Thursday, 31 May 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 6

Phew... what a day at work today. The icing on the cake came with a moment of free comedy when I was tidying up shop at the end of the day, lifted what I thought was an empty mug down from a top shelf.... yeah, I got a free shower. :-/

6. A pair of pants that aren't jeans.

I had to think long and hard about this... the majority of my bondage pants have been confined to the days of babybat nostalgia this year, which leaves me with very few pairs of non-jeans-pants. These tartan trews also recently went in the bin... I hadn't worn them for ages because I, um, split the back end of them beyond repair bending over to get a carrier bag for a customer in the shop. :-/ I held onto them out of wishful thinking, but they have finally left the building.

Today I'm off to see Men in Black 3 with my friends and wanted to show off my new Restyle skeleton belt, which led to the following outfit (click for full picture):

This style of outfit is definitely the direction I plan to take with my wardrobe.

Nudity in alternative modelling

This post is dedicated to a lady named Flossie, who responded to my post Top Ten Goth Pet Peeves with the following: "I understand you're entitled to your opinion and that's totally okay, but I'm a little saddened that you would refer to yourself as a feminist and still say something like that. It's their own choice what to do with their bodies. Nobody else gets to say what anyone does with their own body. Surely we should be trying to change society's backwards opinions about women who like showing off their bodies, rather than criticising them for not falling into place with mainstream mores? Isn't "somebody put some more clothes on, you're all giving my subculture a bad name" just one step away from "put those awful freaky clothes away, they're making the family/school/community look bad"? And I'm sure we've all been there."

What Flossie was referring to was this paragraph: "Why does it seem to be impossible to be an alternative model and not get naked at the drop of a mini top hat? I have nothing against communities like Suicide Girls, and I think some nude or erotic modelling is very pretty. But really, can we have SOME alternative models who don't need to get their boobs out, please? It just perpetuates the stereotype that all us alt girls are sluts. Yes, I understand there is such a thing as being sexually liberated, and I congratulate you ladies for it. Can we have some prudish models now, to balance it out a bit?"

Flossie, you're totally right.

I feel, personally, that as a girl who feels more liberated and beautiful when fully dressed up rather than totally or semi-unclad, I'd like to see more representation of fellow 'prudish' types amongst alt models. At times it feels like if you want to get into alt modelling, you have to take your clothes off. I'm sure this isn't accurate and for those who would find it less liberating or even downright uncomfortable to be photographed unclothed, it would be perhaps appealing if there were a few more well-known alt models who felt the same.

However, I will put my hands up and admit that I feel embarrassed looking back at that paragraph. Flossie has kindly not used the term 'slut-shaming', but it would have been applicable and I apologise. The post will be edited; what I have come to realise in the year since I wrote that post is that comments like 'it just perpetuates the stereotype that all us alt girls are sluts' are not acceptable - women should be able to dress and be photographed however the hell they want without anyone, let alone fellow girls, making assumptions about them.

Once again I apologise, partly for any offense caused, and partly for being an idiot. Thanks, Flossie, for calling me on that.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

When did tea become so... Goth?

I'm English. Which means that I drink tea. A lot. I drink tea like Americans drink coffee. I need tea like I need air.

Yes, yes, pedantic person at the back there, of COURSE there are English people who don't like tea. In fact until a couple of years ago I was one, but I had my teaphiphany a short while back and now I can't get enough of the stuff.

What I didn't realise until, well, today, was that apparently I'm not the only black-clad spookster with a tea fetish. Is it the associations with elegance and grandeur? Paying homage to your British Gothy ancestors of the 70s and 80s? Is it all Emilie Autumn's fault? I don't know. But it seems like all of a sudden, dark culture has gone batty over tea. o.O

I myself have a growing collection of teacups and mugs, including a fortune-telling teacup, a porcelain 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' skully mug, and, well, this:

And if one's tea is not already spooky enough by virtue of being, well, TEA, you can now get all kinds of dark delights (see what I did there?) such as:
You could also celebrate your love of a good ol' cuppa by wearing a teacup hat, necklace or ring. Just be careful not to take it too far...

There's even a sport that the least athletic Goths could potentially get behind, and it's known as tea dueling. I can see this happening at future meet-ups everywhere.

So. Tea. Love it? Hate it? Theories or, y'know, actual knowledge on why it's suddenly popping up alongside bats, spiders and skulls as a Gothy staple?

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 5

I know this is entirely unrelated, but as part of my wardrobe makeover, some shopping has happened. (Do try not to be shocked.) I was delighted today when these treats from Restyle came in the post! The sunglasses are on clearance at the moment too so I got them for £3.50. :-D


5. Your favourite pair of jeans.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
I love my Criminal Damage lacy jeans. I wear them so much that you probably get sick of seeing them. The lace is slowly starting to become all holey but I do have a spare pair set aside at work. They were £35 from an alt store in Southampton and I originally bought them as part of a last-minute going-out ensemble for my 19th birthday.

Here's today's outfit. This picture got deleted from Lookbook for excessive editing, luckily I saved it to my PC. To be fair it is a bit much... oops. >.<

And a bonus pic of me in my natural habitat.
Have been playing with paint samples today, so it should be looking a bit different in here soon! >.<
You might recognise the ribbons in my hair from the shirt I posted for yesterday's challenge... I tried it on this morning and it really doesn't fit, so I salvaged what I could from it. I like these ribbons much better than the actual shirt, I think. :-)

Vlogger Spotlight: kazlovesbats

Hey you guyssss! :-D

I'm super excited because the utterly adorable Allison Eckfeldt is a) sending me the cutest, fuzziest Halloween sweater I have ever ever seen, and b) made me a video! This is rather excellent ('scuse me whilst I turn up the hokey Brit dial) and wonderful because I was going to feature Ali and her YouTube channel kazlovesbats as my latest spotlighted vlogger for some of her other lovely videos.

