No Tolerance for White Supremacists. Ever.

17 January 2019

For this installment of Gothic Charm School, dear Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to get political. Wait, no, that’s the wrong word, because treating people with respect and not being a horrible excuse for a human isn’t, and shouldn’t be political.

This particular version of the question came from the inbox of the Gothic Charm School Tumblr, but is also something that has been asked in other goth spaces:

Dearest Aunt Jillian, is it advisable to tell the club management when other patrons who are part of their biweekly Goth Night are bothering you? I don’t want to give the club any reason to discontinue Goth Night but there’s this small four person cluster of swastika-wearing metalhead-Goths who are making myself and a lot of my friends uncomfortable with behaviors such as commenting on ‘Jewish’ facial features, insulting POC Goths in attendance and ‘jokingly’ doing the Hitler salute. Advice?


N*zis are NOT WELCOME in the goth community. They should be removed, including any edgelord types who are “jokingly” aligning themselves with those fascist scum. Their behavior must not be tolerated.  There is no such thing as “jokingly” viewing other people as lesser or subhuman. There is no such thing as “jokingly” supporting a stance that espouses genocide. Any support or even tolerance of hate speech and hate groups helps normalize them. People who “jokingly” support such things aren’t really joking; they’re testing the waters, and their behavior will escalate to threats and violence.

The goth subculture is no place for hate groups. For that matter, no subculture — punk, metal, pagan, and so on — should include hate groups. Every subculture has had to enforce their boundaries and chase out the N*zis. Hold that line, and make it clear through actions that the hate groups aren’t tolerated. What actions? Sticking up for the people being targeted. Letting the “jokers” know their behavior is not acceptable, through direct confrontation, or things like creating and passing out fliers and stickers stating directly that the scene won’t tolerate them. And if necessary, forcibly removing them. If you or someone else decides to forcibly remove them, keep in mind that the police may get involved; organizing bail and transportation from the station for the folks who clashed with the hate group is especially helpful.      

The club management must be told. Organize a group complaint, or make sure that the folks who are concerned commits to voicing their problems as individuals, and as soon as possible. They shouldn’t be willing to have patrons like that; if the management ignores your concerns, then stop attending, because that’s a clear sign the management doesn’t care about the safety of their patrons who aren’t horrible people.

The Lady of the Manners understands your concern about the club possibly discontinuing the night, but there will be other goth nights, and if there aren’t, then you and your friends should approach other clubs about hosting a goth night. Be sure to discuss the club policies toward hate speech and hate groups <b>before</b> the goth night is agreed upon.

In case the Lady of the Manners hasn’t made this clear enough to anyone reading this: N*ZIS ARE NOT WELCOME IN THE GOTH COMMUNITY. EVER.

And now, a classic punk musical interlude:

Stereotype Technology – For Your Window Shopping Needs – January 4, 2019

3 January 2019

Snarklings, remember in the previous installment of Stereotype Technology, when the Lady of the Manners said she was going to include more than just her aesthetic? Let’s just assume that she meant sometimes include, shall we?

(All images are property of their respective creators and owners.)

The Lady of the Manners has a terrible weakness for vintage gothic romance paperbacks. You know the ones: the covers feature a young lady in a flowing white nightgown or a beautiful dress, running from a foreboding mansion. Sometimes she’s standing warily in a graveyard, on a cliff, or in another ominous location. (The Lady of the Manners has opinions about how many of these paperbacks are subversively feminist, despite the formulaic nature of the stories, and will eventually subject all of you to those opinions.)

Did you know that Avon publishing had a subset of gothic romances that were “Satanic”? All that really meant was that there was more of an occult horror thread to the plots, but in addition to the fabulous cover art, there was a tiny goat head design on each cover to show which line they belonged to. Needless to say, the Avon Satanic Gothics are some of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite examples of the genre, and as she has accrued a complete set, she’s willing to share some links.

Red Wine of Rapture

The Twisted Tree

This Mortal Coil was one of the leading lights of the early dream pop / romantigoth music genre. Coming from the 4AD record label, This Mortal Coil was a collective of guest musicians and vocalists. Their best known single, Song To The Siren is probably one of the top songs of longing and heartbreak for the goth subculture. 4AD released remastered versions of the albums on CD and vinyl, and are breathtaking. The Lady of the Manners has owned their three albums in one form or another for decades, and the remastered versions have a clarity of detail she’s never heard before.

A one-of-a-kind doll of Mina Murray! Of course, if the Lady of the Manners were to own this, she would be compelled to commission a Dracula doll from the artist, and then madness would take hold. But still! A Mina Murray doll!

Long after midnight one night (which is a perfectly normal time to be awake) the Lady of the Manners made the discovery that there are sellers on eBay that use the terms “strict governess” or “Victorian governess” to describe clothing items. This is a wonderful discovery. This is a dangerous discovery.

Strict Governess blouse

Victorian Governess skirt

Rituel de Fille is one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite cosmetic companies. Their products are high-quality, and the owners are charming and delightful. Eclipse cream pigment, a wonderful eggplant color, is one of the things the Lady of the Manners uses one way or another whenever she does her makeup; while the Lady of the Manners has used it as an eyeshadow base and lip color, the main thing she uses it for is contouring. You see, Snarklings, shadows are not brown. If you want a more accurate shade to create shadows on your face, avoid brown-based contour palettes. With Eclipse, you can apply a tiny bit and blend, blend, blend for a natural shadow effect. If you’re very invested in a deathrock and/or creature of the night aesthetic, you can apply it in layers for as dramatic an effect as you want.

Bat cufflinks! Who doesn’t need bat cufflinks?

If you don’t need bat cufflinks, perhaps you need a black silk jabot?

And finally, to adorn your walls, perhaps an Edward Gorey vampire bat poster.

