A Random Assortment of Things

Oh … dear. The Lady of the Manners would like to apologize for the complete and utter lack of a December lesson. The Lady of the Manners won’t say that the entire month of December sped right past without her noticing, but she is rather surprised at how … quickly January seemed to creep up on her.

So! To make amends for missing a month, the Lady of the Manners is going to answer a random assortment from some of the many questions that readers have sent in. No going on and on (and on and on) about any one pet peeve topic, but a wealth of questions and rants answers. Don’t you feel giddy at the very idea? (Just smile and nod at the Lady of the Manners, Snarklings. It makes the Lady of the Manners feel like you’re paying attention.)

Someone calling themselves Blood Lettre asked (and in all caps, no less, so they must be worried):

“IF SOMETHING ALMOST TOPPLES TO ITS ALMOST CETAIN DOOM, (SAY, YOUR BLOODMATE’S GLASS BLEEDING BOWL) AND YOU CATCH IT, SHOULD THEY REALLY BE MAD AT YOU? I MEAN, YOU SAVED IT?”

Bloodmate’s … glass bleeding bowl? No, no, the Lady of the Manners probably doesn’t really want to know any more details than that. To answer Blood Lettre’s question, no, your bloodmate probably shouldn’t stay mad at you. Not if you managed to refrain from smashing the item in question. The Lady of the Manners would certainly understand if your bloodmate was, in the future, a little apprehensive about letting you handle fragile items, but they shouldn’t hold a grudge or still be cross at you.

(Bloodmate? Really? Glass bleeding bowl? The Lady of the Manners realizes that she’s mostly clueless about the intricacies of the vampire/Vampire/Vampyre subcultures, even with an entire bookcase of vampire novels & folklore textbooks. But she just keeps staring at the word ‘Bloodmate’ and blinking)

The next question comes from a very polite young man calling himself preach:

“As a mater of interest, what is your view on the crossover of the fetish BDSM scene into the gothic world? I see it on more of a fashion then s â sessionâ level but what are YOUR thought?”

Hmmm. The Lady of the Manners is going to glare at her computer, try to decipher that last sentence, then throw her hands up and mutter despairingly of encoding problems. (“â sessionâ level”? Most vexing.) As to the Lady of the Manners’ view on the crossover of the fetish & BDSM scene into the gothic world … just a moment, Snarklings, while the Lady of the Manners dusts off her soapbox.

You see, the Lady of the Manners is of two minds about it. The Lady of the Manners understands why there is a crossover, but thinks that the fact that there IS a crossover has led to problems with the public perception of both subcultures. The crossover is what has led many “normal” people to believe that all Goths are kinky, and that everyone who participates in BDSM or the kink community dresses in all black and wears a lot of eyeliner. Both of those beliefs are wrong when they’re used as blanket statements about those groups as a whole. While the Lady of the Manners isn’t really bothered by the crossover of the kink community with the Gothic subculture, she’s very bothered by the notion that there are people who not only don’t understand the many differences between the two worlds, but who wouldn’t really believe those differences exist even if it was explained using small words and perhaps a slide show. (For even more reading on the Lady of the Manners’ views on this, you might want to go read the lessons Tourist Season in GothyLand and Subculture Cross-overs.)

The next question comes from Justine, who asked:

My mother is always stating that my wardrobe needs more color. My clothes are composed largely of black and the occasional red or purple–now, I know that the Lady of the Manners has stated many times that one does not need to dress in black to be gothy, but, the fact of the matter is, I just ADORE black–it’s slimmming, it’s sophisticated, it’s classic. And it matches everything.

So, my Lady of Manners, how would you propose that I–a colour impared snarkling–add a bit of brightness to my wardrobe?

Now, Justine is quite right; black is slimming, sophisticated, classic, and does indeed match everything. (Ignoring for the moment the problem that every Goth has run across: what to do when your blacks don’t match?! Black clothing with a blue undertone does not go with black-with-red undertone clothing.) But how to add brightness (or color, because they’re not the same thing) to a gothy wardrobe is an entirely different thing.

Firstly, add a few colored pieces to your wardrobe. Blouses or shirts in deep jewel tones are a good place to start: they can be easily mixed with black skirts or trousers and jackets or sweaters, but don’t shriek “Look! I’m wearing a COLOR!” (Of course, everyone will comment when you wear any color, no matter how subtle you think it is. Just expect it, and try not to roll your eyes too much at the never-ending witty comments along the lines of “Oh my gosh! You’re not wearing all black! Did someone die?”) Colored tights or socks are also good for adding a dash of contrast to a monochrome ensemble, as are necklaces, bracelets, or other accessories. (The Lady of the Manners is very fond of silk flowers pinned to jackets or hats, but accepts that other people find them a touch fussy.)

If you really want to branch out, it can be fun to pick an accent color that isn’t a deep jewel tone. Personally, The Lady of the Manners has an astonishing collection of blouses, tights, and accessories in pale cotton-candy pink that make her quite happy.

The most important thing is that you add colored pieces that you like, instead of begrudgingly adding a color because someone else thinks you should. If you just can’t bear the idea of colored garments but have been ordered to not wear all black, then fall back on the classic white shirt. Be it a crisp men’s dress shirt that you wear with cuff links, or a frilly lace-trimmed blouse, it will add some brightness to your outfits.

The final question that the Lady of the Manners is going to deal with in this lesson comes from Madeline:

Dearest Mistress of the Manners,

I am in a perpetual pickle. I have been Goth-like for four years now, but only recently have I accepted and matured the term. In my Gothic studies, I have found that there are many different kinds of Goths out there! How can I find the one that is right for me? Am I “*allowed” to mix genres?
With sicerest reguards,
Madeline

*by allowed I mean without having to put up with heanous predijuce from fellow goths. I acknowledge the fact that if I truly want something I should go for it, but being a small town Goth, I put up with far too much predijuce from junior rednecks (I’m 17, thus still in High School Hell.)

The Lady of the Manners is sure she’s said this before, but it bears repeating: there is no One True Definition of Goth. Honest. Not only are there many different kinds of Goths out there, but there are Goths who would be bemused at the notion of someone comparing them to a checklist and trying to figure out which categories they fit in. Not to mention the people who will loudly proclaim that certain subsets of the gothic subculture Do Not Mix, and get very confused when others explain that no, really, one can be Neo-Victorian Gothic and a perkygoth, all at the same time.

As to how to deal with any prejudice from fellow Goths: if someone has the nerve to tell you that something you’re interested in or something you’re doing isn’t done by Real Goths, smile sweetly at them, murmur something along the lines of “I’m so sorry that you feel you have to limit yourself that way”, then walk away. Yes, this will make probably make them angry, but people who feel compelled to make those sorts of comments won’t pay attention to anything you have to say defending your choice to be your own person. Under NO circumstances should you actually pay attention to their silly opinions on what Real Goths are interested in or what Real Goths don’t do; forgive the Lady of the Manners for this sweeping statement, but in the Lady of the Manners’ experience those sorts of comments are usually uttered by people who have latched on to the gothic subculture as a way of giving themselves a pre-fabricated personality, and who, in a few years, will speak very dismissively of their ‘whole Goth phase’ while searching desperately for the next thing to slavishly conform to.

Once again, the Lady of the Manners would like to apologize for not writing anything at all during December. The Lady of the Manners has this faint hope of managing to write more than one lesson a month, but isn’t going to make any promises. But do keep sending questions in, because the Lady of the Manners loves reading them.

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