Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Turn it up, don't tone it down

"I hate to bother you about this, and actually I almost feel silly but in all my reading about goth in articles and blogs online I've forgotten how to be over the top when it comes to goth..... I mean it seems there are always blog posts about how a goth should tone down their look, but never how to make their look more extravagant... and of course in our everyday world toning down one's wardrobe makes a bit of sense, but I'm tired of toning it down...." - Miss Grave

I almost envy you for having forgotten how to turn your Gothy dial up to thirteen - I have times when I feel I never really started (says she, writing in tracksuit bottoms, band tee, no eyebrows and scraggy ponytail - I was just at a fitness class)! It's true that for some people it can be easy to slip into a rut, and getting out of it again requires inspiration, motivation, creativity and time.

Nobody does all-spooky all-the-time like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Inspiration and motivation
Quite often when I slip into a jeans rut, I am startled out of it by either seeing a rather stunning spooky type dressed to the nines or by - don't laugh - reading a book, usually some awfully cheesy YA novel, about a very Gothed-up character. I don't know what does it for you. Maybe it's looking at pictures on Tumblr or watching WGT vids on YouTube, but whatever it was about Goth fashion that made you go 'wow!' in the first place, recreate it.

You can also collect ideas and inspiration from looking in such places. (And don't feel you need to be limited to Goth either - you can get inspiration for your style anywhere and everywhere. As an example, my tracked tags on Tumblr include deathrock, mori kei, decora, gyaru, lolita, punk lolita, psychobilly and bohemian.) Work out what delights you and then apply it to yourself! Even if you have to play around with your make-up in the evenings or spend mornings laying out different combinations and ensembles on your bed.

Think outside the box! Yes, I'm opening the 'creativity' sub-section with a cliche, but being trite doesn't make it less true. Buy a new eyeshadow colour you've never used before. Find an item you've never worn and make it work.

When we think of OTT looks, we think of big hair, big eyeliner, hats, corsets, extravagant parasols, canes, waistcoats, falls and more. Feel free to draw on these staples - pile on the accessories - but don't forget to add your own twist and keep it uniquely you. Accessorise where you wouldn't normally - add a band around your upper arm, a belly chain, a tiara... add decals to your nails or wear a darker shade of lipstick.

Face it, you know what Goth As Fuck looks like. It may take some time spent experimenting and you may make a few mistakes, but if you're reading this you probably spend enough time online to know what ubergoth means for you - all you have to do is get in front of that mirror and get your freak flag proudly flying.

Jeans and a tee take much less time than a festival worthy G.A.F. ensemble. Light, everyday make-up is different than a painted-doll face a la Lady Amaranth. You might need to choose an outfit the day before and get up half an hour earlier - only you know whether or not it's worth it!

Not being 100% ooky-spooky at all times doesn't make you any less Gawth. If it pleases you to put in the time, then go for it! But don't feel you have to do it every day if you don't want.

Of course, if you're getting your Goth on for an event or other occasion, whether you prefer to plan weeks in advance or like to select an outfit spontaneously right before leaving for the club, it does help to keep your hand in with fancy make-up and corset-wearing (not to mention balancing in silly shoes) to avoid last-minute panics and disasters.

I hand over the floor to you guys to share your own advice! Hope this is of some help. :-)


Nebel Finsternis Violet said...

What can I say? I agree with every word!
This should be an article at a Goth magazine! Seriously!

Cherry Divine said...


Ariadne Blackmoore said...

I always find looking at pictures on Tumblr, weheartit, and blogs (like this one and others) really inspiring. I guess I'm a very visual person. Even looking at certain items of clothing helps. Sometimes I go to online stores, not to shop, but to get ideas. If I were better at drawing I would probably try to sketch out some of my outfit ideas before trying them out, but I'm not so sometimes the outfits I thought would be amazing actually turn out to be horrible mistakes. Still, I try to not let that get me down. There are many days when I lack the effort to put on more than jeans and a T-shirt or I lack the creativity to think up something new so I just go with a trusted outfit. But I think those days actually help to boost my creativity by allowing it to rest for a while.

Laura Morrigan said...

I look for inspiration everywhere. I look for Victorian and steampunk outfits, accessories and hairdos online, when I am watching TV series with nice outfits, I try to do a quick sketch in my notebook. I also try and remember and draw cool outfits I see in the streets. There's also so much amazing handmade stuff on Etsy, so much more unique than you find in a lot of shops. And don't forget you can get patterns on Etsy, and make something yourself.

Hope this helps! :)

minana-banana said...

I love this post so much! :D
Great advice!

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

I love this!

gin said...

