An Assortment Of Questions And Answers

Hello Snarklings! It dawned on the Lady of the Manners that maybe she should try to quickly write a post while also carefully creating the post about the Vampire Masquerade Ball and the reviews of Heavy Red and Spin Doctor. So! A mixed assortment of questions from readers, with (the Lady of the Manners hopes!) helpful answers.

Let’s start off with a question from alexyz:

question: dear Lady of the Manners, i like to draw on myself with markers. my family says this is tacky and not at all goth? would you agree with them? please respond!

Good heavens, drawing on yourself with markers has a long history with Goths and other subcultures! The Lady of the Manners suspects that your family just doesn’t like you drawing on yourself, and are trying to find any reason they can to convince you not to do so.  Is it tacky? The Lady of the Manners supposes that all depends on what you draw or write on yourself, but the act itself isn’t tacky. Or, to put it another way: the Lady of the Manners and many of her friends have never gotten out of the habit of drawing or writing on themselves. It lets one keep a meaningful quote or image with one for a while without the commitment of a tattoo.  

The Lady of the Manners’ dear husband carefully inked that on her arm on the evening of a concert; it was the Lady of the Manners’ way of invoking the song she most wanted to hear at the show. (And it worked.)

So, dear alexyz, perhaps show your family this post, and then ask them what their real objections to you drawing on yourself are, and then see if a clearing-the-air sort of discussion can be had. Just try not to lose your temper, and explain to them why drawing on yourself makes you happy.

Pixie writes to Gothic Charm School with a question about expressing individuality while at work:
Dear beautiful Lady of the Manners.
I do hope you can help me xx
I have one very simple question and I’m sure you could help me out.
See,soon I’m starting work at an Elderly care home, unsurprisingly, gothic fashion is certainly not allowed which I understand and accept,however skirts are not allowed either,You have to wear plain black or grey trousers.
I’d love to be able to express my individuality even if it was in the simplest way.
Faerie wishes and Pixie kisses.
~ Love from
Pixie

There are some jobs where one simply cannot dress as flamboyantly as one would like, and working at a care home for the elderly is certainly one of those. Some simple and unobtrusive ways to express your individuality

– Gothy socks. They’ll be hidden by your trousers and shoes, so you can probably get away with surreptitiously wearing stripes, skulls, spiders, or other interesting designs.

– Subtle, small, Goth-themed jewelry, such as teeny-tiny skull or bat earrings, or a spooky necklace that stays tucked inside your top.

– Check with your supervisor: maybe “wacky” colors of nail polish are allowed, which means you could paint your nails deep blood red, or glittering purple.

Of course, the important thing is to keep in mind that just because you can’t express your Gothness through your work wardrobe does not mean that your Gothness is being diminished. Instead, be a good employee and do the best you can at work, and show your true dark colors during your days off.

Monica from Mexico has a question about what to wear with a corset:

question: Dear Lady, I am a babybat from Mexico and I recently was allowed to buy a corset. But I would like to ask your advice on something about it… I know a corset is usually worn without anything underneath, but I really don’t like the idea of having my shoulders and arms bare. So my question is, is it okay to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath it? or what can I wear to cover at least my shoulders?

Thank you.

Oh good heavens. YES, it is perfectly okay to wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath your corset. In the Lady of the Manners’ world, corsets are always worn over other things, and frequently under additional garments. In addition to long-sleeved shirts, you could wear your corset with a jacket, a shrug (a type of cropped jacket that covers just the arms and shoulders), or a shawl. So feel free to cover your arms and shoulders if that is what makes you comfortable. (A note to other Snarklings: if you don’t want to cover your arms and shoulders when you wear a corset, that’s fine too. Dress in the way that makes you happy!)

Amanda is looking for book recommendations:

Dearest Lady of the Manners,

I have a possibly odd request. You see I am in a minority Christian religion (neither Protestant nor Catholic) which I love but am also a goth that loves to read. Because of my personal beliefs I avoid the supernatural and undead- no werewolves, zombies, or even vampires for me.  

