Monday, 25 April 2011

Summer: a survival guide for the intrepid Gothling

Well, there's a Gothtastic swimwear post over at Sincerely, Boots, which means that summer must be approaching fast. Judging from the fact that I can't actually remember the last time it rained, it's obviously time to dig out the parasol collection, slap suncream on my tatt, and go brave the Yellow Hurty Thing for yet another summer.

Source: We Heart It
Ah, summer. Traditionally the time for sunbathing, wearing flip-flops, and collecting sand in one's shoes a la Dido. Unless, of course, you're one of the black-clad masses for whom Sun-In spray and pink bikinis are about as appealing as lancing a boil - in which case, you're certainly not alone.

Here are just a few of the common ailments afflicting we Gothy types during the hot season: sunscream smears on black clothing. Fishnet- or lace-patterned sunburn. Melting make-up (resulting in the Alice Cooper effect, and not in a good way. I've had to resort to going bare-faced for the last three days. Shocking, isn't it?). Boiling hot feet (New Rocks may look good, but they roast your tootsies like a couple of black-polished jacket potatoes). Black hair dye turning an (un)attractive shade of browny-red (a problem which I've previously solved by dying my locks a shade called Midnight Red, in attempt to make the red tint look a) nice and b) vaguely deliberate. But surely there must be another solution - after all, we can't ALL dye our hair Midnight Red...).

So all in all, it's no wonder many of us fall into the habit of lurking sullenly indoors as soon as the sun creeps into the sky. But cheer up, Gothlings, it's not all bad. There are many ways to keep your cool in all but the firiest of heatwaves...

Firstly, I hate to say this, but you're going to have to start with a little compromise. Unless you have a deathwish (which is very Goth of you... but even then, do you really want to depart this mortal coil with sweaty armpits?) you probably won't enjoy braving the sunshine in a leather trenchcoat and poloneck jumper.

So my first tip is to lose the layers. Elaborate Goth fashions are based upon layers and layers of texture and fabric, and in the middle of summer you'll need to strip this down to the bare essentials. Vest tops, light T-shirts, floaty skirts and dresses, even lightweight shorts and bloomers, are your friends. You're going to have to show at least a little bit of skin if you don't want to end up with a tomato-coloured face. Mesh, lace and fishnet are good for covering skin whilst keeping you reasonably cool.

Whatever you do, darklings, don't forget the suncream! Even if porcelain-pale skin isn't your thing, hopefully red'n'flaky isn't either. Do yourself a favour - don't burn! AND DON'T FORGET TO PUT HIGH-SPF SUNCREAM ON YOUR TATTOOS. Or just keep them covered.

Oh, and insect repellent is a wonderful invention. Spiders are cool (but kinda creepy). Mosquitos? Not even going there.

Replace your woolly tights and opaque stripey tights with something a bit more aerating. Fishnets, lace tights and sheer stockings look just as pretty but will allow more airflow to your skin. Just be sure to apply suncream underneath - yes, I know it's a pain trying to work tights up suncream-sticky legs (or arms; this is the Goth scene, after all), but you can still tan or burn through sheer or loosely-woven fabrics, and I for one wish to avoid the horror of a fishnet-patterned tan.

If it's REALLY, REALLY hot where you live, it may be necessary to re-think your look until the worst of the heatwave is over. No, I don't mean that you should start dressing like a cheerleader (unless you ARE a cheerleader - oh, yes, Goth cheerleaders exist...). Cream, white, ivory, sepia and pale grey (or even lavender - it's one of the Victorian colours of mourning) are all cooler options than basic black and will create a stunningly ethereal look.

Also, now is not the time to wear your flamingo-pink Cleopatra wig from Manic Panic. Yes, wigs (good quality ones, that is - babybats, please do not run down to your local fancy dress shop and buy crappy plastic wigs. I made this mistake, and regret it to this day...) are an exciting and easy way to give yourself a whole new look in an instant. But in a heatwave, they become hot, itchy, and horribly uncomfortable. If you feel half-naked without some form of hair adornment, opt for lightweight falls or clip-in extensions.