For the next round of Stereotype Technology, the Lady of the Manners will try very hard to find items that appeal to a wider range of aesthetics; perhaps some industrial or deathrock goodies? Unless her fevered binging of vintage gothic romances lead her to finding items to outfit the assorted characters found within them.

Do you have Stereotype Technology items you’d like help finding? Is there a style of gothic fashion you’d like to see explored? Do you just want to shake your fist at the Lady of the Manners for leading you into temptation? Then leave a comment!

A Slight Reprise of the Never-Ending Goth Debate

19 December 2018

As some of you may remember, Snarklings, a few posts ago the Lady of the Manners took on The Never-Ending Goth Debate. There was good discussion in the comments, and the Lady of the Manners thanks you all for keeping things civil!

Of course, that post prompted a small flurry of email, and while the Lady of the Manners doesn’t want to keep circling back to the What Is Goth? topic, she does want to address two letters that asked about the boundaries and outline of goth.

From Wraith:

Salutations, Lady of the Manners! In a recent post you discussed the unending debate of “what is goth?”, as well as the issues with gatekeeping and elitism that sadly exist within the community (and in just about every community on Earth, in my experience). I appreciated reading your opinions as well as those in the comments.

Now my question/dilemma is this: should I use the term “goth” or “gothic” to describe myself? Labels in general aren’t hugely important to me, but when people ask (and they always do) “are you goth?”, what should my answer be?

I’m well versed in the history and inspirations of the goth subculture. I know the bands and influences that helped shape goth-dom into what it is today, and I can certainly appreciate that. However, I’m just not very invested in old-school goth rock. Having spent a lot of time listening to every classic goth band I could track down, I can honestly say that it’s just not my cup of tea. There are songs here and there that I like, but the genre in general just isn’t for me. I’m somewhat of a quiet introvert, so the clubbing scene isn’t my thing either. I do love many newer goth/goth-influenced artists like Hannah Fury, Emilie Autumn, etc., but my primary musical tastes are in classical and opera.

On the other hand, my tastes are textbook goth. I find beauty in the dark, eerie, and macabre. I adore gothic novels and poetry. I love to go for midnight strolls under the full moon, with my black velvet skirts swishing around me as I walk (yes, really)… My closet is stuffed to bursting with victorian, vampire, and romantigoth fashion (and has been for over a decade). These are just a sampling of my decidedly “gothic” inclinations.

So in your opinion, what would it be most appropriate for me to term myself? “Goth”, or “gothic”?

All my thanks,

And from Morwenna:

Gracious Headmistress, I have a rather unique problem that I hope you would be able to solve, if at all possible.

I consider myself a goth, as I have done for several years now, but while I appreciate the subculture’s roots in music, I don’t particularly enjoy the “typical” goth music as much as some people would like me to. That’s not exactly the problem, however.

I do love gothic literature with a passion; in fact, I’m building my career in writing retellings or sequels of some older gothic novels. Still, I know many goths enjoy vampire fiction, especially classics like Dracula. While I have read Dracula and other classic vampire novels (I particularly enjoyed Carmilla), I have always found myself enjoying gothic novels that goths don’t commonly speak of, with my favorites being Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (I suppose I like mad scientists and all the corresponding tropes quite a lot). I have, unfortunately, encountered several people that my favorite pieces of gothic fiction don’t “count” as gothic, especially the latter. I do find that notion a bit silly, but it got me thinking.

Which brings me to my question: does goth have to follow certain patterns (for lack of a better word)? Is it possible to be goth in a different way then is common for most people and still be able to claim that label? I know there should be certain requirements to be considered goth, but how far can boundaries be pushed?

Yours truly,


The Lady of the Manners’ short answer to the requirements and boundaries question is, as always, this: Are you interested in darker art, literature, music, or fashion? Do you see beauty in things that others may consider morbid or disturbing? Then you are, in some way, goth. The Lady of the Manners is well aware that there are people who disagree with her on this (oh, so vehemently disagree!), but she feels that those should be the only requirements. Goth is derived from Gothic, and Gothic is intrinsically about enjoying the uneasy and unsettling beauty of dark and shadowy things. And while the more of those interests you have are probably an indicator where you fall in terms of “gothness”, you don’t have to have all of those interests to be a goth.

Which is why the arbitrary standards that assorted people try to apply to the goth/gothic subculture make the Lady of the Manners so annoyed. Even if there were a comprehensive, universally agreed-upon list of What Is Goth, no one, absolutely no one, would be able to check off every item on it. Also, would that hypothetical list be set in stone, never to be amended, thereby excluding all new art, movies, literature, music, etc. from ever being considered goth? The very idea makes the Lady of the Manners grind her teeth (which is terrible for one’s fangs).

What should be labeled “goth” vs. what should be “gothic” is a pointless debate. Yes, the subculture coalesced around the music, but the music, the bands, and the fans all shared gothic interests and aesthetics, but trying to split those interwoven dark threads seems a waste of energy. (She says, writing yet another post about the whole thing.)

The Lady of the Manners was a little taken aback by part of Morwenna’s letter; there are people saying that stories such as Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde don’t count as gothic?! But the themes of grief, rage, and venting dark urges! Forbidden knowledge! Storm-driven laboratories and fog shrouded streets! The Lady of the Manners is firmly on your side in this discussion, Morwenna, and will raise her eyebrows at anyone who does espouse those views.

(Frankenstein not gothic. Hmmph. Honestly, some people.)


The Gothic Charm School mailbox has also been seeing a mild burst of letters from younger readers asking how to tell their parents that they’re goth, or how to explain goth to them. The Lady of the Manners is planning to soon write another post about this very topic, but the following posts are a helpful starting point:

Of Babybats Striving to Become Themselves
Of Dealing With School Dresscodes
Of Dealing With Your Parents

Not to mention there’s an entire chapter in the Gothic Charm School book about the whole question!

