|Graphic used with permission|
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..
Monday, 10 November 2014
This post was inspired by my musings after watching the section on not wanting to be acceptable in ::this:: video by Jwlhyfer de Winter.
Fashion as a means to shock is loosing it's power too - even Lady GaGa's most ridiculous outfits, while they initially were discussed by the media as so daring, or making a mockery, or even disgusting (the infamous "meat dress"), discussion of her clothes has been relegated to the gossip papers, and she no longer shocks, if she ever really did. Discussions as to whether her whole stage persona was an elaborately self-parodying send-up of the pop-industry became discussion of her as just another pop-star. She's probably one of the few pop musicians whose output I like (at least her earlier tracks) and I appreciated the dark aesthetic of many of her videos, but the question of whether she was really creating a tapestry of thickly woven satire, parody and irony behind her 'poker face' or whether she was simply another person looking for fame and stardom by being as dramatic and weird and shocking as possible is as yet to be resolved - personally, I think the lyric content of her songs points that she is in fact creating her own artistic of protest of the very establishment of popular entertainment that sustains her.
As a teen, I adopted Goth as a means to annoy those around me who tried to force me to conform to a set of values that did not suit me - those who were homophobic, religiously intolerant, those who tried to stifle my creativity, deny my differences, and force me to be something they would accept but was alien to my self. My sartorial defiance of the rules as a teenager, brought upon me a whole heap of erroneous assumptions, and my power to shock was far outweighed by the power of others to make my life miserable - it only made my immediate situation worse. I might have been defiant and I will still never change who I am to suit others - but I also did not change those around me; I simply outlasted them and moved away and moved on. It taught me a lesson in resilience, but it did nothing to alter those who already disliked me, rather it provoked some into actually despising me and it was confrontational enough to simply further entrench them. All I can be is living proof that the were wrong.
With the shock value taken away, it means that instead of reacting to something provocative, those who come across us have the emotional distance to listen more carefully to the statements we want to make; I think we can deliver a sartorial message that is more subtle, but no less potent. Our clothes speak of embracing our own mortality, looking unflinchingly at that which can terrify us, of embodying our demons to overcome them, of drawing power from the symbolism of witches, vampires and zombies and using those symbols and concepts as lenses and metaphors for the world around us, we can walk around as dark reversal of the bright colours of the old aristocracy; we can be the portraits of Dorian Grey, and as we are not trying to shout in the face of the world, we can do all this and be listened to - Jillian Venters is onto something with her "subversion through politeness".
I prefer our being accepted, or at least tolerated by the mainstream, because it's frankly a lot better than the constant harassment and threats of violence (often escalating to actual violence ) that I, and other Goths used to face (and depending on location, still face), and how I got treated as if I was genuinely an evil degenerate, the revulsion, the way people looked down on me. I don't want others to be bullied, harassed or attacked - I don't want them to suffer the same ire and disrespect as I did, that's part of why I write this blog; to educate people and promote a more tolerant atmosphere.
In my consideration, the burgeoning acceptance of Goths also signifies how Gothic values, especially those from the pre-subculture, literary/art movement meaning of the word - the Gothic in terms of the sublime, the dark, the morbid, etc. are being embraced by more people. I think we've had a positive affect in getting people to appreciate the dark! It is becoming mainstream, it is being embraced by the establishment - something of a double-edged sword! What I really don't like is when the Gothic becomes another trend to latch onto in the eyes of the corporate, consumerist machine - when it becomes just another "fashion" detached from its symbolism, from its roots, from the subculture that spawned it, and its longer past (which the British Library and the BBC have done a valiant and educational effort to avoid in a recent exhibition and documentary - the documentary I will review soon, and the exhibition as soon as I go to England and visit it!).
Let it be clear that I am not advocating our changing to become more acceptable; we are doing nothing wrong, nothing that needs to change - it is those that come at us with hatred, with insults, with judgements and debasement. We do not need to become acceptable; the world needs to become accepting, and at least in my experience over the last 10+ years I've been Goth, the world slowly is, and my thanks goes towards groups like the ::Sophie Lancaster Foundation:: for helping to make it so.
Thursday, 6 November 2014
|Relaxing in the garden after some summer rain.|
Photograph by Raven of Chance Photography
|I look grumpy when made to pose for photos!|
Photograph by Raven of Chance Photography
|Cropped by me(hence grainy)|
Photo by Raven of Chance Photography
It might be raining outside, but summer can live on. Autumn will come and go then Winter, but after the Winter Solstice, the days will grow longer and summer will, eventually, return.