When gothing it up, my inspiration comes from the music I'm listening to at the moment. I tend to take ques from the artists for how I should dress that day. Same if I'm going to an event. I dress like might belong to a side show of the band I'm seeing. I pick out one piece that I want to take center stage and go from there to emphasize it, and then pickout a feature with my makeup and work that.

Anonymous said...

I say just go with what feels "right" to you; if you feel good in jeans & a band tee, so what? Don't try to go extravant in a corset & stilettos, with 7 layers of makeup if that's not your natural inclination.

Also, you have to consider your lifestyle. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so running errands in a tutu, heavy boots, and heavy black eyeliner in the Southern California summer heat just doesn't make sense. I worked in a bank a couple of years back, and again, it made more sense to wear a sweater set & slacks with "sensible" shoes (and then there's the fact there was a dress-code).
When it comes to dressing for an event, allow your instincts & personal aesthetic to guide you. Again, if you like to stay more comfy, so what? If yo enjoy elaborate outfits & OTT makeup, chances are you already know what to do. Sometimes it seems some try to "out-goth" one another, and by doing so, they seem so uncomfortable.

If it's out of your budget to dress the way you want, or if you *must* spend a significant amount of time in a uniform or adhering to a dress-code, remember, makeup washes off, and there are so many options for temporary hair-styles.

We *all* make fashion mistakes, but so does everyone, whether alternative or mainstream. If something doesn't work for you, can the idea and try something else the next time. Also, if you wear something that didn't quite turn out the way you envisioned, just act like it was intentional, own it, and walk with confidence. Chances are, there will be others around that have the same issue. Noone will remember your outfit, unless you make a major faux pas, and even then, if you act like it was intentional, chances are it will go over well.

Merrihel Wednesday said...

I'm not the only person to read (really, truly) lame YA vampire novels for the outfit descriptions? LOL! (I also keep a composition book to sketch particularly cool outfits I think up; as well as write down those aforementioned outfit descriptions, so they're handy after I return the books to the library!)

Nic said...

Great post, as always! I open my wardrobe all too often thinking "I really need to goth this shit up a little" - I think my goth side is on the inside.

linnea-maria said...

I would say: It's all in the details. As I dont have the time to put on makeup or fix my hair every morning I use jewellery, arwarmers, shoes and other accessories to define my style.

coraluca soleil said...

L<3ve it! )O(

Justine said...

Wonderful advice! c: I couldn't agree more.

Victoria Noire said...

I think Glenn Hetrick of Syfy's "Face Off" pulls it off fantastically. Certain cities of course cause one to aspire more in dress and fashion ;)

KatSaw said...

Hi there Amy

This has [some] bearing on your post; but actually I just really wanted to share this:
Today I was on my way to get groceries, dressed up to an unusual degree in a top hat (adorned with a pink satin ribbon tied into a bow), frilly tutu-esque-but-not-quite dress and lace-edged 'bloomers', vertical-striped stockings and lace gloves. An older woman was walking in the opposite direction, and she made brief eye-contact and smiled a little. I smiled back, unsure whether I knew her. Just as she was almost past me she said "You're gorgeous;" and the sincerity with which she said it was so unassuming and spontaneous; it made my day.

Katie Blackwell said...

I go to a trade school for part of the day and sadly we aren't allowed to wear nail polish or bracelets or basically anything fun... So unfortunately all I can do is maybe a weird shirt and jeans... but as soon as I graduate I'm going to follow every piece of advice here :)

Anonymous said...

"Not being 100% ooky-spooky at all time doesn't make you any less Gawth" So you basically mean dressing not ooky spooky all the time doesn't make you a Goth?

Gawth: Alternate spelling of Goth, used snarkily online whining about non goth or mallgoths who think they are Gother than thou.

To me you don't have to dress to be Goth as it isn't important as the music and knowledge. I know you don't have to go 'on' 24/7 when you don't feel comfortable with the daily abuse and stuff. Fashion alone isn't exclusive as the knowledge and history of the subculture and music.

Christina said...


I have a few questions for you. Is there any way I can email you (or maybe you can email me)?

x-akurei said...

Well, I really hope things are starting to look a bit brighter for you!

I like this. Likewise, I no longer feel that I identify with the "real Goth scene", although I'm still very interested in it. I've kind of accepted the fact that I love a lot of other music and really, when I put things into perspective, the amount of that "other music" I enjoy is far greater than typical "goth music"... Clothes, too. I like a lot of highstreet fashion and now I've accepted that, on top of the music aspect, I'm so much happier. Really, I guess we're just always developing as people.
I'm looking forward to the person posts from you, if they do appear. I've always quite enjoyed them. It'll be lovely to have you back! :3

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