But, MY Ali video gets pride of place here. Never seen anyone get so enthusiastic over the Royal Mail! ;-D

Other than the sheer force of awesomeness that is my Ali video (MINE, I say!), this beautiful bat-loving lady has heaps of fantastic videos... it was so hard to choose which ones to feature. But I'm sure this one will speak to so many of you:

This one also ties in with a topic I blogged about earlier this week (Goth Enough?) and I know that lots of people also had strong feelings about that.

I hope that you enjoy Ali's vids; and don't forget you can also check out her channel (with many, many more videos) here.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 4

Hello everyone; I have some non-clothing challenge posts on their way but sadly no time to post them... I'm just back from work and am scarfing my dinner down before I'm due to go out with friends. >.<

4. A shirt that you haven’t worn yet.

This was kind of an impulse buy... I haven't tried it on and I'm not sure how 'me' it actually is. I might try to put together an outfit with it for Sophistique Noir's upcoming Red and Black Week. I like the little details on it (the corset-style lacings have 'Mad Girl' written on them in teeny tiny white letters) but it might be a bit shapeless when it's on. And possibly too short. I guess we'll see.

Today's outfit was supposed to be cool and breezy for work whilst simultaneously hiding my unshaven legs *ahem* and being fancy enough to dash out to the pub tonight without needing to get changed. This skirt is slightly too big; I hadn't worn it before and didn't have time this morning to think of something else or adjust it - honestly, this entire day has been a blur - so I've got a load of the waistband gathered at the back with a safety-pin to stop it sliding off me.

My cat, Kally, wanted to be in the frame as well this morning.

Monday, 28 May 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 3

It's nice to be able to give my summer clothes a bit of an airing in this hot weather, but when I had to walk some of the way home from work today I almost dissolved into a sweaty mess! Also, I do find that we spooky types stand out a bit more in summer, when everyone else is in denim shorts and strappy tops with a smothering of fake bake.

3. A piece of clothing or jewelry that was a gift.

This dress was a Christmas gift from my mum. She also added velvet ribbon straps to it to help keep it hoiked up over my non-existent bosom.

Today's look was intended to be lightweight and comfy for work. Very simple but I wear these jeans to death (I have a spare pair on hand!) and I do love my skull tee. :-)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 2

I had hoped to get up early this morning and write a proper post as well as a challenge post but... that really didn't happen! I will knuckle down later and write something practical, honest. :-)

2. Your favourite shirt.

I can't actually find this shirt in the pigsty that is my room at the moment, so I had to trawl through my old photos to try and find a snap of me wearing it! Please excuse the make-up, I tried a 20s-inspired look and am not sure that I really succeeded...

I got it when Dan and I went to see TBM live in Southampton a year or so ago.

As for today's outfit, it's a fairly casual outfit as I am going out for lunch with the family then going to the pub with a small group of friends. I stink of suncream!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 1

Being the clothes-obsessed, shopping-addicted creature that I am, I thought it might be fun to do the 30 Day Clothing Challenge. As I'm sure you've already guessed, this challenge consists of a daily post with a photo of each of the following things:

  1. Your closet.
  2. Your favourite shirt.
  3. A piece of clothing or jewelry that was a gift
  4. A shirt that you haven’t worn yet.
  5. Your favourite pair of jeans.
  6. A pair of pants that aren’t jeans.
  7. A cute outfit of yours.
  8. Your most expensive article of clothing.
  9. A cute dress/ skirt.
  10. An outfit you wore on a special day.
  11. A piece of jewelry that a Grandparent gave you.
  12. A piece of jewelry that everyone complements you on.
  13. An outfit you wish you had.
  14. Cute socks.
  15. Your newest purchase.
  16. You and someone wearing matching clothes.
  17. An article of clothing that you made or altered.
  18. A piece of jewelry that you made.
  19. All your earrings, rings, necklaces and/or bracelets.
  20. Your jewelry box.
  21. Something that you only wear around the house.
  22. Something you only wear in the summer.
  23. An article of clothing/ accessory that you consider lucky.
  24. Your favourite pair of shoes.
  25. Shoes you love but hardly wear.
  26. A mismatched outfit that you’d never wear (go wild: earrings, belts, crazy skirts etc).
  27. A hat.
  28. An outfit you are ashamed to say you wore.
  29. Something that is your favourite brand.
  30. Something from your favourite store.

I also thought that since this is a fashion challenge it might be apropos to post daily outfits for the duration. This is probably supposed to start on the first day of the month but let's face it, nobody around here is organised. Well, maybe you are. But I'm not. >.<

So for day one: my wardrobe. Well, this is actually one of my wardrobes, as I have several... This is the one that holds corsets (in a box), petticoats, poofy skirts, dresses, scarves, hats, parasols and *ahem* intimates.
Yeah... needs reorganising. Slightly.

I also have a wardrobe (and two coat racks) for coats, jackets and bags, a wardrobe for tops and T-shirts, and a chest of drawers into which I squish anything that folds. I did also used to have piles and piles of stuff all over the floor but I'm getting a bit tidier now that I have slightly less stuff. In fact, my mission for this evening is to sort out some MORE stuff to donate to charity and swap with friends on Facebook.

As for my outfit today - well, hey, I got Lookbook, so you can have a smart, snazzy picture!


    But I'm just learning how to use it, so I didn't get my face in there! Here's a full length shot:

    Friday, 25 May 2012

    Goth enough?

    I've been guilty of writing more than a few posts on the subject of what, precisely, I feel a 'real Goth' might be, but recently I've been thinking - I can harp on as much as I like about what does and does not constitute 'real Gothdom', but it can never be any more than subjective because, no matter what I or anyone else says, there is no one true definition of Goth.

