Hello, Snarklings! The Gothic Charm School mailbox has been receiving a steady stream of letters from babybats with fashion questions. Which is no surprise, because as fledgling spooksters, of course they’re looking for guidance on how to express their affection for all things dark and shadowy. The Lady of the Manners feels that she should take a moment to point out some previous Gothic Charm School posts about gothy fashion, as it is a topic the Lady of the Manners really likes talking about. (And oh goodness, the Lady of the Manners probably should do another post about prom, shouldn’t she?) But! The current crop of correspondence did have a few fashion-focused questions that have not turned up before.
Dear Lady of the Manners,
I hate to bother you, but I have a growing problem that I believe effects some of the baby bat community. I am in middle school and of course we have to take phys. Ed, and I was wondering how you can show your love for the dark when there is no jewelry, your hair is pulled back in a messy ponytail, and the all black look just makes you three times hotter than the rest of the group. The makeup might as well be thrown out the window too, considering it will get messy after the workout anyway. I was wondering if you could help me any or should I just continue on feeling named without my eyeliner? Any response or suggestion would be great.
You would think, wouldn’t you Snarklings, that the Lady of the Manners’ revulsion for P.E. class would have long since withered away, what with her middle and high school years being far, far behind her. But no, just the mention of the class brings back memories of being smacked in the head with soccer balls and other such unhappy notions, and the Lady of the Manners very fervently hopes that you school-age Snarklings are having a much better time of things.
But to address lerrose’s question: There are times when being concerned about displaying one’s subcultural leanings just isn’t that important, and P.E. class is one of them. Because you’re right, any efforts toward elaborate makeup are going to be thwarted by the inevitable perspiration that follows exertion, and you’ll only have to redo all of your eyeliner anyway.
The Lady of the Manners isn’t entirely sure about wearing all black making you overheat faster than other colors of exercise clothing, for surely it has more to do with the fiber content of the clothing, not the colors? But even so, you don’t want to risk your gothy finery for P.E. class. When the Lady of the Manners exercises (or Gothercizes, if you’d rather), she tends to wear black leggings and an oversized concert t-shirt, or black bloomers and a “girly”-cut concert shirt.
However, the Lady of the Manners is very serious about there being times when displaying your gothness isn’t what you should be focusing on. When one is exercising, doing housework, or other strenuous, potentially messy things, don’t fret about if you’ve achieved perfect eyeliner or if you’re adorned in the spookiest outfit possible. For that matter, don’t fret about those sorts of things ever. Do you have a day where you don’t feel like painting your face or pulling on layers of fishnet and velvet? Then don’t, and don’t spend any time worrying about it. Which leads straight to the next question for this post …
I am aged 13 and I have recently discovered your amazing school. I have a question, I am a male and want to change my wardrobe, an idea that I have formulated is the following: for clothing nothing too fancy. Just something like a black shirt and jeans, some boots and a leather jacket. Is this dark enough? Please reply,
Oh gracious, darling babybat, of course your black shirt and jeans, boots, and a leather jacket will be “dark enough”. This may seem surprising from the Lady of the Manners, whose devotion to wildly elaborate clothing is rather well known, but your gothness is not determined by your wardrobe. Stop swooning in shock, it really isn’t.
Yes, part of the Goth archetype (or cliche, if you would rather) is that we’re all fabulously-dressed creatures of darkness, draped in velvet, lace, leather, and layers of shredded fishnet, our eyes thickly painted with intricate eyeliner designs, and our black-nailed hands barely able to move for the weight of the giant rings on our fingers. And yes, the Lady of the Manners is very fond of those cliches. But those cliches are not requirements, not by a long shot.
As the Lady of the Manners has said before, Goth is about finding beauty in the darker corners of life, of having an appreciation for the macabre, the unsettling, the decadent, and the monstrous. Goth enfolds much, much more than fashion: there’s music, literature, movies –every type of artistic endeavor has been done with a Gothic twist at one point or another! Plus there’s the historical and philosophical roots of the Gothic movement to explore!
Over the years, there has been this weird double-standard in the Goth world; if you show “too much” enthusiasm for the dark glamour of Goth fashion, some people will dismiss you as a poseur or as someone who is only playing dress-up and isn’t a REAL Goth. On the flip side of the coffin lid, if you don’t concern yourself with that dark glamour and focus more on the non-fashion aspects of Goth, other people will dismiss you for not showing the subculture colors, as it were, and say that you aren’t a REAL Goth. All of which the Lady of the Manners dismisses with a wave of a ring-bedecked hand and says, piffle. Are you interested in parts of the Goth world? Do you want to call yourself a Goth? Then you are a REAL Goth, and ignore the petty people who try and tell you that you aren’t.
For that matter, the notion of REAL Goths is ridiculous, because no one, and the Lady of the Manners really does mean NO ONE, is super-spooky ultra-Goth 24/7. It’s not possible, and the people who try to say that “this thing is Goth, this thing isn’t, and here is the list of rules you have to adhere to in order to be Goth” are doing nothing but betraying their own insecurities.
So don’t worry about your style being “dark enough”. Don’t worry if there are activities that keep you from wrapping yourself in dark finery, and don’t worry if there are times when you just don’t feel like putting on the full creepshow display. You are still Goths in your black hearts and inky souls, and that, Snarklings, is the most important part.