yes, Black Lily, I'm looking at you - and all others whose country is currently sweltering in the January sun, will probably find this post absolutely useless, if not total gibberish. Never mind.)

Nevertheless, each and every black-clad darkling may find themselves struggling to keep hold of their spookily decadent fashion sense when it's raining during the day and freezing solid at night. Icy pavements play merry hell with most Goth footwear - did you know that New Rocks have very little grip on icy ground? Well, I didn't - until last winter. :-/ Also, many fabrics cannot survive rain and snow; long skirts or baggy trousers may turn you into a lace-adorned kite; and if you walk around after sunset you run the risk of being run over by a car that didn't seen you in the dark.

But don't despair! Your Auntie A is here to help...

Source: Photobucket
Let's be practical - autumn and winter can be brilliant for Goths when it comes to clothing. Layers of lace and velvet and thick stripy tights just aren't practical during the summer months; unless of course you live in the Arctic Circle. For starters, this is the time of year when mainstream shops, which during the rest of the year are piled high with floral prints, pastel colours and faded denim suddenly start stocking biker boots, leather jackets, velvet dresses and pretty things in black lace. Make the most of this trend while you can, because at the first hint of sunshine out will come the neon shorts and pink flip-flops again.

However, there is a definite downside to the onslaught of sleet and snow. When your make-up has slid halfway down your face, your Demonias are leaking and your warm velvet coat has been ruined by the rain, you may be wishing you'd read this post by Juliet's Lace, with the best tips for keeping your style intact when it's raining cats and dogs. Yes, you CAN look stunning and ooky-spooky in wellies.

You should still be wearing an SPF during the winter months - yes, the sun can still damage your skin when you haven't even seen the damn thing since September. And don't forget to apply moisturiser - winter weather is just as cruel to your skin as the baking heat of summer. A moisturiser with a lighter consistency will be absorbed completely by your skin before exposure to the elements, which will help your make-up last longer. A good lip balm will prevent lips from drying out and chapping - thanks to SydneySomething, I've become a devotee of very Goth-friendly absinthe-scented lipbalm. Yes, boys, I'm talking to you too - unless you want to end up an alluring mass of dry skin flakes.

Make-up is not often spoiled by the cold; but rain and snow obviously effect it, and when you head indoors out of the cold, the increased blood flow to your face will endanger your perfectly-applied cosmetics. An eyeshadow base or sealant (G.O.S.H. at Superdrug do a cheap base that lasts well) will give your shadow and liner a fighting chance, and a lip sealant such as LipLock will help you hang on to your lipstick for longer. Cream-to-powder foundation is good for partying on winter nights as it copes well with temperature changes. Be careful, however, as loose powder may cause dryness during the colder months.

Mousse or cream eyeshadows offer more protection and moisture than powder; avoid shadows that contain Vaseline. Similarly, you may wish to exchange your lip gloss for a lipstick containing beeswax - it will last longer and have fewer drying effects. Obviously, waterproof everything, unless you want to look like Alice Cooper - and not in a good way.

After applying make-up, close your eyes and lightly mist your face with hairspray - this 'sets' your make-up and helps it last longer. It works well on a night out, and whilst it might not survive a rainstorm quite as well, again it will give your face a fighting chance.

Otherwise, heed well Juliet's Lace's advice about umbrellas in the post I have linked to above - and keep your hood up and your head down. If your coat doesn't have a hood, you may wish to wear a snood; or even a shawl or scarf over your head, held in place with hair pins - just beware of drips and bear in mind it will probably get drenched.

'Tis the season for stompy boots. Velvet granny boots are, unfortunately, not made to cope with wet weather or slippery pavements. If you have a decent pair of industrial-style heavy boots or some punky combat boots, you're probably all set - although, learn from my near-miss with the New Rocks and make sure they will actually keep you upright on icy ground. I'm sure it goes without saying that your winter boots need to be waterproof.

