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.


Anonymous said...

Wow, great post Amy! This really helps me :)

I hope you don't mind but I need a bit of help. I'm a 11 year old girl who's a Babybat. I'm having a difficult time finding which type of Goth I am, and I was wondering if you could help by posting something or in a comment? :)

I usually listen to Emilie Autumn, The Birthday Massacre, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Aural Vampire, Ayria, etc. I don't find myself girly. I was hoping maybe you could help me find out a type of Goth I would fit into?

Thanks Amy.

Brittany said...

Thank you so much! I've already been in school for 4 days now. I've noticed people wear skulls all the time. I mean maybe not a lot of them, but I have a friend who has them on her shoes. I've seen a few guys with shirts with them. They don't say anything about wearing all black or someone who was here before me would have gotten in trouble. Every time I see him all he's wearing is black.
I can't thank you enough for posting this though. It will help me even more to try to wear "dark" things without getting in too much trouble. I've even worn my little bow with a skull on it and went to see my adviser (who has a baby doll arm taped to the door handle on the insider of her office) and no one has said a word. I'm not certain as to why the woman told me no skulls during the interview. Maybe people have their wires crossed or they just haven't noticed. But thank you bunches! I'm diffidently thinking about trying a few things you did in your post about your adventure into the corpgoth.

Nana said...

I recently was hired at a company that requires business attire. Because of this I'm very familiar with dressing in all black in the office....but not so much it raises my manager's eyebrows. (Or there are days that I will dress supper girly in pinks with flowers and pearls everywhere. I can rock out to Rammstein in my lace Forever 21 dresses too!)

Honestly I prefer the more toned down styles (outside of the rock concerts, and clubs of course). I particularly admirer the girls who you can point out are goth a mile away, but look so smart and well put together in their crisp blouses, pencil skirts, and shiny (spiked) heels. They look so spooky and professional at the same time! I love it! :D

Anonymous said...

Whilst you're giving advice on dress codes and the like, I wondered if you could pretty please help me? I live in Australia (Western Aus., not the Eastern states where they seem to have all of the Gothy stores and events..) and as such uniform is mandatory at my (public) school. The uniform consists of: an ink blue, knee length, four pleat skirt and white shirt (collared, button up, with logo); OR an ink blue knee length school dress OR a white polo shirt with logo and ink blue shorts. All of this must be purchased from the uniform store. We're also allowed to where black 80 denier stockings (year round, thankfully) or white ankle socks. There are pants (ink blue) available for girls, however no-one wears them (they're unflattering even compared to the horror of the rest of the uniform). Make-up and jewellery are to be non-excessive and only school jumpers are permitted (v-neck ink blue or micro fibre, ink blue and yellow jacket). I have been attending this school for 1 1/2 years now and was shocked to realise that none of my friends who haven't seen me outside of school realised I was Goth, though I've been wearing Goth-ish accessories (bat earings, big black hair bows, etc.). My school does allow hair dye however mine is naturally red so I don't feel the need to dye it. Do you have any ideas to help me to appear at least a little Goth-ish at school? Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated!

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