Why Do Guys Like Goth Girls?

26 March 2019

The Lady of the Manners will be honest, Snarklings: she’s been holding onto this reader question for a while, because there are many different things to address, and the Lady of the Manners felt a little overwhelmed and freely admits that she won’t be able to cover everything or delve very deeply into the parts she does cover.

I found your site interest [sic] and by mistake. Great site. Was looking up ‘why guys like goth girls.’ Maybe you can answer that question for me real quick like. Anyway thanks for all what you do.

(An aside: The Lady of the Manners is going to use “guys” as a shorthand for male-presenting folks, and “girls” for those who present as female.)

First things first: there are a lot of relationships where one of the people identify as goth, but their partner doesn’t. It has nothing to do with “liking goth girls/guys”, but is that the non-goth was attracted to the other person for many reasons. The Lady of the Manners’ dear husband isn’t a goth, and she knows his preliminary interest wasn’t about her being a spooky creature of the night, but about who she was as a person.

  • Aesthetics. Goth has a striking look, and many people are attracted to it. Many goths like to date other goths, and even people who don’t consider themselves aligned with the subculture are fascinated by the black clothes and darkly decadent look. (This is part of the reason why fashion designers and cosmetic companies are inspired by stylistic elements of the goth aesthetic season after season.)

  • Weirdness. This, in the Lady of the Manners’ experience, tends to apply to guys, and especially ones who aren’t part of the goth subculture or don’t know a lot about it. To them goth girls are “weird”, and therefore exciting. The guy may think that having a goth girlfriend makes him seem cooler or more interesting. “Look how open-minded I am”, he may think, “I’m dating a girl totally unlike me, and she’s so weird!”

And in some cases the weirdness factor goes hand in hand with …

  • Perceived promiscuity and kinkiness. Goth fashion, especially on the feminine side, borrows a lot of stylistic notes from fetish fashion: Corsets, fishnets, bondage collars, perilously high stiletto heels, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with that. But guys, especially ones who aren’t part of the subculture, may associate those fashions with sex and sexual kinks, and automatically assume that any woman wearing those things will be easy to pick up for sex, and will probably be interested in doing “weird stuff”.

Let the Lady of the Manners be very clear: there is nothing wrong with having casual sex or sexual kinks as long as everything is consensual and safe. But there are guys out there who assume any goth girl is fair game, and deliberately go to goth clubs on this assumption. The mildest form of this is “just” objectifying any goth girl, but that assumption frequently leads to unwanted attention and the ignoring of boundaries.

Sadly, it’s not just guys outside of the goth community who do this; we have creepers inside the crypt, too. And in a way, the Lady of the Manners finds that even more disheartening. People who belong to the community and subculture should understand the social nuances and cues that are part of it and not tolerate any level of sexually predatory behavior.

You may think the Lady of the Manners is being a bit overbearing in using the term sexually predatory behavior. She’s not. Some people scoff at the idea of goth clubs and events being spaces where people feel safe, and declare that if you’re going to a club, you should expect to be propositioned and touched. No. That’s not appropriate anywhere, but especially in a community for people who feel outside of the “normal” world.

So while this is a bit of a tangent from the original “why do guys like goth girls” question, this is information the Lady of the Manners believes is vitally important. What should you do if you are the target of inappropriate attention while at a goth club?

  • If you go to the club with friends, decide on code words or gestures to use to signal that one of you needs backup. If the creeper tries to engage with you, one of your friends should step in and start a conversation with you that pointedly ignores the creeper, and/or walk you to another area in the club.

  • Tell one of the club employees, preferably a bouncer. At the least, the bouncer should keep an eye on the creeper. Hopefully the bouncer would go have a word with the creeper, or even remove them from the club.

  • A “whisper network”. While the Lady of the Manners is all for a public Name and Shame approach for predators, that can backfire and lead to a “he said/she said” storm of nonsense. Which means that private conversations and warnings about people to be wary of is invaluable. Back when the Lady of the Manners went to clubs regularly, she was part of a group of women who kept an eye out for new attendees – especially any younger ones! – and gave them a quick warning. “He’ll stare at you creepily all night. That one will try and have uncomfortably inappropriate conversations with you. That one is someone to be wary of in general.”

