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. 


  1. It just goes to show you don't have to spend a fortune to get the look you want providing your prepared to be patient and hunt around, Charity shops are always a very viable option whatever your age, and usually stock high quality items at a price people can afford. Nice job on the photo's the both of you.

    1. Quality really depends on the charity shop, but they're really worth hunting around in, in general.

  2. The issue I seem to run into with girls buying replicas is that they want to wear brand SO BADLY they'll do anything to at least look like they are.

    Seems to be a bigger thing among those Lolitas who covet prints. Me, I don't really like most Lolita prints and I don't wear Sweet Lolita at all, so I can't even really get into the debate.

    That outfit is the way!

    1. I don't really covet prints - some designs, but not in general, and I accept that I'll just never fit Moi-meme-Moitie dresses, for example, where I do covet a print I can't have. If I was super rich I'd buy two of something and have them merged by a good seamstress/tailor, but that's ridiculous money!


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