The Lady of the Manners is now going to retreat to her crypt with a glass of absinthe and a vintage gothic romance paperback, and probably browse for items to feature in the next Stereotype Technology post. Comments, as always, are open, and also as always, moderated, so be polite.

May the rest of December treat you well, and may 2019 be kind to us all!

Stereotype Technology – For Your Window Shopping Needs – November 19, 2018

18 November 2018

That’s right, Snarklings, it’s time for another collection of window shopping! Makeup! Candles! Post-apocalyptic accessories! Because as the Lady of the Manners has written before, she is trying to find things that appeal to a wide range of gothy tastes and aren’t just “Her aesthetic, let her show you”.

However, speaking of the Lady of the Manners’ aesthetic, how about some gorgeously shimmery, deeply-pigmented cosmetic pigments?


Or glitter? Yes, the Lady of the Manners knows that once glitter enters your cosmetic routine, it never goes away. She’s fine with that. If you feel the same way, then you need to know about Bulk Glitters! Cosmetic-grade glitter in a variety of colors and effects, with ¾ OZ. JARS FOR UNDER $6. (Yes, that deserved all-caps.)


For those of you who wear makeup and need/want magnetic palettes, Book of Shadows makes ones covered in fancy paper! And while the Lady of the Manners knows exactly where those goth paper designs are from (she bought the same papers during THREAT LEVEL: PUMPKIN 2018), these palettes are beautifully constructed and not merely pre-made ones with fancy paper glued on.


For one of the “Not my aesthetic, but impressive!” selections, SceneSick Custom Apparel offers wildly elaborate garments for all of your dark sorcerer and/or wasteland marauder needs.


For the more cybergoth or industrial -inclined among you, Michelle Uberreste does interesting things with stretchy fabrics, vegan leather, rubber, and mesh.


How about some leather bat wings to add to your boots or corset? There are imitations all over the place, but the original — and best! — Bootwings come from Tormented Artifacts.


Do you like lapel pins? Do you like fearsome crones from folklore? Then you probably want the Baba Yaga pin from MoonBratStudio.


The Lady of the Manners has been assured by people she trusts that the Happy Haunts candle from Main Street Melts really does smell like her spiritual home, the Haunted Mansion.


The Lady of the Manners tries not to feature something by Kambriel in every installment of Stereotype Technology, really she does. But look at this neck ruff/choker made with antique lace!


Finally, a garment that the Lady of the Manners owns multiples of, in black and in burgundy. She has no idea if Dangerous FX has commissioned these from someplace once Chic Star discontinued the design or if they found a hidden cache in a warehouse, and it doesn’t matter. The perfect riding coat -style skirted waistcoat! In addition to being versatile and amazing, IT HAS POCKETS.

Are there particular things you’d like the Lady of the Manners to seek out during her nocturnal window shopping jaunts? A goth style you’d like to see a collection of links for? Leave a comment!

The Never-Ending Goth Debate

7 November 2018

It is time, Snarklings, for the Lady of the Manners to delve back into a topic that is resurrected wherever goths gather. Well, perhaps “resurrected” is the wrong term, because the Lady of the Manners is very aware that this topic has never died. Ever. This fight discussion probably lurched forward at the very instant the subculture coalesced out of the shadows: what is goth?

:: a momentary pause while the Lady of the Manners hides her face in her hands and takes a deep breath ::

This post is prompted by the never-ending discussion that has bubbled up again across almost all of the social media places the Lady of the Manners frequents, and is also creeping across the places she doesn’t. So, it’s time for the Airing of Opinions and Holding Forth, with a side of research. To start, here’s how someone on Tumblr asked about this whole thing:

Sorry if this has been asked already but I see a lot of people […] gatekeeping and saying that goth is and only ever was a style of music but… Is it not, specifically, what the music was *about*? Like not just the sound it has but also the feelings and stories behind the lyrics? To me it’s like saying the enlightenment era was just a style of art and not the thoughts it was trying to provoke. ¯\_(ツ)_/ ¯

In the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, goth is, and always was, about more than a style of music. The “gothic” label was originally applied by the music press to the formative bands because despite a having a range of different musical styles, those bands were exploring the ideas, stories, and art that were historically considered gothic.

Then the Lady of the Manners dug out a stack of her reference books about the subculture. Here, have some quotes! (But if you’re interested in the history and antecedents of goth, all of these books are good ones.)

From GOTH Undead Subculture, edited by Lauren M.E. Goodlad and Michael Bibby:

“A discordant bricolage of hyperromantic elements, goth drew inspiration from its glam, punk, and new wave subcultural antecedents. But it also culled freely from Gothic literary-historical traditions; from vampire cults, horror flicks, and B-movie camp […] and from a historical canon of the gothic avant-garde. […] it is worth noting that the goth tendency to embrace gothic literature and art has made the subculture more dialectically engaged with the past than is typical of most “youth” cultures, providing yet another source of exceptional vitality.”

From The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock by Dave Thompson, about the dawning of the gothic music scene:

“[…] an examination of what transpired when one specific tentacle of the post-Punk British rock octopus stopped flailing around in the wastes above its head and burrowed instead into its blackest cave, there to contemplate … whatever.

Some of its thoughts were indeed of a distinctly Gothic bent. Mrs. Radcliffe, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Alice Cooper and Sir Francis Dashwood, Gothic archetypes one and all, each plays their part in the pantomime.”

And finally, from the man who was there at the start of it all, the man who is the historian of the subculture, Mick Mercer, in his Gothic Rock Black Book:

“Goth onstage cries, howls, and growls. Goth offstage goes quietly insane and wraps itself in drunken worship, pagan worship, and the loins of psychologically damaged French philosophers.”

