Friday, 20 January 2012

Slipping away from Goth

Chloe asked, "Do you have any little Gothy tips to get me back into my (metaphorical, sadly) goth boots again, because I've kind of slipped away this summer, yikes!"

This question got me thinking - don't we all 'slip away' from time to time? I don't mean having a jeans-and-tee (or bloomers-and-tee) day because I'm sure we all do that, and perhaps more frequently than we'd like, but a jeans-and-tee week, or even month? Sometimes it's because something else seems more pressing than putting on lipstick and a corset; sometimes it's because we're going through that period of re-evaluating our style; sometimes it's because it's cold and gloomy and you just can't be bothered.

This happens to me quite a lot, every few months or so I have an off period where my 'uniform' consists of skinny jeans, boots and a hoodie. Sometimes it's because I'm having a month-long black mood and wearing petticoats feels like too much effort, but just as often it's because I'll have become fascinated by a completely un-Goth fashion substyle (at the moment I'm all over cyberpop and decora) and am having a bit of a seesaw moment, where I really really really want to try dressing in that substyle but don't want to give up my Goth roots. The resulting confusion leads to me wearing T-shirt and jeans until I stop giving an eff and just go for it.

So. To end this two-paragraph tangent, what I'm saying is that slipping out of Goth from time to time isn't unusual, doesn't make you any less of a Goth and for goodness' sake, don't do what I used to do in my younger years and panic, run around telling all your friends you're worried your Goth thing might have been 'just a phase after all' and then change your mind two days later (thankfully I only did that once...).

Skeletal Family
Hey. Maybe your cooling-off period towards Goth IS a signal that Goth isn't for you permanently. Don't worry about it. Don't try and force yourself back into all-black, all-the-time. Either you'll drift gradually into a different style (don't be afraid to experiment with new things during this time!) or something will trigger you (a nice picture on your Tumblr dash, THAT pair of boots going on sale and ending up in your closet, or, hey, even an especially charming blog post) and all of a sudden your enthusiam for Goth will flare back up again and you'll charge back into black lace with one hundred per cent vim and vigour.

Whilst trying to force yourself back into Goth style will just drive you further away, I do recommend browsing the web or flicking through magazines for inspiration. Don't just look for Gothy things if you don't feel like it - Google Harajuku style or read generally 'alternative' fashion magazines for example. You might see that one picture that kickstarts your Goth fashion passion or encourages you towards pastures new.

The thing about fashion is that when getting dressed in your favourite style feels like hard work, it's probably time for a change, so you might find that the key to getting back to your best is to revamp your look a little. As a therapist I know says, "Go where the energy is." Nuts for steampunk? Go hunt down some watch parts and give yourself a style make-over. Maybe you've been loving what the mainstream has to offer at the moment and feel like you're missing out - go bag some bargains from 'normal' stores and have fun trying to make them work with your existing wardrobe.

Or perhaps your sudden lurch towards tracksuits and trainers is a sign that you've been pushing it too hard, and it's just time to take a break from the daily grind of buckling up your boots and chill out in your comfy casual gear for a while. If you think this might be the case, sstop worrying and go look up some bands you've never heard of, watch some great films or put your face in a book. Put fun before fashion for a while and you might just find you get your pep back, and soon it'll be exciting to dress up all over again. OR you could discover that you prefer to be casual, in which case you've learned a valuable lesson.


xToxicTears said...

I actually have a fair amount to say on this subject.

I got into the alternative way of life (at the beginning, definitely through goth alone) at a VERY young age. I'm talking about 8/9 years old when it all began. I've always been very sure of my style.

When I was 10 the hair was dyed black, I got my undercut, by 11 the eyebrows were gone and I was a proud owner of my first pair of newrocks.

My best friend and I would sit in her room, which was decorated entirely by obscure song lyrics written all over the walls, incense lit, listening to Marilyn Manson (don't worry, even then we knew his music wasn't actually goth) and other darkly inclined bands.

So it all started very young for me. I've went through periods of being perhaps more towards one style. There have been times its been mostly goth, when I was 14/15 a lot of my wardrobe was a cyber goth's dream, plenty of deathrock influences, but I've never outright called myself "Goth" or "Cyber" or "Death Rock" because I like to mix and match styles too much.

One girl once told me I wasn't allowed to wear cyberlox with ripped tights because cyberlox were meant to be futuristic and cyber, and ripped tights were death rock. This girl was a good 8 years older than me, even I was amazed by how stupid she was being.

So I've always been perfectly happy with my style, but in recent months I found myself very unsure of what I wanted, and it was getting me down, until the other day it suddenly clicked in my head.

I've been reading so many articles and blogs recently, about the rules of different fashions and subcultures, whether it be goth, various types of lolita, etc etc, that without me realising its been programmed into my head that I can only wear one or the other at any given time.

When I realised this, my mind instantly went "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK" (pardon my language). I was actually very disappointed in myself for letting silly rules be programmed into my head without me realising, I'd essentially lost what has been making me, me for the past 10 years.

