The Lady of the Manners has been so pleased with the response to the Gothic Charm School masterpost of clicky-links, Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners is even more pleased with the additional suggestions people have been making in the comments, so keep doing that!
Of course, making a massive post of goth clothing shopping links had another effect that the Lady of the Manners should have expected: a wave of emails asking for help finding day-to-day goth fashion and places to look when budget or circumstances puts shopping at specialty goth vendors out of reach. Is it possible to assemble a spooky wardrobe without shopping at dark specialty shops?
Of course it is. There is no goth rule stating you have to buy your fashion exclusively from oh-so-goth stores and merchants. In fact, to indulge in the tiniest bit of cliched Eldergoth cane-waving: back when the Lady of the Manners was a spooky teen (and in her 20s!), finding gothically-inclined stores and merchants was rather difficult! It involved looking through the few spooky magazines you could find, squinting at address information printed in elaborately–but not always legibly!–designed advertisements, mailing off your self-addressed stamped envelopes, and hoping, hoping that you’d get a catalog back.
Also, Back In The Day ™, black garments were not as easy to find. Not every mainstream store offered separates in black; you really were stuck with whatever the “seasonal” colors were, and finding a good black skirt or shirt was something to rejoice over.
But nowadays! Black clothing is considered to be a standard, and every mass-market retailer offers at least a handful of inky-hued things. Add that to the fact that mainstream fashion gleefully mines the gothic subculture for style inspiration at least once a year, and you’ve never had a better time for being able to pull a basic goth wardrobe together.
Behold! The Everyday Goth Fashion Pinterest! Yes, the Lady of the Manners spent many an evening browsing through sites such as Target, JC Penny, Sears, KMart, H+M, Forever 21, Roaman’s, and the overwhelming choices on Amazon.com, and has pinned over 350 items of gothy fashion interest. All of which are US resources, so the Lady of the Manners would love comments from Snarklings about international budget retailers!
(A caveat: fast and/or inexpensive fashion–goth or not–often cuts corners during production. It’s a sad truth that you won’t be able to avoid sweatshop-produced clothing unless you’re not on a tight budget, or are able and willing to sacrifice and save for it. Alas, that isn’t always possible, so be aware, but don’t punish yourself if it’s unavoidable in your circumstances.)
Even if you don’t buy any of the items suggested and pinned on that page, it can be a useful tool to show, say, parents, what sort of items some of you younger readers are asking for when you talk about wanting a more spooky wardrobe. Your parents may be assuming you want couture frock coats and vampire gowns, when really, you want some black tops, a black jacket, and some black skirts and leggings!
The Lady of the Manners had so much fun window-shopping and assembling the Everyday Goth Fashion Pinterest that she’ll keep updating it, though probably not in such a frenzied manner. However, seasonal updates? Almost certainly.
There’s another way to create your wardrobe of darkness on a budget, but it takes time, patience, and a bit of luck: thrift shopping. Shopping at thrift stores is a treasure hunt which can turn up some wonderful things, but will also have times where you walk out empty-handed and shaking your head. The Lady of the Manners has some tips to make your treasure hunt a little easier:
- Wear. Comfortable. Footwear. Thrift shopping is not the time to wear the icepick-heeled boots or the ones with more buckles than toes.
- For that matter, wear clothing that you can try things on over. (Yes, the Lady of the Manners goes thrift shopping in full, petticoat-enhanced skirts, but they’re part of her everyday attire, and anything she buys at a thrift store would have to fit properly over them, anyway.)
- Know your measurements, not your “size”, and take a fabric measuring tape with you. Check the measurements of potential finds instead of going by the number on the tag!
- For that matter, don’t look for things grouped by size on the racks. Thrift stores are not known for their ability to keep things organized, so look everywhere in the store.
- Keep a mental list of things you’re looking for, but don’t go in with expectations of what you’ll find that day.
- Keep at least a vague eye on what’s going on in mainstream fashion, because that will give you an idea of what will turn up in thrift stores six months to a year later. For example, if you like tops embellished with black sequins or black chiffon skirts, NOW is the time to be searching the thrift stores for them.
- Halloween is when thrift stores (especially Value Village/Savers and Goodwill) put out the more vintage and gothy garments that could be used as a costume. THREAT LEVEL: PUMPKIN applies to more than home decor!
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go back to wading through the Gothic Charm School mailbox, and browsing Amazon.com for more gothy fashion, even though she knows she doesn’t need more lace capelets or shawls, they’re very tempting …
Finally, there’s some behind-the-scenes housekeeping that needs to be done here at Gothic Charm School, which means the Correspondence page may or may not be working. So if you have a question, this link should help you reach the Gothic Charm School inbox!