    As an example, one of the strongest voices in the dark alternative community currently is the one insisting that Goth is all about the music, but I have seen arguments in forums and received messages stating that we shouldn't refer to Siouxsie, Joy Division or even Bauhaus as 'Goth bands', because 'actually they're more punk'.

    Some of us spent our formative years 'in the scene' attempting to tick as many boxes as possible in order to feel that we were 'real Goths', only to be confused by all the conflicting statements and contradictions. You can check off every point on one person's list of what makes a true Goth, only to have the next person turn round and tell you that you're 'doing it wrong'. Nobody is 'the perfect Goth'; you don't have to prove yourself to anyone.

    Source: Goth Confessions
    I have received criticism for apparently spreading the message that 'everybody is Goth', but that's not my point. I don't go shoving my 'real Goth' criteria down other people's throats; I have my own, personal beliefs about what does and doesn't make a 'real' Goth (as I have previously listed: knowledge and enjoyment of Goth rock and other dark music; ditto Goth and/or alternative fashion; a tendency towards creative thought and expression) but I am quite aware that since this is my own subjective opinion it doesn't actually apply to anyone except myself.

    I feel that it would be out of order for me to make judgements on others based on an entirely personal opinion, which is why I don't inflict it on others and go round telling people who listen to Madonna or wear blue jeans from time to time that they aren't 'real Goths'. My criteria of Goth is not everybody's criteria. My point is that I don't feel anyone except the individual has any right to tell somebody what he or she is or is not, when there is no actual One True Definition agreed on by everyone involved.

    Hence, if people come to this blog and say (for example) "My favourite singer is Emilie Autumn; can I still be a Goth?" I would never tell them no - what's the point of considering yourself 'alternative' if you can't be accepting or think outside of the box? and why would I consider that I have the right to inflict my own limits on other people's beliefs, preferences or lifestyle?
    Source: Goth Confessions
    For this reason, if others feel the need to tell me that I'm not a 'real Goth', I choose not to pay any attention. I accept that they have their ideas about dark culture and I have mine, and yes, I might take notice of comments or opinions that I can learn something from, but otherwise I tend to ignore such remarks because, quite simply, only I will decide who and what I am or what I choose to call myself. As previously stated, since I like many, many things outside of the specifically-Goth definition (Emilie Autumn, for one) I'm not at all bothered if others choose not to consider me a Goth. Not being 'Goth' is not the end of the world - it doesn't affect what I like, what I don't, how I dress or what I do.
    Source: Goth Confessions
    This is not to say that I have never rolled my eyes at those who I don't feel fit my personal criteria of 'real Goth' - I'm not a saint! But I do try to be mature enough to accept that, again, they have their ideas on the subject just as I have mine, and until it can be conclusively proven which of us is right, until a formula for the definitive Goth is created and all the dark alternative subcultures have neatly drawn boundaries that we can all agree upon, my opinion on what they choose to call themselves is entirely irrelevant.

    I do get irritated when people kick up a hue and cry about others 'ruining Goth' for them by listening to the wrong music, liking the wrong bands, writing the wrong sort of blog posts or having the wrong dress sense. I mean, really? Why would you ever need to be so concerned about the behaviour of others? Just get on with enjoying your own experience of the scene in your own way and stop worrying so much about what other people are doing. There is absolutely no need for anybody else's 'version' of Goth to affect yours.

    As an example, I have a friend who listens to music more along the Industrial, metal and dark pop lines than Goth rock; wears blue jeans more often than not; but spends far more time at Goth clubs and events than I do. I may think about raising the occasional eyebrow at her approach to the subculture, and I don't necessarily agree with some of what she may consider Goth, but in no way do I let that affect me, my life, or my experience of the subculture. Nor do I argue with her about her point of view, because if she wants to consider herself a Goth and feels that she is one, why on earth would I think I have the right to tell her that she's wrong?
    Source: Goth Confessions
    Similarly, it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that not everyone in the assorted dark alternative scenes are nice people, or even the kind of person I can get on with. I assumed that sharing a few similar interests and aesthetics would be enough to create one big happy family - but whilst many of the Goths I have had the pleasure of meeting have been wonderful and lovely people, many have not. At first I found this shocking and even a bit off-putting, but after a few months it dawned on me that other people's attitudes, behaviours and opinions do not have to have any bearing on my own experiences unless I choose to let them. Associating myself with dark culture does not mean I am associating myself with the people that I find unpleasant; they are doing their thing, and I am doing mine.

    You know from a while back that I was having trouble with the Goth label. This was partly due to personal reasons - I was having some body image issues and for a while didn't feel confident enough to dress in a way that draws attention - and partly because I was feeling unsure about whether or not I really was a 'real Goth'. I knew that in many people's eyes my music taste (varied), dress sense (hit and miss) and blogging persona (exaggerated) definitely excluded me from such a category. After some soul-searching I came to realise that frankly, I don't really care.
    Source: Goth Confessions
    Some seem to start out feeling like the label is like a badge that has to be earned. Some probably spend years trying to live up to generalised expectations of how a 'proper Goth' should be. For those of you who have been involved in the scene for years but still don't feel 'Goth enough' (and attend events half-expecting someone to point at you and shout "Impostor!"...) think about it. You don't have to be 'a Goth' to enjoy dark fashion, music or culture. There are plenty of people, like me, who are not specifically Goth but who enjoy large aspects of not only Goth culture but its related scenes and subgenres. You don't have to be 'Goth enough' - you don't even have to be Goth.

    Let people nitpick on your music taste or outfits, and learn to ignore it, because you only get one definite, certain shot at life, and you really don't need to spend it worrying whether other people think you're worthy of describing yourself as part of a subculture. Enjoy it your own way; and if you're 'doing it wrong' in some people's eyes, at least you'll be having a damn good time.

