Thursday, 30 August 2012

Reading Festival: Crystal Castles and The Cure

You may remember that a short time ago, the boyshape and I took a brief soujourn to Reading Festival. I'm not sure how well-known this music festival is outside of the UK, but it and its sister festival in Leeds (called Leeds Festival...) take place every year over the August bank holiday weekend in England. Dan and I purchased day tickets to visit on the Friday, because I wanted desperately to see headliners The Cure. However, we really loved the atmosphere (and the shopping) and if we go again will book weekend tickets so that we can go with friends and have a tent in which to dump all our stuff instead of hoiking it around the entire time.

Incidentally, Wikipedia sayeth that Reading Fest is the oldest music festival still running today, which is pretty cool. I did not know that.

Most of the bands on the Friday line-up we weren't hugely interested in, although we did catch a bit of The Hives's show and had to suffer through Paramore (sorry, I just can't seem to get into them AT ALL) as they were the last group performing pre-Cure and we wanted to make sure we were somewhere with a good view.

There was an hour's train ride to get to the festival and then a lot of walking; the interesting thing was that many of the houses and shops along the route from the station to the festival grounds had set up market stalls in their driveways and gardens. One woman was selling little stuffed animals from her garden wall and I bought a bat for £1, which I considered a good omen.

Upon arriving at the festival we got our wristbands and took a few hours to get our bearings and do a bit of shopping. I treated myself to lots of half-price and sale goodies including a pretty new corset and top hat. :-) We also amused ourselves with a bit of Goth-spotting; Goths were definitely in the minority amongst the shorts-and-wellies-clad attendees but there were many old-school types in leather and aviators, one girl looking fab in a long net skirt and corset top and - run away with me now, please - I did spot one young lass in bloomers and stripy tights. It was love. ;-)

Dan enjoying one of his many, many, many, many cups of tea. The man likes tea.
Me derpy-derping, shortly after eating a breakfast burrito. That thing had saute potatoes in! It was incredible...
The weather wasn't great - I think there is some rule that whenever there is an outdoor festival in the UK it will rain - and at three o'clock, after a lovely and incredibly fattening junk food lunch, we headed into the main arena because I wanted to see Crystal Castles. No cans were allowed in the arena and it was quite amusing to see the places our fellow festival-goers were willing to stick a cold can of beer to avoid it being found when they were patted down. (The woman patting Dan down squeezed his bottom. Twice. I was NOT amused.)

Standard touristy photo!
I hadn't really heard much of Crystal Castles before, save on a friend's iPod, but I really enjoyed their set and will be looking up more from them in future. Although Alice Glass's melodramatic rolling-about-on-the-floor-grabbing-handfuls-of-stuff was a tad odd.

Of course, the highlight of the day and the reason for attending the festival - not to mention the reason we missed the last train home and had to beg a family friend to rescue us from Reading Station at 1am, (thanks Robert Smith, it's all your fault) - was The Cure.

Robert Smith sounds no less incredible than I expected, and is still rocking big hair and sequins for which I applaud him! The band played many of my favourites including A Forest, One Hundred Years, Friday I'm In Lovr (of course!!) and The Caterpillar, which sounded brilliant live. Watching The Cure in the rain was definitely one of the high points of my year. They are such an iconic band that I could hardly believe I was really seeing them - I know, I'm such a fangirl!

Here's a short video that Dan took of the Cure (please excuse me looking a bit odd; I didn't realise he was videoing, I thought he was showing me something! Luckily it's dark so you can't tell too much...), I think it serves to demonstrate just how amazing Robert's vocals are. 

The whole experience was very different from the small gigs I usually attend but I absolutely loved it, it was a real treat to see one of my favourite bands and I look forward to going again one year soon. :-)

Were you there?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Reader Question: of anti-'Gothic' dress codes

"I'm going to a private college this fall, and they have certain rules. Like the no unnatural colored hair(which I'm okay with because I can still do that during the summer), skirts/shorts have to be so longs, etc. Simple rules right? Well, then they said I can't dress "Gothic". Now, I'm not sure what their definition of gothic is exactly. I mean I know they said no skulls (crosses are acceptable), and I assume like no bats or spider jewelry and such. What I'm asking is what do you suggest for me to be able to dress gothic, yet under the radar. According to them, as long as it doesn't bring attention to myself, it's pretty much acceptable. I'm not sure how skulls draw attention anymore, but hey, it's their rules. I'd greatly appreciate this. I really wanna go to this school because I think it will do me good, but I don't wanna give in at the same time. I understand being respectful, which is why I wanna try to find a compromise." - Brittany.

This is, of course, a variation on the all-too-familiar topic of dratted school dress codes, but I felt I had to post about it because I was amused/alarmed/startled that somewhere in the world there is actually a college that feels the need to state in its dress code that its students can't dress 'Gothic'. I find that bizarre. Dressing Goth hurts no one and (with some common sense applied, e.g. no religious symbols, a toned-down style) offends no one, why on earth forbid it?


However! Brittany, I have read and written numerous posts on how to fly on your little bat wings under the dress code radar... here are two to get you started.

  1. The Undercover Goth 
  2. Of Dealing with Vague and Repressive Dress Codes (Gothic Charm School)
But how to dress Goth without drawing attention to oneself? If your everyday wardrobe consists of huge stompy boots and big poofy petticoats, this might be a little more difficult than it will be for Goths who like to express themselves through a more casual style. But a simple black skirt, tights, casual or lightweight boots and a plain red or purple T-shirt with a small, unobtrusive cross or ankh necklace would be a very basic starting point (just to give an example), or blue jeans (if, of course, you're allowed jeans) with a black tank top and rose hair clip; or very simply just a black blouse with black trousers, skirt or jeans.

