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..

Thursday, 21 November 2013

More Budget Fashion Tips

Recently, The Dark Victorian posted ::this:: article entitled 'Living like a princess on a commoner's budget' that gave some really good advice about dressing Lolita on small budget. I think the advice is applicable for other alternative fashions, too, and the article certainly worth reading. This inspired me to expand on that and write about the same topic - fashion on a budget - but within a Goth context, and expanding a bit on Lolita shopping too.  

Goth Is NOT Your Priority.
Your priority should be eating healthily, paying the rent/mortgage/accommodation costs, making sure your utilities are paid for (especially if you live in a country where it gets very cold in winter or very hot in summer, or both and therefore one where you may need to pay more for things like winter heating or electric cooling in summer),  if you live in a country that doesn't have an equivalent of the NHS, then any healthcare costs are also a priority, and making sure any transport costs, household expenditures and other outgoings (credit cards, loan repayments, etc.) are all taken care of. Goth, in terms of art, music and fashion, is a luxury. That doesn't mean you can't be poor AND wear Goth, because I certainly don't have much of a disposable income, and I am still wearing nice things. Part of that is because  long before I was made redundant, and then got a part time job etc. I had a job with pretty much full time hours and at that point I could afford to put aside savings, and to buy a few nice things which I still have as I have cared for them, and another part of that is that I am really rather thrifty.

Shop Wisely
I agree with the Dark Victorian entirely when she advises against impulse buys. If you see something, and you really want it, don't buy it straight away. I always think on it, and weigh up whether the money would be better spent elsewhere. Often an impulse buy is something we purchase as a "treat" for ourselves, but the happiness doesn't always last - a nice hot beverage after work, a bottle of wine at the weekend, a scented candle, or whatnot is ultimately is a transient consumable. I give in to temptation and get these things once in a while, and most of us do (or variations there upon), but I try and avoid doing so too often because that money could be better invested in something permanent, or make the difference, as the Dark Victorian suggests, between getting something you really want and not. 

Don't buy cheap knock-off fashion. First of all, there is the questionable morality of buying something that is replicating someone's design work without any of the money going to the designer and which has a higher likelihood of being made in a factory with poor worker conditions, and secondly knock-offs are usually made with substandard materials, not enough in terms of seam allowances and hemming, and with substandard fastenings and fixings (bows hot-glued rather than sewn onto shoes and bags and buttons that easily break, for example) and therefore what you saved in buying cheaply is lost again in repairs and replacements. 

Check the quality of all that you buy BEFORE you buy it, and read reviews. This doesn't just apply to clothes. Often offers that are too good to be true are indeed exactly that, and will end up costing more in the long run. 

There's Nothing Wrong With Buying Secondhand
Buying things secondhand is often a more affordable option, especially as shops like Closet Child exist for Lolita fashion, and there are plenty of vintage shops and charity shops about. 

Look out for cool stuff on Freecycle, local recycling groups, free-to-collect adverts etc. Also look out for swap groups. I gave away a selection of ethnic drums at my old local recycling group because they were too heavy to ship for something like eBay and I needed the space more than the money (at the time... Now I would probably sell them in the local paper!).

In terms of Romantic Goth, Aristocrat and Lolita fashion, the cheapest option is to scour charity shops for bargains - there's a local charity shop to me selling everything at £1.99, and I've found some very detailed and beautiful garments there. You are unlikely to find made-for-Goth or made-for-Lolita clothes in them (slightly more likely to find Goth, almost never going to find Lolita) but plenty of clothes from mainstream stores that are 'Goth-able' or 'Loli-able'. A large section of my wardrobe comes from charity shops. My main advice is to try things on in-store, and to try and get a good view of the fabric in natural daylight because many charity shops have poor lighting, or overly bright lighting, and you can't always detect true colour or fading without standing by a window. Check a garment carefully for stains, tears, damage and for quality of manufacture and wear  - a lot of people see charity shops as a way to dump unwanted clothes, and while charity shops do check clothes before putting them on the racks, some are more careful than others. Another important point is to check the same shops regularly as stock often changes rapidly, and visit a good variety of charity shops. Perseverance is often rewarded with finding bargains. 

