Stereotype Technology – For Your Window Shopping Needs – November 19, 2018

18 November 2018

That’s right, Snarklings, it’s time for another collection of window shopping! Makeup! Candles! Post-apocalyptic accessories! Because as the Lady of the Manners has written before, she is trying to find things that appeal to a wide range of gothy tastes and aren’t just “Her aesthetic, let her show you”.

However, speaking of the Lady of the Manners’ aesthetic, how about some gorgeously shimmery, deeply-pigmented cosmetic pigments?

 

Or glitter? Yes, the Lady of the Manners knows that once glitter enters your cosmetic routine, it never goes away. She’s fine with that. If you feel the same way, then you need to know about Bulk Glitters! Cosmetic-grade glitter in a variety of colors and effects, with ¾ OZ. JARS FOR UNDER $6. (Yes, that deserved all-caps.)

 

For those of you who wear makeup and need/want magnetic palettes, Book of Shadows makes ones covered in fancy paper! And while the Lady of the Manners knows exactly where those goth paper designs are from (she bought the same papers during THREAT LEVEL: PUMPKIN 2018), these palettes are beautifully constructed and not merely pre-made ones with fancy paper glued on.

 

For one of the “Not my aesthetic, but impressive!” selections, SceneSick Custom Apparel offers wildly elaborate garments for all of your dark sorcerer and/or wasteland marauder needs.

 

For the more cybergoth or industrial -inclined among you, Michelle Uberreste does interesting things with stretchy fabrics, vegan leather, rubber, and mesh.

 

How about some leather bat wings to add to your boots or corset? There are imitations all over the place, but the original — and best! — Bootwings come from Tormented Artifacts.

 

Do you like lapel pins? Do you like fearsome crones from folklore? Then you probably want the Baba Yaga pin from MoonBratStudio.

 

The Lady of the Manners has been assured by people she trusts that the Happy Haunts candle from Main Street Melts really does smell like her spiritual home, the Haunted Mansion.

 

The Lady of the Manners tries not to feature something by Kambriel in every installment of Stereotype Technology, really she does. But look at this neck ruff/choker made with antique lace!

 

Finally, a garment that the Lady of the Manners owns multiples of, in black and in burgundy. She has no idea if Dangerous FX has commissioned these from someplace once Chic Star discontinued the design or if they found a hidden cache in a warehouse, and it doesn’t matter. The perfect riding coat -style skirted waistcoat! In addition to being versatile and amazing, IT HAS POCKETS.

Are there particular things you’d like the Lady of the Manners to seek out during her nocturnal window shopping jaunts? A goth style you’d like to see a collection of links for? Leave a comment!

The Never-Ending Goth Debate

7 November 2018

It is time, Snarklings, for the Lady of the Manners to delve back into a topic that is resurrected wherever goths gather. Well, perhaps “resurrected” is the wrong term, because the Lady of the Manners is very aware that this topic has never died. Ever. This fight discussion probably lurched forward at the very instant the subculture coalesced out of the shadows: what is goth?

:: a momentary pause while the Lady of the Manners hides her face in her hands and takes a deep breath ::

This post is prompted by the never-ending discussion that has bubbled up again across almost all of the social media places the Lady of the Manners frequents, and is also creeping across the places she doesn’t. So, it’s time for the Airing of Opinions and Holding Forth, with a side of research. To start, here’s how someone on Tumblr asked about this whole thing:

Sorry if this has been asked already but I see a lot of people […] gatekeeping and saying that goth is and only ever was a style of music but… Is it not, specifically, what the music was *about*? Like not just the sound it has but also the feelings and stories behind the lyrics? To me it’s like saying the enlightenment era was just a style of art and not the thoughts it was trying to provoke. ¯\_(ツ)_/ ¯

In the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, goth is, and always was, about more than a style of music. The “gothic” label was originally applied by the music press to the formative bands because despite a having a range of different musical styles, those bands were exploring the ideas, stories, and art that were historically considered gothic.

Then the Lady of the Manners dug out a stack of her reference books about the subculture. Here, have some quotes! (But if you’re interested in the history and antecedents of goth, all of these books are good ones.)

From GOTH Undead Subculture, edited by Lauren M.E. Goodlad and Michael Bibby:

“A discordant bricolage of hyperromantic elements, goth drew inspiration from its glam, punk, and new wave subcultural antecedents. But it also culled freely from Gothic literary-historical traditions; from vampire cults, horror flicks, and B-movie camp […] and from a historical canon of the gothic avant-garde. […] it is worth noting that the goth tendency to embrace gothic literature and art has made the subculture more dialectically engaged with the past than is typical of most “youth” cultures, providing yet another source of exceptional vitality.”

From The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock by Dave Thompson, about the dawning of the gothic music scene:

“[…] an examination of what transpired when one specific tentacle of the post-Punk British rock octopus stopped flailing around in the wastes above its head and burrowed instead into its blackest cave, there to contemplate … whatever.

Some of its thoughts were indeed of a distinctly Gothic bent. Mrs. Radcliffe, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Alice Cooper and Sir Francis Dashwood, Gothic archetypes one and all, each plays their part in the pantomime.”

And finally, from the man who was there at the start of it all, the man who is the historian of the subculture, Mick Mercer, in his Gothic Rock Black Book:

“Goth onstage cries, howls, and growls. Goth offstage goes quietly insane and wraps itself in drunken worship, pagan worship, and the loins of psychologically damaged French philosophers.”

