The Lady of the Manners is going to start off with a disclaimer: this installment of Gothic Charm School is primarily going to be of use to the Snarklings in the USA. The clicky-links of coveting lead to assorted retailers that may or may not ship outside of the USA, so be sure to read all the fine print about shipping and whatnot before you buy something!
So what is the Lady of the Manners going to burble enthusiastically about? Snarklings, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Halloween season is upon us! Now is the time to stock up on goodies festooned with bats and skulls, on stripy tights and fishnets, and on candles and candle holders!
Now yes, the Lady of the Manners admits that Goths going shopping-mad during the Halloween season is a huge cliché. So what? Cliches become clichés for a reason: because there’s a teeny-tiny grain of truth at the heart of them. Not to mention that the Lady of the Manners’ view on cliches is that if you enjoy something that is considered a cliche, embrace it wholeheartedly and revel in it, while acknowledging it is a cliche.
So, Halloween shopping! The Lady of the Manners has been doing some window shopping, oh my yes. Take a look at what she’s found so far!
There are the Bat salad plates from Pottery Barn, Sur La Tab has a silver skull timer, and Williams Sonoma has Halloween petits fours. (But alas, they do not have the bat-shaped s’mores kits this year. The Lady of the Manners is quite distraught about that.)
JoAnn Fabrics not only has all sorts of spooky-themed fabrics right now (check the quilting section for oodles of skull fabric!), but has a full line of Martha Stewart Halloween temptations. The Lady of the Manners especially wants these bat cupcake liners, the “bat swarm” window cling, and the Vampire invitation set.
If you’re looking for some reproduction old fashioned elegance, the Victorian Trading Co. offers up such delights as the spiderweb lace runner, the Gothic lace panel, or the Gothic lace lampshade cover. (The Lady of the Manners has been eyeing the latter in a speculative fashion, trying to determine if she could transform it into some sort of overskirt. She hasn’t decided yet.) Then there are random stores across the internet that offer lovely things like spooky lithograph apothecary jars or a hanging bat lantern.
These clicky-links barely begin to scratch the surface of the breadth of Halloween-themed shopping that is lurking out there just a few clicks away. Be warned, it is very easy to lose all sense of time passing and one’s budget once one starts seriously browsing for these things.
Of course, the Halloween shopping possibilities aren’t limited to seasonal home decor, oh no. This is the time of year when a savvy Goth shopper stocks up on stripy tights and fishnets. Just about every “general” store that the Lady of the Manners has ever visited stocks those items in whatever Costumes & Accessories aisles they may have thrown together and decorated with faux cobwebs. The secret is that the stripy tights at those stores are the same quality as the ones you can find at all sorts of Goth boutiques. (Yes, they really are. In fact, the Lady of the Manners and her friends have been known to clear out the stripy tight stock in a ten mile radius of their neighborhoods, and then not have to buy tights for the rest of the year.) While the “costume” fishnet tights found at such stores can be somewhat wide-ranging in quality, they are always good for at least a few wearings, and then you can merrily shred and rip them up for adding a Deathrock flair to your hosiery collection. (Don’t laugh, the Lady of the Manners has been doing that for years.)
If you’re clever and have some D.I.Y. skills, the Costumes and Accessories aisles are also good places to find items that can be restyled to free them from their potentially cheese-o-riffic costume connotations. Silly “spooky” jewelry can be taken apart, painted, and combined with other things (such as silk flowers, ribbons, lace, or buttons) to be transformed into darkly elegant and macabre accessories. (Skeleton hands, spider clips, and skull ornaments are particularly good for such projects!) Halloweeny t-shirts can be left plain or adorned with trim, then worn with all sorts of gothy fashion staples. (The Lady of the Manners is particularly fond of her t-shirt printed with the skeletal system combined with a Victorian-esque jacket and full skirts.)
The Halloween season is also the best time of year to investigate the thrift stores. Yes, you may run the risk of other shoppers asking you for help in putting together a costume “just like yours!”, but that minor annoyance is worth dealing with in order to rummage through the rack of interesting things the thrift stores have been setting aside all year to sell as Halloween costumes. Oh yes, they do that. And what other people may consider a costume piece, we Goths may take a look at it and realize it’s just the sort of jacket/vest/skirt/trousers/whatever we’ve been looking for.
But what if you are looking for something for a costume, and don’t like what you see in the local costume or Party City stores? Well, if money were no object for the Lady of the Manners, she’d be ordering things right this instant from Kambriel and Voodoo Lounge for clothes, Bloodmilk and MorticiaSnow for jewelry, Noxenlux for hats, and Tormented Artifacts for masks. If you decide to order something from any of those lovely artists (or any others!), be sure to remember that time is of the essence, and if you are coveting something for a special event, you need to order it sooner rather than later. Last-minute orders always have rush fees, and rightfully so!
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to start plotting her next day-long expedition to hit a bunch of her local thrift stores and Halloween boutiques. The next installment of Gothic Charm School should be of interest to you Snarklings who have written in asking where to find clothing, especially the youngsters who say their parents won’t take them shopping in any Goth specialty stores. Yes, the next lesson will be about assembling a gothy wardrobe at mainstream fashion stores! That’s in addition to the heaps and heaps of reader mail the Lady of the Manners really needs to work her way through; here is a convenient clicky-link to the Correspondence form if you also want to write to Gothic Charm School!