Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Dress codes, shopping, babybats and more!

This has to be one of my favourite reader questions of all time!

Anonymous asked, "Do you have any tips for a budding baby bat? I've just gotten my first parasol (^^) (sorry, I like the neo-victorian sort of a point, although it is rather expensive) from my grandparents and it's pretty... Anyway, back to the point. I've been interested in goth culture for a while, love the music (especially Emilie Autumn and Tori Amos :)) and I want to get involved! However, I'm a little baby bat (12) so can't go to goth clubs and stuff. I live in a quiet part of North London and have seen a total of 1 goth (that I can remember) in my time :'(. So, how can I get more involved in the gothic culture and do you know any good shops for clothes? I like 'The Gothic Catwalk' but, unsurprisingly, would like to buy things from more than one shop! And the greatest tragedy in my life right now is school uniform :( Any tips on how to avoid it would be greatly appreciated!"

OK, I'm going to divide this up into (vampire)bite-sized chunks so that I stand a chance of answering your questions properly, dear Anonymous.

The Cruxshadows
Tips for budding babybats
(I know, I know... not everyone likes the term 'babybat'. As an under-21 Goth to whom the term still applies, I personally think it's cute and am more than happy to be referred to as a babybat, but I know that some of you find it a bit patronising or think that it's used in a derogatory way. I will try to phase out the term.)

