Friday, 11 March 2011

The undercover Goth

I am having some computer difficulties today so apologies if this post turns out a little odd... everything is running reeeeallly slowly and I'm having to refresh a lot.

Today's topic is, as promised, sneaky techniques for Gothlings still living at home to indulge their darker tendencies without parental freaking-out. Hopefully, anyway. Obviously, I still advocate the sitting-down-and-having-a-meaningful-discussion method of 'outing' yourself as a Goth to your parental units, but at the end of the day not all parents are going to be accepting and tolerant of such a choice.

I would like to point out that I am not usually in the habit of advocating deception or sneakiness of any kind, but I feel strongly that everyone has a right to be themselves and express themselves in whatever manner they so choose, as long as they are not hurting anyone around them. Even if your parents disapprove of Goth, I fail to see how your choice to be involved in the subculture will hurt them.

Firstly, I would like to advise babybats reading this to have a quick think about what you actually mean when you say you 'want to be Goth' against the wishes of your parents. For you, what does being Goth actually entail? A lot of young Goths are very enthusiastic about the fashion and visual aspects of the subculture and forget that Goth is technically a music-based scene.

Therefore, if your parents have not forbidden Goth music (which, I probably don't need to tell you by now, DOES NOT include Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, Evanescence et al), you can still 'be a Goth' by enjoying and appreciating the music that, really, created the subculture. As you again probably are already aware, a large proportion of Goths feel that the music is actually more important than the fashion when it comes to 'being a Goth', so I would heartily recommend that anyone who is new to the scene take a look at the wide-ranging mix of genres and literally thousands of bands that constitute Goth music.

Some Goth music is more parent-friendly than others, of course. More upbeat, bouncier bands like The Cruxshadows and Ashbury Heights, or music with a 'cultured', classical, ethereal or neo-classical feel to it, like Qntal and Cocteau Twins, is likely to be more acceptable than the jarring strains of Alien Sex Fiend (for example).

Exploring the world of Goth music, as well as helping you to feel involved in the subculture, may be helpful when it comes to 'undercover Goth' fashion. A Bauhaus patch on your bag, jacket or jeans will 'identify' you as someone with an interest in or knowledge of the subculture to other Goths, but those with less knowledge of alternative music (e.g. your parents, hopefully) will be unaware.

Secondly, Goth as a subculture places a lot of importance on art, literature, and creativity. I highly doubt that your parents will object to you taking an interest in literature, poetry, or painting. Many classic works of fiction are utterly beloved by many members of the Goth subculture - Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, the works of Shakespeare, and of course Dracula and Frankenstein. Poets such as Shelley, Byron, Keats and - duh - Poe are also hugely popular.

If you find the classics a bit hard-going, you may wish to check out the works of other authors who write fiction that is not necessarily 'obviously Goth', but enjoyed by hundreds of black-clad spooksters, such as Neil Gaiman, P.C. Cast, Gail Carriger and Holly Black.

Finally, we come to the tricky part - fashion. Honestly, enjoying works of Gothic fiction and listening to ('real') Goth music is more than enough to classify you as 'a Goth' in the eyes of many in the scene, but let's face it, the fashion is one of the most fun and exciting aspects of Goth culture!
Keeping styles simple stops your look being 'stereotypically Goth'.
Source: Tumblr
I think that part of the trick to being able to dabble in dark fashions whilst keeping the peace with your parents is to do it in such a way that they don't define your new look as 'Goth'. Does that make sense? What your parents are probably thinking of as 'Goth' is ripped clothing, PVC, and a lot of skulls, spikes, studs and exposed skin.

Steer clear of stereotypical Goth clothing to allay their suspicions! Avoid fishnets (often seen as sexual), corsets, miniskirts, rips, spikes, studs, grommets, straps, excess safety-pins and things with rude words on. I have mentioned before that some styles of Goth are more acceptable to parents, such as perky Goth, romantigoth and Victorian Goth - classic, elegant styles (or pink) are a world away from the baggy hoodies and bad whiteface make-up that your parents are probably worried about.