Creepers and sexual predators are a blight upon our subculture, and should not be tolerated even slightly. If someone attempts to defend this behavior, ask if the person they’re defending behaves in a manner that Morticia and Gomez Addams would approve of.

So in short: some guys like goth girls because they’re also part of the subculture. Some guys like goth girls because they’re “strange and unusual”. Some guys like goth girls because of sketchy assumptions about the behavior of goth girls in general.

What about you, Snarklings? Can you think of other reasons why guys may like goth girls? Additional advice on how to deal with creepers? The comments are open! (And moderated with an iron fist inside a velvet glove, to no one’s surprise.)

Show and Tell: Wet n Wild “Rebel Rose” Collection and North Star Glitters

28 February 2019

Makeup is a staple of goth fashion. It’s not by any means a requirement to be a goth, but it is very, very prevalent. (The Lady of the Manners doesn’t want to think about how many hours she spent practicing with liquid liner to be able to achieve pointy winged eyeliner.) And more and more cosmetic companies are producing items targeting those of us with a darker sense of style.

Well, some of us, in this case. As the Lady of the Manners has mentioned in other places, she’s become a fan of a floral goth aesthetic. Black flowing skirts with prints of overblown roses worn with black velvet jackets, hair accessories with layers of blooms, that sort of thing. When the retail theme for Halloween 2018 turned out to be blackened floral decor, the Lady of the Manners feared for her bank account. So when Wet n Wild announced the Rebel Rose collection, the Lady of the Manners both sighed and flailed, opened a new browser tab, and faced temptation.

There are three different box sets: one each for the skincare and makeup collections, and then one deluxe box set that has everything except the Rebel Rose -themed makeup brushes, which are sold individually. The Lady of the Manners was very tempted by the brushes, with their black handles that looked like rose stems and the black and pink bristles, but realized she didn’t actually need any more makeup brushes. Or skin care items.

However, floral goth eyeshadow and smoke-tinted creme blush and lip balm that were supposed to magically turn to a deep pink rose shade? Yes, those were needed.

(All Wet n Wild products in this review were purchased, not sent for review or promotional purposes.)

The photos on the WnW website made the Bed of Roses eyeshadow quad seem to be everything the Lady of the Manners has been looking for. A deep purple! A deep burgundy! A dark shimmery pink! A lighter shimmery pink! But alas, things were not as they seemed.

Those are lovely colors, but not the cool-toned shades the Lady of the Manners was hoping for. For someone who wears warmer-toned makeup, this is a great set of colors. As always, the pigment density in WnW eyeshadow is exceptional, especially with a price of $4.99 USD.

The Rose In Peace creme blush was much more satisfying in terms of the Lady of the Manners’ color preferences. It does indeed apply as sheer smoke with a hint of shimmer, and then turns into a sheer deep pink blush. It also layers well if you want a deeper color.

The Tint Of Corruption “Perfect Pout Jelly Balm” is a product that filled the Lady of the Manners with nostalgia, as color-changing “mood lipsticks” were a Big Deal in her youth. Those lipsticks were green or blue, but promised to magically turn into a color matching your mood. In reality, everyone’s mood was apparently signified by sheer fuchsia lips.

The Perfect Pout Jelly Balm does the exact same thing. Oh, it goes on as a sheer smoke color, but turns into sheer fuchsia. Which is fine with the Lady of the Manners, but may not be something others want.

However, it is moisturizing without feeling sticky, and works well to add a layer of moisture to refresh regular lipsticks. (But don’t use it over any liquid-to-matte lipsticks!) It has a mild rose scent which fades quickly, so you won’t spend the entire evening wondering why you’re being haunted by ghostly flowers.

So as always, Wet n’ Wild’s products are extremely good value, with excellent quality for the price and availability at most chain-type drug stores. Oh, and they’re cruelty-free!

– – –

As some of you know, the Lady of the Manners is fond of glitter. Very fond of glitter. The Lady of the Manners’ objection to the Cullens of the Twilight books wasn’t that they sparkled, but that they weren’t really vampires. (The Lady of the Manners will eventually inflict her Opinions about that series of books upon you, but now is not that time.)

