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 Gothâ„¢, 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.)

Stereotype Technology – for Your Window Shopping Needs – July 26, 2018

25 July 2018

As many of you know, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners often finds herself wandering through the shadowy depths of gothy window shopping. (Frequently at 3AM, as a distraction from a visit from the dratted Insomnia Fairy. If the Lady of the Manners ever catches that wretched creature, she’s putting it in a shadowbox, skewered with vintage pearl-headed pins.)

Anyway! For your window shopping pleasure (or despair, depending on the wiggle room in your budget), here are some of the things the Lady of the Manners unearthed recently!

(All images are property of their respective owners.)

Phantom Dressing Gown

The Lady of the Manners had long coveted the ridiculously over-the-top “Christine’s Dressing Gown” from Victorian Trading Company. Now, damn their eyes, they’ve recreated it in black. The Lady of the Manners desperately needs this to wear while she lounges around the house sipping absinthe and reading vintage gothic romances.

Whisper Sisters

Oh no, the Lady of the Manners found another indie perfume company. To distract everyone from her already extensive collection, please revel in this description of Goth Club ’89 from Whisper Sisters:

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.

Vampire Bloodletter Ankh by CenterOfTheCircle

Does the Lady of the Manners fully embrace her clichés and constantly search for pointy ankh pendants? Yes, yes she does.

Lace cape from BibelociarniaShop

The Lady of the Manners has a weakness for lace capes. So delicate! So helpful in projecting that air of “Why no, I don’t know how that terrible thing could have happened to them, constable. I was having tea at the center of the hedge maze.”

Lace collar from MalaNocheStore

Perfect for hiding vampire bites. Or possibly as defense against vampire bites. The Lady of the Manners won’t judge your preferences.

Morticia Maxi from Holy Clothing

Sleeves bigger than your head! Sleeves bigger than anyone’s head!

Would you like to see some vintage goth fashion? (That was a rhetorical question, in case you weren’t sure.)

Sheer goth shirt from AnEnchantingCreature

The Lady of the Manners is almost positive she had this shirt back in the 90s.

Velvet blazer from VintageChandler

The Lady of the Manners is also almost positive that she had this blazer back then, too. Or at least one that was verrrrry similar.

Vintage “vampire”-esque shirt from TopOfTheShops

The description may say “Mod”, but the Lady of the Manners is here to tell you that this is a perfect vampire shirt. Don’t argue.

Do you have suggestions for things the Lady of the Manners should hunt down during her bouts of insomnia window shopping? Leave a comment!

Tutorial: The Hair Floof – a Fluffy Fabric Hair Tie!

18 July 2018

While the Lady of the Manners is probably never going to have short hair, she admits that long hair can sometimes be difficult. Especially in the summer, when wearing your hair down can be uncomfortably warm and sticky. But the Lady of the Manners becomes easily bored with plain ponytails, buns, and other sorts of updos, and suspects that she’s not alone in that. Enter one of the Lady of the Manners’ favorite (and simple!) solutions: a fluffy, flouncy hair tie! Or, as the Lady of the Manners refers to them, a hair floof.

The Lady of the Manners wearing a hair floof.

Hair floofs are not just decorative on their own! They make an excellent base to help secure other accessories on your head. Flowers, tiny hats, fascinators, replica animal skulls … if you can put it in your hair as an ornament, you can almost certainly anchor it into the hair floof.

Hair floofs work best when your ponytail, bun, or other updo is at the crown of your head. Hair floofs tend to slide out of hairstyles that are lower down. (The only way the Lady of the Manners has ever gotten a hair floof to stay on a ponytail gathered at her nape is to skewer it on with bobby pins, which defeats the whole point.)

These are extremely simple to make. Can you use a pair of scissors and tie knots? Then you will be able to make a hair floof.


  • Sharp scissors.
  • A fabric hair band. One that is slightly larger and doesn’t have a crimped metal connector is the best type.
  • Approximately a quarter yard of fabric.
  • Optional – a podcast, audiobook, or comfort movie to have on in the background.

