Fashion, Snarklings! Remember, the Lady of the Manners said that the next installment of Gothic Charm School was going to be a little more light-hearted, and be about fashion? Because many of you have written to Gothic Charm School with all sorts of questions about hair dye, where to find fashion inspiration, and how to combine an elaborate sense of style with a corporate life. Oh, and a question about Disneyland!
The first round of questions is from Dahlia:
question: Dear Lady of Manners:
I love your book and adore you. I have three things I have been pondering:
One is I love the color blue and wish to get my bangs to look like they got dipped in blue dye, yet I have been having a hard time trying to convince him. I even stopped shopping from Hot Topic ‘mall goth’ attire and I love being a classy gothic Victorian and my father even told me he likes this look better so we’re both happy, yet I still want hair dye. I’ve never even painted my nails black! Just because of my parents.
Second is that I also love the steampunk style too and have read the wonderful book Soulless by Gail Carriger, and shopping around on Etsy I see the same result when typing in ‘steampunk’, I see octopuses. Why is that? I have been confused wondering what the relation is.
Last is that my family has been lucky enough to get free tickets thanks to the Disney ‘Give a day Get a Day’ program, and I really want to go to Disney during the Bats Day event! Yet I have no clue how to sweeten up or at least put the idea into my parents head.
Has your father said why he doesn’t want you to dye your bangs blue? Is he worried that it would be damaging to your hair, or that it would cause a mess? Ask him what his concerns are, and give him information to reassure him that you won’t be setting yourself up for disaster. Most blue hair dyes (and other eccentric or vivid hair color products) are of the semi-permanent vegetable dye variety, and leave a deposit of color on your hair. Of course, if you have dark hair, you’ll have to bleach your hair to a blond color so the blue will show up, and bleach can be a tricky thing to work with. Websites such as Crazy Hair and Velvet Dragon have good guides for how to bleach, color, and clean up from wacky hair dyes. If your father is still not convinced enough to approve your dream of inky blue hair, another option for you is to experiment with clip-in streaks, such as the Strange Strips from Manic Panic.
Oh, you’ve read Soulless by Gail Carriger! The Lady of the Manners thought it was a fabulous romp of a book, and is eagerly looking forward to the sequel. As to the connection between Steampunk and octopodes: Jules Verne is considered to be one of the forefathers of the whole concept of Steampunk, and his book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea does indeed feature a giant octopus. Of course, there may be other connections between steampunk and the noble cephalopod, but Jules Verne is the connection that immediately sprang to the Lady of the Manners’ mind.
Finally, convincing your family to use your free Disneyland passes (you lucky thing!) to go to Bats’ Day. (For those not in the know, Bats’ Day In The Fun Park is an annual, non-Disney sanctioned event where oodles and oodles of Goths all visit Disneyland.) The Lady of the Manners has attended one Bats’ Day, and longs to go to another. Have you talked to your parents at all about Bats’ Day? The Lady of the Manners suggests that you sit down with them and go through the photo galleries from previous Bats’ Days, and show them that there are Goths of all ages having fun at the event. There’s even a special Goth families photo gathering organized for the people who are there with multiple generations of spooky types and their relatives. The photos should help show your parents that going to Disneyland for Bats’ Day will be a way to make your trip to the Magic Kingdom even more fun and entertaining.
Meg, who is looking for suggestions for where to look for fashion inspiration (and admits to following the Lady of the Manners’ LiveJournal), had the following questions:
Dear Lady of the Manners,
I am going through some changes in my life, or rather my wardrobe is. I am slowly but surely moving away from my Baby Bat wardrobe of high school and moving towards, well, I’m not quite sure what yet…
I’ve spent much time wandering about the interwebs, gathering pictures, creating a sort of Look Book of outfits which I like, and trying to figure out my own style. I do however quite fancy the Gothic Lolita look. I have gotten much inspiration and ideas from the LiveJournal communities daily_lolita and egl, and also from The Lady of the Manners’ journal on LJ (I always look forward to your outfit posts, they’re always lovely!). But I must admit I am tiring of all the Sweet Lolita on d_l, and even the youthfulness of Lolita. And being in university and now entering my 20s, I would like to look more mature.
So my question to you is this, are there communities on LJ or elsewhere in the interwebs, that function in the same way as daily_lolita, with people posting their picture, except being strictly Gothic? Oh course; Gothic clothing does cover a very wide range of styles… So perhaps outfits similar to The Lady of the Manners outfits, or outfits that are more professional/corporate in nature. And are there any magazines, websites, or blogs that The Lady of the Manners can recommend for getting inspiration/ideas from for outfits?
And if I may be so bold to ask, where does The Lady of the Manners get inspiration for her outfits?
My apologies if this question has been dealt with before.
Thank you so much for your time,
The Lady of the Manners is sad to say that she doesn’t really know of any communities on LiveJournal similar to egl and daily_lolita that have a strictly Gothic style. (You would think that the gothfash LJ community would be a treasure-trove of gothy fashion photos, but no. The moderators of gothfash do try to persuade the members of the community to post content other than links to people’s eBay auctions, but alas, there is still a dearth of photos.) The Lady of the Manners is fond of the photo_decadent and the steamfashion communities, but admits that they’re not exactly Goth-specific.