However, I find that many of the book recommendations from other goths involve mostly these very things. So, besides the classics like Poe, Baudelaire, etc., I have a dearth of dark reading material.  

Do you have any suggestions for non-supernatural gothy/dark reading? Thank you in advance and, by the way, I love your work. You are awesome and never fail to make my day!

::a brief pause while the Lady of the Manners goes and stares at her bookcases::

Hmmmm. You know, the Lady of the Manners herself doesn’t really have any dark or Gothic -themed reading material that doesn’t involve the supernatural! Gracious, what a dilemma. The only things that come to mind are:

The Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. Egyptology, adventure, and comedy, but with some gothy overtones.

Nevermore by Harold Schecter, and the rest of the Edgar Allan Poe series he wrote. In Nevermore, Edgar Allan Poe finds himself reluctantly joining forces with Davey Crockett to solve a gruesome series of murders.

Of course, there are also the classics, such as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, the works of Oscar Wilde, or the Sherlock Holmes stories. However, the Lady of the Manners cannot bring to mind any other gothy-but-not-supernatural books! So she turns to the faithful readers of Gothic Charm School: Do you have book recommendations for Amanda? Please send them to Gothic Charm School, and the Lady of the Manners will post a list.

Starry wrote asking for help with dealing with the blazing summer:

Salutations, my dearest Lady of the Manners,

I am in a bit of a bind, and wonder if you had any suggestions. To be as brief as possible, this Snarkling’s least favourite season is summer. The heat and the sun make me quite ill, and I am actually ALLERGIC to the sun (as is my mother, it runs in the family). I am also in possession of extremely delicate and sensitive skin, and the list of things that must stay away from my face includes many soaps, lotions, cosmetics, and unfortunately, sunblock (it sets my skin on fire; even the mild formulas devised for “baby skin”).  

Can you think of any way that I might be able to endure this summer without becoming a basement dwelling hermit?  

Thank you for your time,
Starry

And Harra also asked for help with dealing with the burning orb and heat:

Dear Lady of the Manners,

First of all, your site and books are lifesavers. Even though I slide more to the Lolita and the more frilly and decadent sides of Goth, the subculture has always had a soft spot in my heart for many years, and your books have solved many of my troubles.

My concern? I live in Arizona, and if there’s one thing we’re known for, it’s grueling summers. Last year, it got up to 118F, and we tend to see up to two months in the summer where the thermostat does not read under 100F.

Of course, it’s late April now, and already starting to see 90-95F. What would you advise for this modestly-inclined black-clad lady? I am sure a lot of Arizona-bound Goths would appreciate your words of wisdom.

Always appreciative of your advice,
~Harra

Firstly, allow the Lady of the Manners to point you to a Gothic Charm School post from waaaay back in 2004: The Summer Of Goth. The important things to keep in mind when dealing with high temperatures and blinding sun: loose, flowing clothing (in natural fibers, preferably!) will help keep you cooler than skimpy and skin-tight garments; a handheld fan gives you a cooling breeze wherever you may be stuck; and parasols and wide-brimmed sun hats allow you to carry shade with you.

Some other useful things the Lady of the Manners has learned over the past few summers: fishnet or lace hosiery, once soaked down with cold water, will act as portable air conditioning as the water evaporates; and if you must make an appearance in formal (-ish) Goth finery during scorching weather, stick a small, sealable plastic bag packed with ice down the front of your corset or secured to the small of your back. (Just make sure that the bag is very securely sealed to prevent water leaking everywhere!)

As to Starry’s problems with the chemicals in sunblock: have  you looked into powder sunblocks? The Lady of the Manners carries a jar of Jane Iredale powder sunscreen in her purse during summer months, and a quick search of the web shows there are all sorts of powder sunscreens out there. (In fact, when the Lady of the Manners eventually runs out of her Jane Iredale powder, she may give Go!screen Natural BrushOn Powder Sunscreen a try.)

