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, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. 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.

Goth 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, the expression of that in Goth rock. It 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 (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, 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. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Budget Subcultural Shopping

An entire Co-Ord for under £50

This was all inspired by the 'Great Brand Replica Debate' that seems to be buzzing across the Lolita subculture. I am quite firmly anti-replica; I don't think it is right for companies to steal the designs of others and then sell them, and buy buying replicas you are supporting that. I am aware of sizing issues with brand Lolita pieces, as I'm a rather tall and busty lady and do not fit a lot of brand pieces, but I think that such things are better solved by say, petitioning the brands, than by buying replicas. Anyway, one of the arguments was that it's very hard to find affordable off-brand Lolita clothes, and for some, even the 'bargain' Lolita shops are quite dear, and that replicas are all they can afford. I've put together a Lolita outfit because a) it is most pertinent to the Great Brand Replica Debate, and b) Lolita as a subcultural fashion has a reputation for being particularly expensive one to get into, but this applies to Goth, Aristocrat, and other subcultural fashions as well as Gothic Lolita.

I'm the kind of person where my per-item clothes budget is £5 or less, and I can still put together a Lolita outfit without any replicas.

Now, as you may know from my blog, my fashion choices are primarily Goth, and I only dabble in Gothic Lolita - don't get me wrong, I like it, but I don't like it exclusively, and I am primarily into Romantic Goth and Aristo fashion. I prefer longer skirts to the bell-shaped skirts, and I think that as I'm getting a bit older, that the Victorian-inspired styles suit me more than the doll-inspired styles. I am not going to say that the outfit I am putting forwards is the epitome of Lolita, but it should have all the elements. 

Not a very demure and Lolita pose, but I wanted to show off those tights.
Note the sideways spread of that skirt - theres actually quite a bit of puff to it.
Photograph by Raven, 'dreamy' style editing by HouseCat.
I have a feminine blouse with detailing, a high neckline and rounded collar, and little puffy sleeves - £2.99 in a charity shop, originally from Tesco. I have ruffled long-socks and patterned tights, the socks were around £5 (I think) in Claire's about 3 years ago, the flocked tights were £3.50 in Primark. I have lace gloves which were £2.50 on eBay and a feathered fan that was, I think £2.99 on sale in Accessorise a few weeks back. I have even managed to find an off-brand bell-shaped ruffly skirt that looks good with a petticoat underneath it! The skirt was £3.50 in a charity shop about... 6 years ago? and was originally from Gracia Fashion. The most expensive item was my petticoat, which isn't even supposed to be a petticoat; it's a very layered, voluminous skirt I bought in Primark, and that was slightly over my usual budget at around £7 in the sales. The oversized cross necklace was about £1.50 in Oxfam. 

My shoes are not Mary Jane shoes because I think Mary Jane shoes, with their rounded toe and often chunkier style make my already large feet look even bigger. I have UK women's size 8 feet (US women's 11) and I think that my pointier toed brogues do something to make my feet look a bit smaller.  They are also a charity shop find, and were £7.99 in Oxfam in Henley-on-Thames about 4 years ago.

To show detailing on blouse, as well as spectacles, cross, glove and fan.
Photograph by Raven, 'dreamy' style editing by HouseCat
Not the most elaborate and layered co-ord, but one with all the elements! The only two things in this co-ord that are outside of this are the wig, and my spectacles.  The wig was £25 at my local independent alternative style shop, but is not really a necessary item - it is perfectly fine to be a Lolita with natural hair, as long as you style it well. I could have styled my natural hair, but daylight was fading and I didn't have time. My glasses are twirly enough for Lolita, but are not a Lolita specific item; they are my glasses and I wear them to see. They were also quite expensive indeed but I consider them an investment.

If you've been keeping track, you'll realise that this is an entire Lolita outfit, except for wig and handbag,  for £36.97 Yes, you often get what you pay for, and this is not the most elaborate outfit, and it does not have the most beautiful lace, it has no prints, and some of the garments probably aren't as hard-wearing as brand Lolita outfits might be, but I think for someone who really is on a tight budget it shows that dressing Lolita is not just for those with a lot of disposable income. The best places to find bargains are eBay and charity shops. Just today a new black frilly blouse arrived for me from an eBay seller - I paid £4.70 including P.&P. 