But the key statement from Mr. Mercer’s excellent book is this:

“It takes a lot of explaining, but very little understanding, to see that Goth is an invisible substance at the heart of empathic but essentially differing forms of music — Goth in reality being its audience —”

The Lady of the Manners has seen a lot of comments that essentially state that music is the only marker for being a goth. If you’re interested in other dark artforms, fashion, history, and so on, you are gothIC, but not a goth. These sorts of statements make the Lady of the Manners pause in her rereading of Dracula and dismissively wave a black lace handkerchief. There is no One True Goth Sound, there never has been (except for a possible fondness for minor keys, and even that’s not a constant). The common black silk thread between the Original Goth Bands is that they all drew lyrical influences from fiction, art, and ideas around the romantic allure of the dark, morbid, and horrific. For that matter, none of those Original Goth Bands were (or are) comfortable with being called goth or gothic. The perennial joke about the sure way to identify a goth band is if they say they’re not goth has survived this long for a reason, Snarklings.

In addition, one of the markers of the scene since the beginning was a dark, morbid, and romantic aesthetic and fashion. That was how goths recognized each other! Back In The Day it was expected that if you were a goth, you dressed in a gothic style. If someone went to a show or a club and wasn’t recognizably dressed goth, they were regarded with disdain. (The Lady of the Manners is fervently glad that this attitude has been slowly dwindling over the years.)

Gatekeeping has not kept goth alive or undead, because telling people they’re not whatever enough to be part of a community dooms that community to being a fossil trapped in amber, a historical relic. (With whatever being the aspect that the person doing the gatekeeping is most invested in. In the Lady of the Manners’ experience, gatekeepers are usually divided into two types: Music Is Everything or You Have To Dress The Part.)

People who seek shelter under the inky umbrella of goth have to start somewhere, and NO ONE comes to this subculture knowing everything about it. Yes, people should learn about the outline of goth, and no, not everything can or should be defined as goth. But those outlines are not a rigid template, and expecting people to rattle off a list of all the bands on the original Gothic Rock and Gothic Rock 2 CDs is more than a little ridiculous.

Finally: the song that is widely recognized as codifying the goth subculture, the song that is the musical touchstone, is about an actor in a stylized B&W movie that is an adaptation of one of the classics of gothic literature. The Lady of the Manners is talking, of course, about “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.

And now in the hopes of interesting discussion, the comments are open! The Lady of the Manners is going to keep an even closer eye on them than usual, as this is a topic that can bring out less-than-civil conversationalists, but she is very interested in seeing what sort of discussion happens. Feel free to disagree with the Lady of the Manners or other posters, but keep it polite.

Stereotype Technology: Romantigoth!

21 October 2018

Snarklings across various social media sites have requested Stereotype Technology posts that focus on specific substyles of goth fashion, with helpful hints for searching out the corresponding wardrobe pieces. Never one to shy from window shopping for goth clothing, the Lady of the Manners decided to start with the style she favored back in the 90s: Romantigoth!

Romantigoth is different from vampire goth fashion or Victorian goth fashion; it’s a subtle distinction, but it’s there. All three styles would be good for midnight picnics or visiting the Addams Family, but the Victorian side is more prim and funereal, while vampire goth has an undercurrent of “Yes, I have a fabulous velvet-lined coffin hiding in the depths of my ancestral castle”.

THE style icon for the feminine side of romantigoth fashion is, of course, Stevie Nicks. Flowing skirts and blouses worn with long vests, frock coats, or dusters, all in lace, chiffon, and velvet are the things to look for. Search keywords that are particularly helpful are:

  • Tiered or broomstick skirt.
  • Boho, peasant, or g*p*y. (The Lady of the Manners hates that a racial slur is still used to describe garments that are supposed to evoke a romantic, “free-spirited” style, but it doesn’t look like the term is going away. The Lady of the Manners completely understands and is supportive if you don’t want to use that search keyword.)
  • Pirate, because a lot of sellers think a ruffled blouse or full skirt are costume pieces.
  • Poet.
  • And of course, “Stevie Nicks”. :: grin ::

Almost all of the items shown in this post are vintage, and the listings may not still be active. But even if someone else has beaten you to the item in question, they’ll still give you an idea of the sorts of goodies you’re looking for.

Black and silver tiered skirt.

Tiered velvet and floral skirt.

25 yard cotton skirt, for your extreme flouncing needs!

Ivory ruffle blouse.

Black sheer ruffled blouse.

The Lady of the Manners has this exact black chiffon poet blouse hanging in her closet.

Black velvet and brocade vest.

Rayon “duster” vest — with pockets!

DKNY long velvet vest

Velvet granny boots. Because we didn’t care that we were probably going to ruin them by scurrying through the graveyard in the middle of the night, they were velvet granny boots.

On the more masculine side of the gender spectrum, the hard fact of goth fashion still holds true for romantigoth: there’s just not a lot of variety, and it’s very annoying. In fact, the main difference between masculine romantigoth and … almost any other masculine goth styles is that romantigoth isn’t as buttoned up. Literally. High collars, cravats, jabots, and ties are not common sights in romantigoth.

ETERNAL men’s poet shirt. Yes, romantigoths of every gender wore ruffled, flowing shirts. As you can imagine, this led to some confusion amongst roommates during laundry day.

Banded collar dress shirt. The usual goth boy (boi, man, or masculine -type creature) wardrobe included three of these: one black, one white, and one in whatever their preferred jewel tone was.

Velvet pants. The Lady of the Manners is still a little agog that velvet pants from Hot Topic can honestly be labeled as “vintage”, but the Lady of the Manners also still occasionally feels that the 90s are only 10 years in the past.

Time to raid the formalwear section! Vests, frock coats, and tail coats, oh my!

Velvet vest. A romantigoth with aspirations to dandyism would have three or four in different colors. How fancy!

Frock coat. If you’re very lucky, you can find these at thrift stores.

Tail coat. These are harder to find at thrift stores, but they have been known to turn up!

Dr. Martens boots were a staple.

If you wanted to talk super, super fancy, every romantigoth (no matter their gender) desperately wanted to get their hands on an antique wool Knights of Columbus/Knights of the Templar/Masonic coat. The Lady of the Manners knows of at least one couple who had a reasonably amicable break-up until it came time to decide who owned the coat. (And the Bela Lugosi’s Dead glow-in-the-dark picture disc.)