The second cheapest option is second-hand on eBay. I tend to avoid new clothes on eBay unless they are from a shop that I know and trust as a lot of new clothes are cheaply made stuff from China and other countries where labour laws are laxer than here and where knock-offs are abundant, and I'd rather not put money towards sweatshops and knock-offs. There is a broad selection of secondhand Goth clothes and other unusual fashions. The important things with eBay are to look at the seller's reviews and rating, and to make sure you get as much information about what you are buying as you can. It doesn't hurt to ask questions, especially about colour (as cameras and monitors can distort that quite easily) and about sizing and fit. Some sellers only give very brief descriptions, others give quite detailed ones, but read all of it carefully. Do not forget to add the shipping fee to the cost - a £3 top with £4 shipping is a £7 top, etc. 

With Lolita, online second-hand shops like Closet Child are really useful, but be wary of shipping fees, especially if you are buying heavier items (brocades, velvets, leather, shoes, bags, etc.). There is also the EGL Community Sales, where Lolitas sell between each other. The EGL Comm Sales can be a bit more expensive than places like Closet Child, as sellers are keen to get the best price they can, often to finance a new brand dress or suchlike. Some items are more expensive than others of similar quality based on print popularity and rareity, item desirability, brand etc. - this is easier to navigate as you get more familiar with Lolita fashion (for example, you will virtually never get cheap Alice Auaa second-hand, not even at Closet Child). 

If You Buy New, Buy Carefully
New clothes in Goth seem to often be the same few brands sold through various outlets for the most part - it's worthwhile shopping around for the best deal as they don't all offer the same price, same shipping fees, etc. There are boutique shops, for example Gloomth And The Cult of Melancholy (Canada), Gallery Serpentine (Australia), and Retroscope Fashions (America) where clothes are designed in-house and as they are often bespoke and small-run items, a lot more expensive. These are the kinds of thing worth saving up for, because once bought they are both gorgeous and lasting if treated well.  For those on a smaller budget, there are often Goth-friendly designs in mainstream stores, especially as Goth has become hipster-trendy recently, and a lot of these mainstream stores are pretty cheap compared to Goth-specific brands. That said, I've seen lots of beautiful dresses for the Christmas season in shop windows of high-street stores selling for well over £100 that are certainly Goth-friendly, but also not really budget shopping! 

New clothes in Lolita come from three main sources - Entry-level shops such as Bodyline and Fan + Friend (both of which have a less than perfect history, but have improved in recent years with more original designs and better quality items. For more in-depth discussions of both shops, do a bit of research in the Lolita community.), indie designers like Krad Lanrete (who have become popular with prints like Mozarabic Chant, and the famous jellyfish of Lost at Sea, and are a Chinese brand on Taobao) and Rouge Aerie (an Australian brand who tend to do colourful prints with a slightly Gothic theme such as sea-monsters, and a skeletal take on the popular carousel horses idea), and then the main brands such as Angelic Pretty, Innocent World, Victorian Maiden and Moi-Même-Moitié which are based in Japan and quite expensive. Personally, I would rather buy secondhand rather than from Bodyline or Fan + Friend, because the quality of brand items, including many indie brands, is much higher, and these can be found quite reasonably secondhand if searched for, sometimes for prices similar to new Bodyline clothes. 

Some new Lolitas get worried about buying "off brand" - things that aren't from J-Fashion brands, but this really isn't a problem and if it looks good, it won't get you a negative reaction from the community. All my bell skirts with pouf (and a petticoat or three beneath them) were never intend for the Lolita market, and nobody has ever tutted me for it.  

Make Things and Mend Things
Learn to sew your own clothes - this costs in time, but it does mean you can have nice clothes for the cost of materials and a pattern, or if you learn to draft your own patterns, then just the cost of the materials, and even materials can be thrifted - especially from things like bedding and larger size dresses handed into charity shops, even from disassembled curtains! Also, the sewing skills for making your own clothes are applicable as the skills for mending existing clothes, meaning that you can repair things instead of replace them, and often repairing is the cheaper option. I wrote an article back in July about the benefits of gaining sewing skills, which is ::here::, that I would recommend reading. Also, learn how to transform broken or worn out items into something new and different, so they can have a second lease of life, for example turning old knee-socks into arm warmers by cutting the feet off when the feet wear out, or turning old jeans into a denim bag. Scavenging materials and finding from old clothes is not just thrifty, it is recycling. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thank-you, and thank-you for getting me thinking, too :)

  2. Excellent hints and tips, some really good advise, and can someone teach me how to sew... I love the article.

    1. I'm sure there'll be a sewing class around here somewhere - ask at the college or UHI


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