But the key statement from Mr. Mercer’s excellent book is this:

“It takes a lot of explaining, but very little understanding, to see that Goth is an invisible substance at the heart of empathic but essentially differing forms of music — Goth in reality being its audience —”

The Lady of the Manners has seen a lot of comments that essentially state that music is the only marker for being a goth. If you’re interested in other dark artforms, fashion, history, and so on, you are gothIC, but not a goth. These sorts of statements make the Lady of the Manners pause in her rereading of Dracula and dismissively wave a black lace handkerchief. There is no One True Goth Sound, there never has been (except for a possible fondness for minor keys, and even that’s not a constant). The common black silk thread between the Original Goth Bands is that they all drew lyrical influences from fiction, art, and ideas around the romantic allure of the dark, morbid, and horrific. For that matter, none of those Original Goth Bands were (or are) comfortable with being called goth or gothic. The perennial joke about the sure way to identify a goth band is if they say they’re not goth has survived this long for a reason, Snarklings.

In addition, one of the markers of the scene since the beginning was a dark, morbid, and romantic aesthetic and fashion. That was how goths recognized each other! Back In The Day it was expected that if you were a goth, you dressed in a gothic style. If someone went to a show or a club and wasn’t recognizably dressed goth, they were regarded with disdain. (The Lady of the Manners is fervently glad that this attitude has been slowly dwindling over the years.)

Gatekeeping has not kept goth alive or undead, because telling people they’re not whatever enough to be part of a community dooms that community to being a fossil trapped in amber, a historical relic. (With whatever being the aspect that the person doing the gatekeeping is most invested in. In the Lady of the Manners’ experience, gatekeepers are usually divided into two types: Music Is Everything or You Have To Dress The Part.)

People who seek shelter under the inky umbrella of goth have to start somewhere, and NO ONE comes to this subculture knowing everything about it. Yes, people should learn about the outline of goth, and no, not everything can or should be defined as goth. But those outlines are not a rigid template, and expecting people to rattle off a list of all the bands on the original Gothic Rock and Gothic Rock 2 CDs is more than a little ridiculous.

Finally: the song that is widely recognized as codifying the goth subculture, the song that is the musical touchstone, is about an actor in a stylized B&W movie that is an adaptation of one of the classics of gothic literature. The Lady of the Manners is talking, of course, about “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”.

And now in the hopes of interesting discussion, the comments are open! The Lady of the Manners is going to keep an even closer eye on them than usual, as this is a topic that can bring out less-than-civil conversationalists, but she is very interested in seeing what sort of discussion happens. Feel free to disagree with the Lady of the Manners or other posters, but keep it polite.

Stereotype Technology: Romantigoth!

21 October 2018

Snarklings across various social media sites have requested Stereotype Technology posts that focus on specific substyles of goth fashion, with helpful hints for searching out the corresponding wardrobe pieces. Never one to shy from window shopping for goth clothing, the Lady of the Manners decided to start with the style she favored back in the 90s: Romantigoth!

Romantigoth is different from vampire goth fashion or Victorian goth fashion; it’s a subtle distinction, but it’s there. All three styles would be good for midnight picnics or visiting the Addams Family, but the Victorian side is more prim and funereal, while vampire goth has an undercurrent of “Yes, I have a fabulous velvet-lined coffin hiding in the depths of my ancestral castle”.

THE style icon for the feminine side of romantigoth fashion is, of course, Stevie Nicks. Flowing skirts and blouses worn with long vests, frock coats, or dusters, all in lace, chiffon, and velvet are the things to look for. Search keywords that are particularly helpful are:

  • Tiered or broomstick skirt.
  • Boho, peasant, or g*p*y. (The Lady of the Manners hates that a racial slur is still used to describe garments that are supposed to evoke a romantic, “free-spirited” style, but it doesn’t look like the term is going away. The Lady of the Manners completely understands and is supportive if you don’t want to use that search keyword.)
  • Pirate, because a lot of sellers think a ruffled blouse or full skirt are costume pieces.
  • Poet.
  • And of course, “Stevie Nicks”. :: grin ::

Almost all of the items shown in this post are vintage, and the listings may not still be active. But even if someone else has beaten you to the item in question, they’ll still give you an idea of the sorts of goodies you’re looking for.

Black and silver tiered skirt.

Tiered velvet and floral skirt.

25 yard cotton skirt, for your extreme flouncing needs!

Ivory ruffle blouse.

Black sheer ruffled blouse.

The Lady of the Manners has this exact black chiffon poet blouse hanging in her closet.

Black velvet and brocade vest.

Rayon “duster” vest — with pockets!

DKNY long velvet vest

Velvet granny boots. Because we didn’t care that we were probably going to ruin them by scurrying through the graveyard in the middle of the night, they were velvet granny boots.

On the more masculine side of the gender spectrum, the hard fact of goth fashion still holds true for romantigoth: there’s just not a lot of variety, and it’s very annoying. In fact, the main difference between masculine romantigoth and … almost any other masculine goth styles is that romantigoth isn’t as buttoned up. Literally. High collars, cravats, jabots, and ties are not common sights in romantigoth.

ETERNAL men’s poet shirt. Yes, romantigoths of every gender wore ruffled, flowing shirts. As you can imagine, this led to some confusion amongst roommates during laundry day.

Banded collar dress shirt. The usual goth boy (boi, man, or masculine -type creature) wardrobe included three of these: one black, one white, and one in whatever their preferred jewel tone was.

Velvet pants. The Lady of the Manners is still a little agog that velvet pants from Hot Topic can honestly be labeled as “vintage”, but the Lady of the Manners also still occasionally feels that the 90s are only 10 years in the past.

Time to raid the formalwear section! Vests, frock coats, and tail coats, oh my!

Velvet vest. A romantigoth with aspirations to dandyism would have three or four in different colors. How fancy!

Frock coat. If you’re very lucky, you can find these at thrift stores.

Tail coat. These are harder to find at thrift stores, but they have been known to turn up!