    Thursday, 24 May 2012

    Things I Love Thursday: Sunshine and shopping

    1. Sunny days! Armed with suncream, a parasol, a stack of magazines and a lounger, there's nothing summer can throw at me that I can't handle. (Except maybe wasps.)
    2. Birthdays. My 21st is fast approaching and there are already four mini-parties in the offing (including a work do, a meal with friends and family and a trip to a burlesque club with my bellydance group) and I'm working on the wishlist... Hmm... that's a thought... perhaps I should make an Amazon wishlist just for this occasion... *rubs hands gleefully*
    3. Overtime. All this extra time at work may feel hard but I'm saving up spending money for Whitby Goth Weekend and I definitely need every penny I can scrounge.
    4. Clearing out! Getting rid of stuff gets easier the more you do it and now I can FINALLY get dressed without stress and woe. I can FIND stuff again! And am slowly phasing out the things that I love on the hanger but which don't look right on me. At all. It was painful at first but now it feels goooood. It also means I get to work out what's missing from my wardrobe and do a spot of shopping; this week I bought a new super-poofy white petticoat, and am also on the lookout for light spring jackets, some pretty but basic black skirts (my three perennial favourites have, alas, seen better days), a handful of jumpers, cardigans and hoodies, more waistcoats and NEW BOOTS.
    5. Daydreaming about future travel. New Orleans is currently top of my must-visit list... but apparently *crosses fingers tightly* there's a strong chance that Dan and I are off to Greece next year. Perhaps I should add 'lightweight dresses' to that shopping list...

    Wednesday, 23 May 2012

    World Goth Day media spotlight

    Much to my surprise, this year the mainstream media (online, at least) has jumped all over the World Goth Day bandwagon. I think that if I have to type the words 'world goth day' many more times this week I might just explode, but for one last post on the topic I thought I'd link up some of the best and worst takes on the topic, brought to you by tabloids and online news sites galore.

    1. UK newspaper The Guardian seemingly couldn't get enough of the subject, putting together a Goth playlist (with links to an anti-Goth playlist for those who, one assumes, were appalled by the entire concept)...
    2. ...and a bit of snarkery and a few misconceptions about skin colour sprinkled in for good measure.
    3. ABC2 News took the opportunity to highlight the more serious side of the event, which was a pleasant surprise.
    4. Vice went Goth-hunting in London... with disappointing results.
    5. Time Out offers suggestions on how to celebrate the occasion.
    6. Spinner got esteemed Goth author Liisa Ladoceur (Enyclopedia Gothica) to rate a whole load of gloomy musicians from one to ten on a 'Goth scale'. I love this, actually.
    7. Miami New Times had a similar strategy by putting together their top ten creepy musicians.
    8. And the Huffington Post ran a poll for the sexiest Goths ever (although I'm not sure how, erm, Goth some of them actually are).
    9. KPCC wrote a short article... boasting two infamous episodes of Saturday Night Live's Goth Talk.
    Well... that's it until next year. I wonder how much the event will have grown by then?

    My World Goth Day in pictures

    I'll admit, I tried to switch my working days around this week so I could have the opportunity to spend a larger portion of WGD swilling absinthe, flicking through back issues of Meltdown and lounging in the sunshine under a parasol. Alas, it was not to be (read: my manager wasn't having any of it).

    However. I dolled up for work - and it was the first time this year I've left the house in short sleeves, as up till now it has been freezing. Yesterday: suddenly, summer. In deference to the weather I opted for a white blouse under one of my favourite dresses, a black confection from Angelic Pretty, and my cute vampire flats from Em & Sprout.

    Straight after work, my friend and fellow dark culture enthusiast Rosemarie met me outside the shop, glammed up in huge platform heels, sunglasses and an equally frilly frock. We clomped through town to the cinema, where we watched Dark Shadows (in my case, for the second time. It seemed less, um, hammy the second time around, although I still feel Depp was over-egging it for all he was worth).

    Then we headed back to my house for a few celebratory shots.

    Please hexcuse the invasion of the armpit >.<

    Ladylike as always...

    Rose stayed at my place and we spent most of the night chatting. It was a nice way to mark the occasion. :-)

    This morning dawned bright and beautiful. We had pancakes for breakfast nice and early and then before Rose went to college we got outdoors to take some pretty pictures in the sunshine.

    Am really enjoying this sudden burst of beautiful weather! I had a lovely World Goth Day and am looking forward to planning something exciting for next year. :-)

    Tuesday, 22 May 2012

    Happy World Goth Day! A video celebration

    Hello everyone! Wishing you a very happy and spooktacular World Goth Day; and hoping that, whereever you are and whatever you're doing, you have a little chance to release the bats and let your freak flag fly! ;-D

    In honour of the occasion, I thought I'd share some of my personal icons and biggest inspirations - a handful of videos encapsulating some of those things I love most about dark alternative culture. Here goes!
    1. Overhyped and overplayed it may be, but Bela Lugosi's Dead is probably Bauhaus's biggest hit of all time and the song most often credited with kickstarting dark culture into the behemoth we know and love today. Peter Murphy, we salute you.
    2. Joji Grey is probably one of the most well-known vloggers in the Goth and dark alternative scenes. I love him for his style, his charm, his warmth, and his honesty.
    3. I am loath to reel off a list of big names from the early years of Goth, but Siouxsie Sioux's music and style held a huge draw for me when I first began to experiment in the world of dark culture. The first time I heard this Banshees track, Arabian Knights, I felt like I had found my niche.
    4. The Cruxshadows are, as you may already know, my favourite band of all time. It would be remiss of me not to include them, therefore, in a post celebrating what I love about this subculture.
    5. One of my favourite things about dark culture, of course, are the friendships I've made during my time both 'in the scene' and as a blogger. Hence this video from the WeAreTheBatCats YouTube channel (starring SaryWalrus), a channel featuring videos from some of the people I admire most. <3 Happy Goth Day to you guys!
    6. As a newbie in the dark scene, what really got me hooked on Goth fashion was browsing through videos of festival fashions on YouTube. Of course, the big European festivals often boast the best and most dramatic examples of dark fashion, such as these outfits seen at the Wave Gotik Treffen.
    7. Another Goth icon of mine is model and blogger Adora BatBrat. I love her hair, make-up and personal style. I only wish I could be so over-the-top in everyday life.
      This is not at all a complete list of my idols, inspirations or even the many and myriad reasons why I remain utterly enamoured of dark culture. What about you guys? Biggest inspirations? Best-loved musicians? Nostalgic memories?