An ensemble from Lip Service
A sprinkling of Goth band badges on your bag or blazer will also give tiny hints to others as to your preferred style. What about small bat-shaped stud earrings with a white shirt and black skirt? Under your hair, they would be almost unnoticeable. If it errs on the smart side (rather than scruffy or punk-tinged) and you add a splash of colour here and there, you'll still be able to keep your primary aesthetic, feel like 'you', but without breaking the rules or being disrespectful.

As I learned the hard way in the world of work, oftentimes feeling like yourself is more important than looking 100% Gawthick at all times, and if you don't want to play 'spot the bat signal' with your teachers a handful of T-shirts (polka dot, striped, or a top like this, with a removable skull pin) or blouses with plain skirts and trousers are perfectly acceptable.

As for accessories, there's more to life than bats and spiders (no, I can't believe I just said that either!). Cupcakes! Teacups! Chandeliers! Quotes! Hearts! Cameos! Violins! Roses! Think outside of stereotype territory (says she, wittering on about cupcakes and teacups >.<) and you're sure to find something inoffensive to even the sternest teacher's gimlet eye. Even if you have to limit yourself to lace-trimmed or stripy socks!

Best of luck and enjoy college. :-)

P.S. The Queen of Undercover Goth blogs over yonder.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Goth beauty: the very basics

Well, darklings, this is a post I never really thought I'd feel the need to write, but after a frankly concerning conversation with a young Gothy-type of my acquaintance I thought perhaps I should. Please note that I have no doubt that the vast majority of you are very much aware of the basics of hygiene! But. Let's face it, there's already a huge amount of stereotyping regarding teens (especially males, sorry boys) and soap avoidance, and unfortunately this stereotype as applied to young Gothlings is rife amongst those with little understanding of dark culture. 

In fact, there's even a special derogatory term used, in the UK at least, for black-clad types:

sweaty; often used by the tracksuit-clad yob classes to refer to Goths, punks, metal/rock fans or indeed members of any subculture fond of black clothing in summer, particularly the long-haired males. Intended to imply that said spooky person has not washed; possibly originated due to a combination of black clothing and hot weather causing some poor Gothling to go all melty around the edges.

Personally, I strongly feel that there is absolutely no reason to help propagate this stereotype by violating the basics of simple cleanliness and good hygiene. Deodorant is cheap and baths are not just for special occasions.

Raquel Reed
Cleanliness is the foundation for all good grooming.

  • Washing! Twice a day please; if you don't have time to take a bath or shower use a sink, a washcloth and most importantly some soap. (Gothy soap, over yonder!) At the very least wash your armpits, bits (you know which bits), neck, hands, feet and face. Don't use harsh soap on your face, though - get a specially formulated facial cleanser.
  • If you don't always have time to wash your hair, invest in some dry shampoo so you don't go out looking all greasy. Or pull it back off your face into a ponytail or bun; greasy hair will make your face greasy which feels absolutely disgusting. Spare yourself.
  • Deodorant and antiperspirant. Available in sprays, sticks and many other varieties; organic and chemical-free varieties can also be found. Apply after washing daily and re-apply as necessary throughout the day, especially in summer. Please be sure to dab any white marks off your clothes with a damp cloth.
  • Brushing your teeth is also pretty much a necessity. Even if you don't think your breath smells, the people around you DO. Trust me. (They also can see your furry teeth. Eeeeuuurgh.) Again, twice a day, morning and night. (You may also find it useful to carry some breath spray or mints for after meals, especially if like me you are partial to spicy foods and garlic!)
  • There is very little more gross than dirty fingernails. Yes, black nail polish hides the sin but you don't know WHAT could be caked under those nasties. Would you want to be handed food by somebody with grimy hands? Exactly. Wash your hands with soap regularly; use a nail brush at the first sign of dirt.
  • Care for your hair properly; dirty hair can smell and both feels and looks unpleasant. Wash your hair with shampoo every other day (some people do choose not to wash their hair with shampoo, but you should at least give it a good rinse with water to avoid product build-up and keep your scalp healthy). If you have dreadlocks, use a good dread soap regularly to avoid smells.
  • Underwear and socks need changing MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK. (You can tell from my distressed all-caps that I'm serious here.) If you don't have enough underwear, BUY SOME NEW. Go to the supermarket, it is not expensive. Also, if it gets grimy, goes grey, has holes in, or otherwise starts to look the worse for wear, BIN IT.
Dearest darkling; don't be a sweaty. Befriend the soap. Befriend the toothbrush. Do your fellow batlings proud.

Festival fashion inspiration: video spam

I realised that it's been a while since I posted any drool-worthy videos from that haven of gloriously Gothy eye candy, the Wave Gotik Treffen. Without further ado, I set about researching a few of the most spectacular vids to share with you. Honestly, the sacrifices I make... ;-)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

It's a Goth Life: Sentimental value

You know ages ago I posted a photo of my room in the hope it might help motivate me to tidy up? Well, not so much. Here's my room this week:

Pretty bad, huh? But I did make a start on tidying, beginning with emptying out my suitcase of sentimental items and deciding which could go now and which I still love and need to hang on to. For some reason I felt like sharing some of these items with you guys.

