Thursday, 27 October 2011

Goth in the office: Romantic and Victorian

A reader recently queried if I had any posts planned on how to tone down more dramatic Goth looks (for example Victorian Goth and romantigoth) for school or work, or everyday life in general. I'm sure we all know by now which examples of going-out Gothwear are not generally suitable for day-to-day wear at the office (for most of us, anyway), but to begin this post, let's recap:

  • corsets (over the clothes, anyway)
  • excessively ripped jeans or tights
  • really tall shoes
  • PVC, rubber, or leather, with the exception of leather boots and/or jacket
  • really small skirts
Obviously there are other items such as fake-blood-splattered-anything, fangs, angel wings, see-through skirts, things with very long dangling trains, etc, but I'm pretty sure most of us don't wear those on an everyday basis anyway.

So far so good, but what about more subgenre-specific rules of thumb?

Victorian Goth
Victorian Goths may find it difficult to tone down their style, as often the Victorian Goth's idea of casual is a band T-shirt and bloomers, which is not generally appropriate for work either. But the basic items in a Victorian-themed wardrobe, taken individually, are very suitable for office and school: blouses with lots of frills and lace, long skirts, smart boots, waistcoats and jackets.

The trick is to go minimalist, and leave aside the acres of bustle, jabot, veiling and petticoats that may constitute your daily wardrobe. Depending on your work environment, it's also probably best to leave the top hats at home and substitute a neat up-do instead.

At first glance it would seem that Victorian gentlemen have it slightly easier; they can just leave their hats, canes, and monocles at home and sweep into the office clad in smart trousers, a fancy shirt and dandy-esque waistcoat. Sadly, this may not quite work. Whilst some workplaces may be open-minded towards a man in a frilly shirt, some won't, unfair though this is. I'd recommend several plain, lace-free shirts in dark colours, but bring out your spooky side with a luxurious fabric like satin or silk (velvet might be a step too far?). Under a waistcoat, it will still have that darkly debonair flair for the office but shouldn't inspire as many unpleasant comments from coworkers.

Please note: none of the above applies if you are the Lady of the Manners, who dresses in full neo-Victorian regalia, complete with parasol and fancy hat, to work every day.

Romantic Goth

The romantic office wardrobe can, in many ways, be very similar to the Victorian daily wardrobe outlined above, although blouse sleeves may be more flowing than fitted for the ladies and the gentlemen may prefer to sally forth waistcoat-less.

Long skirts in the office, whilst possibly considered a touch eccentric, are generally not frowned upon. For both men and women, a blazer or jacket in an opulent fabric like brocade adds a dramatic and dark touch without being excessive. Ladies can get away with more lace trim and flounces than the gentlemen on the whole.
'Lust' tie from CyberOptix Tie Lab (link)
Photographer: Bethany Shorb
Romantic Goth gentlemen who are missing that little something extra may like to turn their eye to ties from Alchemy Gothic, featuring designs like skulls and scarlet roses or skeletal fairies. For something more subtle, CyberOptix TieLab boast designs like the wormwood plant (one of the primary ingredients in absinthe) and ravens. (Victorian Goths may also like to check out CyberOptix Tie Lab's penny farthing design.)

Silver jewellery is perfectly acceptable; an ankh or spider pendant adds that quintessential Goth touch without being as potentially alarming to coworkers as a coffin or skull.


Stefanie said...

I suppose for toning it down for work you can always try a bit of cross dressing. Tight trousers, knee high boots, a ruffled blouse, waistcoat and small fascinator would look pretty epic :)

linnea-maria said...

I am amazed of how much you can write about this subject! You should indeed write for a magazine or such. What a lovely post! I have a blouse with lace frills I use sometime at work, and no one complains, but they are used to my odd dressing by now.

Anonymous said...

Hm,interesting post. I wonder how this sort of thing would work for cybergoths?

Marilyn Jay Freak said...

Hmm, that'll work for days when I want to tone down... Thanks Amy!!

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