You can make hair floofs using strips of multiple fabrics – the Lady of the Manners is fond of strips of stretch velvet alternated with strips of lace – or using lengths of ribbon. The important thing is that the fabric or ribbon has some flow or drape to it; stiff fabric or wired ribbons won’t work for this. However, making hair floofs is a great way to use up fabric scraps from other projects; the Lady of the Manners has even salvaged old tights for hair floofs.

Hair floof supplies!

  1. Cut the fabric into strips approximately 1”-2” wide, until you have 30-40 strips. The Lady of the Manners likes a more drape-y style of hair floof, so she cuts her fabric strips to be somewhere between 9”-10” in total length. The shorter length the fabric, the puffier the floof. Don’t worry if the strips are uneven; it won’t really be noticeable, and different sizes mean the finished hair floof will have more texture.
  2. Cut fabric strips.

  3. One at a time, tie the strips of fabric evenly around the hair band. Yes, just as if you were making a pom-pom. (Is that even a craft project done in elementary schools anymore? It was when the Lady of the Manners was a child. So many pom-pom projects.)
  4. Tied-on fabric strips!

  5. Push the knots close together; you want to tie as many strips of fabric around the hair band as possible.
  6. Squished-together knots!

  7. Keep tying on the strips of fabric until you can’t fit any more on the hair band.

Congratulations! You’ve made a hair floof!

A finished hair floof!

Pull your hair up with a plain hair band, then wrap the hair floof over the top of the hair band.

If, over the course of multiple wearings, your hair floof becomes stretched out, you can layer it over a newer, springier hair floof. Why yes, the Lady of the Manners has been known to layer three or four hair floofs, just so she can have an extra-fancy hairstyle that won’t make her overheat.

Go forth! Entertain yourself for a few hours by making hair accessories!

Summer Goth! The 2018 Edition

28 June 2018

The Summer Solstice has passed in the Northern hemisphere, which means summer has arrived. The Lady of the Manners wishes she could be more enthusiastic about the whole thing.

The Lady of the Manners is completely accepting of the fact that many other goths don’t share her biases about the seasons and their attendant weather. There are people she’s very fond of who adore sunny days and high temperatures, and who become listless and dispirited once autumn comes around. But, as the Lady of the Manners often says over on Tumblr, she is a delicate moss flower. Which brings the Lady of the Manners to what is becoming a summer tradition at Gothic Charm School: advice on how to deal with the burning orb.

As the Lady of the Manners stresses time and time again, you don’t have to be pale to be a goth. However, avoiding the sun isn’t just a gothy affectation; there are people (the Lady of the Manners included) who thanks to genetics, illnesses, medications, or who knows what else, don’t deal well with prolonged exposure to sunlight. (As the Lady of the Manners has said before, eventually she’ll develop the fun symptoms of vampirism, like immortality and being able to turn into a flock of bats.) While the idea of not going outside until after sunset has its attractions, it’s not entirely feasible, which means knowing how to cope with sunlight.

  • Sunscreen! This is absolutely the most important thing you can do. Apply sunscreen to every bit of skin that isn’t covered by opaque fabric. No, Snarklings, lace or fishnet clothing will not protect you from the sun. Also, reapply the sunscreen every 60 to 80 minutes if you’re going to be outside for an extended length of time. (The Lady of the Manners realizes this may be a problem if you’re wearing makeup, but has a suggestion for that shortly.)

    The Lady of the Manners relies on matte finish sunscreens that are made for the Asian skin care markets. They don’t feel sticky, and they double as primer for under makeup. The two the Lady of the Manners keeps on hand are: MISSHA All Around Safe Block Essence (SPF 50) and Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen (SPF 50). The Lady of the Manners has also seen good reviews of La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50, FrezyDerm Sun Screen Velvet Face SPF 30, and Nivea Sun Anti Age Face Cream SPF 50. And of course, there’s the (usually) easy-to-find Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch SPF 100. (Which used to be the Lady of the Manners’ go-to sunscreen, and she doesn’t remember why she stopped using it.)