Firstly, my Tribe T-shirt! The Tribe, along with My Little Pony, pretty much WAS my childhood, so much so that when I re-discovered it in my early teens I had to get myself a custom-printed Tribe T-shirt. I know I will never wear it again, not least because of the missing apostrophe, so I am getting rid of it. But my Tribe box sets are staying. End of.

This handbag was one of my first gifts from Dan when we started going out, back in.... 2004? Thereabouts, anyway. It was £18 from a local alternative clothing shop and I remember being shocked that a handbag could cost so much (we live and learn, eh?). Definitely keeping this; I still use it from time to time as the bright colours do contrast nicely with black clothes, and I still adore the buttons.
This is a very crinkled tie-dye T-shirt that I made myself at an arts and crafts camp when I was fourteen (shortly before I got into Goth culture. In fact, the friends I made at that camp were very into rock music and emo style, which was the path that led me to metal music and from there into Goth). 
These flared cords were the first item of clothing I ever saved up and bought for myself. I think I was about ten or eleven. They came from the same shop as the button handbag, which also sold beautiful Raven and Laughing Vampire dresses and had BEGoth dolls in the window (incidentally, the second item I ever saved up and bought for myself, during the same era, was a BEGoth doll). The flares were £28 (and yes, I was very much into bright colours when I was young!). I've often considered making them into a skirt or pair of shorts as they are too short for me now but can't bear to risk ruining them. I love them because they are kind of a symbol to me of my unconventional taste, even in childhood! It didn't occur to me that they might look weird or that other people might not like them - I just loved them, and wanted to wear them.

This is my first band T-shirt. I think I might have posted this before actually! Dad took me to see Roxy Music when I was just a little bit. Still love them. :-)

This was my first 'corset'. My mum made it for me out of an old top. It's very faded now and looking rather the worse for wear, so I have sadly decided to retire it. :-(
On the plus side, corset box is nice and tidy now.

This is a hat that I knitted myself. It was originally going to be a handbag.
This was the result of about two and a half hours' tidying:

Yeah, I still have quite a ways to go!

Oh, and here is a pic of me with just foundation/eyebrows/mascara that I took before an exercise class I went to that same day. My bestie Jodie has just gotten her Fitness League instructor's license and it was her first ever class. :-)
So, erm, anyway. What about you guys? What sentimental items are you hoarding in your wardrobes?

Being a confident Goth: what others think of you and why it doesn't matter

MaximumRide commented on my post Scared to 'Go Goth' with the following: "I am just starting in a new high school as a freshman and I have wanted to be Goth for a while but I'm really insecure about wearing like my black ruffled skirt and combat boots because of what people will think of me. Anyone have any advice for me??"

As well as the above-mentioned post, I'd recommend that any other anxious readers also take a squint at Being a Confident Goth, Part One and D.F. Melancholine's dilemma in this post. As you can see from the amount of links, self-doubt and worry regarding the reactions of others are a big concern for dozens of darklings. I think all of us have days when we feel like we can't tolerate any more staring or one more snarky comment, and thinking back to ye olde days it's even harder to deal with when you're just beginning to dabble in dark style, because you won't have yet built up resistance and every sideways look still makes you want to run and hide in a corner.

Of course, there are also good days, when people looking at you funny makes you go, "Yeah? Yeah! I'm a freak and I'm PROUD, you can stare ALL YOU WANT because I look DAMN AWESOME," so I would like to reassure the young Gothlings gnawing their black-painted nails that not every day of burgeoning Gothdom will be filled with terror and worry.

For the days that ARE filled with terror and worry, I've compiled a few tips. Hope this helps!
  • You can have dress-down days, y'know. If you want to express your spooky side but are having an off-day and don't want to be poked or gawped at, opt for a simple band tee, skirt and boots or band tee, jeans and flats. (I say band tee because you're then still showing your subcultural allegiances without wafting about in tutu and corset, but obviously it's up to you!)
  • Build up tolerance in situations where you feel safe, e.g. shopping with friends or out for a meal with family. "I swear, the more times you step out of your house dressed in a poofy skirt and a wig, or in a pair of platform heels with spikes sticking out them, the more confident you become. Eventually you forget you stand out at all." - from 10 Reasons to Dress Alternative at Anti Charm School.
  • Apply logic. When you stop and stare at someone in the street (although I would hope that you try to be a bit more discreet than some of the painfully obvious gawping we get faced with), what are you looking at? Chances are you're admiring them, or looking for outfit inspiration. Remember that people are probably doing the same to you - admiring your outfit or wishing they had your guts.
  • Dress with confidence. If you feel that you look one hundred per cent amazing, it will help other, more boring people's comments slide off you like water off a duck's back. Smile at yourself in the mirror, make sure you look awesome from every angle, and proceed to completely ignore every stupid remark or wide-eyed stare that comes your way (or treat them to a smirk and a little finger-wave).
  • Read Juliet's Lace's post How to Have the Courage to Dress Goth.
  • Not all attention is bad. For some reason, people seem to forget compliments and focus on negative remarks, but you can flip this around. If you keep a tally of the compliments you receive when dressed alternative (or even keep a note of what's said), you'll see that there are just as many people that appreciate your style as there are ignorant people who haven't been taught when it's appropriate to keep an opinion to themselves (I strongly feel that trying to put down strangers on the street is the height of rudeness).
  • I can guarantee you that many of those who feel they need to offer a critique on your personal style are hardly going to be reaching new heights of sartorial elegance themselves. If you are confronted with negativity from someone wearing a tracksuit or a backwards baseball cap, Crocs with socks, or other assorted style faux pas, ignore it completely, because this person is not a fashion expert or style guru, they are an idiot with an overinflated ego. He without sin cast the first stone...
What others think of you and why it doesn't matter
Most importantly, one of the biggest lessons I have learned (and in some ways am still in the process of learning) is that what others think is not at all relevant. Of course, there are times when personal safety or simply not being an asshat means one must adjust their behaviour or dress for the occasion (e.g. funerals, weddings, walking alone after dark), but on the whole the reactions and opinions of other people rarely need to be taken into account.