Why can't I wear dreads and ripped tights with a cute lolita dress and a billion decora themed accessories, goth inspired lacy bits and pieces and jewellery made from bones?

Theres literally no reason why I can't. As long as I don't go out saying "This is Lolita" etc, then who cares about the silly rules, I've never been one to outright state "I am <insert subculture" anyway.

Since realising this I've felt a million times better, and I'm looking forward to getting a job so I can start making all the wonderful outfits I have planned.

So if you want to try some other fun style, just remember, you don't have to stick to ONE thing. While there are simply some mixes that will never work (Come on, goth meets chav will always be a recipe for disaster) you can create something amazing for yourself, and no one else will look like you.:)

Darling Violetta said...

I agree 100% with Toxic Tears. GREAT post! :)

The great side to blogging and the internet being so massive is that more resources are avaliable to us. The downside is that along with this massive influx of information it has buried the truth. That and people tend to overthink things like fashion, "what is goth", and music genres. When in real life people just do whatever the hell they want and generally don't think too hard about these sort of things. Don't get me wrong, it's great fun to ruminate about these things and what defines it. However I do think it's best to remember that there are actually no set of rules to abide by. And that all of our brainstorming and blogging is just a bit of fun.

The truth is, you are yourself despite what you wear. You like dark music and Halloween-esque things? Then wearing jeans and a t shirt won't change that. Saying, "fuck it" and putting on a pair of jeans doesn't mean anything except that you felt like wearing some jeans. I think people take the whole fashion thing WAY too seriously. Fashion is what you make of it. It should come natural and not be something you feel like you have to upkeep in order to maintain some sort of "status" within a certain scene.

And, great post as well Amy! :D

Abigail said...

Tried out a lot of different styles, like Lolita, Victorian, Steampunk, etc while being a goth. I think the goth scene offers a lot of different styles, too (Cyber, Military, 80er, ...)

I have to say that although I often, nearly always wear black, I am not only a goth because of my outer appearance. It has a lot do to with my taste of art, music, literature and the creative side of life in my opinion.

So if I would wear totally pink and blue clothes, I still would feel myself as a goth. I think it´s not that you have to peg s.o. into, it´s your own creative style and for me it´s just as I am, as I feel good. When I wear usual clothes, I feel like wearing a costume. ;-)

Hexotica said...

The problem with 'slipping away' is that when you stop using the codes of a sub-culture you won't be recognized by that sub-culture. You'll still be goth but you won't be showing it, therefore losing validation and cred. All sub-cultures are based on codes and how closely you follow those codes is how far into the sub-culture you've become. Once the codes are learned then people start to break them--then you become either a trendsetter or you move on to some other culture. My problem with goth style is that it hasn't changed enough for me and after ten years is boring if done everyday. It's good to swing out and swing back in, keeps it fresh for me. People like me are very annoying for people still learning the codes!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Reading this made me realize that it is programmed into us that your either this or your not. I may be accused of being a poseur, but I'm wearing what I want so back the heck off! :) Great post, and awesome comments. I think I'll go combine a bit off harlequinn, punk and my new pink shirt. ;D

When I wear my all out, makes-noise-when-I-walk Goth clothes, but I felt more like wearing jeans, I'm totally uncomfortable all day! Same when I wear casual clothes but should have worn black. It's based on my mood and my interests at that time. So if some people have a problem with it, tell them to shut their mouths and keep walking. You're you, and no one's gonna change that with some "totally original" insults.

Cali said...

I do this a lot. Goth is my first love but alongside my goth clothes are my, classic, bittersweet, gothic lolita clothes, fairy kei clothes, and gyaru (mainstream) clothes.

One day i'll be decked out in all my lovely black clothes the next i'm a rainbow fairy, and the next i'm a gyaru all dressed up in mainstream (ish) clothes. My friends (who aren't goth.) mention it sometimes like 'hey you're not wearing black!' but i don't pay attention to it. I'll wear what i want dammit.

Amelia Jane said...

I agree with this completely, I'm a Lolita but I can relate, sometimes people will think you're a poser if you try out a fashion that's outside of your own subculture and I think that's ridiculous. This is a really great post. :)

Nightwind said...

Toxic Tears' story contains some valuable insight, in my opinion. The most important thing is to be yourself.

I discovered Goth later than I should have perhaps. As I evolved into it, I first incorporated Goth into the style of dress that I already had. Then, I began to expand my horizons by looking for clothing, jewelry and other items that add to the Gothic esthetic.

There are still elements of my pre-Goth style present in the way I dress today. It's me. It's what works for me.

InfiltratorN7 said...