    How to deal with the problem of reapplying sunscreen to your face if you’re wearing makeup? Snarklings, did you know there’s such a thing as powder sunscreen? There is, and it’s amazing. You use it just like any other powder to touch up makeup throughout the day, but it adds an additional layer of SPF. The Lady of the Manners has tried a bunch of them, and keeps coming back to Jane Iredale Powder Me. Yes, it’s almost $50 a container, but one container has lasted the Lady of the Manners through almost three summers. It actually is translucent (unlike many other powder sunscreens which are … orange), has the same sort of effect as any of the “HD” makeup setting powders, and can be used on any exposed skin. This product is what the Lady of the Manners and her loved ones use when visiting Disneyland for Bats Day. In other words, this is the product the Lady of the Manners enthusiastically recommends.

  • Physical blocks – a giant hat! They can be left plain for a Lydia Deetz look, or festooned with tulle, ribbons, flowers, or anything else that strikes your fancy that can be somehow attached to the hat. Some of the things the Lady of the Manners has used to decorate her giant sun hats:
    • A (large) length of tulle, scrunched, crumpled, and stitched around the crown of the hat, for a gauzy, cloudy effect. Tulle can also be used to make a veil around the brim of the hat.
    • Lengths of lace or ribbons tied around the crown with a big bow, and the ends left to flutter.
    • Fake flowers from the craft store. The blossoms are easily pulled off the plastic stems, and then can be pinned or sewn on.

    (The Lady of the Manners strongly suggests sewing any decorations on, instead of using hot glue, because what if you decide you want to change the ornamentation? Prying anything off a hat that has been affixed with hot glue is tedious in the extreme, and no amount of silly vampire movies on in the background will change that.)

    Remember, if you have long hair and decide to wear a giant hat, you probably want to pull your hair up and off your neck. The giant hat, while protecting you from the sun, will sadly trap heat against your head. Don’t make that worse if you can help it.

  • Physical blocks – a parasol! Which, let the Lady of the Manners stress, can be used by ANY gender. Parasols are not just for femme -presenting folks.

    Back In The DayTM, goths had to hope they found a vintage parasol at a thrift store or yard sale, or found an umbrella they liked and decorated it themselves. But now there are parasols everywhere, from plain and unadorned umbrellas to frilly confections that would make any gothic lolita swoon with envy. The only caveat the Lady of the Manners has with regard to parasols is that while sheer or lacy parasols are lovely, they don’t actually provide any protection from the sun. Always look for one that has at least an opaque center to the canopy.

  • Physical blocks – clothing! Wearing long sleeves or long trousers seems counter-intuitive in the summer, and a recipe for overheating. The key is to look for garments made with natural fibers, such as cotton or rayon. Lace and fishnet are oh-so-gothy, but are usually some sort of poly-blend, and thus don’t actually breathe; they trap heat and sweat against your skin, leading to suffering for your fashion. While the Lady of the Manners is all for over-the-top looks, she also doesn’t approve of any of you giving yourselves heat stroke.

    The color doesn’t matter – while “common sense” says that black clothes will make you warmer in the summer, it turns out that isn’t really true.

  • Physical blocks – wash it in! Sun Guard lets you add SPF 30 protection to your laundry. Using this doesn’t mean you can skip applying sunscreen, but it is a nice additional boost. And in the Lady of the Manners’ experience, it doesn’t do anything odd to black garments.
  • Stay cool! Drink lots of water and make sure you have some electrolytes (be it through juice, sports drinks, pickles, or delicious salty food). Carry a folding fan to create your own breeze. Stick lightweight scarves or shawls in the freezer, then drape them around you; once they lose their chill, dampen them with cool water and let the evaporation do its work. You can also dampen any fishnet or lace garments you’re wearing for the same effect.

Finally, the Lady of the Manners made a
Pinterest board for summer goth style!
While all of the clothing is modeled by women (grrr), the Lady of the Manners strongly feels that almost all of it could be styled in a more gender-neutral way, depending on what other garments or accessories are added, when in doubt, add big belts and boots. (The Lady of the Manners offers her sympathies to the masculine-leaning Snarklings; male fashion is pretty much the same year ‘round, with the length of the sleeves being the only element of change.)


Do you have tips for dealing with the sun or avoiding heatstroke? Or just want to commiserate with other delicate, nocturnal moss flowers? Leave a comment!

