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, 6 February 2016

Getting Older & Not Really Changing

One thing I like about Romantic Goth fashion is that is not age-specific. I have seen it on every kind of person from little girls to older men, and it looks good on pretty much anyone, regardless of age, sex and gender, size or skin colour. Mainstream fashion seems, especially these days, to have a focus on sexually show-casing the body underneath the clothes, especially for women, and Romantic Goth fashion can be like that, but only if you choose it to be, and a lot of the time the focus is more on the clothes themselves than the body wearing them - there's too much detail, too many lush fabrics, textures, details and extravagance that steal the show. As such, my fashion sense doesn't really need to change as I get older... 

But this does not mean that my fashion sense has not changed... As a teenager this was mostly due to experimentation with different styles, but after that I think it had more to do with budget than taste. I always loved the Romantic styles of Goth, but that sort of thing either costs a lot new, or takes a lot of time and effort to track down secondhand and more budget-friendly prices. While I was still building a fancier wardrobe, I still wanted to express my being part of the Gothic subculture, so I chose more modern, plainer and casual-looking expressions of that style. 

Photo by Chance Photography

This picture is from 2010, taken at Wallingford Castle, in Oxfordshire. As you can see, I'm still clearly on the darker side of Alternative, but I'm not wearing anything particularly extravagant. It's not that I didn't have Romantic Goth clothes at that time - I did - I just didn't have enough to wear it daily, and a lot of the time I reserved it for clubbing because I was scared to damage or ruin my nicer things through everyday use. 

Photo by my sister

This is another picture, from 2008, that my sister took, again of me in Wallingford, and in it I am wearing a rather elaborate top by Raven and fancy lace tights. I was probably wearing buckle boots and a lacy short skirt; I can't really remember. I think my sister and I were going out for dinner that evening, so I had made the effort. Nowadays, that sort of outfit is pretty everyday for me, but probably with a longer skirt as it's noticeably cooler even in summer in Scotland, plus I am more comfortable covered up. 

Now I have a wardrobe that I have spent years accumulating, and which I am relatively happy with, I am not planning on changing my style much as I get older. A more sedentary life as a student has resulted in my putting on a bit of weight, but I am trying to make the effort to eat better (I don't have as much time to cook healthy meals as I did) and to exercise more; e.g getting off the bus a stop earlier so I have further to walk. This is partly out of concern for my health, but also because I could not afford to have to buy a whole new collection of Goth clothes in bigger sizes; it's taken me 10 years and a LOT of thrift shopping to accumulate what I have, and it would take me another 10 years to do that again! I can't rebuild that wardrobe in a short space of time; I just couldn't afford it, especially as my studies are so intensive that I don't have time to have a part-time job and keep up with my university work. 

Now I am a student, people often now assume that I am a lot younger than I am (by 10 years!) simply because I am a Goth AND a student; Goth is for teenagers, university is for people just leaving secondary school, and thus also teenagers, therefore I must be about 17 to 19 years old. This frustrates me, especially as I know that even with all the make-up I wear I do not physically look that young! I have crow's feet by my eyes, and laughter lines, and my skin is not as soft and clear as it once was. For some people Goth might be a teenage phase, as they explore different facets to their identity, in the same way Steampunk was a phase for me, but for many Goth is a lifelong subcultural affiliation. 

I am also getting to the age where people who know how old I really am are saying that I should have grown out of it by now - by which they usually mean grown out of wearing the fashion, as there's usually no objection to grown adults still listening to the music they enjoyed as teens, or reading horror novels or being interested in the spookier side of history or any of the other 'Goth' things about me. Apparently, I am supposed to have calmed down, with my wild years behind me, and matured into being a normal adult, with the implication that Goth is immature; that is to me, a sentiment based in ignorance.  

Firstly, most Goths I know aren't living wild party lifestyles; that tends to be preserve of young adults who seem pretty mainstream; it's usually 18-25 year olds who don't look particularly alternative that I see getting completely inebriated to the point of being paralytic and doing wild and ridiculous acts in city centres late at night - not Goths! That's not to say that Goths don't ever get drunk or do stupid things, or even take drugs, just that it's not really a feature of the subculture itself; people are diverse and you get tea-total Goths, and Goths who binge-drink. 

Goth is something that in its full manifestation stares unblinkingly at the darker side of life in ways that in some instances are really for adults only. I would actually say that if our subculture got ratings the same way as films or computer games, there'd be sections of it rated 15 at least, and plenty for over 18s only (I know that the movie rating system works differently in other countries). It is not about teenage angst, or trying to seem rebellious in the eyes of authority figures ('trying to scare your parents'); it is about finding the beauty in the darkness, and while there are child-friendly manifestations of that (Tim Burton's films like 'Nightmare Before Christmas', 'Frankenweenie' and 'The Corpse Bride'), there are also aspects that are very much for adults (the overlap with fetish culture, for example) and as so much of it is centred around clubbing and gigs, that is going to mean that active participation is going to be related to the local legal drinking age. This doesn't mean that children and teenagers shouldn't have a place in the subculture - they should, but an age-appropriate one. 