Dr. Martens boots were a staple.

If you wanted to talk super, super fancy, every romantigoth (no matter their gender) desperately wanted to get their hands on an antique wool Knights of Columbus/Knights of the Templar/Masonic coat. The Lady of the Manners knows of at least one couple who had a reasonably amicable break-up until it came time to decide who owned the coat. (And the Bela Lugosi’s Dead glow-in-the-dark picture disc.)

And finally, the accessory everyone had, and yes, the Lady of the Manners still collects them: the silver ankh necklace.

Are there key romantigoth wardrobe items the Lady of the Manners forgot? Do you have photos of your outfits that you want to share? The comments are open!”

You Don’t Have to Be Neurotypical

1 October 2018

As the Lady of the Manners has mentioned before, she is frequently humbled by some of the heartfelt, heartsore letters that Snarklings have written to Gothic Charm School. And the Lady of the Manners often worries that she isn’t really able to help; she’s a well-meaning Internet Auntie, not a professional. But even with those concerns, she IS determined to help as much as she’s able, because that’s what everyone should do. Sometimes the help is focused on music, clothing, and books, and sometimes it’s focused on reassuring people that they are a goth. And sometimes, it’s a little bit of both.

Dear Lady of the Manners,

I’m twenty-seven (turning twenty-eight in October) with Autism and have wanted to become Goth ever since 2009 but so many things have stopped me. Back then I didn’t know about the Internet due to being in a Christian school since third grade so I didn’t know I could search things until 2010. Back in 2011 I made a friend who was Goth and asked for her advice but she told me that because of my Autism, I was to naive and childish to be one. Later on I learned about different Gothic subcultures and got interested in Baby Doll and Victorian Goth. When I told her about the ones I was interested in, she told me I was to tall and chubby. Since 2014, I decided that I would become Gothic but I don’t have a job and my little sister and mom care for me. I’ve been trying to get a job since 2009 so I could help but the only job available in town has been ignoring my application. My sister buys things for me but I never let her know about the expensive things I want. Please forgive me for the long introduction, my question is do I have to be skinny and shorter to be a Baby Doll Goth or Victorian? Also do you know any cheap online stores that sell those types of Goth clothes? My mom says that Autism doesn’t affect who I want to be but does it?

Have a blessed day,

Right off the bat (that has possibly left the bell tower, but possibly hasn’t), your mom is correct: autism absolutely does not affect who you want to be. Whether someone is neurotypical or atypical has no bearing on if they “can” be goth. Do you have an appreciation for the wide range of fascinations and beauty that can be found in shadowy subjects? Congratulations, you are a goth. As always, the Lady of the Manners suggests doing some exploring and research to learn more about the subculture – the music, the aesthetic, the history – but don’t feel that you aren’t a goth unless you’re able to pass some sort of test. For one thing, there isn’t a goth test (or goth points, or an Eldergoth Cabal), and for another, your autism wouldn’t have any impact on those (ridiculous) things if they did exist.

As to your “friend” (those are quotes of intense disbelief and scorn, in case it wasn’t clear) who said you were too naive, childish, tall, and chubby to be a goth, the Lady of the Manners has some choice words: They. Were. Wrong. Deeply wrong. There are no physical requirements to be a goth; height, weight, and skin color are all irrelevant. So are age, gender, sexuality, beliefs, or temperament. Goth is a collection of interests, not checkmarks. Your “friend” saying these things to you when you expressed your interests shows them to be misguided at best, and a bullying gatekeeper at worst. Gatekeepers in our community are terribly easy to spot, as they’re the ones who try to enforce rules about who can and can’t be goth. Have an understanding about the “outline” of the subculture and how dark, fantastical ideas stretched shadowy fingers to shape a type of music and fashion, but if someone tries to tell you there are Rules of Goth, ask them who defined those rules and how do they suggest you learn what those rules are. Or laugh at them. Or both.

(That’s the thing that annoys the Lady of the Manners the most about gatekeepers: they’re very quick to proclaim that someone isn’t a Real Goth, but never offer any insight or information. The Lady of the Manners isn’t saying they need to make a presentation or teach a class, but if someone is so caught up in dictating what is and isn’t goth, they should at least be able to provide an example or two of what they do think is goth.)

Finally, the Lady of the Manners has a few suggestions for finding the goth styles you are interested in:

  • If you are looking for Victorian-flavored clothes, also look for steampunk. There’s a fair amount of crossover between the style families, and things may not always be labeled as goth.
  • If you search “Baby Doll”, you will probably run into sites and clothing that is aimed at fetishests. Which is fine! But if you’re looking for clothing that is more along the lines of “fancy doll in a modest frilly dress” instead of “short ruffled dresses that are infantilizing and probably show off your underwear”, then the terms “gothic lolita” or “elegant gothic lolita” will probably be more helpful. (The gothic lolita style has nothing to do with the book Lolita.) The site is a good source to see examples of the various styles that make up those terms.

As to some cheap online stores that sell those types of goth fashion:

  • Chic Star has a good selection of blouses, skirts, jackets, and dresses that can be adapted to the Baby Doll or Victorian style.
  • Amazon. Yes, really! There is a dizzying array of goth fashion on Amazon; the Lady of the Manners searched using the keywords “gothic Victorian” in the women’s fashion category, and made herself stop browsing after three hours, even though she was nowhere near the end of the results. Most of the clothes toward the inexpensive end of prices will almost certainly be made in China, and may run as much as two sizes smaller than you’d expect, so keep that in mind if you order anything. But the Lady of the Manners will also say that she’s purchased some very nice Victorian-style blouses, skirts, and full-skirted jackets from Amazon for not a lot of money, so it’s worth a shot! Just be sure to read the reviews of the item, and pay close attention to any that mention the size range.
  • Mainstream mall or “big-box” stores, such as Target, Forever 21, Torrid, and so on. Mainstream trends always borrow from goth fashion in one way or another, and you can frequently find Victorian or doll-like clothes, especially during autumn and winter. Also, those sorts of stores always have sales or special promotions, and offer discounts if you (or your mom or sister) sign up for their mailing lists.