The nice folks at North Star Glitters, knowing of the Lady of the Manners’ weakness, sent her a box of amazingness. (With a wonderful note!)

North Star Glitters’ claim to fame is that their One Step Glitters are premixed with an unscented cosmetic binder, which makes them a one-step glitter product. It also means that you won’t create a small cloud of glitter when you open the jars, thus saving other people in your living space from sparkly annoyance.

That claim to fame is completely true. The glitter has a dense, creamy texture, applies smoothly with a flat bristle brush, and doesn’t shed during wear. It hardly creases! (And that may simply be a case of the Lady of the Manners’ particular eye shape, not anything to do with the product. In fact, that probably is the case.)

And oh, the colors! North Star Glitters very kindly sent a box specifically tailored to the Lady of the Manners’ favorite colors, but they have all sorts of metallic, iridescent, and UV reactive (?!?!) shades.

In order from the smallest to the largest bat tattoos: Courtney, Cindy, and Cassandra.

Again, follow the smallest bat to the largest: Leslie, Yvette, and Allison.

Bats! Again! Always follow them! Reagan, Katie, and Jackie.

The glitter used by North Star Glitters are cosmetic grade, but are not environmentally friendly.

– – –

What colors would you like to see become readily available from mainstream cosmetic companies? Are you for or against glitter? Do you also remember mood lipstick? Talk about things in the comments!

Tutorial: The Ceremony of the Fangs!

14 February 2019

The Lady of the Manners is overwhelmingly fond of stuffed animals. Not only does she still have two of her cherished childhood bears, but she has a rather large collection of fuzzy monsters and bunnies. The most notorious of her bunnies being Clovis Devilbunny, fanged bunny extraordinaire, who has given the Lady of the Manners very good advice over the decades.

Clovis Devilbunny

Over the  years, people have asked how Clovis (and the other vampire bunnies in the Evil Bunny Alliance) gained their pointy pointy teeth. So the Lady of the Manners and Clovis Devilbunny now present: The Ceremony of the Fangs!

1. Gather the supplies: plastic vampire fangs, small scissors, white thread, a sharp sewing needle, a long pin with an easy-to-hold head, and a candle. Optional but not pictured: a pair of needle nose pliers.

(The cordial glass of rose liqueur and large black cat are also optional.)

2. Trim two teeth from the vampire fangs, making the edges as smooth as possible. An additional optional step: hold each tooth in the pliers, and carefully melt/smooth the edges over the candle flame. It’s not a good idea to breathe in the fumes from melting plastic, so work in a room with ventilation!

3. Heat the tip of the pin over the candle flame, then poke 3 to 4 holes through the top of each tooth. Again, this is why a ventilated room is important!

4. Thread the needle and make a small, sturdy knot at the end of the thread. Carefully start sewing the teeth to your fuzzy companion, using the holes you already made in the teeth. Make sure to tug the stitches tight, so they don’t show. It’s helpful to talk to your fuzzy companion during this step: assure them of their bravery, and tell them how fierce and dashing they’ll look when the teeth are secure.

5. Trim all of the loose or exposed ends of the thread, gently fluff the fur around their new pointy teeth, and perhaps give your fuzzy companion a new bow tie.

Merricat bunny was thrilled to be the tutorial model, and is quite pleased with her fangs.

Good luck! Clovis Devilbunny would like to remind you that the Evil Bunny Alliance is an equal-opportunity organization, and gleefully accepts recruits of all shapes, sizes, and fuzzy animal type. Also, Clovis Devilbunny and the Lady of the Manners would be delighted if you want to share photos of your own fuzzy companions in the comments!

Stereotype Technology: Deathrock

31 January 2019

This round of Stereotype Technology is about the spooky subgenre of goth that’s closer to crawling out of the grave than to romantically languishing on a fainting couch: Deathrock!

Deathrock started, according to the purists, around 1979 in Southern California. It was a theatrical and macabre mutation of punk and hardcore, and included bands such as 45 Grave, Christian Death, Kommunity FK, and TSOL.  According to Dinah Cancer, the singer of 45 Grave: “The first prowlings of deathrock came in the early ’80s before we were labeled as our other counterparts – the gothic movement. There were no Goths. The Deathrockers were splintered off from the punk/hardcore scene that was going on at the time. We played punk rock but we loved Halloween and we looked like vampires. So the phrase ‘deathrock’ was born.”