      Wishing each and every one of you a very special day... stay spooky, darklings! ;-)

      Monday, 21 May 2012

      World Goth Day! Suggestions for not-so-spooky types...

      World Goth Day has been hyped a lot on Facebook this year, and with the slogan 'Get your Goth on for one day...' I can't help but wonder if any people who don't normally dress all in black and rock out to the Banshees have found themselves feeling an urge to take part. I'm sure the event would have a certain nostalgic appeal for 'ex-Goths' - those who felt they had to move on from actively taking part in the scene for one reason or another - and those, like a lady who lives near me, who have always wanted to take part in the Goth subculture but have, for their own reasons (in this lady's case, she believes she's  'too old'... at forty), felt unable to do so.

      [Tangent: I'm not sure how much the word of this occasion has spread, but I would hope that as it grows it won't attract those types who, oh... would like an excuse to paint on bad Crow make-up and spend a day poking fun at Goth culture. That really is not the point. I have to admit I'd get my knickers in a bit of a twist should those sorts of people feel the need to spend a day that is intended to be for fun, amusement and just-because celebration for black-clad devotees everywhere mocking that very same culture. I'm sure that most people would have better things to do, but if you really were thinking of spending the day Goth-baiting, perhaps you should find something a bit more worthwhile to get on with.]

      However, for those who would like to use Goth Day as a reason to delve a little deeper into dark culture, here are some ideas:

      1. Dress up. The idea of tacky pre-packaged Goth costumes doesn't appeal to me on the whole, but it won't hurt to experiment with a darker tinge to your normal look or an all-black outfit. Just don't be too heavy-handed with make-up and don't try to rush all-in to an all-black brand name wardrobe. Goth fashion shouldn't feel like a costume to the wearer. It should feel comfortable. (If you are a devotee of a different alternative style, such as Lolita, it could be an interesting and fun challenge to add a darker element to your look for the day. If you're really shy, you could even just paint your nails black.)
      2. Spin some spooky tunes. (Can't believe I just typed that...) You may have some Cure or Sisters of Mercy records lurking in your collection somewhere. You could always look online or borrow from a Goth friend. Either way, draw the curtains, turn the speakers up, and drown yourself in a blaring wall of Goth rock angst for an afternoon.
      3. Head out to a Goth club or concert. If you're alone, I'd suggest going to see a show rather than going to a club as it's less social and you won't feel odd being there by yourself. See what events are on in your area and go and have a look-see. But do be respectful to other patrons and please don't start conversations with, "Nice costume!" or, "So what's this Goth thing all about then?"
      4. Appreciate the Goth in your life. Sibling? Significant other? Coworker? Surprise them with a fresh cup of coffee or cupcake on their desk, a black rose, new eyeliner pencil, or even just wish them a happy World Goth Day (there are official Happy Goth Day cards available here). They may not know what you're talking about (depending on whether or not they are aware of the event!) but it should certainly make them smile.
      5. Curl up with a Gothic novel and a glass of red wine, absinthe, or snakebite and black.
      6. Wear a World Goth Day T-shirt with pride.
      7. Treat yourself to a copy of Gothic Charm School (Jillian Venters), What Is Goth? (Voltaire) or The Goth Bible (Nancy Kilpatrick) and clue yourself in on what it's all about. (All abovementioned titles available from Amazon.)
      8. Watch a suitably dark and spooky film. Anything from Elvira, The Addams Family and Edward Scissorhands to The Crow, Interview With The Vampire or even Goth Cruise...
      9. Change your ring tone to Bela Lugosi's Dead (by Bauhaus).
      10. Visit your local cemetery.

      Sunday, 20 May 2012

      Vlog: Braided hairstyle tutorial

      Way back in December, I received several requests for a tutorial for this hairstyle:

      This is quite possibly the simplest tutorial the world has ever seen; all you need is a few hairpins, a brush, and maybe a bit of gel. In the video I have the braids pinned further forward than I did in the original style, but you get the general idea. :-)

      (Apologies for the less-than-brilliant editing and sound quality...)

      Saturday, 19 May 2012

      World Goth Day! Suggestions for spooky types...

      It's that time of year again, darklings - World Goth Day is almost upon us. :-D Unfortunately I have to work that day which crimps my plans a little, but I'm intending to get all dolled up for the workplace and then meet my friend Rosie straight after work for plans involving movies, make-up, music, booze, pizza and, probably, photos!

