(As long as the advice isn't "go to a hairdresser's salon" because I can't, due to aerosol allergies and cost issues.)
My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.
The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..
Saturday, 25 October 2014
(As long as the advice isn't "go to a hairdresser's salon" because I can't, due to aerosol allergies and cost issues.)
Sunday, 19 October 2014
☠ Purge and Replenish
This does not necessarily have to be a rapid or expensive process, just one done with thought and consideration.
☠ Take Selfies
If you are going to post an outfit image for review, I think it is important to get a clear whole-body photograph, with lighting that gives clear visibility of details, drape, etc. (difficult with black clothes!) and to also include detail shots if there are specific details you feel contribute to the outfit but are not necessarily visible on a whole-body photograph.
Remember that constructive criticism is a mixture of tips that genuinely work and personal opinion; for example, a lot of Lolitas think that fingerless lace gloves are not suited to Lolita, but I think that as long as the lace is good quality, that they do as I cannot see a good reason for them to not fit in the Lolita aesthetic. If you really love something, wear it, but also do listen to those who give reasons with their constructive criticism.
☠ Test Outfits Before Wearing
If you have a dress-maker's dummy this is probably the best way of doing this, but if not, there's plenty of ways of constructing make-shift mannequins to fulfil this. One thing I do is take two coat-hangers, one being my 'shoulders' and the other suspended below to be my 'hips' and hang my clothes from the pair as if I were dressing them; that way I get an idea of what the clothes look like together before I actually put them on. I tend to only do this with outfits for special occasions, especially as I can get four (or more) coat-hangers, and put together two outfits next to each other for comparison. This does not replace testing an outfit on at home before an occasion, but it does help the process.
Another option is to do a 'flat lay' - this is laying out an outfit on a bed or (clean!) floor to get a two-dimensional representation of how an outfit might work. Layer clothes carefully so you get some idea of how layering when worn will look like, and remember that details can be lost in layering, so if you have a nice print, embroidery or other detail in an item that you wish to showcase, do check to see if they're still visible once worn.
Whichever option you choose, this is a good way if assessing how items combine. You can also note down which items go well together, but just do not suit a specific outfit (or 'co-ord' short for 'co-ordinated' in Lolita parlance) and which items just don't seem to fit any outfit (even if they're nice on their own) and mark them as something to either replace, or build an outfit around that does work (depending on whether you are trying to expand or reduce your wardrobe).
I hope people find these tips useful in developing their own personal style and and in improving their outfits. Developing your own style is based around what you personally like (rather than what is trendy, or what is popular with others) and on what sort of things look aesthetically pleasing together (including deliberately clashing, if that is your thing) and learning over time what suits you, in your own estimation.
Don't rely too much on others; it is useful initially (especially in a fashion like Lolita that is built around a framework of 'rules' or 'guidelines' that are based in what is tried and tested to work to create a certain aesthetic) but in the end, for something to be your own personal style, you need to develop it yourself. You can learn from others and imitate to a certain degree (but outright copying people's style is considered a bit weird and rude) but remember, that your style is something that should come out of your aesthetics, not someone else's.
Be patient, especially if you are a teen; you probably won't settle into something that is your groove, your style, your own way of doing things until you're in your late 20s or even early 30s, and it is perfectly fine to experiment. I went through several different subcultural styles and variations on Goth before I settled on Romantic Goth, and even now, my style is evolving (just more slowly) as I evolve. We all change over time, and it is important not to stagnate.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
There's several versions of this, and it comes from different mindsets and different assumptions, so I don't want to tackle this as if it is all the same thing.
The first and most obvious is when non-Pagan strangers ask me if I'm a witch. There are two general versions of this; the one where the asker does not sincerely believe that I am a witch and is asking me it as a mocking question, and the one where the stranger has correlated my outfit with the idea of the fantasy sorceress and genuinely thinks that I might be a practitioner of the occult; and the rarest sort is that some have a vague idea about Wicca and modern Witchcraft and have spotted a pentacle or moon symbol somewhere upon my person, but most of those that ask are of the first two sorts, and of the second sort, they seem to think that I spend my Saturdays sacrificing goats on windswept hillsides or something with the look of fear they give me, and there's a subset of this group who are very intent on saving my soul from the Devil.
Goth is not a religion, it does not require being a member of any religion, and you get Goths of all religions (Go look at ::Priestly Goth:: and its sister site, ::Priestly Goth Blog:: - the pages of a Pastor, painter of icons, Goth and political blogger. Not the only person who has chosen a Christian religious life that I know that also has a Goth streak!) and of none. I do think that as Goth has a Romantic aspect to it, that it tends to attract people who have a spiritual nature about them, and while yes, there are higher percentage of Goths who are on mystical and occult paths than in the general population (and I include in that Goths who follow the more mystic aspects of mainstream religions, too), it is by no means that all Goths are Pagans.