Useful wardrobe items for the budding babybat:
  • a simple black blazer or cardigan (or even a coloured cardie with black accents, my fave is candy-pink with black bows and trim)
  • several modest black or dark-coloured skirts (or black jeans for the male babygoths) in various styles - ruffled, velvet, pleated, plaid, whatever. Knee-length or slightly longer is demure enough to please parents, usually.
  • shirts/T-shirts/blouses, in various colours - black, red, purple, pink, white and grey being the most obvious.
  • black shoes, black pumps or SIMPLE black boots without tonnes of buckles and huge platforms.
  • a pair or two of black jeans or trousers.
  • opaque tights (for the girls, obviously) in colours such as black, red and purple.
If you wanted to adopt the 'Goth colour scheme', e.g. a whole load of black, perhaps you could keep the clothing styles very simple, such as a black cardigan, black jeans, a red or purple blouse and ballet flats. Conversely, if you wanted to wear items that are 'more obviously Goth', you could consider wearing less black; a beautiful lacy outfit in shades of white and cream would certainly be acceptable as Gothy attire, but your parents are unlikely to take one look at such an ensemble and think, "Goth!" (If confronted, you could always roll your eyes and say, "Oh, Mum, it's not Goth, it's neo-Victorian/Lolita/steampunk!" - cheeky, I know, but it might work!)

Another tactic would be to stick with your usual wardrobe and gradually add Goth-style accessories such as studded wristbands, lace gloves, cross necklaces etc. With unusual make-up and those aforementioned Goth band patches (or badges - you can make your own if you, like me, happen to own a Badge It! machine...), you should be able to achieve a relatively dark look without making your parents nervous.

Remember, adding colour is likely to throw them off the scent. You could wear a block-coloured shirt with a black skirt/trousers or introduce colour by integrating a pattern such as check, gingham, plaid, spots or stripes.
Adding colour (in this case brown), using simple accessories and keeping clear of spiky things keeps your style unoffensive
Source: Steampunk Couture
As Emily Lynn mentioned on a previous post, it's also important to take baby steps. If you add more black to your wardrobe gradually - months, not days - don't mention the change (not including, obviously, That Conversation with your parents), and keep the clothes understated and elegant, they may not even notice.

Another typical aspect of Goth that they may be looking out for is black make-up or nail varnish. Colours such as silver, purple, red, burgundy, blue (midnight blue, sapphire blue, or a very pale metallic blue would be especially lovely), green or even brown on eyelids or nails will give you an equally striking appearance but without screaming "GOTH" to your concerned oldies.

Best of luck!


Anonymous said...

Hey its miss z here. This helped. Thank god my parents let me have black nail polish. I have been on a strick black nail polish streak for almost 2 years now.

Aoyama Tsubomi-san said...

Very helpful. :) Thanks a bunch for posting this.

Anonymous said...

I may have to adopt this concept myself--wait, I already do! Though mine is more because I can't afford or find goth clothes easily. And my DIY efforts are not going well--I just discovered a missing stud on my leather jacket (I don't think P ate it), so I ripped the other studs (only on one side of the sleeves) off Problem is, now there are gaping holes in the leather. Sigh. Oh, well. If I can attach the studs securely, I guess I'll have to stick to studded accessories and other commercial clothing.

Anonymous said...

Some other ideas for the gothlings in need of fearful-parent-friendly wardrobes. If you insist on wearing mini skirts and corsets--layer them. Layber mini skirts over opaque tights, leggings, or knee lenghth skirts of a similar shape. For corsets, wear them under jackets (you just can't take it off much, so be sure you have one you like) or over t-shirts or long sleeve shirts. And if for some reason, black jeans or pants are a problem, go for the darkest blue jeans or navy colored pants. Or even a chocolate brown or very dark olive green. This post could also work for people with small budgets, as the tips can be used when building a wardrobe as well.

Emily Lynn G. said...