And finally, the accessory everyone had, and yes, the Lady of the Manners still collects them: the silver ankh necklace.

Are there key romantigoth wardrobe items the Lady of the Manners forgot? Do you have photos of your outfits that you want to share? The comments are open!”

You Don’t Have to Be Neurotypical

1 October 2018

As the Lady of the Manners has mentioned before, she is frequently humbled by some of the heartfelt, heartsore letters that Snarklings have written to Gothic Charm School. And the Lady of the Manners often worries that she isn’t really able to help; she’s a well-meaning Internet Auntie, not a professional. But even with those concerns, she IS determined to help as much as she’s able, because that’s what everyone should do. Sometimes the help is focused on music, clothing, and books, and sometimes it’s focused on reassuring people that they are a goth. And sometimes, it’s a little bit of both.

Dear Lady of the Manners,

I’m twenty-seven (turning twenty-eight in October) with Autism and have wanted to become Goth ever since 2009 but so many things have stopped me. Back then I didn’t know about the Internet due to being in a Christian school since third grade so I didn’t know I could search things until 2010. Back in 2011 I made a friend who was Goth and asked for her advice but she told me that because of my Autism, I was to naive and childish to be one. Later on I learned about different Gothic subcultures and got interested in Baby Doll and Victorian Goth. When I told her about the ones I was interested in, she told me I was to tall and chubby. Since 2014, I decided that I would become Gothic but I don’t have a job and my little sister and mom care for me. I’ve been trying to get a job since 2009 so I could help but the only job available in town has been ignoring my application. My sister buys things for me but I never let her know about the expensive things I want. Please forgive me for the long introduction, my question is do I have to be skinny and shorter to be a Baby Doll Goth or Victorian? Also do you know any cheap online stores that sell those types of Goth clothes? My mom says that Autism doesn’t affect who I want to be but does it?

Have a blessed day,
L.

Right off the bat (that has possibly left the bell tower, but possibly hasn’t), your mom is correct: autism absolutely does not affect who you want to be. Whether someone is neurotypical or atypical has no bearing on if they “can” be goth. Do you have an appreciation for the wide range of fascinations and beauty that can be found in shadowy subjects? Congratulations, you are a goth. As always, the Lady of the Manners suggests doing some exploring and research to learn more about the subculture – the music, the aesthetic, the history – but don’t feel that you aren’t a goth unless you’re able to pass some sort of test. For one thing, there isn’t a goth test (or goth points, or an Eldergoth Cabal), and for another, your autism wouldn’t have any impact on those (ridiculous) things if they did exist.

As to your “friend” (those are quotes of intense disbelief and scorn, in case it wasn’t clear) who said you were too naive, childish, tall, and chubby to be a goth, the Lady of the Manners has some choice words: They. Were. Wrong. Deeply wrong. There are no physical requirements to be a goth; height, weight, and skin color are all irrelevant. So are age, gender, sexuality, beliefs, or temperament. Goth is a collection of interests, not checkmarks. Your “friend” saying these things to you when you expressed your interests shows them to be misguided at best, and a bullying gatekeeper at worst. Gatekeepers in our community are terribly easy to spot, as they’re the ones who try to enforce rules about who can and can’t be goth. Have an understanding about the “outline” of the subculture and how dark, fantastical ideas stretched shadowy fingers to shape a type of music and fashion, but if someone tries to tell you there are Rules of Goth, ask them who defined those rules and how do they suggest you learn what those rules are. Or laugh at them. Or both.

(That’s the thing that annoys the Lady of the Manners the most about gatekeepers: they’re very quick to proclaim that someone isn’t a Real Goth, but never offer any insight or information. The Lady of the Manners isn’t saying they need to make a presentation or teach a class, but if someone is so caught up in dictating what is and isn’t goth, they should at least be able to provide an example or two of what they do think is goth.)

Finally, the Lady of the Manners has a few suggestions for finding the goth styles you are interested in:

  • If you are looking for Victorian-flavored clothes, also look for steampunk. There’s a fair amount of crossover between the style families, and things may not always be labeled as goth.
  • If you search “Baby Doll”, you will probably run into sites and clothing that is aimed at fetishests. Which is fine! But if you’re looking for clothing that is more along the lines of “fancy doll in a modest frilly dress” instead of “short ruffled dresses that are infantilizing and probably show off your underwear”, then the terms “gothic lolita” or “elegant gothic lolita” will probably be more helpful. (The gothic lolita style has nothing to do with the book Lolita.) The site Lolibrary.org is a good source to see examples of the various styles that make up those terms.

As to some cheap online stores that sell those types of goth fashion:

  • Chic Star has a good selection of blouses, skirts, jackets, and dresses that can be adapted to the Baby Doll or Victorian style.
  • Amazon. Yes, really! There is a dizzying array of goth fashion on Amazon; the Lady of the Manners searched using the keywords “gothic Victorian” in the women’s fashion category, and made herself stop browsing after three hours, even though she was nowhere near the end of the results. Most of the clothes toward the inexpensive end of prices will almost certainly be made in China, and may run as much as two sizes smaller than you’d expect, so keep that in mind if you order anything. But the Lady of the Manners will also say that she’s purchased some very nice Victorian-style blouses, skirts, and full-skirted jackets from Amazon for not a lot of money, so it’s worth a shot! Just be sure to read the reviews of the item, and pay close attention to any that mention the size range.
  • Mainstream mall or “big-box” stores, such as Target, Forever 21, Torrid, and so on. Mainstream trends always borrow from goth fashion in one way or another, and you can frequently find Victorian or doll-like clothes, especially during autumn and winter. Also, those sorts of stores always have sales or special promotions, and offer discounts if you (or your mom or sister) sign up for their mailing lists.

The Lady of the Manners is very, very glad you decided to write to Gothic Charm School, and hopes that you are able to explore goth to your spooky heart’s content.