I always find it hard to deal with these situations; I usually start with "that's an unusual question" - after all, how many other people has this person asked this question to? Probably not many, if any - and then try and figure things out from there. I don't use the word "witch" very much anyway, as I have explained in ::this:: earlier post, but my answer is going to be very different between someone who says "I noticed your pentacle ring and thought you might be Wiccan" and someone who says "Don't you Gothics (An aside: Gothic is an adjective, not a noun! People need to learn this!) worship the Devil?" I never lie, but I tend to word things carefully to neither confirm nor deny and to steer things away from me, personally. If people are ignorant but genuine curious, then I try to politely explain that they've been misinformed, if they're judgemental and going on a religious tirade, then I extricate myself from the situation. Whatever I do, I'm conscious that it will reflect on Goths as a whole, and therefore try and be as polite (but sometimes firm) as possible and make sure I do not let things devolve into an argument.
Those who think I am some kind of crazy person and that my clothes and religion are both signs of this probably are not going to listen to any protestations otherwise, so I feel the only answer is to be a calm person and let my actions, and for those who are more than just a judgemental stranger, my life demonstrate that I am not some person wildly disconnected from reality and trying to live some delusion that they are in fact Morgan La Fey or something (there's nothing wrong with the occasional bit of dressing up as long as you're fully aware it is only a costume.) and that I am no crazier or more deluded than any other religious person may be, as there will always be the more militant atheists who try and make an issue of any religion, especially fringe religions. I am of the opinion that as long as a person is not hurting others or themselves through their religious choice, it is of no concern to others and that if you wish to engage in religious debate, it ought to be a polite discourse and not a personal attack.
Prejudgement from Other Pagans
I am certainly not into Neo-Paganism as a way to deeper entrench myself in the 'spooky woman' role; this is not some blurring of the lines between everyday life and L.A.R.P. I was pagan before I was Goth, by about three years, although I definitely had Pagan attitudes and ideas that aligned with Neo-Paganism long before that, right from when I was a small child, although I did not know what Neo-Paganism was then.
To be fair, the Neo-Pagans I am currently involved with in my local area seemed pretty open and willing to give me a chance when I joined groups and starting getting involved with the Neo-Pagan community here, and I think that's partly because as the Alternative community in general is small here, people who stand out because they act and dress differently and their thoughts do not align with those of the majority, stick together, whether they're hippies, Neo-Pagans and Witches and other people who practice Alternative spiritualities, Metalheads, Goths, or any combination of the above or people who I haven't mentioned yet. My encounters with Neo-Pagans who have been judgemental have primarily been online. I think the internet is a medium through which some people forget their manners, as there is a distance in typing at a screen that can make people fail to realise there is still another human somewhere reading a different screen at a different keyboard, but not that unlike them.
The other assumption about being a Goth and a Neo-Pagan is that there are other Neo-Pagans who think that we practice curses and magic for evil purposes, that we sacrifice living things and are liable to commit some kind of sacrilegious practice or whatnot, and I think that comes from the same misinformed place as the non-Pagans that think this; they think Goth is somehow linked to 'black magic' (side note: magic does not come in 'black' and 'white'; a growth spell or a love spell can be just as destructive as a diminishment spell or separation spell, and the latter two can actually be used helpfully) and evil practices, and it just is not! It is a common misconception, but it just is not true. Goth does not have any religious affiliation, and does not involve a deliberate desire to be purposefully immoral in any spiritual or more mundane way.
As per usual, I remind people to check their assumptions, or rather, to try and avoid assumptions and to approach things from a place of learning. Goth is a subculture encompassing fashion, art, music and an appreciation for darker things; it is not an anti-moral code, a religion or a cult and has no bearing on what a person choses to be their religious, spiritual or atheist path.
Monday, 13 October 2014
|Pre-clubbing selfie. Note swirls and bat hair-clip!|
|My "how do I get the webcam to work?" face|
I hope Alternative X and Rapture find new venues; it's nice to have at least one night every month or two where I can go to a club and hear music I like and dance, drink and socialise with other alternative types! Inverness and Highlands don not have much in the way of alternative events and it would be a shame to loose what we already have.