I often remind myself that, when I'm in my dotage and looking back on my life, I don't want to feel disappointed that I was held back by my own perception of how people might respond to me. Especially when, for every negative reaction, you could have inspired someone, delighted someone or simply surprised them.

People who choose to dress differently bring excitement and wonder to everyday situations - a cyborg girl in MacDonalds; a Victorian lady in Primark or a be-goggled steampunk gentleman getting his shopping in Tesco might look strange and raise a few eyebrows but for every person who frowns or mutters there's someone staring wide-eyed and texting their friends about the amazing outfit they just saw. In fact, part of what has always appealed to me about Goth is how simply choosing to dress in a different way can make a walk down the street look like a scene from a fairy tale (or cyberpunk novella).

If your personal style so far only extends to Doc Martens and jeans or some badges on your school blazer, well done. You're still saluting a collection of music genres that have something to say other than 'OMG SEX IS COOL', a worldview that embraces both the whimsical and the macabre, and an allegiance to a community that celebrates (rather than suppresses) creativity, imagination and finding an interest in the unusual. Many of us act like our preferred dark style is something to be ashamed of; we walk with our heads down and all too often worry about how to 'tone it down' instead of how to show it off. But really, isn't it something to be proud of...?

You do, eventually, learn not to pay attention to other people as you go about your daily business dressed however you please. But first you have to be bold enough to start trying new things and experimenting with what you wear. Maybe you have to start small at first and work up to having the pink mohawk and killer boots you dream of... but the first step is to swallow the fear, work up some courage, and start. Put funky laces in your boots or wear some coloured mascara and start from there if you have to. But go for it! It gets easier every day and you'll look back and be proud of yourself for having the balls to be yourself. :-)

Friday, 24 August 2012

Goth-spotting: Abby Sciuto, NCIS

I wonder if any of you, like me, love spotting 'token darklings' and darkly-inclined characters in films, books and other media? I don't know if it's because I find I can relate more to characters who obviously have something in common with me (even if it's just fashion) or because I can scan for style inspiration, or even in some cases because I like to either a) roll my eyes at a poor representation or b) giggle with glee at Gothy in-jokes or satirism of the subculture. Or all of the above, most possibly.

Either way, for your amusement (hopefully) and my own (most likely), allow me to rate, slate, present and dissect assorted spooky types from popular (and not-so-popular) entertainment. Beginning with a well-known perkygoth figurehead, played by Pauley Perette in the US TV show NCIS.

I first came across Perette's character, Abby Sciuto, when a friend of mine bought me an NCIS box set specifically so I could set my eyes on a Goth forensic scientist who thinks nothing of wearing black lipstick and a spiked collar with her lab coat. I was not the only one who adored kooky, quirky, fun-loving Abby - the character has reportedly made Perette the most popular actress on American TV.

Abby is a rather endearing mass of Goth stereotypes; she sleeps in a coffin, carries a parasol whenever outdoors and her lab is decorated with BEGoth dolls and toys. Often in 'Abby's lab' scenes, pounding Industrial or electronic music can be heard; much of this music is just on loop rather than being real songs, but the sharp-eared Goth will also spot Android Lust and Collide being played throughout the show. (Perette is apparently a Collide fan in real life and recently Tweeted a photo of herself wearing a tank top made by vocalist and frontwoman kaRIN.)

Abby is a tattoo enthusiast; some of the tattoos seen on screen are Perette's real tattoos, but some, such as the large spiderweb on her neck, are transfers which have to be applied each day for filming. Despite being an exceptionally good forensic scientist, Abby believes and has a strong interest in the supernatural.
Whilst being a relatively minor character in the show, Abby is undoubtedly one of the most popular and has had a larger role in several episodes, including being the victim of a kidnapping, flying out to Mexico to teach students, fending off a stalker and rescuing a dog believed to have killed a man. There are rumours that Abby might be killed off at the end of the current season, but hopefully no truth in them!

Perette describes Abby's character thusly, "“[NCIS creator] Don Bellisario told me that when he created Magnum, P.I. he wanted to introduce a Vietnam vet who defied the negative stereotype. So with Abby, he wanted to take an alternative-style person with tattoos and make her someone who is happy, totally put together and successful. All the script said about her was: black hair, caffeinated and smart… She's completely unaware that anybody thinks she looks weird. She thinks she looks pretty and never calls herself anything other than happy. And I fight for that."
Abby loses some Goth cred when the show's creators pointed out that her entire wardrobe is sourced from Hot Topic, and there are many, many Goth girls with straight bangs who are sick and tired of hearing that they 'look just like that girl off NCIS'.