Do any of you have words of encouragement for L? Suggestions for fashion sources or how to deal with gatekeepers? Please comment!

(Comments are, as always, moderated. But the Lady of the Manners loves reading the comments, so please do!)

Stereotype Technology – For Your Window Shopping Needs – September 10, 2018

9 September 2018

It turns out the Lady of the Manners has far more self-control than she ever suspected, Snarklings! While wandering about collecting links of Stereotype Technology, she only indulged in two purchases! Both of which were items she actually needed, not just coveted to a ridiculous degree.

But first, a review of an item from the previous Stereotype Technology post! The Lady of the Manners did indeed buy a bottle of GOTH CLUB 89 from Whisper Sisters, and is delighted to report that the description is not hyperbole:

If you were there, you know the smell. Heavy resins, candle smoke, nicotine, clove, incense, absinthe, with a hint of intoxicating florals and vintage dark patchouli to balance everything out.

This perfume smells like a nostalgic dream of every goth club the Lady of the Manners has ever been in, with none of the unsavory and disgusting additional scents that were part of the reality of any nightclub anywhere. This perfume is perfect, and the only reason the Lady of the Manners hasn’t scented everything with it is out of respect for people who have perfume-triggered migraines.

Now, onward to the current round-up of clicky-links!

All images contained in this post are property of their respective owners.

Violent Delights eye shadow from ili

As some of you may know, the Lady of the Manners is on a never-ending search for the perfect burgundy blood wine eye shadow. Not coppery, not too purple, and absolutely not brown. This color from ili is the closest she’s found, and it’s very nice.

However, it looks like ili’s shop is currently taking a break, woe! You’ll probably want to sign up for a notification of when they return, because their products are lovely.

Lunar Tides hair color in Cranbaby

The Lady of the Manners is also on a never-ending hunt for semi-permanent, deeply pigmented burgundy blood wine hair color. Lunar Tides is an indie hair color company, and their “Cranbaby” color may just be what she’s been looking for.

Madame Talbot Dracula’s Greeting poster

Your walls need art quoting Dracula. Trust the Lady of the Manners about this.

Hanging bat embroidery from Lalunaoddities

Speaking of things to hang on your walls, what about a piece of embroidered art with a real bat?

Mesh blouse bell sleeves from PaperCatsPL

To point out the obvious, the Lady of the Manners is terribly fond of any garment that has huge mesh bell sleeves. She doesn’t care how impractical they are!

Mistress Frankenstein dress from HouseOfGoth

The Lady of the Manners is going to make an effort to provide a wide range of Stereotype Technology links, not just items that cater to her personal aesthetic. While this dress isn’t something she’d wear, it is adorable.

Mesh Sorceress Dress

Yes, this is a Halloween costume. Yes, the dress is probably awful. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t care, because she’s been coveting the mesh cape from this costume for years.

Haute Macabre “It wasn’t just a phase” candle

Haute Macabre, one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite spooky sites, has teamed up with Three Ravens Company to create a candle to declare your allegiance to our dark subculture, with notes of parchment, leather, vetiver, and frankincense.

For the next installment of Stereotype Technology: links to help you assemble a vintage Romantigoth outfit! As always, if there are items you’d like the Lady of the Manners to try and search out, please leave a comment!

An Interview with Tara Johnson-Medinger, Producer/Director of My Summer as a Goth

27 August 2018

As some of you may know, in 2011 the Lady of the Manners was asked to be the official goth consultant on Brandon Lee Roberts and Tara Johnson-Medinger’s Kickstarter-funded independent teen movie, My Summer as a Goth.

Time scampered on, and now, after trials and assorted chaos, the movie is in the final post-production stages! Behold, the trailer!

Having seen the “cast and crew” preliminary edit of the movie, the Lady of the Manners is delighted to tell you that it’s just as charming, sweet, and snarky as she originally hoped.

She’s also delighted to have been able to interview the producer/director, Tara Johnson-Medinger!

What are the next steps for the movie?

We are currently finishing up final sound design, sound mix and clearance for the film. We will be ready to go for our film festival premiere this October! We are running a fundraising campaign to complete the final costs needed. SO many people have donated time and services to this project, but there are simply some hard costs that we are running up against to complete the film. I AM SO EXCITED to be at this point with the project, to finally deliver it to all the people that have supported us along the way!

We plan to have a healthy film festival run and are in preliminary talks regarding online digital distribution — think platforms like Netflix, Hulu, etc. I think that the film will be widely available on a digital platform within the next year. We will be keeping everyone updated on festival screenings, www.mysummerasagoth.com, as well on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

What is the “elevator pitch” you used for My Summer as a Goth? As you took the project to different levels, how did it change?

My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age comedy about the sometimes painful, often entertaining, search for identity and love in adolescence.
After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old, Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents while her author mother promotes her latest novel. Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his merry band of misfits in black.
Set in present-day Portland, My Summer as a Goth navigates Joey’s relationships with her new friends, her family and herself, and will resonate with anyone who survived the social alienation of adolescence—and that first summer heartbreak.

As most of you know, it has taken almost 10 years to get this film from script to screen. Let’s just say that we have been down many paths in terms of financing, who was going to direct, and where we were going to film. What it came down to was that in order to keep our original vision intact, we needed to make it ourselves on a shoestring indie budget. Ultimately, I moved into the director’s chair and took the film to completion. It has been hella hard at times, but completely gratifying to finally get to this point – with the story we wanted to tell.

The thing that kept me going through all of this was the commitment of the cast, crew and supporters.I didn’t want to let them down, I wanted to give them a movie, and that is what I did.

Who was the most difficult character to cast?

The casting process was so cool, but tough! We cast Natalie Shershow as our lead, Joey Javitts, almost a year before we started production, so when we got to the formal casting process it really was a about finding the right chemistry among the actors, especially for our Victor character. Many times we had to let go of what we originally thought we were looking for because an actor brought in such an unique performance that the desire to work with them overruled our initial casting idea.