Speaking of hair - those of you with long, flowing manes may find it helpful to tie it back or twist it into an up-do to keep it off your neck. Shaven-headed and short-haired Gothlings have a slight advantage when it comes to beating the summer heat - just do try not to get a sunburned scalp!

Many staple Goth accessories come into their own at this time of year. Fans and parasols, obviously, are practically lifesavers - cheap, pretty fans can be picked up at fancy dress shops or (whisper it) sex shops (for the 18-plus darklings, obviously). Sunglasses are a must, whether you plump for aviator shades like Mr. Eldritch, simple black shades, or something kitsch like heart-shaped sunnies. Those of you with a cyber or steampunk bent should search online for UV-protective goggles - there are loads out there.

Of course, a sunhat is a marvellous thing to own - I have spent literally years looking for a perfect, Edward Gorey-esque broad-brimmed sunhat, and finally found one in a charity shop, complete with raven feather, earlier this month. Ethergoths, Victorian Goths and possibly romantigoths are probably already smirking with pride over their hat collections and are likely to have something on hand to suit the summer weather.

If a broad-brimmed sunhat doesn't fit with your style, you could try a western-style hat (very Fields of the Nephilim), a smart trilby, or even a baseball cap if your look is right for it. Just stay away from beanies and anything woolly.

Now - parasols are all-round fabulous and lovely things to own, but sometimes they can be just downright impractical to carry (and make your arms ache). I left mine at home on a recent date with The Boyfriend, and as we ate takeaway Chinese on the riverbank, I couldn't help but worry slightly about getting home and peeling off my tights only to discover that I had ACCIDENTALLY TANNED, losing my hard-earned lily-white pallor and turning a ghastly shade of... orange.

[Tangent: Yes, yes, not all Goths are concerned with maintaining an ethereal hue. Goths come in all colours and shades, from pale white to ebony black and every shade of pink, brown, gold and hell, even green, in between. But having a tan of any description really doesn't suit me, and I know I'm not alone in this...]
Should you slip up and gain an accidental suntan, don't panic - head over to my post on creating a ghostly pallor for a handy-dandy tan remover recipe.

Lastly, what about those broiling feet? Well, boots aren't the only available kind of Gothy footwear out there, y'know. Mary-Janes or even sandals (try your local Peacocks, UK readers) will keep your spooky tootsies a hell of a lot cooler whilst leaving your Goth cred intact.

But if you've given up trying to escape the Daystar and are hermiting indoors, you may like to check out Goths In Hot Weather... a v. funny blog chock full of sweltering darklings - send me a link if you decide to send them your own picture. And a song for you too... Goths of Summer, by Mark Aaron James.


SaryWalrus said...

I'm so glad that it's spring here (as far as I remember) and that I can't tan at all! xD

Black_Lilly said...

Good post. Most of these points apply to us Darklings was down south, and it's already approaching winter for us. Does it get humid in England? I wonder how other Goths cope with mid to intense humidity...
x Lilly

Violette B. said...

Really nice advice. I always get in the mood when summer arrives (pretty typical, I guess, considering that I am a proud Leo) so hot weather is not neccesary a bad thing to me.

Anyway, I absolutely agree with the handy tips you give. I have my own little secrets, indeed. I live in Spain, so you can imagine the terrible hot, and It is not just one warm month like in some European places but THREE FULLY MONTHS. In the last years I got used to remain at home until seven or eight in the evening (when sun stops burning). This is not a problem because in Spain everything it´s opened until nine or even later.
Besides I am fond of swimming in the sea, so my family has a huge beach parasol just for me. Sun block is really useful as well, specially with physical protection.
In relation to parasols I strongly recommend the ones you can get in a cheap Chinese shop. They are made of paper and this material lets the air pass through.

Not so much more to say.
Happy hot weather holiday to everyone!

Emily Lynn G. said...