Not every Goth is a fan of Abby (many find her TOO perky and not a little cheesy), but as NCIS is quite a well-known show she does provide a positive example of Gothdom for worried friends and parents.

Goth-ness: ****
Style: *** (I like Abby's look but would love to see some more vintage or thrifted pieces thrown in there by the stylists.)
Personality: ****
Humour: ****
Scene Cred: ***

P.S. This is a scheduled post, as I have day tickets to Reading Festival to see THE CURE. <3

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Pastel Goth

I had a reader request, back in the mists of time, to discuss the latest 'hawt trend' that is being alternately bitched about and lauded all over the interbutts. In the wake of the much-debated 'nu-Goth' and 'hipster Goth' trends, we have pastel Goth.

For those of you who, like me, could easily get all these trends confuzzled with each other, have a quick browse of LittleGothCat's at-a-glance guide to the three styles. It's OK, I'll wait right here.

These trends are currently sweeping the high street, in the UK at least. It's almost impossible to walk into any mainstream store and not be confronted with tartan, upside-down crosses, creepers (I'm going to go ahead here and say that IT GRATES on me that New Look is now selling a style of shoe that has been a popular staple of alternative styles for years and everyone thinks it's soooo new and trendy... gah!), studded shorts and lots and lots of skulls. Black on everything.

This is both good and bad. Good, because I can stock up on loads of skully things and fuzzy black jumpers and store them in my wardrobe until the winds of fashion change again. I'm guessing that'll happen around spring/summer as there's usually at least a hint of Goth in the autumn/winter trends (I preferred the velvet and lace that popped up in the last Goth-inspired fashion wave, but I'll take what I can get).

Bad, because as much as one might hope that, hey, since they're selling purple lipstick and creepers in all the shops now, maybe we might be a touch more accepted and people might be less arsey to us since they're now (temporarily) adopting styles that have been staples of a spooky wardrobe for, oh, THIRTY YEARS. But, um, no. Apparently young trend-hopping fashionistas do not see the irony inherent in calling the passing Goth type a 'weirdo' whilst wearing creepers and leggings patterned with bleeding skulls. You know, the kind of stuff that, a year or so ago, THEY would have been called a weirdo for wearing. *facepalm*

There was a lot of backlash (heh, I typed 'blacklash' and then 'backlace') from within the dark alternative communities when nu-Goth/hipster Goth went viral. Whilst on the whole, Gothy types tend to appreciate the newest take on their beloved aesthetic (hence this post) and have been known themselves to adopt or be inspired by the style, they seem to be less keen on their lifestyle and culture being reduced to little more than a fashion fad. Especially when many of those who wear nu-Goth/hipster Goth styles because fashion told them to do so tend to retain a sniffy attitude towards the actual Goth subculture. Hence THIS post.

Much of this knee-jerk reaction has died down since it became more evident that, despite tagging 'goth' onto the name, most of the non-Goths dressing in nu-Goth/hipster Goth style actually don't consider themselves affiliated with the Goth scene 'proper' and tend to think of their genre as something separate, albeit with a few shared influences. Since Goths haven't actually yet managed to get copyright on the 'moody kid with black nail polish' stereotype and associated fashions, on the whole there seems to be much less irritation with the nu-Goth style and its followers. (Darling Violetta has a slightly angry post about why it's pointless to hate on such people simply because they ALSO like black clothes, ripped tights and dark make-up.)

Pastel Goth, as you may have gathered, is the latest development to have evolved from the muddy waters of Goth-inspired fashion. It also evidently owes something to 'kawaii' style, with the hint of high fashion influence also visible in nu-Goth/hipster Goth. Pastel Goth looks something like this. I have to say it's the kind of aesthetic that I can enjoy, what with my much-professed love for pink, but personally I would prefer to see a Victorian or Neo-Victorian ensemble with pastels complimenting the black. That would be MY pastel Goth. (I also enjoy the creepy/cute juxtaposition a la PastelBat.)

Whilst I love a lot of the imagery involved in pastel Goth (never gonna stop squee-ing at baby pink bat necklaces), the upside-down crosses tend to give me pause for thought. When questioned about any upside-down crosses I may be wearing, I can rattle off a brief disclaimer that it's not evil or Satanic, in fact the Pope has an upside-down cross on the back of his chair and it came about because a saint asked to be crucifed upside-down because he didn't believe he was worthy to be crucified in the exact same way as Jesus Christ. I'm sure pastel Goths are quite capable of developing a similar pat answer and perhaps it's judgemental of me to think they go around believing that their crosses are sooo edgy and spooky, but, well, there it is.

However, that is probably the only real reservation I have about pastel Goth fashion, because just a few minutes of glancing through the pastel Goth tag on Tumblr assures me that, in general, people are NOT going to think that pastel Goth is a) an accurate representation of Goth culture or b) the be-all and end-all of Goth. Whether you personally appreciate the style or not, I don't think there's much chance that strangers will come up to you in the street and say, "If you were a REAL Goff, you'd be wearing pastel this season."

I'm sure there are people within the realms of dark alternative culture who will enjoy and possibly dabble in pastel Goth style; probably the same people who like bubblegoth (as popularised by singer Kerli) and just as there are those who like nu-Goth and hipster Goth. But it's important to remember that just adding 'Goth' to the name, or the list of influences, does not make a person, musician or style Goth (or Lady GaGa would be a Goth...), and that most people, pastel Goths included, are quite aware of that. I highly doubt that most pastel Goths actually consider themselves Goths... and if in future they do find themselves branching out and exploring more of dark culture, i.e. what lurks underneath the popular versions distilled for the masses and sold in New Look, I really don't think there could be anything wrong with that.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

FYeah Finery Fashion Challenge: Day 2

A very belated day two!