The hardest role to cast was the character of Pen. We had many people audition for this role, but no one quite got what we wanted or what we were looking for. During one casting session, Jenny White — who at the time was cast as Molly (Joey’s BFF) — was in attendance and offered to read for the part of Pen while we were auditioning candidates for the role of Pen’s boyfriend, Cob. She and Carter Allen (who eventually was cast as Cob) did an amazing job, and Jenny completely surprised us with her performance of Pen. That night Brandon and I emailed Jenny asking if she would be interested in taking on the role – one that is very different than Molly. We were so excited that she agreed! I cannot imagine Pen as anyone else!

(An aside from the Lady of the Manners: Pen and Cob are her FAVORITES. All of the characters are wonderful (even the jerks), but Pen and Cob are the the Lady of the Manners’ precious spooky cupcakes.)

What are some of your favorite goth -influenced movies?
I think I about died the first time I saw The Hunger. David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Peter Murphy in the same movie? About Vampires? Yes please.

(Another aside from the Lady of the Manners: The Hunger has the best opening scenes of any vampire movie (and possibly any movie) ever. EVER.)

Back then I desperately wanted my own Ankh-knife necklace but alas on-line shipping did not exist, so they were hard to come by…maybe one day.

(So many asides! For any readers who may be looking for their very own bladed ankh necklace: ta-da! The Lady of the Manners recently indulged in this pendant, and is delighted with it. Stereotype Technology!)

Other favorite Goth-influenced films? Donnie Darko, Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Gypsy 83, Beetlejuice, The Craft, and the classics, Dracula and Nosferatu.

What are your favorite parts of the goth subculture? Music, literature, fashion …?

I really love the fashion, especially the more Victorian-influenced outfits with lots of tulle, bustles and corsets. I also love seeing that style mixed with unique finds from vintage shops, like how we used to do it in the ‘80s! I am constantly inspired by all the younger Goths who post photos of DIY outfits they have put together. It’s very cool.

Can you describe what your favorite outfit was from your life in that era?

I had this pair of Japanese pantaloons that I wore until they practically fell apart – I loved those pants. When I think of myself back then I see myself in this outfit: black turtleneck, black tights and a checkered black & white skirt with a huge black belt. I would accent with a pillbox hat, a myrrh bag around my neck and bell ankle bracelet. I definitely blended a goth/hippy look.

Next up would be music – I am a huge Bauhaus fan and one of my best concert memories is seeing them in concert in LA around 1999 on a reunion tour. Probably the only concert that I have attended that I knew every single song they played, even the more obscure cuts. That was a seriously cool night and talk about amazing fashion among the attendees — wow!

I’m not up on my Goth literature as much as I should be, but I have read Interview with a Vampire, most of The Vampire Chronicles, and this delightful book called Gothic Charm School…perhaps you have heard of it? <3

The thing that really stood out for me about the story is how fondly understanding it is of the goth subculture. Did you and Brandon consider yourselves goths Back In The Day? Or was it a community you knew of and orbited around, but maybe didn’t feel you were part of it?

I would say that we dabbled. We were definitely part of the alternative crowd of kids that hung out in downtown Salem, Oregon after school. Drinking endless cups of coffee at The Beanery, smoking clove cigarettes and walking the mall. We would also come to Portland a couple times a month to hang out at The City Nightclub which had an amazing Goth and Darkwave dance room, The Hollyrock.

What sort of kids made up that alternative crowd? And do you feel that people from different alternative communities were more likely to hang out “across territory lines”, as it were, than today?

The alternative crowd in Salem was made up of a lot of different types of people: goths, punks, hippies, weirdos, “misfits” really that found community together. We have a line in the film that reminds me of that time, “Us freaks gotta stick together”.

We have always been wearers of black and have had an affinity and appreciation of the Goth culture, clothing and music. I am still completely committed to wearing my cat-eyed black eyeliner everyday!

Which leads to the obligatory makeup questions: What’s your favorite black eyeliner, and what’s one cosmetic product from Back In The Day that you’d want to be brought back?

I am all about the liquid eyeliner with a traditional brush. I use L’Oreal Lineur Intense – Carbon Black. But I can’t come up with an answer for the second one! It seems everything that I used back then is still available – and then some! Even crazy colored hair dye, like Manic Panic, is so easy to find compared to back then!

What do you feel is the most important piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers?

DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. It sounds completely cliche, I know, but really it is so true. If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about it, keep going. There are so many ways to create content these days and the ability to do that is much more available than it has been ever before. Community Television and YouTube are great places to just…start. It does not mean that you will be a big Hollywood star right out the gate. Be willing to learn and ask questions, do the work, treat people nicely and with compassion, support other filmmakers, and keep going even when it is really hard.

The Lady of the Manners is eagerly waiting for My Summer as a Goth to be released, and swears on her copy of the pink vinyl limited edition pressing of the Bela Lugosi’s Dead 12″ single that she will tell everyone as soon as the movie is available for viewing. And by “tell everyone”, she means with posts in ALLCAPS, flailing, and probably too many emojis. 😀

Of Struggling with Emotional and Mental Turmoil

12 August 2018

The Lady of the Manners is going to be completely honest here, Snarklings: occasionally there are heartfelt, heartsore, and utterly brave people who write to Gothic Charm School, and the Lady of the Manners worries about how to answer, because what if she says the wrong things, or gives the wrong sort of advice? Because wanting to help people and be kind to them doesn’t change the fact that the Lady of the Manners is a well-intentioned auntie-by-proxy, and in no way a professional therapist.

But. BUT. The Lady of the Manners does want to help, and is humbled by the bravery shown by the readers who reach out to her. Because reaching out to anyone, even an auntie-by-proxy, about emotional and mental turmoil IS an act of bravery. Please never doubt that.