Oh something I can comment on! Miss Amy, I live in Florida,known in the U.S. as "The Sunshine State", very un goth friendly year round. So I SOOOO know what you're talking about:sunscreen is your friend. I find that stockings keep me covered yet cool, and my black Hello Kitty sandals are getting a workout. Despite the little-piece-of-heaven-by-the-sea location I'm living in, I've always hated the beach. And I'm olive skinned as is (curses for being of Italian decent!) so no tanning for me. My advice is to buy tank tops and sandals that you deem acceptable in your wardrobe and sweat it out. (pun intended)Oh, what I'd give for my weeks of winter with my skull and thunderbolt scarf and black kitty cat hat!

Becky said...

Excellent advice! The city I just moved to gets pretty steamy during the summers, so I'll probably start using some of these tricks soon.

VictorianKitty said...

I live in the desert and it gets unbelievably hot... Yes, it's a dry heat, but 110 F is miserable no matter what! A parasol is an absolute must for me. Oddly enough, as essential as it is to my comfort (and in spite of the fact that I own several) I always seem to forget to bring one along. :( I guess I should keep one in each car! But they are all different, and who knows which mood I'll be in and what will go best with my outfit that day... lol! It's tough being a fashionable Goth girl. :)

Sophistique Noir - Dark, Elegant Fashion

ultimategothguide said...

@ Black_Lily - no, it doesn't really get humid here. Just bright and sunny.

Kitty Lovett; A Charming Notion said...

It got to 121F and above 100% humidity at my old school.

Also, Amy, you live in England. There was a thing on the news today, where Australians were taking the piss on you guys. "It's a heat wave! Hottest day of the year! So hot! 26 degrees!" My english ex used to whine about the heat wave. It was 22 degrees.

I'd kill for a 26 in summer.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Kitty - when your average temp is about 15 degrees, I'll have you know that 26 feels bloody hot! And hey, we got to 31 last year! XP

Lilly Peppermint said...

Haha Amy, for me when's it's 15* I'm all rugged up. It has been known to get way up to 50* where I live, but thankfully I wasn't there at that time. You're so lucky to live in such a nice cold place.

BlackGold said...


Carmen LeBlanc said...

Bahaha, lucky me, with 70F (21C) and overcast weather throughout July.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about southern England but up north it does get humid in the summer. It was about 27/28 degrees Celsius last week. My favourite times of year are spring and autumn. I don't mind summer too much. I love to travel. I don't care for winter very much. It's stupid how the country always asks shocked and suprised that it snows and everything grinds to a halt. >_< It happens every year how bloody hard it is to predict that it's going to snow!?!

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

Used to live in he outback of Australia. Ugh.

I could tell you a few things about heat+Goth!!

Also, I made a new post about Summer :3

Edna said...

I also live in the Sunshine State. It only falls below 80 or 70 F about 3 months out of the.year so my issue is buying sufficient winter clothing x)

Most stores offer gauzy but pretty clothing. Also, black platform sandals are perfectly gothy for summer ^^

Another tip for those living in certain areas; check out your local surf and skate shops! They generally carry clothing brands like Volcom, Irish Surf Company and Jedidiah who have light weight clothing but some very cool patterns and delightfully morbid drawings. (A woman turning into a bird, Celtic knots with mermaids and a grining skull wearing black aviators, tell me that isnt remotely goth related). As a bonus, a certain percentage of Jed's profits go back into humanitarian projects. A warning, they can sometimes be a little pricey so the clearance rack can be your best friend ;)

Kat said...

Hey this is ace - we shared it on our Facebook page.

gothicBallerina said...

I don't know if you're going to see this since it's so far back, but I may be able to help with the black hair dye, if you haven't heard of this method already. If you dye your hair with indigo, rather than box dye, it doesn't fade to brown or red. It does fade, but it ends up being more light, blue-tinted black than anything else. You do have to dye your hair with body-art henna before you use the indigo, though, or else it will dye your hair blue. Don't use boxed henna: most of it isn't real. Try to find what is referred to as "body-art quality henna:" this will be a green powder that you mix with diluted apple cider vinegar (or lemon, depending on your source, but ACV helps one avoid brassiness.) Hope you can see this, and I hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

I live in Sydney. You can Imagine how well that goes for my look (romantic goth).

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