Sometimes there is career pressure to look more mundane. I know this is going to happen to me again as architecture is a very traditionally professional field, and not everyone is famous or applauded enough to get away with being as Goth at work as the wonderful ::Odile Decq:: (one of my favourite architects; I wrote about her for one of my assignments on contemporary architecture last semester). I know that, after I finish my studies, I will probably have to dye my hair a more natural colour (I plan on having it ginger or auburn... this has happened before, and I liked it!) and I know I will have to wear professional attire; something I already know how to style in ways that still express myself without seeming overly Gothic from my time working at a school. Architecture is a more creative field, so a bit of eccentricity is to be expected, which means I may have a little more leniency than if I were, say, a lawyer or an accountant. 


13 comments:

  1. Totally agree, Romantic Goth looks good on EVERYONE. Nobody should have to 'grow out of it'

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    1. I've seen Romantic Goths in their 50s, and young girls dressed as evil queens rather than sweet princesses (especially those dressed fancy for accompanying their parents to festivals!). It's a great style for all ages and body-types.

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  2. Well, I'm still wearing Romantic Goth dresses and I'm 47. So it definitely is something that never goes out of style. And it is age appropriate for older goths. I wear dresses that I've had for 20 years still. And not to mention all the accessories like hats and gloves. It takes a lot of time and patience to build a suitable wardrobe but once you do it is timeless.

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    1. I think the oldest things I still own are 12 years old, but I've grown curvier since I was a teenager and therefore a lot of my Goth clothes from back then don't fit any more. If I can keep my size and weight stable, I hope to keep my favourite pieces for many years more.

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  3. I think romantic goth fashion suits everybody, because it's deeply rooted in historical fashions, when old people wore the same things as young adults, and childrens' clothes were just miniatures of their parents' clothing, maybe just stlightly shorter. And as gothic fashion relies mostly on black, then this is where Victorian mourning fashion comes in - women were expected to mourn for years, and sometimes for their whole lives. So it's only a natural thing that romantic goth is timeless - because it stems from an era when fashion was uniform for all people (more or less, I'm not taking lower classes into account).

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    1. That is a very good point I hadn't thought of before!

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  4. I loved reading this, and I definitely recognize parts of it. Luckily I don't get the 'grow out of it' comment all too often but that's mainly because I have to adapt my style to my work. I currently work in retail and I do notice it makes me feel less confident to look more 'normal', especially when I see beautifully dressed and made up people in the store. I hope to someday find a job where I can dye my hair unnatural colours and wear more alternative clothing without getting judged for it.

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    1. Good luck in your search for more accepting employment. Perhaps you could work in or set up a Goth shop?

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  5. I am 32 and I am a teacher. Because I am a Goth, pupils (and sometimes even parents) take me for another pupil!!! Then they have a hard time to believe that I am the TEACHER and that I almost could be their mother!!! LOL!!!
    Hugs from France, Mirjam.

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    1. I used to work at a school, but it was a primary school, so there was no chance of me being mistaken for a pupil!

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  6. I identify as a Romantic Goth and thoroughly enjoy that style on others. As you pointed out though, we often have to make do with attire that fits our budget. That's certainly the case with me. What's strange about my style is that although I strive for a Romantic look, I'm probably a cross between that and metal, which seems to be my casual self. Still, it's affordability and I'm always on the lookout for something I can use--even if it's mainly for special occasions.

    I'm considerably older than you, HouseCat, so, there's no mistaking me for a teenager. What I do find though, is that older people actually respect me for staying true to myself. Some have even expressed that they wish they could do the same, although not necessarily in a goth sense. Sometimes they like to tease me about being a "vampire," which I'm definitely not. But it's all in good fun and they actually seem to enjoy having a grown-up goth in their midst. Who would ever believe it?

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  7. Fantastic post! Romantic Goth definitely is more expensive! Sewing and finding cheap lacy things to layer nicely are my style secrets. I always cheer when people say you don' t grow out of Goth. Goth's positive and humorous attitude to the dark side helps me in life.

    I love the tights! I often wish I lived somewhere less hot, i would wear lacy tights so often! You usually don' t even need them in Australian winter!

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    1. In the Scottish Highlands I have to layer up all year 'round. Today was tights, long skirt and velvet jacket weather - and a raincoat - and it is the height of summer!

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