The Lady of the Manners is very, very glad you decided to write to Gothic Charm School, and hopes that you are able to explore goth to your spooky heart’s content.

Do any of you have words of encouragement for L? Suggestions for fashion sources or how to deal with gatekeepers? Please comment!

(Comments are, as always, moderated. But the Lady of the Manners loves reading the comments, so please do!)

Stereotype Technology – For Your Window Shopping Needs – September 10, 2018

9 September 2018

It turns out the Lady of the Manners has far more self-control than she ever suspected, Snarklings! While wandering about collecting links of Stereotype Technology, she only indulged in two purchases! Both of which were items she actually needed, not just coveted to a ridiculous degree.

But first, a review of an item from the previous Stereotype Technology post! The Lady of the Manners did indeed buy a bottle of GOTH CLUB 89 from Whisper Sisters, and is delighted to report that the description is not hyperbole:

If you were there, you know the smell. Heavy resins, candle smoke, nicotine, clove, incense, absinthe, with a hint of intoxicating florals and vintage dark patchouli to balance everything out.

This perfume smells like a nostalgic dream of every goth club the Lady of the Manners has ever been in, with none of the unsavory and disgusting additional scents that were part of the reality of any nightclub anywhere. This perfume is perfect, and the only reason the Lady of the Manners hasn’t scented everything with it is out of respect for people who have perfume-triggered migraines.

Now, onward to the current round-up of clicky-links!

All images contained in this post are property of their respective owners.

Violent Delights eye shadow from ili

As some of you may know, the Lady of the Manners is on a never-ending search for the perfect burgundy blood wine eye shadow. Not coppery, not too purple, and absolutely not brown. This color from ili is the closest she’s found, and it’s very nice.

However, it looks like ili’s shop is currently taking a break, woe! You’ll probably want to sign up for a notification of when they return, because their products are lovely.

Lunar Tides hair color in Cranbaby

The Lady of the Manners is also on a never-ending hunt for semi-permanent, deeply pigmented burgundy blood wine hair color. Lunar Tides is an indie hair color company, and their “Cranbaby” color may just be what she’s been looking for.

Madame Talbot Dracula’s Greeting poster

Your walls need art quoting Dracula. Trust the Lady of the Manners about this.

Hanging bat embroidery from Lalunaoddities

Speaking of things to hang on your walls, what about a piece of embroidered art with a real bat?

Mesh blouse bell sleeves from PaperCatsPL

To point out the obvious, the Lady of the Manners is terribly fond of any garment that has huge mesh bell sleeves. She doesn’t care how impractical they are!

Mistress Frankenstein dress from HouseOfGoth

The Lady of the Manners is going to make an effort to provide a wide range of Stereotype Technology links, not just items that cater to her personal aesthetic. While this dress isn’t something she’d wear, it is adorable.

Mesh Sorceress Dress

Yes, this is a Halloween costume. Yes, the dress is probably awful. The Lady of the Manners doesn’t care, because she’s been coveting the mesh cape from this costume for years.

Haute Macabre “It wasn’t just a phase” candle

Haute Macabre, one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite spooky sites, has teamed up with Three Ravens Company to create a candle to declare your allegiance to our dark subculture, with notes of parchment, leather, vetiver, and frankincense.

For the next installment of Stereotype Technology: links to help you assemble a vintage Romantigoth outfit! As always, if there are items you’d like the Lady of the Manners to try and search out, please leave a comment!

An Interview with Tara Johnson-Medinger, Producer/Director of My Summer as a Goth

27 August 2018

As some of you may know, in 2011 the Lady of the Manners was asked to be the official goth consultant on Brandon Lee Roberts and Tara Johnson-Medinger’s Kickstarter-funded independent teen movie, My Summer as a Goth.

Time scampered on, and now, after trials and assorted chaos, the movie is in the final post-production stages! Behold, the trailer!

Having seen the “cast and crew” preliminary edit of the movie, the Lady of the Manners is delighted to tell you that it’s just as charming, sweet, and snarky as she originally hoped.

She’s also delighted to have been able to interview the producer/director, Tara Johnson-Medinger!

What are the next steps for the movie?

We are currently finishing up final sound design, sound mix and clearance for the film. We will be ready to go for our film festival premiere this October! We are running a fundraising campaign to complete the final costs needed. SO many people have donated time and services to this project, but there are simply some hard costs that we are running up against to complete the film. I AM SO EXCITED to be at this point with the project, to finally deliver it to all the people that have supported us along the way!

We plan to have a healthy film festival run and are in preliminary talks regarding online digital distribution — think platforms like Netflix, Hulu, etc. I think that the film will be widely available on a digital platform within the next year. We will be keeping everyone updated on festival screenings,, as well on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

What is the “elevator pitch” you used for My Summer as a Goth? As you took the project to different levels, how did it change?

My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age comedy about the sometimes painful, often entertaining, search for identity and love in adolescence.
After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old, Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents while her author mother promotes her latest novel. Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his merry band of misfits in black.
Set in present-day Portland, My Summer as a Goth navigates Joey’s relationships with her new friends, her family and herself, and will resonate with anyone who survived the social alienation of adolescence—and that first summer heartbreak.

As most of you know, it has taken almost 10 years to get this film from script to screen. Let’s just say that we have been down many paths in terms of financing, who was going to direct, and where we were going to film. What it came down to was that in order to keep our original vision intact, we needed to make it ourselves on a shoestring indie budget. Ultimately, I moved into the director’s chair and took the film to completion. It has been hella hard at times, but completely gratifying to finally get to this point – with the story we wanted to tell.

