Hats, Lipstick, and “Poseurs”

Helllllllloooooo Faithful Readers, and welcome to June! Ahh, June; the time of year for picnics, tea parties, trips to the zoo, and the start of the annual “The Lady of the Manners whines about the summer heat” festival. The Lady of the Manners will gratefully accept presents of fans, parasols, or ice cream; send them all to her care of gothic.net (well, maybe not the ice cream. That would melt and get all sticky, and Darren the gothic.net Overlord would get annoyed).

This month, the Lady of the Manners is going to answer a hodgepodge of questions from her Faithful Readers. You see, the weather in Gothic Charm School’s area is being lovely and balmy right now, and the Lady of the Manners is finding it . . . difficult to not run away from her computer and go have tea on the lawn. Which is why there isn’t a unifying theme to this month’s column, but rather a charming assortment of topics. Starting off with a question from Noah, who emailed the Lady of the Manners the very day the May column went up:

Each month, I look forward to reading your column, and find myself nodding in silent agreement with your “instructions”, and hope that the gothic.net audience is reading and taking note, following your, what I consider, common sense advice. Often, I am dismayed that some of the topics you cover need to be addressed, as they seem to me basic consideration and manners. Alas. You are providing an essential service, and I thank you for it.

In all my agreements with your columns, one small detail in this month’s Ms. Manners stood out, and caused me some consternation. It was the hat-pin remark – “She was appalled, and desperately wanted to go start stabbing the offenders with her hatpins”. Now, as I was agreeing to myself with your concert-going advice, the hatpin comment caused me to think “Ah, but what of concert-goers with large hats”. Now, perhaps you wear small hats and still use hatpins as a matter of accessory, but I don’t know for sure. Certainly, you would not interfere with others enjoyment of a concert by donning a large hat and keeping it on during the show.. would you?

There are few things more annoying at a concert than someone in front with a large hat; goth shows can be difficult enough with the proliferation of large hair!

Please clear this matter up for me, and patch my faith in your column!

Rest assured dear, the Lady of the Manners doesn’t wear large hats to concerts. Much to the dismay of some of her … snarkier acquaintances, who apparently look forward to causing people discomfort and/or blocking the view of others. No, the Lady of the Manners wears small, delicate hats to concerts, but still uses hatpins with them. Otherwise, the hat may slide off and then the Lady of the Manners would have to rummage around to find it, and that would be an even larger distraction. =)


The next question is from a nice person called Jkavv. After opening their letter with some very charming compliments for the Lady of the Manners (and the Lady of the Manners loves loves loves receiving compliments, have no doubt), Jkavv states:

You often comment on fashion and makeup and suchlike, warning about the sometimes… um.… i suppose “unusual” is a fairly neutral word… effects of large, swirly designs done in eyeliner upon the face. You may wish also to mention that, while black lipstick is fine, putting on an amount that makes your mouth appear to be twice its normal size is also very… unusual. I just have noticed this, and while makeup is completely a matter of personal taste and I would never venture to instill my ideas of “good” makeup upon someone else, some may wish to know that they look like creatures from some awful horror movie from the early 80s. Of course, this is the look some of them are going for, which again is fine, but that sort of makeup is difficult to pull off, if not imppossible..

Oh heavens, where to begin. Yes, the Lady of the Manners has previously uttered warnings about large swirly eyeliner. Before anyone gets too upset, the Lady of the Manners would like to clarify something: she has seen some quite striking and lovely effects done with elaborate eyeliner. The people who wore those looks knew what they were doing and used the proper tools. They did NOT look like they had merely scribbled on their faces using a mushy-tipped Magic Marker. Clean precise lines, kidlings; that’s the effect you want drawing on your face, not the “my first finger-painting” look.

With that said, the abuse of black (or any color!) lipstick is another one of the Lady of the Manners’ pet peeves. It doesn’t matter what color lipstick one is wearing, one should follow the NATURAL contours of one’s mouth. Do you want people to think you’ve escaped from Ringling Brothers? No, the Lady of the Manners didn’t think so. If applying lipstick straight from the tube is giving you problems, scurry on down to the makeup aisles of your local drugstore and buy a lipstick brush. Also, shinyshiny lip glosses tend to . . . migrate off of your lips easier than others, and migrating lip color can also lead to the dreaded ClownMouth look. If you must wear shinyshiny lip gunk, be sure to occasionally pop off to the restroom to check and possibly fix your wandering cosmetics.


Now the third and final letter of the month is from a young lady by the name of Lilith Machine, and asks about that eternal goth topic, poseurs.

Dear Gothic Charm School,
I have been stuck in a small redneck town for 2 years now after entering a doomed relationship with a guy who told me he was gothic, (I had only seen him once prior to moving) he had the attitude manner and look… until I moved here… to this town full of “former” goth 20 somethings. It was like insta-redneck farmboy transformation…After that realtionship there were a few similiar incidents. I have now developed some trust issues about guys who claim to be gothic. At the end of this month (may) I will be moving back to my home…city, most of my gothic friends there have, unfortunatly, moved away. Is there some kinda sercret password I failed to pick up on 6 years ago? How do i find other people TRULY into this scene? Are there some redflags that i should watch out for concerning fakes/posers whatever?

TRULY HONESTLY ABSOLUTLY Gothic and incredibly frustrated Lilith Machine..

Hmmmm. Well, there are all sorts of ‘goth tests’ out there on the web, but the Lady of the Manners doesn’t really put much faith in them. Remember, goth can mean different things to different people. Some people consider Victorian clothes and black lace gothic, still others think gothic means loud thumpy electronic music and glow-in-the-dark accessories. Some will sneer at you if your boots aren’t imported from England and boast heels of a vertigo-inducing height, while others will label you a “poseur” if you don’t know and love every single obscure German noise band that they do.

You silly girl, there aren’t any “red flags”. The Lady of the Manners even knows Goths who like things like The Care Bears and the “music” of Destiny’s Child, for goodness sake. Way back at the dawn of time, when the subculture we know as Gothic first appeared, you could kinda-sorta-maybe assume that if you saw someone else dressed in a goth style, they probably shared the same interests as you. But time has marched on, and the subculture has expanded to include a lot of divergent ideas.

Which means (in the words of alt.gothic.fashion) “goth is what you make it”. So really Lilith Machine, your BEST bet is to find people with the same interests as you. Join goth mailing lists; hang out at local coffee shops and talk to interesting looking people and see if they like the same things you do. And even if they don’t, you shouldn’t write them off as ‘poseurs’. Knowing people with different ideas and interests is GOOD; it will broaden your mind. Even DATING people who aren’t goth is fine – the Lady of the Manners is perfectly happy with her not-a-goth husband; the fact that he isn’t immersed in her subculture only means that they have that much more to talk about. By wanting to surround yourself with ONLY people who you think are goth enough, you’re missing out on a lot of interesting conversations, friends, and ideas. So maybe you shouldn’t worry so much about fakes and posers, and just try to find neat people to associate with.

Well, now that the Lady of the Manners is done haranguing poor little LilithMachine, Jkavv, and Noah, she feels her work here is done. Pop by next month for more fun & hilarity, and DO send any questions or comments to headmistress@gothic-charm-school.com.

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