Hello oh patient Snarklings! Yes, it’s time for another Gothic Charm School post with reader questions! This time there are two fashion-related questions: where to find plus-sized Goth clothes, and what to do when well-meaning family members have no real frame of reference for your personal style.
question: Dear Lady of the Manners,
I would like your opinion on a certain problem I have. I get to see my extended family maybe once or twice a year [around Christmas and sometimes for other events] and while I love them dearly there’s something both sides do that I would love for them to stop…One side likes to call me Katy Perry and the other Lady Gaga. Now I understand why they’d compare me to these two as I have a more out there style and I do like both of these musicians but…I can’t stand being compared to them. When I look at pictures of their outfits they seem very revealing and colorful, which isn’t really my style at all. I feel like I’m being compared to them purely because they’re known for their over the top clothing. I want to tell them I dislike being compared to them but I can’t think of a way that doesn’t sound rude. I’d like to ask them to stop and maybe tell them the names of some of my fashion idols so they’d have a better understanding of my style but I’m drawing a blank on it. I’d really appreciate it if you could give me some advice on this matter.
P.S. In case you’re curious, my fashion idols are Emilie Autumn, Mana-sama from Moi dix Mois, Kanon Wakeshima, Kanon from An Cafe, and [of course] the Lady of the Manners.
Firstly, the Lady of the Manners wants to say thank you for listing her as one of your fashion idols, and alongside such distinctive and elegant company, too!
On to your question: the age-old problem of being compared to whomever the current Very Visible Eccentric Style person is almost a Goth rite of passage. Yes, it can be frustrating to have well-meaning people look at you, nod knowingly, and say “Oh yes, just like that [insert name of some pop star here]“. The Lady of the Manners has, over the years, had people tell her that she’s “just like that one Goth girl, on NCIS?”, or “those cute weird people with the pink hair from Amazing Race!”. It’s very similar to the people who apparently feel compelled to say things like “Your hair is purple” or “You have a lot of tattoos” to the person with the purple hair or tattoos. The Lady of the Manners suspects that the people who make those sorts of comments aren’t actually dim or clueless, it’s just that when they see someone dressed extravagantly, their minds freeze up, and then flounder for a connection so they can say something to help their brains process what they’re seeing. They’re stating the obvious for their own comfort and peace of mind, not to try and hold a conversation.
Of course, none of that really helps you deal with your extended relations and their comparing you to Katy Perry or Lady Gaga! The next time that happens, try smiling at whichever family member made the comment and say (in as a gently-humorous tone as you can manage), “Oh no, I don’t look anything like them! I’m dressed far too modestly!” If you think it will help, practice saying this in a light-hearted, friendly tone until you are certain you will respond to ridiculous comparisons with this tone, and not some sort of exasperated growl.
Then yes, do follow that sort of statement with telling them who some of your stylistic idols are, and don’t be surprised if they have no idea who you’re talking about. Who knows, maybe your relative will ask you to tell them all about Mana-sama or Emilie Autumn!
If your family sticks with their well-intentioned-but-clueless commentary (and the Lady of the Manners suspects they will, because many relatives like to take “funny” statements and repeat them every chance they get), just grit your teeth, smile, and reply with, “Ha ha ha. No”. Don’t get mad, don’t start an argument, just make it clear you’re humoring, not agreeing with them.
Next, Mery asked for help with finding plus-sized Goth fashion:
question: Lady Of The Manners,
First of all, I love your site I’m on it pretty much everyday:) BUT!!!! I need your help!!! And it is about fashion and what not (sorry if those are getting annoying but id love to hear what way you can help) soo… i love fashion and all things goth i cant get enough of it but.. i am a bit bigger, which i think is so much harder for girls, soo it is hard to find stuff and im really insecure which makes it even worse. i cant buy things off the internet and it is so very hard to find something in my size i would actually like to wear and feel good in and is of my taste, and something that i dont look disgusting in…I’ve read many of your letters and responses and i know how you talk about thrift stores and all those other stuff but as i said its harder to find things in a bigger size and i always end up in tears going shopping:”( It would be so amazing if i get a response to this letter!! and i very much hope i do. Thank you for taking the time to read this i absolutely adore you lady of the manners! And i’m sorry for lack of punctuation and sucky grammar…
Ending up in tears when you’re clothes shopping? Oh, you poor love, the Lady of the Manners knows how you feel, and has also had far too many friends suffer the same sort of plight.