Soo true! At first its a little odd but then your parents get more comfortable, thus so do you. My father rolls eyes some times but my mom, being a teacher and all, sees REAL bratty, skimpy and/or rude teenagers, looks at my chains and black ruffle skirts, and counts her blessings! It is so much attitude with anything else. Carry yourself as a respectable person and that's how you'll be viewed. Me and my mom had some small altercations but I think even my ultra conservative brother is coming around...HE bought me REPO! The Genetic Opera DVD + CD.
It's really important to stay true to yourself (NEVER do ANYTHING just because someone tells you its "goth";Miss Amy is a trusted source but younger or meaner people could peer pressure you and it's silly in any scene-or ANYWHERE-to do something just for looks and not because you truly enjoy it) and to compromise with your parents. And really, that's just some good rules for all teens.

Sara said...

This is what goth is for me, combining it with fashion and looking way better than the babybats that we all were :p

Dark Soul said...

Well for me the most important thing is the music. My favorite band is The Cruxshadows and my favorite song by them is Birthday. My parents are just starting to more relaxed obout me being Goth so I was alowed to wear my best black dress (99p from the chairty shop) to my last school disco. Also they have agreed to let me go at least slightly more Goth to school. I now get to wear a shirt, tie, Blazer and full leangth home made skirt. There is probly one thing about my Mum loving to experment with making clothes and that is that I can very easly trick her into making really good quality really cheep Goth styled clothes.

Anonymous said...

It was actually when my mom went and threw away ALL of my black clothing, things with skulls/coffins on them and all of my Alchemy Gothic jewerly that I started really getting into the music. So for about 2 years, I dressed "normal" while the only things you could find on my ipod were Alien Sex Fiend, The Cure, Specimen, Bauhaus, Nosferatu, The Cruxshadows, ext. ext. ext. So now I have a lovely collection of music to match my once again arising aesthetic (since I wasn't able to express myself visually, I poured my all instead into the music). It sucked while it lasted, but now looking back on it, I'm happy that it happened that way! Clothes only last until you outgrow them or wear them out, but the music lasts a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I am only 10 and I love what you said but my mom is super strict and like all that stupid lovey dovey junk what shoud I do now. If she catches me she will kill me

MarigoldKnife said...

Thanks C: the thing is, with me, i am a babybat(unfortunately) but le problem is that i sometimes feel like goth is all too, black and more black.i like to add a splash of colour sometimes, even dyed my hair pink, but i keep it either super straight or big curls with a vampirish fringe. i love the gothy culture with all my heart-but i always get a lump on my throat! whenever i look or talk on the subject of "goth" i always feel that irritating lump forming in my throat!! help... why is this? anyone care to answer?

Anonymous said...

My mom was actually afraid of me becoming goth when I told her of my love for the paranormal. What's more, I walked into the kitchen one day before school wearing my buckled gloved and black clothes, and my dad said oh-so-distastefully "You look like a goth," all the while giving me this freaky, dead serious look. Basically, my parents don't really approve of me becoming something they might consider "too dark." In my case it has been helpful to hint at my interest in Victorian culture, Poe, and steampunk. It also helps me to throw a good bit of navy blue. Meanwhile, my mom does approve of my fingerless fishnet and lace gloves, black boots, black nail polish, and homemade choker and has even supplied a few gorgeous lacy black articles. I guess that if you kind of inch in on them, they grow to be more accepting.

Anonymous said...

*Continues from my earlier Anon comment, the me about inching goth on my parents*
recently, my grandparents saw my Skellington wristband. They warned me not to go to the "Dark Side", which they described as acting all depressed and wearing "black hoodies". I know the term they had in mind was goth, but...really. What does liking creepy and dark things have to do with being utterly depressed.

LadyDaemontus said...

To me, I think all music depending on the taste of the individual person is what truly is important. For me, I listen to anything for political, dark themed kind of music and it can range from traditional gothic music to more modern stuff. I also like incorporating other things. It's all about the music and, for me, it shouldn't be about the artist or the time period or whatever, but about the themes, stories, poetry and art that the song lyrics and the beats of music make. That's what brought me to the subculture was my total love for the arts: music, dance, theatre, performance. The history of the goth subculture, the beginning of the music.. all of it. :) Best thing is is that, I'm such a broad ranged person that I'm part of many subcultures and enjoy each one. I have an infinite appreciation for an infinate amount of things.

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