Just as an FYI to Gothy newbies as well as new blog readers (hello, everyone who popped across from Gothic Charm School, and welcome!) I do tag all my posts that I feel are relevant or helpful to fledgling Goths under 'babybat' (*ahem*, sorry) - you can find the tags list in the sidebar, or just click here to explore all my would-be-helpful babybat-friendly posts.
  • Get inspired. Buy magazines, read blogs, check out Tumblr and Polyvore, listen to music, watch music videos, check out Wave Gotik Treffen footage on YouTube... finding out what Goth is for you, personally, might take some time and is often subject to change as you get older, but exploring the fashion, music, art and literature of such a diverse culture makes a delightful pasttime as well as providing all the inspiration you'll need to experiment and find your own style.
  • Be yourself. Don't try to conform to someone else's idea of what Goth is. You don't need to love The Cruxshadows or have a fluffy bat collection if that's just not what interests you.
  • Be confident. I know, easier said than done, right?! The fact is that when you experiment you're going to make mistakes - I know I certainly cringe at some of the outfits I've posted on this blog! People are going to stare at you. Some people might make comments or make assumptions about you. But keep your head up, stay strong, and be you (as loud as you can, to paraphrase Gerard Way). If you are comfortable and confident with yourself, it will show, and you will look awesome no matter what you wear.
  • Don't expect to love everything about Goth. Chances are you won't love every fashion, every band, every person, every attitude. Every subculture has its downsides and Goth is no better or worse than any other.
  • Keep looking, keep trying new things. Didn't like that band? Look up another. You won't discover new and exciting things if you don't keep looking for them. Just because you didn't like one band doesn't mean you won't like another - don't get disillusioned just because you can't stand The Sisters of Mercy.
  • The best shopping advice I ever read came from a user on the Mookychick forums called Angels+Eyeliner, who said, "If you look at your wardrobe and find that nothing expresses anything about you, you need to have a think about why you bought those things in the first place. Take out the last thing you chose for yourself (as opposed to something someone picked out for you). How often do you wear this? And why? Is it because it's comfy, because it shows off who you are, because it's practical, or just fashionable? Why did you pick it out? Because you needed a new (whatever it is) or because you saw it and, whether you needed it or not, you HAD to buy it? If you find that you're buying whatever everyone else is, or what's cheap, or what isn't too showy, then next time you go shopping you need to have a better look. Don't instantly go into the same shops you always do. Lots of people get into a sort of routine when they go shopping ie Primark first for tops, then H+M for jeans, Peacocks for shoes, Claire's for jewellery, Superdrug for makeup then McDs for lunch before going home. Go to the places you haven't been to for a while. Look at everything, not just one particular thing. Don't buy ANYTHING until you're certain that you love it, that you will wear it, that you have things to wear it with, and that you want it because it's a little part of you that you previously haven't had. And since you seem to have a wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts that saynothing about you, why not make them say something? It's easier and cheaper then getting a whole new wardrobe and stops you finding one day that all your lovely new clothes are in the wash and you're forced back into boring stuff. Customise the hell out of (or should that be in to) your stuff. If you get some buckles and straps you could turn a pair of average jeans into a gothic masterpiece, and I'm damn sure it would be a lot cheaper then buying the same thing already made. Make like a hippie and turn those skinnies into gothic flares with panels of fabric. Cut up your t-shirts, or fabric paint lyrics and slogans onto them. I've seen people pay thirty quid for a plain t-shirt with a one liner on it before, and if they had a few brains they could pay a couple of quid for the shirt and make it their own." EXACTLY WHAT SHE SAID.
How can I get more involved with Goth?Oh, I know this feeling. I live in a small town, it took me years to meet anyone else who was into Goth, and of course I discovered the subculture when I was far too young to go to clubs, like many people do. Reading books and watching movies where the Goth kids all hung out IN GROUPS was almost akin to torture. Gothlings, you are not alone in feeling alone!
  • Get involved online. Don't look at me like that, I know it isn't the same, but you can chat with people who share the same interests as you, swap tips and advice, share inspirations and generally learn a bit more and feel a bit more connected. If you're as lucky as I have been, you'll meet amazing people who you'll consider great friends. Whether you start a blog, join a Facebook group or join a fan forum for your favourite band, don't be shy, get talking.
  • Keep on the lookout for non-club events in your area. Most concerts don't have age limits - do what I did and bat your lashes at your non-Goth friends (or parents if you have to) until they agree to come with you. Gothy markets, meet-ups and picnics also seem to be becoming more popular. See if you can get day-tickets for local festivals.
  • Don't be limited to specifically-Goth events either. You can often hunt down Gothy types at art or literature events, book signings, anime or horror cons and expos, craft fairs, alternative fashion shows, music festivals of most varieties, museums, or of course your local library.
  • If you should happen to meet another Goth, don't be afraid to nod, smile, or say hello. It's only a small gesture but you've made a connection (although, should you happen to get chatting, please bear in mind that this person, Goth or not, is still a STRANGER, and the obvious rules of common sense must apply).
Where can I buy Goth clothes?
Allow me to run through the usual spiel - charity shops, thrift stores, customising plain or 'normal' items, eBay, Etsy, and the odd Goth-friendly piece from mainstream shops! As a dedicated shopper, I do have some favourite Gothy sites, but bear in mind that most brand name Goth items are expensive!
How can I get around school dress codes?
I'm just going to hand this one over to the Lady of the Manners at GCS, because she has covered this topic on many occasions with elan.
I think that covers everything! Best of luck to you, dear Anonymous!


Alexandriaweb said...

She lives in London? Oooooh get to Camden asap if she wants clothes!
I was into Goth before I was 18, I'm actually kind of jellous of kids today there are so many more websites that there weren't when I was a nipper.

Loupie said...

London has a great goth scene that isn't only found in the clubs. However being nearly 15 years older I am not 100% sure on age appropriate events to recommend to you.

Clothes wise, when I was a clueless babybat I didn't even know Camden existed. I just shopped in mainstream shops and picked up stuff I liked. Also keep an eye out for the alternative bring and buy, it happens in North London a couple of times a year, I have managed to pick up some great bargins that way.

GothPocket said...

Oooh London seems soo nice :P *imagines getting out of this small Southern-American town...*
Anywho! It would be awesome if you did a DIY on the whole 'skinny jeans to flares' thing. Also, around here where I live...good luck finding any 'goth' takes a lot of searching unless I do it online.

Isobel said...

Coming from a London goth- Camden isn't what it used to be....sigh...there are still a few places though.
For london goths I also recommend the London Gothic Meetup Group:
They do afternoon tea, historic walks and museum visits alongside the usual clubbing. I'm a member and I highly recommend them.

Anonymous said...

