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, 11 August 2012

Fashion Advice for New Goths and Babybats

I was discussing the topic of Babybats, and it inspired me to write some advice for people starting out in the subculture on assembling a Goth wardrobe. 

The first thing I will say is "Do not panic!" You do not have to immediately look like a Gothic model in gorgeous Romantic finery or a really intricately layered Deathrock-type ensemble (yes, I am aware that Deathrock is not the same as Goth, a case of parallel evolution in America that later cross-polinated with Goth, etc.) and that it does not make you 'less Goth' if you don't have fancy clothes. You cannot judge how Goth someone is by their clothes. You certainly cannot judge how good or interesting or fun a person is by their clothes! Do not forget that a lot of models are being paid to wear a certain brand or designer's clothes - those are not necessarily the clothes they actually wear every day! Also, those who do have vast wardrobes of finery have probably acquired them over a very long time, often a decade or more.

If you have a passion for the music (Goth started out as a music-based subculture, and music is still its beating heart), the mindset, and taste for things dark, the reasonable amongst us will understand that you are new and may not know a huge amount about the music, the literature etc. Fashion is really a superficial concern, although I know how much looking the part can help a new person feel like they will fit in more with other Goths and how important it can be to those establishing this newly discovered facet of their identity. People who are mean to you for being new are unreasonable and silly; don't let them put you off the subculture when there is so much you might miss out on enjoying! 

The second most important thing I can say is that creativity is more valued in the subculture than your ability to afford expensive things. If all you can afford are charity shop clothes and craft supplies, but you spent hours carefully painting and sewing patches or adding lace trim, you will earn a lot more respect than if you have bought the latest offerings from Lip Service or Retroscope Fashions or whatever, because you will have shown creativity, individuality, a desire to make things for yourself and to customise and make something your own, and you will have put in the effort. 

Do not be daunted by the prospect of DIY, even if you are not hugely crafty - a lot of things are a lot easier than they look, and with a little practice even the least dextrous person can turn a plain garment into something interesting and aesthetically pleasing. There are a huge amount of tutorials and step-by-step craft projects on the internet; browse through them and pick out things you really like and think you can manage and then work your way up to more complicated projects. You might find out that you have a knack for a craft after all, you just hadn't encountered it before - it turns out I am rubbish at knitting, but I'm rather good at making my own wigs, but if I hadn't tried to make my first braid wig (project ::here::) I would never have found that out or had the confidence to make more complicated wigs (like my neon green and black cyberdreads). 

As to what to actually wear? Start with looking at the musicians, going back to the early '80s and late '70s, and then look at the models, and other goths. Then look at lots of other things - clothes, costumes, even interior design and artwork. Consume visually, create for yourself a scrapbook and digest all that visual information, analyse how the shapes work, how the textures work, look for why clothes look good together (here is where a physical scrap-book where you can write and draw has an advantage, but I like scrap-bookign and am therefore a bit biased), and then aim for what  inspires you, what you think looks nice, and what suits you. 

When shopping, try to aim for a few items that look good with each other, rather than just going for the things you think are prettiest first. If you must buy something that you don't have other things to make an outfit with, because it's one-off bargain or something, it is not the end of the world that you can't wear it out right away because nothing you own goes with it, and it is better to wait until you have gathered enough to incorporate it into an outfit where it will look really good than to try an combine it with garments that just do not look right together - it won't show off your new find to its best, anyway. Your new find will not vanish, and unless your weight and shape fluctuate greatly, it you will still be able to wear it a few months later or so. Also, to begin with, buy things where you can try them on first, instead of ordering off the internet, so you get a feel for what does and does not suit you before you've actually spent any money.

The most important, biggest piece of advice I can say is "Be Yourself" - wear what you think is beautiful, wear what you feel beautiful wearing. Goth isn't something you should have to try to become, it should be a natural extension of your own tastes. It is more important to be yourself than to adhere to any subculture, although if you do land between subcultures, try to describe yourself accurately - it is perfectly reasonable to say "I am a metalhead that likes Goth fashion" or "I like Goth music, but I like a Gothic take on Lolita and Aristocrat fashion" or "I like lots of things, a bit of Goth, a bit of Punk, a dash of Hippie" or whatever, but trying to say, for example, that Sweet Lolita is somehow Goth generally does not go down well. Also note that Cybergoth is not a subsection of Goth, it is a hybrid of Goth, Rave, Industrial and a few other things. 

Anyone can be a Goth, it doesn't matter if you're disabled, or dark skinned, or larger,  shorter, blonder, ruddier, manlier, more girly or any other deviation from the stereotype. There already are Goths-of-colour, Muslim Goths, Goths in wheelchairs, Latin American Goths, Asian Goths, really short Goths, blonde Goths, freckly Goths, skinny Goths, large Goths. All sorts of people are Goths. And I've met at least one of all the above.

Have fun, be beautiful! 


3 comments:

  1. "You do not have to immediately look like a Gothic model in gorgeous Romantic finery or a really intricately layered Deathrock-type ensemble"

    Omg yes, I think so many outfits go wrong when newbies first experiment with Goth because they aim too high. A basic wardrobe is everything! A lack of knowledge, resources and quality clothing meant I never got the outfits I dreamt of, cringe.

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    1. Putting together good outfits is a skill, and it takes time to learn, especially when dealing with something as deliberately artistic as Goth fashion - it isn't something that can be instantly learnt or accumulated; even if you maxed out a credit card online and bought all the most beautiful finery in existence, putting it together in a way that looks amazing takes a practiced eye. SImple outfits can still look stunning, one does not need to cram as much goth as possible onto each square inch of one's person.

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  2. "Do not panic"
    Have you read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Because I'm unsure whether or not you meant that as a reference.

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