Gothic Charm School advises that, if you're a Victorian Goth or romantigoth who doesn't want to give up their pretty Victorian boots for a whole season, you could consider taking them to your local cobbler's - I think pretty much every town has a cobblers. If you don't know where it is, your parents or grandparents probably do - and have thin traction soles applied. This is cheaper than buying a new pair of boots, and will save you from sliding down the high street and landing on your coccyx.

To keep warm, don't forget to layer up - it's hard to look like a dark prince or princess of the night when your teeth are chattering against your tongue piercing. Start with a couple of layers of thermal clothing - and stop rolling your eyes. Thermals are thin so they don't make you look bulkier than you are; they usually come in black; and some have lace trim. You might also like to try an underlayer of silk, or a silk blouse or shirt, as despite the fact that silk usually feels cold to the touch it actually does a fantastic job of keeping you cosy. Plus, it looks good. You can also get silk gloves that will fit inside your regular gloves to keep your hands that little bit warmer (glove liners! Won't your mother be proud!).

When purchasing winter clothing, you can co-ordinate items so that you know they will look good layered together, or worn individually when the weather becomes warmer. Basic T-shirts (with varying sleeve lengths - long, 3/4 length and short) and vests are the most useful items to have - you could also stock up on plain and patterned leggings to wear under skirts or even under jeans or trousers when it gets REALLY cold. Primark is a handy place to pick up these basics on the cheap. Just remember that some fabrics cannot cope with rain or snow. Once velvet, for example, becomes water-spotted, you will never be able to restore it to its former glory.

The most important layer of any winter ensemble will be your coat. Please note - that's a coat, NOT a cloak. Yes, yes, we all know that cloaks are gorgeous, but as soon as the wind sends it swirling out dramatically behind you, your knees will start knocking with cold. Finding a good winter coat can be trickier than it sounds - a couple of years ago, I bought a gorgeous full-length, high-collared, corset-backed Victorian-style coat which was beautifully warm, only to discover that if worn in the rain it would shrink. Whilst wearing one coat in dry weather and another in the rain works fine, it's not particularly cost-effective, so remember to check the label before you buy! Make sure your coat can be fastened securely and will actually keep you warm. Check out Juliet's Lace's guide to buying a winter coat; she has every angle covered!

Most importantly, don't forget to carry a torch when walking after dark. You can find mini keyring-torches in stores such as Wilkinsons.


The Green Fairy said...

Haha I'm in Australia too :P

I dunno about the hairspray, I've read that according to a few professional make up artists that hair spraying your face is bad.

Oh man when I went to Melbourne late last year it just rained all the time and I was soaked constantly. I guess I must be lucky that my makeup seems to deal with rain fairly well. Though my glitter eyebrows aren't so lucky :P

Great post, so important!

I LOVE winter. All my clothes are for winter, so many beautiful layers :P

Laurence 'The Beard' Williams said...

Another great article =)

Personally I find trenchcoats to be a HUGE asset in winter weather, both for men and ladies, and you can get them fairly cheaply from markets (got mine for £30 instead of the usual three-figure sum). Not only to they keep the cold out but they also give the wearer an appearance of someone who is not to be fucked with, which is always good XD

ultimategothguide said...

@ The Green Fairy - the hairspray does dry my skin out if I use it daily, but in an emergency it helps to stop my make-up metling. Do you even HAVE winter over there? XD

@ The Beard - thanks ^^

The Green Fairy said...

Haha yes we do! I don't know how Fahrenheit works, but in the two places I have lived, we have on average 8 degrees celcius days, and in the minuses at night. I think I lived in the two coldest places in Australia :P

Maybe I'll try the hairspray..Mm

The Green Fairy said...

And also, eheh Absinthe lip balm is AMAZING! *high five*

Anonymous said...

This does help, but I get the impression that it's far colder where I live ;) Tights under pants is a must for at least four months a year, double socks inside thick boots etc. The winter lasts for almost six months and during that time it varies between 5°C and -25°C...

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