Dani DeathBiscuit spake thus:

Day 2 ~Include pictures of your favourite shoes and/or accesories (hats, handbags, anything! Show as many as you want!) Also show your current outfit :)

My room is such a tip that I couldn't dig up all of my shoes, but my most faithful pairs were all close at hand under the stairs:

From left to right: Pleaser, New Rock, Em and Spout, my knee (front), coffin bag (Roebuck, £2 at a bootsale) New Rock, eBay, Sella rip-offs from a market in Paignton.

And today's outfit:

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

30 Day Clothing Challenge: Day 25

25. Shoes you love but hardly wear.
Ooold photo alert!

Ignore the rest of me, OK, and just look at the shoes. :-/ I still have these and still love them but I can't wear them at work because I can't reach the till without getting a backache after a while and I do a lot of walking in general... but my GAWD I do love them so.

I got these by mistake when a company shipped me the wrong shoes. But I liked them so much I bought them also. ;-)

As for an outfit, this is an ensemble I bought from the charity shop where I work last weekend. I wore it once for dinner with Dan and once again to work (yesterday actually). I did have this top in purple but it got too small for me and my mum pinched it:

Behold, REALLY old photo >.<

I also got a new phone case:
And, oh yes, dyed my hair.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Reader Question: farmyard Goth

"Dear Amy, I have a request to make, I have recently started 11th grade in another school and a week from now we have this farm camp, where we are going to be staying at a farm for a week and doing farm chores. I have no idea how I am going to be able to dress sensibly since I usually dress very dramatically (I wore fairy wings and black glittery platforms for picture day if that tells you anything) my mom has bought me some old t-shirts, jeans and a pair of rubber boots and I would like to make them seem a little more gothic but still be able to milk cows, any ideas?" - Lady Rowena Saew.

Of late we've covered spooky style for the Olympics, now we're touching on Farmyard Goth? *blinks* And I thought that figuring out what to wear for work was hard...

Footwear seems the easiest place to start, so I'll take it from there. I own a pair of rubber wellies patterned with skulls and roses that I got in a charity shop, so you can indeed buy pre-printed weather-and-animal-poo friendly boots.... and they're not even expensive - check these out, for example. For something that costs a little more but is slightly more durable, you might consider visiting an army surplus store and picking up some black boots with serious 'tude, or investing in a pair of Doc Martens.

I have these.

Of course, since you already have your welly boots, you could break out some paint to Goth-ify your farming footwear.

Now, on to clothes. Personally, I find nothing more practical than skinny jeans, which of course are now available in everything from black and grey to check, tartan, stripes, star print, even, yup, bat print (dear Young Bat, why you not ship your clothing to the UK? :-(( ...). Of course, a plain pair of black jeans are the casual Goth's best friend, skinny or otherwise. (If those jeans your ma bought you aren't already black, break out the dye!) Holey or ripped jeans with patterned tights underneath are a fun way of adding extra detail to a practical style, too.

Other casual combinations could include a short skirt or pair of shorts with thick leggings (skull print, stripey, crushed velvet - I have a crushed velvet pair from Primark that seem to be able to survive anything - plain black) or opaque tights. A frayed black denim miniskirt with black leggings and black boots seems perfectly sensible to me. And yeah, you could milk a cow in it. ;-)

T-shirts! Rip 'em, paint 'em, layer them over each other (especially effective if they have holes in), splatter them with glitter paint (black glitter paint on a black T-shirt is both yummy and subtle) and add safety-pins. Red, purple, black and white are all a fairly safe bet - mix it up with stripes or hunt down the cheap skull or cross patterned styles that are *eye roll* sooooo in this season.

Obviously accessories need to be kept low-key, I'd advise no rings, bracelets or dangly necklaces but don't forget cool belts (and cooler belt buckles), hairbands, hair ties and clips, and stud earrings. Pull your hair back with a Gothabilly-esque headscarf, or whip it up into a ponytail or pigtails. If you're working I'd advise keeping make-up relatively simple, but a flick of liquid eyeliner and a swipe of tinted lip balm or a red or purple lip stain (I recommend Revlon's Just Bitten range) would finish off a hard-wearing Goth look perfectly.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

My essential beauty products

Day-to-day life has a certain amount of hazards for the well-groomed (ish) spooky girl. Whilst I have never achieved the grooming standards of, say, Adora BatBrat, I have, through trial and error, found a bunch of products that help me maintain a modicum of style with minimum fuss. These are the products I carry everywhere I go and would hate to be caught without.

1. TresEmme Freeze Hold hairspray.
OK, so it comes in a damn huge can and it's really not practical for travel, but I haven't yet found another spray that holds like this does. I don't know what my fringe would look like at the end of a working day without it and I'd rather not find out.

2. Facial blotting papers.
Any brand, I'm not fussy. Gets rid of shine without that powdered-corpse build-up of make-up on the T-zone.

3. Nail strengthener.
I'm partial to Sally Hansen's, personally. Maintaining stiletto nails (all the better for elaborate nail art) doesn't come easy in a manual job, so I slick on a coat of nail strengthener every night to help my talons stop flaking and breaking.