The thing that kept me going through all of this was the commitment of the cast, crew and supporters.I didn’t want to let them down, I wanted to give them a movie, and that is what I did.

Who was the most difficult character to cast?

The casting process was so cool, but tough! We cast Natalie Shershow as our lead, Joey Javitts, almost a year before we started production, so when we got to the formal casting process it really was a about finding the right chemistry among the actors, especially for our Victor character. Many times we had to let go of what we originally thought we were looking for because an actor brought in such an unique performance that the desire to work with them overruled our initial casting idea.

The hardest role to cast was the character of Pen. We had many people audition for this role, but no one quite got what we wanted or what we were looking for. During one casting session, Jenny White — who at the time was cast as Molly (Joey’s BFF) — was in attendance and offered to read for the part of Pen while we were auditioning candidates for the role of Pen’s boyfriend, Cob. She and Carter Allen (who eventually was cast as Cob) did an amazing job, and Jenny completely surprised us with her performance of Pen. That night Brandon and I emailed Jenny asking if she would be interested in taking on the role – one that is very different than Molly. We were so excited that she agreed! I cannot imagine Pen as anyone else!

(An aside from the Lady of the Manners: Pen and Cob are her FAVORITES. All of the characters are wonderful (even the jerks), but Pen and Cob are the the Lady of the Manners’ precious spooky cupcakes.)

What are some of your favorite goth -influenced movies?
I think I about died the first time I saw The Hunger. David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve and Peter Murphy in the same movie? About Vampires? Yes please.

(Another aside from the Lady of the Manners: The Hunger has the best opening scenes of any vampire movie (and possibly any movie) ever. EVER.)

Back then I desperately wanted my own Ankh-knife necklace but alas on-line shipping did not exist, so they were hard to come by…maybe one day.

(So many asides! For any readers who may be looking for their very own bladed ankh necklace: ta-da! The Lady of the Manners recently indulged in this pendant, and is delighted with it. Stereotype Technology!)

Other favorite Goth-influenced films? Donnie Darko, Interview with a Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Gypsy 83, Beetlejuice, The Craft, and the classics, Dracula and Nosferatu.

What are your favorite parts of the goth subculture? Music, literature, fashion …?

I really love the fashion, especially the more Victorian-influenced outfits with lots of tulle, bustles and corsets. I also love seeing that style mixed with unique finds from vintage shops, like how we used to do it in the ‘80s! I am constantly inspired by all the younger Goths who post photos of DIY outfits they have put together. It’s very cool.

Can you describe what your favorite outfit was from your life in that era?

I had this pair of Japanese pantaloons that I wore until they practically fell apart – I loved those pants. When I think of myself back then I see myself in this outfit: black turtleneck, black tights and a checkered black & white skirt with a huge black belt. I would accent with a pillbox hat, a myrrh bag around my neck and bell ankle bracelet. I definitely blended a goth/hippy look.

Next up would be music – I am a huge Bauhaus fan and one of my best concert memories is seeing them in concert in LA around 1999 on a reunion tour. Probably the only concert that I have attended that I knew every single song they played, even the more obscure cuts. That was a seriously cool night and talk about amazing fashion among the attendees — wow!

I’m not up on my Goth literature as much as I should be, but I have read Interview with a Vampire, most of The Vampire Chronicles, and this delightful book called Gothic Charm School…perhaps you have heard of it? <3

The thing that really stood out for me about the story is how fondly understanding it is of the goth subculture. Did you and Brandon consider yourselves goths Back In The Day? Or was it a community you knew of and orbited around, but maybe didn’t feel you were part of it?

I would say that we dabbled. We were definitely part of the alternative crowd of kids that hung out in downtown Salem, Oregon after school. Drinking endless cups of coffee at The Beanery, smoking clove cigarettes and walking the mall. We would also come to Portland a couple times a month to hang out at The City Nightclub which had an amazing Goth and Darkwave dance room, The Hollyrock.

What sort of kids made up that alternative crowd? And do you feel that people from different alternative communities were more likely to hang out “across territory lines”, as it were, than today?

The alternative crowd in Salem was made up of a lot of different types of people: goths, punks, hippies, weirdos, “misfits” really that found community together. We have a line in the film that reminds me of that time, “Us freaks gotta stick together”.

We have always been wearers of black and have had an affinity and appreciation of the Goth culture, clothing and music. I am still completely committed to wearing my cat-eyed black eyeliner everyday!

Which leads to the obligatory makeup questions: What’s your favorite black eyeliner, and what’s one cosmetic product from Back In The Day that you’d want to be brought back?

I am all about the liquid eyeliner with a traditional brush. I use L’Oreal Lineur Intense – Carbon Black. But I can’t come up with an answer for the second one! It seems everything that I used back then is still available – and then some! Even crazy colored hair dye, like Manic Panic, is so easy to find compared to back then!

What do you feel is the most important piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers?

DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. It sounds completely cliche, I know, but really it is so true. If you believe in what you are doing and are passionate about it, keep going. There are so many ways to create content these days and the ability to do that is much more available than it has been ever before. Community Television and YouTube are great places to just…start. It does not mean that you will be a big Hollywood star right out the gate. Be willing to learn and ask questions, do the work, treat people nicely and with compassion, support other filmmakers, and keep going even when it is really hard.

The Lady of the Manners is eagerly waiting for My Summer as a Goth to be released, and swears on her copy of the pink vinyl limited edition pressing of the Bela Lugosi’s Dead 12″ single that she will tell everyone as soon as the movie is available for viewing. And by “tell everyone”, she means with posts in ALLCAPS, flailing, and probably too many emojis. 😀

Of Struggling with Emotional and Mental Turmoil

12 August 2018

The Lady of the Manners is going to be completely honest here, Snarklings: occasionally there are heartfelt, heartsore, and utterly brave people who write to Gothic Charm School, and the Lady of the Manners worries about how to answer, because what if she says the wrong things, or gives the wrong sort of advice? Because wanting to help people and be kind to them doesn’t change the fact that the Lady of the Manners is a well-intentioned auntie-by-proxy, and in no way a professional therapist.