45 Grave – Pick Your Poison

Christian Death – Only Theatre of Pain

There was a similar scene creeping around the edges of the East Coast punk world, with bands such as The Cramps and The Misfits taking inspiration from b-movie horror. 

The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us

Misfits – Collection

While some people feel that deathrock is a historical relic, there is a small but strong death rock scene still flourishing today. Especially where the style is concerned! Big teased hair (frequently with one or both sides of the head shaved), heavy eyeshadow and contour in dark colors and layers of ripped fishnets are some of the stylistic signifiers. With that in mind, the Lady of the Manners presents some building blocks of deathrock style!

Back when the Lady of the Manners had Big Hair (while she wasn’t a deathrocker, Big Goth Hair is the same thing), her lacquer poison of choice was AquaNet Unscented Extra Super Hold, in the original pink and white can. In fact, one memorable Christmas, the Lady of the Manners’ parents gave her a case of AquaNet. (It was gone by May of that year.)

Nowadays if the Lady of the Manners wants Big Hair, she uses What a Tease – Backcomb In a Bottle by the brand Sexy Big Hair. 

It’s some sort of strange aerosol fiber; hold a section of hair straight up, spray this around the roots, let it dry for a few seconds, then gently pull apart that section (“like peeling a banana” say a few reviews, which is accurate but weird). Ta-da! Volume! Unnatural volume!

But not quite enough unnatural volume for true Big Hair, so tease those sections with a backcomb brush, and add layers of a super-hold hairspray, such as Sexy Big Hair Spray and Stay until your hair is enormous and immobile.

When you need to flatten your hair again, get yourself a bottle or two of really cheap conditioner and a wide tooth comb; hop in the shower, get your hair wet, pour one of the bottles of conditioner over your head, and start detangling your mop. Be warned, this will take approximately forever; the excuse “I can’t, I have to wash my hair” is undead and well in Big Hair Life

Of course, if you don’t want to spend hours teasing, spraying, and washing out your hair, apparently there’s such a thing as a “deathrock half wig”?! Who knew! We live in an age of stylistic shortcut wonders. Deathrock half wig from Penny Wigs.

Fishnets to rip and layer to your black heart’s content! Cut out the crotch and wear them as a shirt! Wear multiple layers of fishnets as a shirt! On your arms! On your legs! Then weep at the end of the (probably late) night because taking off all those layers of ripped fishnets is an intricate puzzle you can’t solve when you’re too tired! Available in 50+ colors at We Love Colors.

The punk rock DIY aesthetic is also undead in deathrock, so get yourself a basic black blazer and black jeans or miniskirt to shred and decorate with paint or bleach, patches, safety pins, and spikes and studs. If you want to be extra over-the-top, track down an animal print jacket, like this zebra print one, and then customize it.

Accessories for the deathrock look can feature skulls, crosses, bats, rosaries, coffin nails, bondage belts … layers of them. So. Many. Layers. Do you think you’re wearing enough bangle bracelets? You may be wrong. Put on more until you’re not sure you’ll be able to lift your arms, then maybe take two or three off. Maybe.

Black bangle bracelets.

Rubber o-rings to wear as bracelets, but they’re actually plumbing supplies!

Also layer on the necklaces and rosaries. Yes, they will tangle with your Big Hair. Yes, they will get caught in your layers of fishnets. But since you want torn fishnets anyway, just consider this a shortcut. 

Glow in the dark rosary beads.

Long plastic bead necklace.

O-ring belt.

Finally, the best way to get yourself some deathrock fashion is to hit the local thrift stores, buy bags of cheap shiny jewelry and inexpensive black clothes (but probably not flowy, flouncy ones – leave those for the romantigoths), then layer and customize them until your dead heart lurches into (un)life.  

Suggestions about other key deathrock pieces? Deathrock bands more people need to know about? Deathrock-focused club nights in your city? The comments are open!

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!”