Sunday, 12 October 2014
|A big warm fire! Just not with much actual fire in it.|
|Gilt panelling with fluted|
|I apologise for the blur and camera shake!|
|I want to sit by this window with a warm cloak and good book!|
Thursday, 9 October 2014
So much of the rest of Edinburgh seems to have been built with at least some inspiration from the castle; all the castle-like details of the Scottish Baronial buildings that seem everywhere, the vistas that seemed planned to give you a good view of the castle, the gardens between Prince's Street and the railway that make the castle seem somehow separated from the city itself, etc. etc. Not many British cities still seem to have their old castle at their heart. Only Stirling, which also has its grand castle perched high above a steep rocky outcrop, seems to have some of this, but Edinburgh certainly seems built around its castle more than just geographically. Oxford, for example, still has its castle, but that castle has been swamped by the far grander buildings of the university and re-purposed so many times; it feels like it has been subsumed by its city.
|Where the gates had once been underneath the Argyle Tower.|
|Looking up to what is now the castle shop!|
Entry to the castle is not cheap. I think it cost me £16 just for myself. I then purchased a guide book, a few history books, post-cards and snacks all on top of that, making it quite an expensive visit. I am quite glad I had money saved up as otherwise I would not have ordinarily been able to afford such a trip. I think it is cheaper if you are a member of Historic Scotland - something I am seriously considering doing as I am quite fond of visiting historic sites (as visitors to my blog should know!).
|Staggered walls of castle shop.|
Looking up at some clouds being interesting!
|Rear view of the shrine of the Scottish National War Memorial|
One of the more recent buildings is the Scottish National War Memorial, built over what, if I remember rightly, had once been both a barracks and a church at different periods. I don't know how much of the architecture is 20thC and how much is an adaptation of older buildings, but I do know that it is a place of reverence and remembrance. Photographs are not permitted in the Shrine itself, to preserve the dignity and attitude of reverence, but I can say that it is both somber and beautiful, with the names of the war dead from all three branches of the military kept in a metal box designed to resemble the Ark of the Covenant.
|The archway, looking in from the approach.|
|The same archway, this time looking outwards.|
|The Royal Palace. At four storeys and with a tower, it's quite tall.|
Mary Queen of Scots gave birth in rooms in the older parts of the building, to the boy that later became King James VI of Scotland and I of England, and a few Kings later, Mary and William of Orange became King and Queen and it got complicated, Jacobites and Hanoverians fought over who would be King, and whether parliament could interfere in the succession and 'divine right of kings', quite literally with battles and suchlike, culminating in the Battle of Culloden (not to far from where I now live) in 1746. Politics then was more complicated than what you get in a George R.R. Martin book, and just as deadly, even if with fewer dragons. The depute head at the school I work at has tried explaining the complexities of the Jacobite uprising to me, but I must admit I lose track of which factions were on which side, and why, and the complexities of fractioning Christian sects of the time that underpinned a lot of the conflict confuse me utterly. As with most conflicts, I am at a loss as to why all of it should have escalated as far as lead to murder, death and battle.
|I have forgotten exactly where this door is, but I think it is|
an entrance into what is now the Visitor's Information Centre
Edinburgh Castle is on an ancient site, apparently used as some that could be fortified from as far back as the Iron Age, and still in use a while later, as Edinburgh is mentioned (as a large banner at the castle proclaims) in the Y Gododdin, some of the earliest Welsh poetry, as where warriors feasted for a year and a day before going off to die in battle. A quick hunt of the internet makes it seem an epic poem worth reading - in English translation for me, perhaps in modern Welsh for Raven. It's a lot of history; more than I could take in through only one visit; I'd have to read more books and visit a second time at least, to even start making sense of it all. A lot of the castle's history is military history as it was an army fortress for just about as long as Britain has had a proper army rather than just those called up to fight for local lords, and before that it was a fortification too. It's still a military place now, though now one of museums and offices, the annual Royal Military Tattoo (for those who don't know what that is, it's about marching bands, dance and pipers, not about getting inked!) and suchlike, rather than a working fortress. Military history is not really my area of interest (unless you count the 'Sharpe' novels by Bernard Cornwell. I'm pretty sure that does not count, though!)
|I think this is the Argyle tower and junction with the top|
of the Laing Stairs, but I am not entirely sure.
I enjoyed myself and I really enjoyed the architecture. It's a pretty large complex, the sort that brings to mind the epic 'Gormenghast' of Mervyn Peake, but less malevolent in architecture, yet with the slopes of the hill up to the crag all covered in old stone buildings, some more Gothic than others. I took so many photographs while I was there, but many of them ended up relegated to my discard pile. I hope you enjoy the exterior photographs here - later I will display some of the colour interior photographs. I think the autumnal grey of the weather just made the place seem colder and learning its conflict-ridden history just makes it seem a place full of the blood and sweat of warriors and soldiers from centuries past. The stones are greyed and the sky is greyer; monochrome photography seemed fitting.
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
|I have a fondness for setting spires diagonally.|
|A sense of verticality.|
Photo taken after castle visit, hence duller sky.
|The sky was white with cloud, but weirdly bright.|
|At least the clouds were vaguely interesting here.|