Dearest Lady of the Manners,

I’m terribly sorry for the long message. I’ve been perusing your articles related to age and wearing gothic fashion, but for some reason — despite being a longtime reader of Gothic Charm School and understanding full well what is in most of said articles relating to age — I’m not finding the reassurance I feel compelled to find. Your response to Shawn in your May article touches on it, but still doesn’t feel quite right. (Perhaps this is just my anxiety overworking itself, or the tendency my brain has to overthink things. I’m not really sure…)

For several years I struggled with depression and suicidal ideation, and, while I’ve started feeling much more stable again this year (many thanks to my ever-supportive partner for that!), I feel like I’ve lost those years of my life. I’m nearing my 30s yet feel more like I should still be in my early 20s. I can barely remember anything of what’s happened except for the wearying monotony of it all being pierced by meltdowns and suicidal urges. I feel like I’m starting over leaving high school again, trying to find my feet in the world (which is ironic, considering I knew myself fairly well in high school itself, which greatly helped settling in at university and later working and traveling) when so many people are instead expecting me to be “maturing” with the rest of my Millennial group, getting ahead in a job, etc. like most people seem to do (when they’re not snarking that Millennials are the scourge of the earth and equivalent to overgrown children, that is). While I once understood and accepted that I could never function as well as many other people in life, and had the confidence in myself to wear what I like and like what I like, I now feel disconnected from all of it. Like I’m trying to be a Me That’s Not Me even thought it is… or was? me. Like looking into a mirror, seeing who I know I am, but not understanding why I’m not them again? (I know I’ll never be that exact same Me again. But when they still feel like the True Me — how can I be true to myself when I can’t even touch that person behind that piece of glass?)

How does a person cope with that disconnect between their perception of everything and, well, everything? But especially regarding feeling too young for the body I’m in yet too old for things I still like doing and wearing?

How can I repair my confidence to something like how it was before this major episode sucked me under?

Thank you and best wishes to you,
Still Struggling

The Lady of the Manners wonders if “repair” is perhaps not the way to approach your confidence. You’re at least a slightly different person than you once were, so instead of thinking in terms of repairing, think of this in terms of rebuilding. The meltdowns and suicidal urges were things that, unfortunately, tore apart your foundations and sense of self. There are almost certainly parts of those things left, but they may not be enough to repair; however, they’d probably be good starting points to rebuild your confidence.

You probably will never be the person you were before, and that’s okay. Upheavals, especially the serious and harrowing ones you’ve been through, change a person. For that matter, even if someone miraculously doesn’t have those experiences, everyone changes. It’s part of evolving and growing as a person.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be similar to the person you were before! Instead of looking at the You that’s behind the pane of glass as a reflection in a mirror, look at that version of yourself as a template. You don’t have to match exactly, but that version is someone you can build from. What are some of the things from that previous version of yourself that you like? Things that you want to give to the you that exists now? The True You still exists, and is probably different from the True You that previously existed. Change happens. It’s okay to not be the person you once were, even if you really liked parts of that person. No one stays the same, and being true to yourself isn’t the same as not changing.

One of the great benefits to choosing a subculture-related appearance is that it’s something you choose. Personal style can be a way of reminding yourself that you’re stronger than you thought, that you survived. Personal style can be armor, too. It can be armor to keep your happiness safe, and to shelter your psyche from the glances of strangers. The Lady of the Manners has always believed very fiercely in two things that seem contradictory:

  1. People are going to look at you no matter what. It’s part of life.
  2. So what? It doesn’t really matter.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the micro-and-macro aggressions that are often tied to people’s race or gender. In those cases, what other people think about you can be a matter of life or death. But that’s not what the Lady of the Manners is directly talking about in this case; this is about having the confidence to wear or do something, anything, that makes you happy. So what if someone thinks you’re weird or you look odd? As the Lady of the Manners’ dad always told her, it’s okay to be weird. It really is. The Lady of the Manners isn’t saying don’t care about other people or be unkind. What she is saying is that the start of rebuilding your confidence is to give equal weight to your own opinions and choices.

Also, you’re not too old for the things you still like doing and wearing. Not in the slightest. There is no such thing as being “too old” for anything you like, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is wrong. In addition, there are very, very few people who feel like they’re functioning as well as everyone else is. In the Lady of the Manners’ experience, everyone has some level of impostor syndrome about at least one part of their life. (If not multiple parts!) The myth that everyone else is capable of doing all the things you feel you’re not is just that — a myth. A myth that leads many people into staring at their ceiling in the middle of the night, comparing themselves to “everyone else” and falling into despair. Feeling like you’re back to finding your feet in the world just means that you’re looking to what paths might be open to you. You haven’t failed, and you aren’t failing.

The Lady of the Manners is worried that this post is the equivalent of flailing her hands and going “Um …” a lot, but hopes that at least part of this was helpful. Please be kind and gentle with yourself. And finally: if any of you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope, please, please talk to someone. There is nothing to be ashamed of about needing help, or talking to a therapist. For the U.S. readers, NAMI.org is a good starting place. For U.K. readers, time-to-change.org looks to be a good resource. If anyone knows of other similar mental health resource sites, please post a comment with a link.

Do any of you have helpful suggestions or words of encouragement? The comments are open. (The comments are going to be even more carefully moderated than on other posts, but the Lady of the Manners trusts all of you will be kind and friendly.)

Stereotype Technology – for Your Window Shopping Needs – July 26, 2018

25 July 2018

As many of you know, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners often finds herself wandering through the shadowy depths of gothy window shopping. (Frequently at 3AM, as a distraction from a visit from the dratted Insomnia Fairy. If the Lady of the Manners ever catches that wretched creature, she’s putting it in a shadowbox, skewered with vintage pearl-headed pins.)

Anyway! For your window shopping pleasure (or despair, depending on the wiggle room in your budget), here are some of the things the Lady of the Manners unearthed recently!

(All images are property of their respective owners.)