Bargain hunting requires patience. I go through the charity shops several times a week, and I don't just visit one, I visit every charity shop in town. Most times I will come away with nothing, or perhaps a new candlestick rather than a new item of clothes. I also scour eBay diligently - very rarely do I use 'Lolita' or 'Gothic' as a search keyword, but instead search by size, colour, material, etc. and use keywords like 'lace' or 'frilly' or 'ruffled'. I also do not keep bidding past a pre-determined maximum that varies depending on what I am prepared to spend for a certain item, and I always remember to include the P.&P. when thinking of the total price. 

The photographs for this were taken by Raven in the garden at the bottom of my apartment building, and yes, it is still winter here! I got rather cold posing in the sunset for this! There's sadly not a 'standing up' photo, as the grassy slope was not very practical for posing on in those heels. I sat on a cushion because even in a lined skirt and petticoat, I was getting cold sitting on the ground. 

Makeup Tutorial: Date Night

I figure ivory is a good counterpoint to black... 
This was going to a bit earlier in the month, on Valentine's day, to be precise, but it wasn't ready. This is a makeup tutorial recreating the makeup design I wore to the dinner date with Raven that we had to celebrate three years of us being together, earlier on this month! As I wore a ruffled satin blouse and floor-length skirt, and my curly black wig, I wanted something to break up pillar of black effect, so opted for ivory lace gloves and pearls, and thus consequently, ivory eye-makeup. 

Photographs by SuzyBugs
My hand looks awkward because my thumb nail is actually bandaged.
I didn't get chance to photograph my makeup on the actual night, but decided that it definitely needed a step-by-step so recreated it a bit later. You might notice that it is decidedly similar to my last makeup tutorial, and this would be right, but this is my preferred style - asymmetric with swirls only on one side. Many thanks to SuzyBugs for photographing me (and I'm not even a spider!).

On to the tutorial itself!

Neatly plucked eyebrow and moisturised and primed skin.
As always, it is important to start by preparing your face. First of all, wash your face, then carefully pluck your eyebrows and any extraneous facial hair (I find that this is less uncomfortable after I've washed). Moisturise your skin. Once this is done, apply a good toner. After that, a good primer is essential - go for a very lightly coloured translucent primer. Once the primer has dried, apply concealer. If you don't wait, the concealer is thinned by the primer and does not conceal very well. The three brown moles on my cheek don't conceal very well as they are slightly raised, so I don't bother, personally I think leaving them gives me character as most of the time I am not aiming for a doll-like look. 

I used a very light amount of foundation, thickest over my nose and on my face either side of my nose, where I tend to be the pinkest. I then set the foundation with a porcelain-coloured powder, and a light dusting of matte white on my cheekbones, forehead and nose as a highlight. My nose has a tendency towards pinkness and I work to counteract this.

I use Rimmel Kohl pencil; these are my favourite.
Starting in the middle, under my lower lashes, and working towards the outer corners I drew in my eyeliner with a soft kohl pencil. I used soft kohl because it goes on quite dark and can be blended outwards with a brush for a smokey effect. I did indeed blend it outwards with a brush, and added a light amount of black eye-shadow as a powder to set it afterwards. I did not do anything to my upper eyelids as working in off-whites and white means that I need to add anything black afterwards to avoid the white getting mucky.

White on the waterline makes my eye look larger.
White Waterline
I added white to the lower waterline to help give me the illusion of larger eyes. This is done carefully with a white eye pencil. I also add just a little bit to the inner corner of my eye, where it meets my nose, to help give me the illusion of a slightly narrower nose or slightly further apart eyes (depending on which way you see it), and to contrast nicely with the black eyeliner I applied later.

Cream eyeshadow near the inner corner, white towards the outer.
This is was relatively simple and I only used two colours - a matte creamy off-white and white with a very slight amount of shimmer. Before I got that far, I primed my eyelids, as I wanted a dense colour that would last. You can get special eye-makeup primers, but I use my regular primer with no issues. I used an eye-shadow sponge (the kind with the nice long handle, like a brush) and started with the cream colour, working from the inside corner of my eyelid to the middle, and patting it on rather than sweeping in order to keep it dense, then I used the white eye-shadow from the outer corner inwards to the middle and carefully blended them, trying not make them patchy in the process. I then took a small fluffy brush and added a dusting of the cream eyeshadow out along my brow bone and out to my temples. At this point it is done symmetrically, but once I decide which side the swirls will go on, I add slightly more to that side in order to give a nice contrasting creamy base for the black swirls.