Many thanks to Raven, who always makes me look lovelier than I am!
Monday, 27 October 2014
Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the photo quality; most of these were taken either on my smartphone or my webcam and neither of those have particularly amazing cameras, although the smartphone is considerably better than the webcam. My laptop's camera is actually relatively good in daylight, but really struggles with artificial light. All photos were edited at ::PicMonkey:: which is a free online photo editor, aimed at making selfies and similar funky and fun.
Day 1 Outfit Rundown:
My natural waist here 29 inches and my corseted waist here is 25 inches here, in a 24 inch corset. While I can lace them all the way, I don't wear corsets frequently enough to find lacing myself down to 24 inches very comfortable, so I tend to leave a bit of breathing space.
⚰ Blouse: Zara (secondhand, charity shop)
⚰ Cameo necklace: Rock & Roar
⚰ Wig: Coscraft
⚰ Shrug: Tesco (secondhand, charity shop)
The Coscraft wig tends to end up a bit spidery, and the ends of the fibres were a bit frizzy when I got it, and have only got frizzier. I have noticed this is a common problem with synthetic black wigs, that the fibres have a tendency to frazzle at the ends more so than other colours, and I wonder if this is something to do with whatever is commonly used as a black pigment altering the synthetic hair plastic somehow. That's not to say my other wigs do not frazzle - they do - it just seems something that black wigs are predisposed to do so much faster, and I've had black wigs from four different quality brands, and the only one that has been silky and stayed silky was really cheap on eBay from China, which then proceeded to moult rapidly and thin much faster than the more expensive ones. If anyone knows a brand that sells black wigs that stay as silky as their more brightly coloured wigs, then would love to hear recommendations.
|I am a sky-pirate, just for one day...|
I had this corset fully laced to 26 inches for this outfit.
⚰ Wig: Borrowed from Raven
⚰ Goggles (barely visible): modified by me, originally bought on eBay.
This outfits seems quite androgynous for one involving an under-bust corset which is very specifically designed to both cinch my waist and emphasise my bust! Partly this is because the combination of frock coat, frills and trousers is traditionally considered male, and partly this is because the wig and that specific make-up (with its heavier brows and contouring on the cheeks, but lack of blush or lipstick) seems more akin to that from masculine Visual Kei artists than my usual styles, and take some of the softness away from my features. I liked the combination of 'effeminate' and 'masculine' elements in this outfit, as it feels like a way to incorporate my 'tomboy' side with still loving all the ruffles and lace of Romantic Goth. I'd quite like to do another version of this outfit with a waistcoat rather than a corset.
|An almost monochrome aesthetic.|
This is the same corset as in the first outfit, and laced about the same amount. I feel that even when it is not fully laced, it gives me quite defined curves.
⚰ Skirt: Marks & Spencer (secondhand, bought in a charity shop)
⚰ Wig: Coscraft
⚰ Necklace: Restyle
This is a very classically Romantic Goth outfit, with make-up and clothing choices that put me very much in the greyscale. I am not naturally that desaturated and pale; I used white foundation (and remembered to apply it to most exposed skin) to take the rosiness out of my skin tone (I'm already very pale) and used grey and silver as shading on my face, in order to aim for something akin to being a black and white photograph of a person but alive in the polychromatic world. Having naturally grey eyes helped! The entire outfit was built around matching the aesthetic of the pewter raven necklace with its black 'stones' (which I think are either plastic or glass) which was both wonderfully detailed and very Gothic, and made me think of old black and white horror movies.
One thing I would improve is choosing a top with a different line of frills the nest time; I feel like the line of the corset and the line of ruffles should match, as with the ruffles across the top of my bust, this looks a little strange.
Day 4 Outfit Rundown
The same corset as the second outfit, but with a dramatically different outfit.
