Hello Snarklings! Yes, the Lady of the Manners has dragged herself away from playing with dolls and reading vampire books to answer reader letters! A letter asking for some fashion advice, and two different letters touching on the trans* and genderqueer communities. This is one of the posts at Gothic Charm School where the Lady of the Manners is going to open up the comments in order to get (she hopes!) even more advice and support for the dilemmas being addressed here. However, as always, the comments will be moderated. (Does the Lady of the Manners have to point out that flaming, trolling, and hateful speech are not tolerated here? She would assume not, but better safe than sorry.)
The first letter is from Jhim, who like many Goths, is thrown into a bit of a wardrobe quandary with the approach of summer:
My dearest Lady of the Manners,
I come to you yet again, humbly beseeching you for assistance. I am a large chap, and have a devil of a time finding decent summer-wear. Winter? No problem, the “big guy” stores are full of dark suits and coats and the like, but in the summer, especially here in Las Vegas, everything is light, pastel, and/or horrible. Do you, with your vast knowledge and large network, know where a big guy can find decent goth-wear? Black t-shirts and jeans just isn’t cutting it with me anymore.
P.S. I know I ask this every summer-season, but I am hoping that maybe now your Ladyship will have some information?
Oh gracious, summer in Las Vegas? The Lady of the Manners quails at the thought. There are reasons why the Lady of the Manners doesn’t stray too far from the Pacific Northwest, and avoiding high temperatures would be one of them. (As a matter of fact, the Lady of the Manners has been known to get rather petulant and whiny once the thermometer goes above 80 degrees.)
First things first: you are, of course, taking care of yourself by slathering on sunblock and drinking plenty of water, yes? There is a dizzying array of choices for sunblock; the Lady of the Manners tends to opt for a high SPF with a finish that won’t do strange things to her makeup, but still has not found her One True Sunblock, so she’s not going to list any brands. Not to mention that there’s some very solid research showing that chemical sunblocks over SPF 30 aren’t as effective as we would like to believe and can become carcinogenic themselves. (Aaaugh!) However, if any of you Snarklings reading this have a favorite sunblock, please mention it in the comments!
As to men’s gothwear in larger sizes: the Lady of the Manners spent some time exploring what the internet had to offer, and was rather disappointed. If you’re interested in Victorian Gothic or Steampunk styles, then Gentleman’s Emporium has a nice selection of shirts, waistcoats, and trousers up to size 3X. Another good store for reproduction 19th century clothing is Jas Townsend and Son, but they are of a much more Serious Historical Re-Enactment sort of place than Gentleman’s Emporium.
But if you’re looking for stylish menswear that isn’t historically-inspired, there doesn’t seem to be a one-stop-shop answer. It should be possible to find comfortable summer clothing to appeal to your darker tastes, but you’ll need to be clever about it and read a lot of labels. Look at what offerings are at the mainstream stores that carry your size range, and look for clothing made from natural fibers. Cotton, linen, rayon; these are fabrics that breathe, and will help keep you cool even if you wear all black. Of course, the down side to those natural fibers is that they require a bit more care (usually ironing) to look their best. But take a look at places such as the Rochester Big and Tall store, which has a good-sized selection of trousers, shirts, shorts, and suits that all come in the Goth-approved black color range.
Also, don’t feel that you absolutely must have a year-round wardrobe of inky hue to maintain your Goth Points! The Lady of the Manners is a big fan of gothy fashion, but believes that it isn’t worth suffering heat stroke over. White, ivory, pale gray, or black and white patterns such as stripes are all part of the Goth Color Palette, and will absorb less heat than the black-as-our-hearts fashion choices we spooky types usually favor. Pale, ghostly spirits are just as darkly fashionable as black-clad creatures of the night, and probably less prone to swooning under the dreaded orb of light.
Kilts are a wonderful summer option (well, year-round option, really), and come in a wide range of styles, sizes, colors, and fabrics. The Lady of the Manners has been told good things about Stumptown Kilts and Utilikilts.
Another thing you can do to keep cool is to carry a parasol and a fan with you when you are outside. Yes, you may get some startled looks from other people, but you will be carrying your own shade and cooling breeze with you, which is far more important than the reactions of passers-by.