Having been in the goth scene for nearly 25 years, I can tell you first hand that part of the fun way back when was going to thrift shops, yard sales, etc., and piecing together gothy outfits, as we didn't "off-the-rack" back then. Although I own a few "designer" outfits, I still prefer the old-school way of doing things. I also frequent lingerie shops and dance shops, as well as mainstream stores. I find alot of my more ethereal things this way. As far as school uniforms/dress codes (this goes for the workplace, as well!), look into patterned/textured tights, dark nail polish, and other accessories, if allowed (shoes can really make an outfit).

My advice to all "newbies", regardless of age, unless you are completely set on a certain style of goth, keep it simple. Buy a few staple pieces, and accessorize and play with makeup. This is also easy on the budget, as well.

Julietslace said...

I feel live in a small town too, I do feel lonely sometimes. I suggest reaching out to others online and possibly planning a meet up, I would do the same thing but I doubt lives close enough :(

ultimategothguide said...

If you do arrange a meet-up, as long as it's somewhere in England I AM THERE. :-)

Traicetrak said...

Aw, gee thanks, Amy. I wasted a whole evening window shopping through Restyle last night. I'd seen most of the rest before, but that was a new one on me. I've pegged many items to order once the money stops being so tight. =D

GenevaEbony said...

Hi Amy! I kind of have the same problem but way more extreme. I'm a babybat too, I'm 15, I live in Mississippi in hattiesburg and there are about two goths that i've ever seen here. But thats not really the problem.

I live with my mom, she's really really strict, she threw away all my band tee shirts, she never lets me wear my chunky boots that my dad bought me, she confiscated my HIM necklace because she thought it was the sign of the devil, I'm not allowed to go anywhere at all! She thinks that i'm evil. She even tells me that goth is 'a white thing' (i'm black) and that I'm just trying to act white to get popular.

I really have desprately tried to tell her what goth is about, that my heartagram meant love metal, that just because Im into the gothic subculture that I'm not evil and that goth isnt about the devil at all but she wont listen! I guess you could call my mom Christian, but I'm agnostic. I'm exploring new religions right now until i find one, but I know Christianity isnt for me. She even told me she was gonna make me get babtized!

Any advice at all would be very helpful, I've read your post about the undercover goth and telling your parents about goth but nothing works! I can't buy my own clothes because I dont get allowence or any type of payment, she wont let me get a job, I'm trapped! The little money that I do get from saving up lunch money and from birthdays goes to my personal savings and buying accesories on ebay and etsy.

I would just really like it if anyone had any type of solution at all. Did anybody else ever experience this as a young gothling?

I'd appreciate anything. Please and Thanks!

InfiltratorN7 said...

I know I posted this before (back in the isolated goth thread) but I'll mention it again (I hope this doesn't annoy anyone too much, I won't mention it again).

The UK Goth Map is a useful website. It's UK based only but I've found it to be a useful tool over the years. It's a shame it's becoming less used to announce events as Facebook has increased in popularity.

Anyway, to use the goth map just click on the county you want to know about and it will bring up all members living in that area, all gothy/alternative shops, clubs, pubs, mailing lists and events that are going on in date order. Hell, it even tells you which members birthdays are in the current month. If you click on a different item such as a shop it will give you details such as location and underneath members can post comments about how good it is.

A lot of information on it could do with updating but new stuff is still being posted so it's not dead yet! Maybe it'll be of use to someone. ^_^

Sorry this isn't much help to non-UK goths but maybe it'll spark someone into making an international version? That would be cool.

The site also lists other places of interests so this can be historical sites, art galleries and more. So that might be a good place to look for age appropriate stuff.

It still can be a useful tool, I found out from it that there's a big alternative and burlesque fair being held in Manchester and Birmingham every few months. ^_^ When I first started using the site I found it helped me get an idea of what to look out for in cities I was visiting and see what people thought about different places and events.

Aside from this, there's been plenty of good advice posted on here. Camden sounds like an awesome place to start! Coming from a small town myself, I found the internet invaluable. Talking to other goths on forums was helpful. Now there's even more going on with tumblrs, blogs, etc.

minifang said...

thank you for this post!! i am just a little barely-13-year-old who is obsessed with this. by the way, i love the term baby bat

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