If you want nails like these, look after your talons!
4. Lush's Goth Juice hair gel.
Recently discontinued in the UK (as far as I'm aware), but I had a fresh tub sent to me by Kitty Lovett. This keeps my fringe tamed, despite the fact I sleep on my face, smells lovely, and a little goes a long way. Can anyone recommend a replacement product?

5. Nivea Soft moisturiser.
For hands, face and body - I find it too heavy on the face but really softening for my hands.

6. A flavoured lip balm.
I'm addicted to lip balms! It's pretty sad but I collect dozens in different flavours. In my handbag right now I have absinthe, sugar cookie, blackberry (tinted purple) and raspberry. I tend to use heavy lip stains that last all day so without balm my lips can often feel dry.

What products would you recommend unreservedly? What items couldn't you live without?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Resolutions in Goth

I know it's not really the time of year for making resolutions, but to hell with tradition. I've been thinking lately about how to develop my style and bring my aesthetic closer to what I would really like it to be, and I came up with a set of resolutions that I think will help me. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. XD

1. Thou shalt wear more make-up.
I have a tendency to be very lazy with make-up and fall into a rut easily. I'd like to experiment more with heavier, more extravagant styles like some of my favourite Goth-y divas. I'm not afraid of my natural face but I just find more over-the-top make-up styles more striking - not to mention fun to try out.

I am not on my home computer so have only a few old snaps at my disposal. Here, have a picture of me eating an ice cream in a highly pretentious manner.

2. Thou shalt not get stuck in a hair rut.
The fashion experts say that us ladies should get a new hairstyle every six to nine months (if Trinny and Susannah say it, it MUST be true...). Whilst I am hoping to grow my hair verrrrry long and therefore this would not be practical for me, I'd like to experiment a bit more with different styles from day to day. Even something as simple as a ponytail makes a little bit of a difference.

3. Thou shalt always be occasion-appropriate.
I love that the versatility of alternative and dark fashion allows me to make adjustments so that I can hold down a job, attend weddings and look after children without losing my intrinsic 'me' style, but saying this is all very well and good if you often get stuck in an outfit rut of jeans and tees for weeks on end. Work clothes for work (spooky though they may be), jeans for lazy weekends, dammit...

4. Thou shalt shop sensibly.
Yes, it's black, but if you don't LOVE it, you probably won't wear it. And for goodness' sake, stop buying things to alter and customise until you work through the three binbags of clothing awaiting alterations that you already have... *facepalm*

5. Thou shalt make time to discover new music.
This one is obviously not fashion-related. Recently, I unexpectedly found myself at an indie music festival. I don't usually listen to much acoustic music or soft rock music in general but I really enjoyed some of the bands I heard and felt kinda stupid for previously assuming that I wouldn't like something because it didn't come under the 'dark' label. Therefore I intend to set aside time regularly to look for new bands and seek out new music, regardless of genre, and deliberately checking out things I wouldn't normally listen to. And of course, I will also be scoping out more bands amongst the assorted dark and alternative scenes, because I love them.

6. Thou shalt stop worrying about the judgements of others.
There are times, obviously, when it's either practical, polite, or simply safer to dress down. But don't get so bogged down in avoiding conflict that you don't make the most of opportunities to dress up. You only live once; do it stylishly.

7. Thou shalt not fear 'fat days'.
Your worth is not based on your dress size. Or your weight. Your upper thigh circumference. Your visible hipbones or lack thereof. Honest, it's not. Everyone has a right to feel good about themselves, NO MATTER how they look. Do your best not to deny yourself that right. There are much worse things in life than not having the 'right' body shape; try to accept and love yourself as you are as much as you can.

8. Thou shalt DIY more.
Because nothing beats that feeling of somebody complimenting the thingamajig you just made yourself.

Personal style is not a static thing; I look forward to sharing my progress with you guys! What would your resolutions be?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Goth Curiosity: answering questions

Elenor of the blog Live Life, Laugh and Live Longer recently invited several of us spooky types on the web to answer some questions she had about dark culture. Whilst I can't hope to provide any definitive answers I'm happy to share my opinions (and frankly, quite delighted to have been asked ;-D).

Elenor began her post, Goth Curiosity, with the following explanation: "I've been into the web for a little while (while for me means a year) browsing for cool stuffs and such when a picture of a lady in a Victorian dress captured my attention. That was a year ago, actually. That's when I first encountered the Goth culture. I don't know why, but was, and still, fascinated by these people. From then, on, I started reading a lot about them and the culture itself. I know this is crazy, but I want to know I other feel the same way that I felt when I choose to be one. I hope there would be someone who landed in my page (aside from those who I sent invitation to answer my freaking idea) by accident and answer my curiosity."

1. What does Goth culture and being a Goth mean to you?

Haha, I always ask this question in my interviews, but I've been dreading the day somebody would ask ME and I'd have to sit and think of how to put it into words. I will try not to make this too long-winded!

Assuming that we are using the term 'Goth' as a more concise way of summing up dark alternative culture, rather than specifically pertaining to Goth rock music and its followers, then the term to me means many things. Lately it has felt like a restricting label due to many people's distaste for the term being applied to anything other than than which is strictly Goth-rock-related, which is why I am currently more likely to describe myself as 'alternative' or 'into dark culture', but it is still a culture that I am very passionate about and have still been known to have rather heated arguments with slightly cluieless friends who insist on describing Marilyn Manson as Goth.