Phantom Dressing Gown

The Lady of the Manners had long coveted the ridiculously over-the-top “Christine’s Dressing Gown” from Victorian Trading Company. Now, damn their eyes, they’ve recreated it in black. The Lady of the Manners desperately needs this to wear while she lounges around the house sipping absinthe and reading vintage gothic romances.

Whisper Sisters

Oh no, the Lady of the Manners found another indie perfume company. To distract everyone from her already extensive collection, please revel in this description of Goth Club ’89 from Whisper Sisters:

If you were there, you know the smell. Heavy resins, candle smoke, nicotine, clove, incense, absinthe, with a hint of intoxicating florals and vintage dark patchouli to balance everything out.

Vampire Bloodletter Ankh by CenterOfTheCircle

Does the Lady of the Manners fully embrace her clichés and constantly search for pointy ankh pendants? Yes, yes she does.

Lace cape from BibelociarniaShop

The Lady of the Manners has a weakness for lace capes. So delicate! So helpful in projecting that air of “Why no, I don’t know how that terrible thing could have happened to them, constable. I was having tea at the center of the hedge maze.”

Lace collar from MalaNocheStore

Perfect for hiding vampire bites. Or possibly as defense against vampire bites. The Lady of the Manners won’t judge your preferences.

Morticia Maxi from Holy Clothing


Sleeves bigger than your head! Sleeves bigger than anyone’s head!

Would you like to see some vintage goth fashion? (That was a rhetorical question, in case you weren’t sure.)

Sheer goth shirt from AnEnchantingCreature

The Lady of the Manners is almost positive she had this shirt back in the 90s.

Velvet blazer from VintageChandler

The Lady of the Manners is also almost positive that she had this blazer back then, too. Or at least one that was verrrrry similar.

Vintage “vampire”-esque shirt from TopOfTheShops

The description may say “Mod”, but the Lady of the Manners is here to tell you that this is a perfect vampire shirt. Don’t argue.

Do you have suggestions for things the Lady of the Manners should hunt down during her bouts of insomnia window shopping? Leave a comment!

Tutorial: The Hair Floof – a Fluffy Fabric Hair Tie!

18 July 2018

While the Lady of the Manners is probably never going to have short hair, she admits that long hair can sometimes be difficult. Especially in the summer, when wearing your hair down can be uncomfortably warm and sticky. But the Lady of the Manners becomes easily bored with plain ponytails, buns, and other sorts of updos, and suspects that she’s not alone in that. Enter one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite (and simple!) solutions: a fluffy, flouncy hair tie! Or, as the Lady of the Manners refers to them, a hair floof.

The Lady of the Manners wearing a hair floof.

Hair floofs are not just decorative on their own! They make an excellent base to help secure other accessories on your head. Flowers, tiny hats, fascinators, replica animal skulls … if you can put it in your hair as an ornament, you can almost certainly anchor it into the hair floof.

Hair floofs work best when your ponytail, bun, or other updo is at the crown of your head. Hair floofs tend to slide out of hairstyles that are lower down. (The only way the Lady of the Manners has ever gotten a hair floof to stay on a ponytail gathered at her nape is to skewer it on with bobby pins, which defeats the whole point.)

These are extremely simple to make. Can you use a pair of scissors and tie knots? Then you will be able to make a hair floof.

Supplies:

  • Sharp scissors.
  • A fabric hair band. One that is slightly larger and doesn’t have a crimped metal connector is the best type.
  • Approximately a quarter yard of fabric.
  • Optional – a podcast, audiobook, or comfort movie to have on in the background.

You can make hair floofs using strips of multiple fabrics – the Lady of the Manners is fond of strips of stretch velvet alternated with strips of lace – or using lengths of ribbon. The important thing is that the fabric or ribbon has some flow or drape to it; stiff fabric or wired ribbons won’t work for this. However, making hair floofs is a great way to use up fabric scraps from other projects; the Lady of the Manners has even salvaged old tights for hair floofs.

Hair floof supplies!

  1. Cut the fabric into strips approximately 1”-2” wide, until you have 30-40 strips. The Lady of the Manners likes a more drape-y style of hair floof, so she cuts her fabric strips to be somewhere between 9”-10” in total length. The shorter length the fabric, the puffier the floof. Don’t worry if the strips are uneven; it won’t really be noticeable, and different sizes mean the finished hair floof will have more texture.
  2. Cut fabric strips.

  3. One at a time, tie the strips of fabric evenly around the hair band. Yes, just as if you were making a pom-pom. (Is that even a craft project done in elementary schools anymore? It was when the Lady of the Manners was a child. So many pom-pom projects.)
  4. Tied-on fabric strips!

  5. Push the knots close together; you want to tie as many strips of fabric around the hair band as possible.
  6. Squished-together knots!

  7. Keep tying on the strips of fabric until you can’t fit any more on the hair band.

Congratulations! You’ve made a hair floof!

A finished hair floof!

Pull your hair up with a plain hair band, then wrap the hair floof over the top of the hair band.

If, over the course of multiple wearings, your hair floof becomes stretched out, you can layer it over a newer, springier hair floof. Why yes, the Lady of the Manners has been known to layer three or four hair floofs, just so she can have an extra-fancy hairstyle that won’t make her overheat.

Go forth! Entertain yourself for a few hours by making hair accessories!

Summer Goth! The 2018 Edition

28 June 2018

The Summer Solstice has passed in the Northern hemisphere, which means summer has arrived. The Lady of the Manners wishes she could be more enthusiastic about the whole thing.

The Lady of the Manners is completely accepting of the fact that many other goths don’t share her biases about the seasons and their attendant weather. There are people she’s very fond of who adore sunny days and high temperatures, and who become listless and dispirited once autumn comes around. But, as the Lady of the Manners often says over on Tumblr, she is a delicate moss flower. Which brings the Lady of the Manners to what is becoming a summer tradition at Gothic Charm School: advice on how to deal with the burning orb.