Another reader named Starry (the Lady of the Manners is fairly certain that the Starry of the previous question about summer is different than this Starry because of the different email addresses) needs some guidance about decorating her room:

To my darling Lady of the Manners,  

I am in something of a quandry, and find myself needing your particular brand of advice. I am an almost-20-year-old goth, living at home whilst attending university. Thankfully, my parents are rather accepting of my unusual attire, though they reject the idea of the subculture due to the mainstream misconceptions.  

My dilemma is as thus: How to alter my bedroom to better reflect my interests? This would be a straightforward question, were it not for these limiting factors:  

*We live in rented space, thus no painting of the walls
*I share a bedroom with my 8-year-old sister, so space is SEVERELY limited
*I share a bedroom, thus it must be non-offensive to the room’s other occupant
*I must finance this endeavour myself

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  
Sincerely,
Starry

This Gothic Charm School post from 2010 has some helpful suggestions for decorating one’s room on a budget, so you may want to start there. But the fact that you are sharing your room with your much younger sister means you will need to be even more creative. The Lady of the Manners suggests that you take yourself to the nearest thrift store and see what sort of enticing things you can find in the “textiles” section: look for curtains or duvet covers in interesting fabrics (lace, velvet, satin, brocade) in deep jewel tones, and pin them up to cover your walls. (There’s always the option of mounting curtain rods on the walls and hanging the fabric that way, but finding budget-friendly curtain rods is sometimes something of a chore, and drilling holes into the walls may not be allowed.)

If you have a good eye for space, you could use curtains as a framing device, and in the space between the curtains put up images you like. Yet again, thrift stores are a good source for inexpensive picture frames, and the Lady of the Manners knows many people who have framed pages from illustrated books or magazines to very striking effect.

Stores such as Ross, T.J. Maxx, and Marshall’s all can be treasure-troves of interesting and low-cost room decor: pillows, fancy-looking storage boxes, and framed mirrors. Those stores aren’t (usually) as inexpensive as thrift stores, but they are a little more reliable in terms of finding things for decorating your space.


The final question in this installment of Gothic Charm School is from Jessica, asking about one of the largest Goth festivals in the world:

Dearest Lady of the Manners, what is your opinion on the Wave Gotik Treffen? What would you suggest to those who would like to attend and have you ever attended yourself?   Sincerely, Jessica

Oh Jessica, the Lady of the Manners dreams of being able to go to Wave Gotik Treffen. A huge festival filled with bands, vendors of enticing spooky wares, and gorgeously-dressed attendees? Of course the Lady of the Manners wants to go. Alas, she hasn’t, due to budget issues.

(When in need of an eye candy fix, the Lady of the Manners will spend ages browsing the WGT galleries on Viona-art. Of course, in addition to filling the need for gothy eye candy, this fills the Lady of Manners with wistful longing for fantastic events, but that’s a small price to pay.)

Since the Lady of the Manners hasn’t managed to attend the event yet, she doesn’t have any personal experiences to offer advice from. However, the sadgoth.com site seems to have a collection of good tips and links to other useful sites for people planning their trip to WGT.

Finally, even though the Lady of the Manners is not able to attend Wave Gotik Treffen (again!) this year, her dear friend Marc17 will be attending the festival, and is the “Special Correspondent” for Gothic Charm School. Marc17 will be taking photos and doing a write-up of all the excitement, which will be posted here on Gothic Charm School.

Now that the Lady of the Manners has answered a handful of reader letters, she is going to brew some more Strawberry Chocolate tea, and return to writing about the Vampire Masquerade Ball, and the reviews of clothing from Heavy Red and Spin Doctor. While she’s busy doing that, you should browse the archives here at Gothic Charm School, and oh, perhaps send a letter if you feel like it …

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