      Source: Goth Day Facebook page
      If you, like me, were disappointed to find that Goth clubs in your area had been a little lacklustre with their Goth Day events, or are too young to gain entry at your local black-tinged nightspot, fear not! I have a few suggestions:
      1. Host your own Goth night. Hide the silverware, lock away the breakables, make up some mix CDs and have your friends over for a night of dancing and devilry. A fine excuse to get dressed up to the nines.
      2. Have an online meet-up. If your main contact with other spooky types takes place online, why not set up a forum, Facebook group, MSN chat or Skype session.
      3. Treat yourself to a new pair of boots.
      4. Do something to fundraise for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. It's a little late to organise a bake sale, but perhaps you could ask friends and neighbours to sponsor you for something. Perhaps a sponsored bike ride in some of your most opulent finery?
      5. Get your Goth maintenance on. Nails. Hair. Eyebrows. That whole suitcase full of clothes you have in the spare room that you keep intending to customise. Get to it!
      6. Two words: cemetery. Picnic. All right, so it's a cliche in motion. What's your point? If the weather's sunny, I can't think of a nicer way to spend the afternoon.
      7. Explore the spooky side of your town. Buy some of those guide books about local ghost stories, supernatural tales and haunted places. Find out if your area does guided ghost tours. Visit a local haunted pub or inn.
      8. Get nostalgic! Haul out those old snaps from the 80s / your babybat years, and, if you dare, put them online. Show us all your before and afters... ;-)
      9. Round up your friends and make your own spoof video to celebrate the date. Well, these guys did it...
      10. Have a photoshoot. Whether on your own or with friends, it's yet another chance to dress up, and gives you something pretty to look back on in a few years' time. Try your local woodland, cemetery, open fields or abandoned factory, but remember to leave it as you found it, and in the cemetery, please be respectful and don't trample on the gravestones.

      Friday, 18 May 2012

      May linksplosion!

      I'm sure you all know how this works by now. First, seven great posts that I found amidst the blogosphere this month:
      1. Let's start, as usual, with a post from Darling Violetta. This is actually an old post; I have a whole bunch of her musings added to my favourites bar so it might take me a while to work through them. This one is entitled The Hazing of Teenagers, and if I may quote, "I've seen people who are far too old to be acting so juvenile go out of their way to make it known to a thirteen year old that they are, in fact, "DOINGITWRONG!" and "NOTAGOTH"." I agree with Darling Violetta in that some of the ridiculous behaviour from older, more 'established' followers of dark culture can, and does, border on bullying. There are some interesting comments on the post too.
      2. The HouseCat does it again with a fabulous and thought-provoking post on Goth, Subcultures and Conformity. I was going to share a quote from this article but couldn't choose just a sentence or two.
      3. Thank you, thank you, Juliet's Lace, for the ever-apt post, Reasons Why You Hate Your Wardrobe.
      4. A lovely post from Tea For Thirteen, entitled Goth Things That AREN'T For Me.
      5. Some of you may have already seen this video on Tumblr, but the Goth Girl of the Week blog has decided to share it with us. Please enjoy the cringe-worthy but painfully accurate How To Dance Goth.
      6. The Everyday Goth has a stunning style icon - the one and only Sharon Needles. I really, really, love this post: Sharon Needles: Style Inspiration.
      7. Audrey Scissorhands of A Gothy-Type in the South has a charming post called Of Being 'Goth', and How I Feel About Labels.
      Next, ten little pieces of goodness from those delightful people at Etsy:
      1. How much do I need these beautiful long hair falls from MagicTribalHair?!
      2. I'm always on the lookout for unusual accessories, so I'm quite taken by this skull hair wrap from Vacationhouse.
      3. I'm in love with this Boys Don't Cry halter dress from KittyVamp Designs.
      4. This mineral mica eyeshadow from Crush Cosmetics is called 'Goth', and is described as dark navy blue bordering on charcoal.
      5. I like these cyber spats from Robotic Kitty Fashions... a bit different than the usual fluffies.
      6. This bow, crown and dagger necklace from LittleBanshees is absolutely adorable!
      7. A lace-trimmed Victorian-inspired mobile phone case? Yes PLEASE, blackunicorndesigns.
      8. An interesting take on one of my favourite ideas, the vial necklace, is this Demon Ashes vial from MySoulShards.
      9. I absolutely adore this Aurora Ring from blackpersimmons. It's gorgeous!
      10. This 'I Believe In Ghosts' necklace from GlampireDesign is just perfect! Cute and spooky, exactly how I like it! <3
      Lastly, let's turn to Tumblr for a little style inspiration:
      1. Dan just brought up the idea of a holiday in Greece next year (!). I think my dream beach style would be something like this. (Reblogged from Hell On Heels.)
      2. I think it's the beautiful accessories that make these outfits pretty much perfect. I especially love the outfit with the cameos. (Reblogged from the especially charming Mary P Sue.)
      3. Subtle? No. But if I could have my nails like this for my 21st birthday I'd be one happy girl. (Reblogged from Elegant Psychosis.)
      4. Is there anything not wonderful about this ensemble from Restyle? (Reblogged from SilverSwirl.)
      5. I want those little bat wings! (Reblogged from xxnephaelia-vondaemonenxx.)
      6. The ever-stunning Mystral looks incredible in these pictures. (Reblogged from SilverSwirl.)
      7. I don't know what on earth you would call this style, but I think it's gorgeous! (Reblogged from Blue Is Wrong For Roses.)
      8. Everyday I'm bustlin'! Loving everything about this photo! (Reblogged from dartranna-alurath.)
      9. GuiltyGoth looks fantastic, as usual! (Reblogged from burnwickedwitch.)
      10. I can't decide whether the hair or the boots are more amazing!! (Reblogged from Isabelle SpookyKid.)
      11. Gentlemen, this is style. (Reblogged from Laudanum and Arsenic.)
      12. I think this is really lovely! (Reblogged from Alternative Purple.)

      Thursday, 17 May 2012

      When alternative becomes mainstream

      Is it just me or has fashion lately taken a turn for the alternative? Everywhere I go I'm seeing girls with undershaves or hair dip-dyed bright colours, clad in ripped T-shirts, Doc Martens and a strong red or purple lip colour. Even popular music icons are currently more diverse than the blonde, tanned, slender Britneys, Christinas and Madonnas of my own pre-teen years. In my youth I never would have dreamed of a star with blue hair like Katy Perry on the cover of a magazine, or Lady GaGa's heavy black eye make-up and startling wardrobe.