As the Lady of the Manners stresses time and time again, you don’t have to be pale to be a goth. However, avoiding the sun isn’t just a gothy affectation; there are people (the Lady of the Manners included) who thanks to genetics, illnesses, medications, or who knows what else, don’t deal well with prolonged exposure to sunlight. (As the Lady of the Manners has said before, eventually she’ll develop the fun symptoms of vampirism, like immortality and being able to turn into a flock of bats.) While the idea of not going outside until after sunset has its attractions, it’s not entirely feasible, which means knowing how to cope with sunlight.

  • Sunscreen! This is absolutely the most important thing you can do. Apply sunscreen to every bit of skin that isn’t covered by opaque fabric. No, Snarklings, lace or fishnet clothing will not protect you from the sun. Also, reapply the sunscreen every 60 to 80 minutes if you’re going to be outside for an extended length of time. (The Lady of the Manners realizes this may be a problem if you’re wearing makeup, but has a suggestion for that shortly.)

    The Lady of the Manners relies on matte finish sunscreens that are made for the Asian skin care markets. They don’t feel sticky, and they double as primer for under makeup. The two the Lady of the Manners keeps on hand are: MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence (SPF 50) and Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen (SPF 50). The Lady of the Manners has also seen good reviews of La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50, FrezyDerm Sun Screen Velvet Face SPF 30, and Nivea Sun Anti Age Face Cream SPF 50. And of course, there’s the (usually) easy-to-find Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100. (Which used to be the Lady of the Manners’ go-to sunscreen, and she doesn’t remember why she stopped using it.)

    How to deal with the problem of reapplying sunscreen to your face if you’re wearing makeup? Snarklings, did you know there’s such a thing as powder sunscreen? There is, and it’s amazing. You use it just like any other powder to touch up makeup throughout the day, but it adds an additional layer of SPF. The Lady of the Manners has tried a bunch of them, and keeps coming back to Jane Iredale Powder Me. Yes, it’s almost $50 a container, but one container has lasted the Lady of the Manners through almost three summers. It actually is translucent (unlike many other powder sunscreens which are … orange), has the same sort of effect as any of the “HD” makeup setting powders, and can be used on any exposed skin. This product is what the Lady of the Manners and her loved ones use when visiting Disneyland for Bats Day. In other words, this is the product the Lady of the Manners enthusiastically recommends.

  • Physical blocks – a giant hat! They can be left plain for a Lydia Deetz look, or festooned with tulle, ribbons, flowers, or anything else that strikes your fancy that can be somehow attached to the hat. Some of the things the Lady of the Manners has used to decorate her giant sun hats:
    • A (large) length of tulle, scrunched, crumpled, and stitched around the crown of the hat, for a gauzy, cloudy effect. Tulle can also be used to make a veil around the brim of the hat.
    • Lengths of lace or ribbons tied around the crown with a big bow, and the ends left to flutter.
    • Fake flowers from the craft store. The blossoms are easily pulled off the plastic stems, and then can be pinned or sewn on.

    (The Lady of the Manners strongly suggests sewing any decorations on, instead of using hot glue, because what if you decide you want to change the ornamentation? Prying anything off a hat that has been affixed with hot glue is tedious in the extreme, and no amount of silly vampire movies on in the background will change that.)

    Remember, if you have long hair and decide to wear a giant hat, you probably want to pull your hair up and off your neck. The giant hat, while protecting you from the sun, will sadly trap heat against your head. Don’t make that worse if you can help it.

  • Physical blocks – a parasol! Which, let the Lady of the Manners stress, can be used by ANY gender. Parasols are not just for femme -presenting folks.

    Back In The DayTM, goths had to hope they found a vintage parasol at a thrift store or yard sale, or found an umbrella they liked and decorated it themselves. But now there are parasols everywhere, from plain and unadorned umbrellas to frilly confections that would make any gothic lolita swoon with envy. The only caveat the Lady of the Manners has with regard to parasols is that while sheer or lacy parasols are lovely, they don’t actually provide any protection from the sun. Always look for one that has at least an opaque center to the canopy.

  • Physical blocks – clothing! Wearing long sleeves or long trousers seems counter-intuitive in the summer, and a recipe for overheating. The key is to look for garments made with natural fibers, such as cotton or rayon. Lace and fishnet are oh-so-gothy, but are usually some sort of poly-blend, and thus don’t actually breathe; they trap heat and sweat against your skin, leading to suffering for your fashion. While the Lady of the Manners is all for over-the-top looks, she also doesn’t approve of any of you giving yourselves heat stroke.

    The color doesn’t matter – while “common sense” says that black clothes will make you warmer in the summer, it turns out that isn’t really true.

  • Physical blocks – wash it in! Sun Guard lets you add SPF 30 protection to your laundry. Using this doesn’t mean you can skip applying sunscreen, but it is a nice additional boost. And in the Lady of the Manners’ experience, it doesn’t do anything odd to black garments.
  • Stay cool! Drink lots of water and make sure you have some electrolytes (be it through juice, sports drinks, pickles, or delicious salty food). Carry a folding fan to create your own breeze. Stick lightweight scarves or shawls in the freezer, then drape them around you; once they lose their chill, dampen them with cool water and let the evaporation do its work. You can also dampen any fishnet or lace garments you’re wearing for the same effect.

Finally, the Lady of the Manners made a
Pinterest board for summer goth style!
While all of the clothing is modeled by women (grrr), the Lady of the Manners strongly feels that almost all of it could be styled in a more gender-neutral way, depending on what other garments or accessories are added, when in doubt, add big belts and boots. (The Lady of the Manners offers her sympathies to the masculine-leaning Snarklings; male fashion is pretty much the same year ‘round, with the length of the sleeves being the only element of change.)

Do you have tips for dealing with the sun or avoiding heatstroke? Or just want to commiserate with other delicate, nocturnal moss flowers? Leave a comment!