⚰ Jacket: Dark Star, (via Far Fetched, Inverness)
⚰ Blouse: Zanzea (Christmas present from Raven)
⚰ Corset: Leatherotics
⚰ Cat handbag: H&M
⚰ Lace Mitts: Accessorise
I tried for a more casual outfit, but as corsets seem fairly fancy to me, the rest of the outfit ended up fancy anyway. It's hard to tell in the photographs, but I'm wearing a skirt with it - if I had a longer mirror I'd show that it's floor-length. I love pairing purple up with the blueish green of my hair, so I picked this rather fabulously patterned cropped jacket from Dark Star. Far Fetched were very accommodating, and as I am a regular customer (they sell incense... ) I was able to pay for it in instalments, and therefore buy a much fancier jacket than I could normally afford. One of the reasons to support independent retailers is that it is far more likely that they will allow payment plans for items that aren't expensive electronics!
|I don't take myself too seriously, especially when doing a 'duck-face' pout!|
Day 5 Outfit Rundown
This is probably my favourite outfit from the week!
Corset is a 24 inch corset, again laced a bit loosely, somewhere between 25 and 26 inches at a guess.
♛ Wig: Coscraft
♛ Necklace: eBay
♛ Shawl/chiffon cardigan thing: New York Laundry (modified by me, bought secondhand, charity shop)
♛ Blouse: H&M (secondhand, eBay)
♛ Corset: Corset Story
♛ Skirt: Marks & Spencers (secondhand, charity shop)
♛ Lace Mitts: Accessorise
This outfit was all about the lovely sleeves off this cape/shrug/over-shirt/cardigan thing... It's loose, floaty, sheer and light synthetic chiffon with vast bell sleeves that end in ruffles, and it swishes delightfully. I bought it for £1.99 in a charity shop and decided that the neckline was too plain, so hand-stitched that crochet-lace (venise lace?) collar onto it, and the collar was cheap on eBay. Originally the collar was for another project entirely, and I bought somewhere around a year ago, but it was too big for the blouse I wanted to sew it to, so it just lurked in my sewing supplies until I figured it would go well with this item. I also changed the black buttons on the top for silver-tone metallic ones, and instead of doing the bottom buttons up at the front, I like doing them up behind me when I am wearing a corset, to emphasise the curves of the corset.
|This many selfies of the same outfit is probably a sign of narcissism...|
I really like how this outfit turned out (probably a bit too proud of it, actually!) and it is certainly an outfit I'd wear again, especially that top! I just love the big, floaty sleeves. I'm a bit annoyed with the photographs, though; on the whole they're a bit hazy, and a mixture of washed out and strangely dark. I think I over-lightened my face in the third picture down, in order to try and make it visible - at least I look ghostly, which seems apt in the run-up to Halloween!
|Spiky! Now, which supernatural foe am I supposed to slay?|
Same corset as before, laces to 26 inch waist. ⚰ Spikes: (an assortment of places, mostly market stalls in Camden, Reading and Bristol; I've had them so long that I don't remember where I got them all)
⚰ Upper set of choker spikes are from a wholesaler on eBay, Phoenix1900
⚰ Blouse: Zanzea (Christmas present from Raven)
⚰ Corset: Leatherotics
⚰ Belt with overskirt: Gothic, Lolita & Punk
⚰ Mesh gloves: (secondhand on eBay, unbranded)
⚰ Skinny trousers: H&M
My make-up isn't actually as pale as it appears in this photograph; that's a byproduct of my tinkering with the contrasts and such to make the detail apparent in what was quite a dingy and poorly lit pair of photographs. As you can see, I have been given a new smartphone, but it is 'only' a cheap one, and the camera is not a significant improvement upon the last smartphone camera, so I am afraid that the photograph quality is still lacking. I have noticed that the flash on my new smartphone isn't very powerful. At least it's still better than the webcam!
|These photographs officially suck|
This is a new corset I ordered cheaply on eBay. It is supposed to be a 26 inch waist and suitable for tight-lacing, but with its use of spiral steel bones throughout, rather than rigid steel bones, I am reluctant to lace it all the way in case it warps.
⚰ Dress: Tic Toc
⚰ Shrug: Tesco (secondhand in a charity shop!)
⚰ Corset: eBay
⚰ Belt: (unknown, secondand, charity shop)
⚰ Necklace: Phoenix1900 on ebay.
I am really disappointed with how the photographs came out for this, but I really don't think either my smartphone or my webcam deal with electric lighting indoors very well. My older smartphone coped much better, as is evident in fourth set of selfies. The dress is stretch lace, and very slinky, and the shrug is woven lace and a nice pattern. I tried to highlight the belt, but the swirling plant designs on the metal are lost, as is the intricate lace of the choker.
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.