But, using the term loosely to cover 'dark culture', Goth to me is a huge part of my life and something I cannot imagine being without. Of course I have lazy days and off days where only the most sharp-eyed subcultural spotter would recognise a penchant for darker things under my mousy hair, minimal make-up, grey jeans and non-descript black cardie, and from time to time I like to experiment with other alternative fashions (although this has so far only ended badly). But fashion aside, dark music was the first kind of music that genuinely appealed to me, that actually spoke to me, and as such it always has and always will be a constant companion.

Being a 'Goth' - choosing to express and indulge in my tastes for things outside the mainstream - was a choice made when I had just left school and was severely lacking in confidence; through finding music I could understand and relate to, an online community that I could feel a part of and a never-ending wellspring of aesthetic inspiration I learned how to express myself which in turn made me more confident and did wonders for my self esteem. Being 'that Goth girl' became an intrinsic part of my identity and how I saw myself, and I was proud of it - still am.

To me, it means self-respect, confidence, community, self-expression, and celebrating rather than hiding qualities that the mainstream writes off as geeky such as creativity, a love of reading, not being afraid of one's own company, an interest in history, a DIY ethic and simply a firm and unshakeable belief that every day CAN be Halloween.

2. People mostly believe that the Goth culture is into dark and death, etc. If you have a chance to shout something in their faces about the POSITIVE things that Goth culture had brought to you, what it is and why?

This lifestyle - some people may disagree with that term, but for me that's how it feels - has helped me become a more outgoing, confident person (whilst simultaneously helping me to accept, rather than feel held back by, my introverted tendencies - how's that for logic?). The amount of body positivity surrounding dark culture has also been a source of support for me.

I love that dark culture in general is seen as more accepting of different lifestyles, religions and preferences, and that it is a place where a bookish, shy person can feel special and appreciated rather than like an outsider.

My boyfriend has previously said that he doesn't mind that I'm into Goth, except he doesn't like 'the morbid side' of it. I hate to break it to him, but a) not all Goths have even the slightest interest in, say, cemeteries or funeral customs, and b) the 'morbid side' of me existed, and would exist, whether I was a Goth or not. People who are into 'dark and death' aren't necessarily Goths, and Goths don't always have an appreciation for such things.

3. What positive and good things does the Goth culture had brought to you that change you as a person?

It has made me more accepting of myself and of others - I've realised through involvement in the scene that many of my traits that in school were classed as 'weird' are actually not. Such as a love of writing. ;-)

As said before it has bolstered my confidence and given me an outlet for creativity and self-expression.

4. Why did you choose to be a Goth?

I was originally drawn to it by the fashion aesthetic (particularly romantigoth), but as I began to get more involved I felt more and more like rather than becoming 'a Goth' I was just expressing more of myself. I found much of the music beautiful and inspiring; I didn't enjoy most of the insipid pop music on the radio and had assumed that something was wrong with me because I didn't seem to enjoy the music that other people did!

I loved being part of a culture where reading was celebrated instead of looked down on like it had been by my peers in school; where writing poetry, however badly, was considered a normal thing to do. The more I learned about the culture, the more I realised that being part of it was barely even a choice, it was a constantly exciting and delightful necessity.

5. Does being a Goth is another way of self-expressionism?

Definitely. There are so many different ways to express yourself under the Goth label; through myriad genres of fashion, through art, or writing, or simply creating.

6. My parents said: "Goths are cool. But, please stop playing funeral songs." Do you agree in the first sentence?

Well, if I had a penny for every time somebody at work assumed I would know about rhe latest 'yoof fad' because I'm 'fashionable', I'd have... about £5. Does that make me cool? ;-)

If you mean cool as in "Oh, he/she's OK," then certainly not all Goths are cool. Goth is a big subculture and like any large group it has some unpleasant people in it. But at least on the whole we LOOK pretty cool, even those of us who are... not nice people. My friends are pretty cool, too.

7. My sister says: "Goths wears cross. But, they're into dark things and such... Do they believe in God?" Do you? 
Not personally. I'm not religious, although I attended a Church of England school and am on friendly terms with my local vicar. I don't really know what I do believe in! I'd like to think there's something more after death but I'm really not sure, it would just be comforting to have that belief. I'm interested in various faiths and read up on everything from Buddhism to Satanism, although I don't profess to follow any religion myself.

That said, there are Goths from any and all faiths, that I know of, including Christian, Catholic and Muslim Goths. There is no group Goth religion and there are plenty who do believe in God.

Mini-post: A thank you to Xanthy

Oops, where have I been again? I've been house-sitting for my dad, and because I am a nervous type and can't stand being alone in a house I've had company pretty much most of the time and it felt kinda rude to break away and go blogging. However, the boyfriend is back from his work trip tonight and he doesn't mind so much if I abandon him to go online so updates should become a bit more regular from now on, hopefully. ;-)

Here are a few random photos from the last few days:

New additions to my vinyl collection! Yay!

This is what I took with me for a ten-day stay. And there are my knees!

Travelling outfit.

Lastly and most importantly, a big big thank you to the ever-lovely Xanthy of My Life as a Fairy Princess, who sent me this beautiful fascinator (made by her own fair hands) in exchange for a tiara of mine (which I will send as soon as I get home).

I look forward to taking some proper photos with a pretty dress and hopefully some nice scenery. Seriously, I cannot elaborate enough on how gorgeous and well-made this little beauty is, I will treasure it.

Thank you, Xanthy! <3

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