… And this is where the Lady of the Manners runs out of clever ideas for Jhim and other larger gentleman, and so she turns to you readers! Do any of you have clicky-links of usefulness for men’s summer gothwear? Please post a comment with them!
The next two questions are getting answered together, as they both concern the Goth community and transgender issues. A darling creature named blankies wrote in asking:
dear darling momma goth,
i have recently arrived at the conclusion that i am not a binary gender, but rather a lovely and much more complicated mix of dapper and glitter and a lotta other things. However, it is extremely difficult for me to find any recognition of gendermessy people or andron clothing in the goth community (i am speaking mostly about online ones right now, i am 15 and living in a heavily conservative town, i do not expect any sort of goth community here, much less one that is inclusive of my gender. I was wondering if you could provide any sort of validation for me, or point me in the direction of some other non-binary goths or fashion. unfortunately, i am too small to wear menswear, and i don’t want to spend a lot of money on clothing, no matter how lovely, that would not fit me. thank you so much!
And Zoey wrote with these concerns:
Hello Lady of the Manners!
I wanted to write to you asking for a bit of advice. I’m a socially awkward transgendered gothic woman living in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Canada. I suppose my questions are: Do you think there is any hope for me finding and making some friends with similar interests out here? I’ve look online everywhere from local groups and clubs to social sites. It seems there is absolutely no one anywhere near me. I would move, but unfortunately due to my current circumstances I cannot. I also feel like I’ll have an even harder time developing a social circle being transgendered. I would hope the the gothic community would be tolerate and maybe even supportive of LGBT peoples, but I’m not sure and scared to find out.
I hope that all made sense and that you can help clear some things up for me. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this!
Darling creatures, the Lady of the Manners most devoutly hopes the Gothic community would not merely tolerate LGBT people, but embrace and support them! If someone has decided that the Goth subculture is where they belong, then they are choosing to embrace eccentricity and glamorous strangeness, and a very large part of that should be accepting people for who they are.
The Lady of the Manners admits that she herself hadn’t been aware there was a name for the genderqueer or genderfluid until quite recently; when various friends over the years said things like “I’m a boy and a girl”, or “My gender is Batman”, the Lady of the Manners just tried to remember to ask her friends which pronouns they preferred to be addressed by.
Where to find information? Tumblr is a fabulous resource for anyone of alternative gender or on the transgender spectrum who may be looking for validation, support, or community! The Lady of the Manners asked Madz(wonderful sparkly creature that they are) for some Helpful Links, and madz was very helpful, indeed!
http://fuckyeahhardfemme.tumblr.com/ (Madz points out that this is a rather specific place in the genderqueer spectrum, but that there is lots of gothy inspiration to be found here.)
According to trusted sources, almost any sufficiently large social networking site is going to have something for people of alternative gender. However, do some research to check on how well-moderated a place is, and how safe it might be for people who aren’t out yet.
The Lady of the Manners wishes she had more helpful information to give all of the non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, and trans folks out there. However, coming as she does from a space of cis privilege, she acknowledges that this is an area where, like anyone who desires to be a good ally, she needs to call on her army of Snarklings for help.. Which is why the comments are open (and moderated!), Snarklings! Advice? Resources? Words of support?
On a very serious note, the Lady of the Manners wants to stress the part about being an ally. Goths face enough scorn and derision from external sources as it is, so we need to draw together and support each other. The Lady of the Manners isn’t asking you to agree with everyone else in the worldwide Goth community, because that would be a mite hypocritical of her. But she IS asking all of you to, oh, agree to disagree, and to be supportive of other’s rights to their opinions. Yes, “treat others the way you want to be treated” is a timeworn cliche, but that’s because it’s such a basic, important truth that sometimes it gets overlooked or dismissed. Treat everyone as kindly as you yourself want to be treated.
So! The Lady of the Manners is going to go
play with write the review of the dolls from Tonner Dolls and Wilde Imagination, and then dive into her teetering stack of to-be-read vampire books in order to write up more installments of the Nocturnal House. But while she’s off doing those things, feel free to write!