Hello Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners has decided to rise from her end-of-summer torpor and resume answering questions. (August is not a good month for the Lady of the Manners, what with the brilliant sunshine, the warm weather, and so on.)
What summoned the Lady of the Manners from her darkened lair in the Gothic Charm School library? A question about the fashion dilemma of DIY vs. buying pre-made goods:
Dear Lady of the Manners,
I had a bit of a question regarding fashion. I tend to buy nicer things from online stores and such, as I enjoy having my nonstandard wardrobe, and I tend to modify garments into something more consistently suitable to my tastes, but I have found that I sometimes garner flak for buying stuff from said online stores. I went through many of the relevant fashion articles you have here, and it looks like we should all ditch the “Gothier than thou” attitude some of us have, but when my retailer choices are pointed out, this sort of thing tends too get on my nerves, as well as provoke the Punk side of me into self-guilt over actually BUYING my gear as opposed to merely making it all.
I did actually have a friend say “oh, you bought from X? That’s a bit of lost respect” when she found out I had ordered from a particular large Industrial-based website. I personally feel that knowledge of the culture is more important than whether you buy clothes from Hot Topic or The Metro (yep, I’m from the Greater Seattle Area!), as long as you are as excited as I am when Joy Division or Siouxie Sioux starts playing, but the nagging thought still, well, nags, that I’ll be sneered at in Elitist snobbery. Do you have any advice on that subject?
P.S Seeing as i am following the Charm School on Tumblr and have seen all the rather nice images of the Lady there, would she have any problem with a bit of idle chit-chat should she be recognized around town (depending of course, on her plans that day; I’d rather not hold her up from an important appointment or event, of course, that would just be rude!)?
Another Seattle gothy type, hurrah! The Lady of the Manners is going to answer your queries in reverse order, as the reply to your postscript is very simple: If you see the Lady of the Manners gallivanting around town, of course you should come up and say hello! The Lady of the Manners promises to let you (or any other Snarklng who comes up to say hi) know if she’s out running errands, is heading to an appointment, or has other time constraints that would keep her from being able to chat. Dropping the third-person mannerism for a moment: I love it when readers of Gothic Charm School say hi! It makes me incredibly happy, and I love meeting you Snarklings! Just, y’know, ask before attempting hugs, please!
Now, as to Faust’s question about buying pre-made goth/punk/alternative goods vs. the do-it-yourself route: Firstly, your “friend” who said “oh, you bought from X? That’s a bit of lost respect” was being rude. Staggeringly so, actually, and the Lady of the Manners hopes that you gave them a chilly stare in response to that comment.
Way back at the start of the goth subculture, there weren’t a lot of off-the-rack alternative fashion options. Spooksters who wanted a fabulous wardrobe of darkness had to search for things that were vaguely close to what they wanted, and then spend long hours painstakingly altering their finds: painting designs, adding trim, buttons, or buckles, slashing, shredding, and stitching things together, and even then, after all that work? Often, the results weren’t quite what one hoped for.
But as the years crept on, some very clever and creative people started making a living by selling gothy goods to other people in our shadowy subculture. People who didn’t have the time, skills, or money to DIY the gear of their dreams were able to outfit themselves, and other goths/punks/rivetheads were able to pay their bills by making beautiful things. In other words, a wonderful spooky circle of commerce! As even more years blew past like fallen leaves, selling alternative fashion became (slightly) big business, which meant there were more options out there, a wider range of prices, and even more opportunities for goths in small towns to get their hands on a few pieces of spooky clothing without going into debt or risking mail-order from far-away countries.
There is NOTHING WRONG with buying ready-made items. Try to be an informed consumer, in terms of being aware of prices, construction quality, and the working conditions of the folks who made the garment, of course! But don’t let any misplaced notions of “scene cred” stop you. Not everyone wants to spend hours working on making their gear. Not everyone has the ability to! And some folks, sometimes including the Lady of the Manners, could DIY something, but decide it would be simpler to purchase a ready-made item.
Also, sometimes buying a ready-made item from a “big name” alternative manufacturer is a convenient starting point for a DIY project. The Lady of the Manners gleefully purchases garments from places like Retroscope Fashions and ChicStar, then spends a few evenings modifying that “basic” item into something custom-styled. Plus there is a lot of alternative fashion cred in taking a basic garment you found from a big-box store and transforming it into something special.
It is well-known that the Lady of the Manners is a fervent fan of the fashion side of goth: having a closet (well, multiple closets) crammed full of sweeping velvet skirts, lace-trimmed frock coats, and flocks of bat-themed jewelry makes her giddy. But fashion isn’t the only part of the subculture, and people who get elitist about it make the Lady of the Manners very cranky. For you’re completely right, Faust: knowing about the music, the literature, and the movies that are part of our morbidly romantic scene is just as important. Anyone who tries to be snippy about someone else’s choice in wardrobe, or who insinuates that you aren’t a Real Goth if you didn’t hand-weave your tattered fishnets from spiderwebs dyed with candle smoke and tears is trying to set themselves up as a Gother-Than-Thou gatekeeper of the scene. And do you know what we do to those types of people, Snarklings? We ignore them. We also perhaps pity them just a bit, because if they think they need to police the scene then they must be insecure, but mostly, we ignore them.
With that, the Lady of the Manners is going to go back to sorting through her button box so she can find the perfect set to replace the boring plain black buttons on the latest black velvet blazer she found at the thrift store. But! In case some of you are in the mood for window shopping, or have the budget to indulge in gothy goodies: here! Have a list of links!
- Sin In Linen – wonderful bedding with skulls, spiderwebs, tattoo designs, and black & white stripes.
- Evil Supply Co. – stationary, notebooks, and accessories for the discerning evil genius.
- Tormented Artifacts – leatherwork! Masks! BOOTWINGS!
- Kambriel’s shop on Etsy – one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite clothing designers, ever.
- Gentleman’s Emporium – dapper and dashing menswear!
- Velvet Garden – an ever-changing listing of gently used gothy fashion.
- Martha Rotten – gorgeous pewter jewelry.