      I'm in two minds about the way that mainstream fashion seems to be opening up to further influence from alternative culture. On the one hand, whilst it's a long way from the sheer shock factor of David Bowie or Adam Ant making their first flamboyantly-clad appearances on shows like Top of the Pops, for someone who grew up in suburbia where having crimped hair and wearing hiking boots was considered outre, seeing such experimentative and creative looks becoming the norm is a little bit exciting. I'm no longer the only girl in this small town who owns a tube of blue lipstick.

      On the other hand, let's remember the definition of 'mainstream' - the prevailng or popular current of thought or action. To put it more succinctly, if everyone is doing it, is it still alternative? If suddenly every girl in your town is dying their hair lilac and buying a pair of brothel creepers, is it then more alternative for you to have blonde hair and wear sneakers?

      Of course, I'm sure many are less concerned with being perceived as 'alternative' and more concerned with doing precisely as they please. The herd moves on, after all, and if you've been sporting creepers and a lilac barnet for years because you damn well like it, it's hardly necessary for you to change just to prove how different and unique you are. Being yourself is surely more 'alternative' than making sure that you do precisely the opposite of what everyone else is doing - otherwise, you're still a fashion victim, just from the opposite direction (if you will). In other words, if you happen to like aspects of whatever is currently trendy, there's no reason to ignore it just because you're SO spooky and different. In fact, I would go so far as to say that being able to incorporate elements of outside tastes and influences that you appreciate into your look is a skill, and far more 'different' than giving up something you honestly, genuinely like simply because 'everyone else is doing it now'.
      I wonder what this influx of alternative style signifiers into the mainstream consumer market heralds for the future. If today's teenagers are soon sporting deathhawks and pointy black fingernails, the world of popular style could be a very different place - and it'd be so much easier to pick up unusual shoes and yummy things in black velvet. But underground style would surely adapt itself in response, which could lead to some hitherto unthinkable developments in, for example, Goth fashion. If all of Goth's visual signifiers become co-opted by the mainstream, what then would Goth become to retain its separate identity? I can't imagine - but I'm sure opinion would be divided as to whether such changes were marvellous or utterly horrendous.

      Additionally, it has been slightly pleasing and slightly unsettling to see brands well-known in the alternative scenes such as Illamasqua, Stargazer and Underground featured in mainstream magazines. I would hope that the greater exposure would be good for the success of the brands, but my worry is that the boom in mainstream advertising could cause alt brands to suppress their subcultural leanings and 'go mainstream' in order to boost sales. Time will tell, I suppose.

      There is one thing about the latest developments in fashion that I feel is almost completely positive, and that is that - particularly with the rise of the internet - alternative styles and subcultures of all varieties are becoming potentially more accepted - remember the reaction that shaven heads and ripped clothing would have received a few decades ago? - and also more accessible for youngsters seeking an identity outside of the mainstream. I say almost completely positive because of course the more 'accessible' subcultures like Goth become, the less they retain their original identies - but I do feel that it is good for young people like we all once were to be able to have ease of access to music, fashions and communities that really mean something to them.

      Wednesday, 16 May 2012

      Vlog: Thanks to Dani DeathBiscuit

      First painfully awkward vlog! Just a little thank you to Dani of ...Australian Goth for a lovely little prezzie that the postman brought this morning!

      (Yes, I used wayyy too much hairspray and yes, it's a pretty bad angle. The only way I could get decent light was to sit on the end of the bed by the window and have the laptop on my knees!)

      Also, I had to get YouTube to upload this which could totally be dangerous. If I can be a tad less derpy and not say 'um' as much, how do you charming ladies and gents feel about further vlogs?

      “So you're not Gothic anymore?”

      It would be pointless for me to begin another debate on how important fashion is or is not within alternative subcultures; this is a topic on which everyone has a different opinion and mine is no more or less accurate than anyone else's is likely to be. I'm sure that most would agree, however, that a person's manner of dress plays a large part in how others perceive them. For those of us who prefer a darker or more unusual aesthetic, this can pose a unique set of problems.

      One such dilemma is one I've been encountering a lot recently. If someone who is flamboyantly Goth twenty-eight days out of the month should post a photo on the internet or step out of the house whilst wearing blue jeans or no make-up, or even *gasp* a natural hair colour, as well as the oft-discussed "Are you growing out of your phase then?" and "How nice to see you in a bit of colour!" comments from well-meaning but generally clueless non-Goths, the reaction from other self-confessed members of the dark side can be amusing or frustrating.

      If, for example, you live in an area with no alternative club scene to speak of and very few other local Goths, it is almost a given that the one time you have to dash out of the house in a hurry wearing blue jeans, no make-up, and that white jumper with the subtle skull pattern that you usually wear with your effortlessly spooky tiered skirt but that looks almost *shudder* mainstream with the abovementioned ensemble - that's when you'll bump straight into the coterie of aristocratic Gothy types in full regalia who'll float past you with nary a glance.

      Not to mention that your neighbour will casually remark as you pass by, "Oh, you've changed your image then."

      I think the above phrase particularly annoys me because it hinges on the assumption that a person's entire wardrobe (and thereby possibly also tastes, aesthetics and subcultural preferences) can be accurately summarised and judged by one outfit. (Sure, you may have That One Outfit that works perfectly for every occasion, but what's the likelihood that you wear it all the time?) Leaving aside the fact that this would allow no room for casual days, off days or experimentation, you can't garner from a single meeting (or internet photo) what the person in question might be doing that day. Maybe they were in a rush, as above. Maybe they have to have dinner with Great Aunt Fanny later and didn't want to cause a scene. Maybe they're not well, or about to do some gardening, or babysit, or off to a job interview. And so on, and so on.