The Lady of the Manners, when looking for fashion ispiration, will marvel at the lovely photos on the Viona Art site, especially the Wave Gotik Treffen galleries. Or she will lose hours and hours playing around on Polyvore, making her own version of paper doll sets. (Because really, Polyvore is the biggest set of paper dolls a gothy type could ask for.) Make sure to occasionally page through the fashion magazines to see what sort of photo editorials they’re featuring, especially in the autumn and winter (the traditional times for the fashion industry to rediscover the the Goth subculture).
As for finding more professional or corporate Goth fashion inspiration, the Lady of the Manners feels no one can really go wrong with vintage or antique -influenced styles. Jackets or blazers with Victorian lines, waistcoats, or blouses with lace details all convey a Goth air without looking like you’ve just skulked out of a darkened nightclub.
If your style is not tinged with a Victorian air, then perhaps look for items with good tailoring and interesting lines. A well-fitted suit jacket, trousers of a good cut and subtly interesting fabric, a sweater with an oversized cowl neck and fluid folds; all of those things blur the boundaries (in a good way) of corporate and subcultural dress codes.
The true key, however, to a more corporate-looking Goth wardrobe is the quality of the fabrics. Avoid crushed velvet, PVC or vinyl, or see-through lace without a slip or camisole. Yes, the Lady of the Manners knows very well that mainstream fashion frequently dabbles with all of those fabrics, but if your aesthetic is already tinged with darkness, adding “edgier” fabrics to that style can perhaps push your fashions into not-quite work appropriate. (Unless, of course, you’re employed in a industry that doesn’t really care about dress codes, such as the tech world. But even then, the Lady of the Manners would not recommend wearing a see-through lace dress or a vinyl catsuit to work.)
The Lady of the Manners hopes that her suggestions will help you find more inspiration for creating your Goth wardrobe. Good luck!
Lunar Crymsine had a question about combining Victorian Goth fashion with function and practicality:
Dearest Lady of the Manners,
I have a truly vexing dilemma. My sense of style in quite on the darker side of things, with serious Victorian overtones. This usually entails long bustled skirts, a corset, and a fabulous hat. Now, I am starting a new career in hair design, and up ’til now I have been adhering to a school dress code. Soon, I shall be unleashed upon the world, where I may dress to the wiles of my fancy (Hazzah!), My dilemma is this, In my field of choice, hair is often found on everything. Therefore, my beautiful skirts would act as a broom as I walk, my lace would become a magnet, and my corsets would have to be dry cleaned after every wear. I love this style of dress, dear Lady, but I fear I must give it up for – dare I say – function. Please advise me as to what I might wear that would not act as a hair magnet, as well as fashionable and professional.
Thank you a thousand times,
The Lady of the Manners isn’t going to try and tell you that your concerns about your preferred attire being not entirely practical for your new profession are unfounded, because that would just be silly. But don’t despair! There are ways that you can indulge your fondness for dark and Victorian fashions and not risk ruining them in the course of your work.
Skirts with antique air are still something you can wear to your job, you just need to sure that they don’t have lace trim on the hems, and that they’re not longer than calf-length. Also, as much as it pains the Lady of the Manners to say this, perhaps you should not indulge in petticoats. In her experince, hair salons are full of things that could be knocked over by petticoat-enhanced skirts, and manuvering in them in narrow quarters can be a bit tricky.
Corsets may not be something you can wear to your job, but fitted bodices or waistcoats can give the same sort of smooth, shapely line. If you really want the nipped-in sillhouette of a corset, you may want to investigate some of the simple, off-the-rack cinchers that companies such as Lip Service make, or the elastic-backed cincher-style belts from Heavy Red.
Lace trim is really the only difficult thing to work around. For you’re quite right, any and all lace trim will be a magnet for any hair clippings, no matter how vigorously you may wield a lint brush. Either you will need to resign yourself to constant laundering and brushing, or you will need to search for items that strike your fancy but are relatively free of frills. Perhaps you could go for a very severe Victorian governess look, with high-collared blouses with clean, simple lines and not much in the way of lace frippery. You could also look into adapting something similar to a Victorian gardening smock or motoring duster to wear over your clothing to protect it while you are on the job.
There may come a point in your hair stylist career that you decide that it is easier to have a dark-hued wardrobe accented with Victorian accessories, instead of trying to combine more elaborate fashions with a job prone to messes. Many Goths have work lives that don’t mix with an elaborate wardrobe, and they save their finery for their days off, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to spend
hours and hours a little bit of time playing around on Polyvore and planning her outfits for the next the work week. Coming soon on Gothic Charm School, reviews of the new Toy-Box Trio and Faith And The Muse CDs, and some advice for the flocks of very young babybats who have been writing in as of late. Speaking of writing in … oh, you know what that link is for, the Lady of the Manners is sure of it.