But. BUT. The Lady of the Manners does want to help, and is humbled by the bravery shown by the readers who reach out to her. Because reaching out to anyone, even an auntie-by-proxy, about emotional and mental turmoil IS an act of bravery. Please never doubt that.

Dearest Lady of the Manners,

I’m terribly sorry for the long message. I’ve been perusing your articles related to age and wearing gothic fashion, but for some reason — despite being a longtime reader of Gothic Charm School and understanding full well what is in most of said articles relating to age — I’m not finding the reassurance I feel compelled to find. Your response to Shawn in your May article touches on it, but still doesn’t feel quite right. (Perhaps this is just my anxiety overworking itself, or the tendency my brain has to overthink things. I’m not really sure…)

For several years I struggled with depression and suicidal ideation, and, while I’ve started feeling much more stable again this year (many thanks to my ever-supportive partner for that!), I feel like I’ve lost those years of my life. I’m nearing my 30s yet feel more like I should still be in my early 20s. I can barely remember anything of what’s happened except for the wearying monotony of it all being pierced by meltdowns and suicidal urges. I feel like I’m starting over leaving high school again, trying to find my feet in the world (which is ironic, considering I knew myself fairly well in high school itself, which greatly helped settling in at university and later working and traveling) when so many people are instead expecting me to be “maturing” with the rest of my Millennial group, getting ahead in a job, etc. like most people seem to do (when they’re not snarking that Millennials are the scourge of the earth and equivalent to overgrown children, that is). While I once understood and accepted that I could never function as well as many other people in life, and had the confidence in myself to wear what I like and like what I like, I now feel disconnected from all of it. Like I’m trying to be a Me That’s Not Me even thought it is… or was? me. Like looking into a mirror, seeing who I know I am, but not understanding why I’m not them again? (I know I’ll never be that exact same Me again. But when they still feel like the True Me — how can I be true to myself when I can’t even touch that person behind that piece of glass?)

How does a person cope with that disconnect between their perception of everything and, well, everything? But especially regarding feeling too young for the body I’m in yet too old for things I still like doing and wearing?

How can I repair my confidence to something like how it was before this major episode sucked me under?

Thank you and best wishes to you,
Still Struggling

The Lady of the Manners wonders if “repair” is perhaps not the way to approach your confidence. You’re at least a slightly different person than you once were, so instead of thinking in terms of repairing, think of this in terms of rebuilding. The meltdowns and suicidal urges were things that, unfortunately, tore apart your foundations and sense of self. There are almost certainly parts of those things left, but they may not be enough to repair; however, they’d probably be good starting points to rebuild your confidence.

You probably will never be the person you were before, and that’s okay. Upheavals, especially the serious and harrowing ones you’ve been through, change a person. For that matter, even if someone miraculously doesn’t have those experiences, everyone changes. It’s part of evolving and growing as a person.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be similar to the person you were before! Instead of looking at the You that’s behind the pane of glass as a reflection in a mirror, look at that version of yourself as a template. You don’t have to match exactly, but that version is someone you can build from. What are some of the things from that previous version of yourself that you like? Things that you want to give to the you that exists now? The True You still exists, and is probably different from the True You that previously existed. Change happens. It’s okay to not be the person you once were, even if you really liked parts of that person. No one stays the same, and being true to yourself isn’t the same as not changing.

One of the great benefits to choosing a subculture-related appearance is that it’s something you choose. Personal style can be a way of reminding yourself that you’re stronger than you thought, that you survived. Personal style can be armor, too. It can be armor to keep your happiness safe, and to shelter your psyche from the glances of strangers. The Lady of the Manners has always believed very fiercely in two things that seem contradictory:

  1. People are going to look at you no matter what. It’s part of life.
  2. So what? It doesn’t really matter.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the micro-and-macro aggressions that are often tied to people’s race or gender. In those cases, what other people think about you can be a matter of life or death. But that’s not what the Lady of the Manners is directly talking about in this case; this is about having the confidence to wear or do something, anything, that makes you happy. So what if someone thinks you’re weird or you look odd? As the Lady of the Manners’ dad always told her, it’s okay to be weird. It really is. The Lady of the Manners isn’t saying don’t care about other people or be unkind. What she is saying is that the start of rebuilding your confidence is to give equal weight to your own opinions and choices.

Also, you’re not too old for the things you still like doing and wearing. Not in the slightest. There is no such thing as being “too old” for anything you like, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is wrong. In addition, there are very, very few people who feel like they’re functioning as well as everyone else is. In the Lady of the Manners’ experience, everyone has some level of impostor syndrome about at least one part of their life. (If not multiple parts!) The myth that everyone else is capable of doing all the things you feel you’re not is just that — a myth. A myth that leads many people into staring at their ceiling in the middle of the night, comparing themselves to “everyone else” and falling into despair. Feeling like you’re back to finding your feet in the world just means that you’re looking to what paths might be open to you. You haven’t failed, and you aren’t failing.

The Lady of the Manners is worried that this post is the equivalent of flailing her hands and going “Um …” a lot, but hopes that at least part of this was helpful. Please be kind and gentle with yourself. And finally: if any of you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope, please, please talk to someone. There is nothing to be ashamed of about needing help, or talking to a therapist. For the U.S. readers, is a good starting place. For U.K. readers, looks to be a good resource. If anyone knows of other similar mental health resource sites, please post a comment with a link.

Do any of you have helpful suggestions or words of encouragement? The comments are open. (The comments are going to be even more carefully moderated than on other posts, but the Lady of the Manners trusts all of you will be kind and friendly.)