Firstly, the Lady of the Manners wants to point you at a LiveJournal community: Fatshionista! This is a wonderful community and resource for finding larger-sized fashions, full of recommendations, reviews, and Outfit of the Day posts from community members. Keep in mind that Fatshionista is not a Goth or alternative fashion community, but there’s a lot of good information there.
You said that you can’t buy things online. The Lady of the Manners is going to be honest with you: that’s going to limit your options for finding interesting clothes. So hit the mainstream stores (especially during the autumn and winter seasons) and look for some basic black blazers, skirts, and blouses, and then load on the accessories.
Check stores like Torrid (who used to be far more alternative-fashion focused, alas), Lane Bryant, Target, Macy’s, JC Penny’s, and Sears, who all carry larger sizes.
What to do once you’ve got those basic garments? Change the buttons, add lace trim, decorate lapels with a collection of gothy pins and brooches, wear a tangle of necklaces, or drape layers of lace scarves around your neck and your hips. Accessorize with lace or interestingly-colored tights or socks, which can be found at Torrid, Lane Bryant, Nordstrom, and Macy’s.
Secondly, learn to sew. Check your local fabric stores and see if they offer sewing classes; some cities have craft stores where you can “rent” time on a sewing machine. (Which the Lady of the Manners thinks is very clever, because not everyone can or wants to own a sewing machine, but having access to one can be incredibly useful.) Take a look at sewing blogs: Tilly and the Buttons has an archive of great posts for people who want to learn how to sew, and the ever-helpful Instructables site has all sorts of tutorials. Just be warned: while sewing your own clothing allows you to control the fit and the fabric choices, it’s not an inexpensive option. In addition to the cost of the supplies, there’s also the cost of the time and effort you put into a piece. While being able to say, “Oh, I made this skirt” is a wonderful feeling, it sometimes doesn’t counterbalance the frustration you went through during the hours you spent sewing it.
The rest of the answers aren’t directly aimed at Mery and her question, because she said that she can’t buy things off the internet. But for you other Snarklings who are looking for larger-sized Goth fashion, some other suggestions:
If you have the budget for it, get some custom-made items. For example, the fabulously-talented Kambriel has always offered custom-sizing for the garments she creates, as does Somnia Romantica on Etsy. Most independant designers should offer custom-size options, and if you don’t see mention of it on their store/website, be sure to ask them about it.
If your budget won’t stretch to custom-made pretties, don’t fret! Retroscope Fashions offers plus-sized options for Victorian-inspired tops and bottoms. (If any of you place an order with the nice folks at Retroscope Fashions, please tell them that Gothic Charm School sent you!)
ChicStar has a fabulous selection of skirts, tops, dresses, and jackets, and offers up to size 28. Yes, they’re located in China, but the Lady of the Manners has been very impressed with not only the quality of the items she’s ordered, but with the speed of delivery, too! (One week from placing an order to it arriving on the doorstep.)
Finally, the Lady of the Manners is going to throw open the comments on this post and see what suggestions the Gothic Charm School readers have for finding larger-sized Goth clothing! (The comments will be, as always, moderated. No bullying, hate speech, or spam will be tolerated.)
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go have a cup of tea and attempt to reorganize her wardrobe. If she’s not devoured by feral petticoats, then she’ll finally finish the Tonner doll reviews and writing about some more vampire books for the Nocturnal House side of Gothic Charm School. And as always, going through the letters people send in …