      They're not giving up their entire subcultural allegiance (and by association in some cases a large part of their worldview, lifestyle and even personality). They're just wearing different clothes. I know that the saying goes, "Clothes maketh the man," but there's a lot more to belonging to a subculture - any subculture - than having an unnatural hair colour, wearing heavy make-up and being clad in 100% black clothing all the time. Yes, a person's style may also change as they get older, but that's just development, not a sign of an entire personality makeover.

      I think the reason I have been on the receiving end of such remarks a lot recently is that my most recent hair colour - plum purple, as you may recall from my new haircut photos - has faded to a light brown that is very nearly my natural colour. I won't be dying it again for a while, as my hair is in very poor condition from having six years' worth of black dye bleached out of it and really could do with a little TLC before I subject it to any more rounds of peroxide and ammonia. Everyone around me seems very shocked by this natural colour and I keep getting people asking me, "Didn't you used to be a Goth?"

      Additionally, yes, I have mentioned on this blog lately that I've been experimenting with styles outside of the Goth spectrum. My interests don't just revolve around a single style so occasionally I do like to dip my toe into other waters. I particularly like trying to incorporate elements of other influences and inspirations into Goth style (often with mixed results) - oh, and I gave Dan QUITE the sartorial surprise on our anniversary (there are photos. I will share them on the end of this post) - although I am beginning to go off on a tangent here... What I am trying to say is that doing something different from time to time doesn't make someone an entirely different person.

      Bearing in mind that since I like EBM, Emilie Autumn and other such things I am (depending on how literal your viewpoint) not precisely 'Goth' to start with, the answer to "So you're not Goth anymore?" is, "I am myself." I just wear different clothes on different days, like most people. My interests have changed very little since I started writing this blog, nor do I expect them to, although they may evolve as I grow up (which I am assured is pretty normal...). Wearing what you like (or what is appropriate) at any given time and being true to yourself is more important than sticking rigidly to a definition or label. I really love many aspects of the Goth subculture, but I'm less concerned with being 'Goth' than with being me.

      (And now, in chronological order, some recent outfits:)

      The next two were for my anniversary dates with Dan... it was a bit of fun considering he usually has to contend with corsets and petticoats and a shaven head. I thought I would surprise him.

      These are my new shoes, I love them very much. I do wear all of the pieces in this outfit... just not usually together like this! ;-D

      Me yesterday

      Sunday, 13 May 2012

      Ad break

      Hello everyone; apologies for the unexpected hiatus, I decided it was time for an emergency internet diet. I haven't even been on Facebook for the last fortnight, and by gawd it was good. I did, however, managed to get into a car crash (I wasn't driving... no injuries involved at all) and have a lot of overtime at work, so it was by no means what you could call a lazy fortnight.

      I do intend to swing back into action once I've got a few articles knocked together... in the meantime, please enjoy the latest in slightly bizarre TV ads from UK insurance company Aviva. Every time any TV show, news programme, magazine or advert features someone even slightly scary and black-clad, I get texts, e-mails and phone calls from friends and family determined to bring it to my attention... which I guess is sweet. My mum spotted one of these on telly the other night and made me look it up on YouTube, and I discovered there was a series of them (OK, two...).

      Only, I'm really not sure what the relevance of making Paul Whitehouse doll up in eyeliner actually is. Never mind.

      Oh, and remember Julia Wood? She also gets her own Aviva advert...

      Thursday, 3 May 2012

      Things I Love Thursday

      1. Wardrobe overhauls. As you know I haven't been really sure where to go with my style so I've just been buying things that I really like or which feel really 'me' (if that makes any sense!) rather than thinking at all about whether or not they fit a certain style. I'm ending up with some really eclectic bits and pieces (and currently coveting a pink pearl peter pan collar and some peep-toe zebra print platform shoes, just FYI) but I think I can see some sort of cohesive style emerging as I replace old things with new. Whether it works or not is highly debatable but it's fun and it feels good. :-)
      2. Being a baldie. (Ish. I still have a fair amount of hair, really.) I've definitely received some mixed reactions but I really love my new haircut. Although if being glared at by the elderly was an Olympic sport I'd be going for gold right about now...
      3. My boyfriend. We've been on and off from time to time but he's been the biggest constant in my life for the last eight years. You know those childhood 'romances' that everyone thinks will never last more than a few weeks at the most? Well, sometimes they do. We got together in 2004, when I was twelve (!) and he was fourteen. We're now 20 and 22, which seems crazy. Tomorrow we're going out for a posh dinner to celebrate our anniversary which I'm really looking forward to. Cue a huge primping session this evening!
      4. Health food! OK, I'm not always the best at healthy eating, especially when people will insist on leaving my favourite chocolate fudge biscuits in the cupboard at work... *ahem* but I have been trying hard lately and I've noticed quite the difference - clearer skin, more energy, and fewer headaches, which makes it worthwhile gulping those two and a half mouthfuls of vegetable water each day...
      5. Overtime. Wheeeee, I have money! So in addition to my Cure tickets, I snapped up some to see The Cruxshadows in July as well. I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now, but I'm happy!
      The boyshape and I in 2008

      Tuesday, 1 May 2012

      A new hair decision

      Eeek! I finally took the plunge today and had a section of my head shaved. I love it!!! I have some colleagues and elderly relatives who I don't think will be quite so keen, but... hell, I'm really happy!

      Dan hasn't been warned about this new look so he will get a bit of a surprise when he comes over later... but it's our eighth anniversary this Friday so I shouldn't think he will be too mad at me. ;-) He certainly has never been keen on me shaving off chunks of hair, but he's generally not overly bothered about what I do looks-wise as long as I'm pleased.

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