I use a dip eyeliner with a fine brush tip to first of all line my upper lid, then draw narrow 'cat-eye' tails at each outer corner. The eye-lining is decidedly wider towards the outer corner. I draw a very narrow line on my lower lids, coming down slightly as I approach the inner corner in order to add to the illusion of larger eyes. 

Still needs more swirls...
At this point I pick which side will have swirls, add a touch more cream eyeshadow, and draw the swirls on. The brush tip is what allows for the calligraphy-like variation in line thickness and clean swirls. My skin is not as smooth as it once was, and I do sometimes have to go back and touch up any patchy sections. One thing I have to make sure of in the preparation stage is that there are no fine, almost invisible hairs on my temples, because if eye-liner gets on them, they become instantly very visible! Swirls are tricky, but it just takes practice. Doing them with either a gel or liquid eyeliner and brush or a brush-tipped eyeliner makes them so much easier. I tend to go for finer, more intricate swirls, but Adora BatBrat often does good examples of what can be done with bolder strokes. 

I added a couple more swirls in...
Mascara is the last step. As you may have seen in the photos above, I am lucky enough to have fairly long and curly lashes anyway, so do not curl them, but if you want to, you can.

As before, yes, I do have naturally grey eyes, and they are not contact lenses. If you look at all my photographs you will see that I do indeed have grey eyes, but in this set the lighting makes them seem slightly darker than normal. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Love What You Do

❤ The HouseCat is a Happy School-Marm ❤

Here's my mid-month status report for the 'This Is CorpGoth' blog. 

As my longer term readers may know, I work at a primary school. I won't state which one because I like to keep my personal, private, Goth life separate from my work life. I really enjoy my job, it's probably the most rewarding jobs I've done. I also cannot be too specific due to the school's social media policy. 

I'm not a teacher, and my actual roles are quite varied, and I do extra things in a volunteer capacity. I'm hoping to go back to studying, and gain the required qualifications to become a teacher, but that's not possible right now for various reasons, mostly financial ones. I've had a rather different career before, having worked in retail and then getting into retail management, and this was a complete change. After I got made redundant within a month from my previous retail job because the store closed, and having seen so many shops go out of business while I was unemployed, I stopped applying only for more retail jobs, it just didn't seem secure, even applying for big high-street institutions, as several of those have gone under recently. I knew already that I didn't really want a long-term career in retail, and that I only got into that sector via the evening job I had at college, but I was torn between trying to make a living via running a gallery, or via illustration work and going into academia or teaching art, and didn't know which way to turn, but now I have worked with children for nearly a year, I've found that I love it.

The most important thing is knowing that my job contributes something positive to the world. I didn't feel that in retail, but it is really rewarding to know that what I do helps, even in a small way. Education is a very complicated thing, and needs a holistic approach - it's not just about teaching the subjects, but making sure the school environment is conducive to learning, and that the children are in a productive frame of mind, and I know that doing even minor things like wishing pupils "Have a good day at school!" first thing in the morning contributes to that. What I say is not scripted, it's not the forced politeness of working in a customer facing role, where people check to see if you're smiley enough. I don't need anyone to tell me to be smiley at work because I genuinely have a reason to smile.

Low sun on an evening commute in springtime.
I like that I get to spend time outside as part of my job, I also like living just close enough for it to be possible to walk to work in the summer, when it is light enough out for me to be walking that early in the morning. I've seen red kites, herds of deer, rabbits, foxes, hedgehogs, buzzards, and all sorts of other wildlife while walking first thing in the morning - including deer running across the patch of grass behind my local supermarket, which was quite an unexpected spot to see them! I rescued a baby crow on my way back from work last spring! I will probably start walking home from work now that the days are significantly longer, but I start too early to walk in. I get an absolutely amazing view in the morning, and watching the morning light over the mountains is enough to stop me in my tracks temporarily just to watch, sunsets over the other mountains in the evenings are also pretty special, and as I live a long way up a high hill, my reward to myself for walking all that way is to have a cup of tea next to my nice big living-room window and look back over that view. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013



Congratulations to Hester Clyde, your name has been pulled, and you win a pencil drawing of a graveyard. Many thanks to Brian Turner of Alternative X and Julie, his wife, for supervising the draw. Thanks to Raven for photographing it. 

Congratulations Hester Clyde!
That's the food court of Eastgate Shopping Centre, but I promise we aren't Mall-Goths :P

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Prize Draw: Entry now CLOSED

Entry CLOSED at Midnight last night. 

Good luck to all those who entered.