I remember reading somewhere in one of your posts about how you're obsessed with everything goth at the moment Amy. That's cool and it's resulted in this wonderful blog. The goth subculture does really need enthusiastic people. I just want to say that sometimes you can reach an oversaturation point with it, well with anything you get obsessed with. I got to that point with vampires. When I was about late teens/early twenties I read and watched a lot of vampire fiction. I couldn't get enough. It all culminated with me reading all of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles (plus New Tales of the Vampires and Mayfair Witches) that were out at that time - without a break. That was all I read for what seemed like ages and by the end while I was enjoying the books, I also craved something new, something as far removed from vampires as possible. I haven't read any vampire books since. Now I'm suddenly in the mood again after reading some interesting reviews on here and on Gothic Charm School. I feel an old interest being reawakened. What I'm trying to say is you do get shifts in your interests and passions. You might be all obsessed one moment with something, then the next you're looking at something else. That love will always be in the back of your mind and it will come back later. There's nothing wrong with that, so don't feel bad about it if you suddenly wake up one day and don't feel the same level of obsession with something like goth. It doesn't mean you suddenly hate it and should feel like you were a fraud or that it was a phase. Maybe it's just our brains saying "Enough! I want a break now!" Sometimes this can result in you exploring other things and bringing these back with you when you return to old interests.

This probably won't happen with everyone, but for some people it does and it's not a bad thing. In other cases, it could be that there are more pressing things happening in your life that take centre stage in your life, but these things are not permanent.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, and I agree with many things said.

I've recently felt myself 'slipping away' from Goth, and leaning towards a toned-down punk style, also I've been growing away from Goth music and onto The Clash, Sex Pistols ect. I gave up trying to fight this a few weeks ago, when I realised that by forcing myself to continue dressing gothily I was just putting myself of the goth subculture. I just buy the clothes I like, and in fact a lot of them are still reginisably gothic clothing

GothPocket said...

This is just great...I must admit that I slip away too. And I do that "maybe it is a phase after all" then take it back two days later things whenever my parents (my father mostly) put me down for how I dress. Because they make me think, "is it really that bad?", "Maybe they're right...nobody will wanna talk to me when I look like this..."
I do like this style...and while I won't force myself back to it if I do stray away, I hope to stay this way for a while...I like it.

ultimategothguide said...


Darling Violetta said...

What InfiltratorN7 says is true. When I was around 16 or so all I listened to was Trad Goth, Deathrock, and the like. Actually, I restricted myself to ONLY those genres for quite some time until I just got tired of it. This was during the period in my life where I shed my "goth is serious buisness!" attitude and started being a normal person. haha. Anyway, I started exploring music of all types and found many bands that I absolutely LOVE (although, I do admit nearly all of the music I was drawn to had a melancholy or dark aesthetic to it). I'm thankful for that period as it helped me become a well rounded person. I still like the trad stuff. It's just that I had listened to it exclusively for so many years it's not the music I'm aching to hear everyday. I'll get the desire to listen to some of the old school stuff every now and again. And, The Sisters and the rest always give me a sense of delightful nostalgia when I hear their tunes. But, it isn't something I obsess over as I did in my younger years. With so many new favorites I have found and so many new favorites to be found I rather be seeking out and listening to new bands than listening to one's I've heard for the greater portion of my teenage years.

As you get older goth isn't something you feel like you have to maintain. If that makes any sense? Goth will always be apart of who you are unless you deliberately decide you don't want it to be. Other people don't decide this, you do. As time goes on you understand this and things such as being acknowledged by other goths isn't an issue. You know things such as wearing jeans or listening to Johnny Cash or seeking out other hobbies such as traveling, knitting, camping, baking, and etc aren't signs that you're "growing out of it" or "leaving the subculture". Their signs that you've come to the realization that goth is apart of who you are and not the be all end all of your entire existence. :)

Anonymous said...

Good post Amy! I find this helpful :)

I agree with Toxic Tears that you find styles and combine that you'll prefer and whatever floats your boat.

I also agree with Darling Violetta. Don't take yourself seriously to gain your goth cred and social status. Wear what you prefer and whatever you're comfortable in. Even no make up doesn't affect that and doesn't even matter at all.

I do slip away from Goth at times, when I listen to the music too often and get bored of thinking of it a bit much when I should be more relaxed than thinking about it often and even a certain look all the time like in all black or too procavative. I add trad, deathrock, victorian, romantic in it as a mix with my video game and punk nods, influences and elements in. I switch to soundtrack, punk rock, emo, metal or anything that pleases me. I'll still be Goth, no matter how slipping away I'll get at times.

Caroline Carnivorous said...

Yeah, we all have casual.. periods. But I don't think it's something to freak out about. If it turns out you actually don't bother / enjoy dressing like that anymore, it's not that big of a deal. You don't HAVE to dress like that. I mean come on, it doesn't make you the less of a goth if you still like the same things, but just don't bother dressing the part.

I go to hairdressing school, so 4 days a week I can't wear my pretty clothes - and on the day I'm not in the salon, the school day is too short to even bother. But I'm still way more goth than the wannabes in the cafeteria who keep wearing the very same outfits every day because they think it gives them status or something.

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