Of “Rules”, and Questions from Different Ends of the Age Spectrum

31 May 2018

The Lady of the Manners didn’t mean to hide and take a nap for a large portion of the spring, really she didn’t. But sometimes these things happen. However, a few bits of Goth Upkeep information that the Lady of the Manners feels you should know:

  • Crypts and haunted mansions, while lovely and gloomy, still won’t protect you from pollen-induced allergies.
  • MAC Liquidlast liner will stay on through allergy attacks, naps, showers, and possibly anything else.
  • Milani Cosmetics Infinite Liquid Eyeliner is a perfect duplicate of Liquidlast, and is available in drugstores.
  • If you use either of those liquid liners, you will need to use an oil-based remover to get them off your face. (The Lady of the Manners uses jojoba oil and baby wipes.)

And before the Lady of the Manners gets on to answering some questions, she has one other thing to tell you about! She and Rhias Hall are the hosts of a new podcast about horror novels from the 70s, 80s, and 90s: The Night Library! This podcast is inspired by the delightful book Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix. Your two hosts realized they had both read a vast number of the books in that tome, and the podcast is an excuse to reread and discuss them.

(The Lady of the Manners is also an occasional guest on Don’t Read the Latin and Fanboy News Network.)

From Eva, a Snarkling in India:

Respected Lady of the Manners,
I am Eva. I have always felt a strange fascination towards the colour black since childhood. Also I would always dress myself in black and listen genre metal. It was only when I came across your videos and website that I realized that this is where I really belong to.
Ma’am would you be kind enough to explain me the rules I need to follow to become a part of the Gothic community?
Also, I live in India. So would distance be a hindrance in my path of following this community ?
Yours ever,
Aspiring snarkling,

The Lady of the Manners is going to answer these in reverse, as your second question has a much shorter answer than the first! Would distance be a hindrance to your being a part of the goth community? It shouldn’t be! Mind you, the Lady of the Manners doesn’t know if there’s an active community where you live, but even if there isn’t, being physically far away from other goths isn’t the difficulty it used to be. While there’s a dark joy in being able to meet up with others who share your interests, primarily interacting with the subculture online means a wider range of darkly-inclined people to talk to at all hours!

Your first question also has a shorter answer than you think! There aren’t any rules! Well, not really. There are a few things that are strongly held guidelines:

  • Be able to find and appreciate beauty and wonder in darkness. This doesn’t mean being depressed, but instead knowing that melancholy and decay can create beautiful things, and that there are delights to be discovered through art that makes you unsettled.
  • Be aware of the musical roots of the subculture. While many of the bands that form the backbone of “traditional goth” music have at one point or another actively shunned the label of goth (even Siouxsie Sioux!), they helped release all of us bats from the belltower. You don’t have to listen to all of the classic bands, but try to have a passing familiarity with them.

However, a short list of Other Things To Keep In Mind:

  • There are approximately a squillion different subgenres of “goth” music. What you like to listen to may make another goth lunge to mute the speakers. But never stop exploring! The Lady of the Manners is particularly fond of Music-Map to find new music. Just type the name of an artist into the search box, and you’ll get a helpful map of similar artists.
  • There are also approximately a squillion different subgenres of “goth” fashion. The recent (ish) Gothic Charm School post “Of Finding Goth Fashion” has a by-NO-means-comprehensive list of of different styles that fall under the inky parasol of goth.
  • You don’t have to be any particular body type, ethnicity, skin color, gender, or age to be a goth. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong, and feel free to tell them that the Lady of the Manners says so.
  • For that matter, anyone who says the dreaded phrase If you’re a Real Goth … is being a gatekeeping jerk. (The A Short Post on Dealing with Elitist, Gother-Than-Thou Types post contains more of the Lady of the Manners’ ranting about gatekeepers.)
  • Be. Kind.

The next question is from Shawn, about age and labels:

At the tender age of 48 I realized I might be goth and never known it. […] So, being a certain age, and now fascinated with exploring the culture for the first time, I don’t think the term “eldergoth” applies, as I haven’t paid my dues on the scene. I have lived life, though, and now that I feel comfortable exploring more who I am, what do I call myself (if it’s even important)? I am at a loss of what to do should i attend an event.

Thank you,

Congratulations on feeling more comfortable in your skin and exploring who you are! The Lady of the Manners means that sincerely; some people never get to that level of emotional security, and (wrongly) think that if they didn’t do that sort of exploration when they were young, they can’t do it when they’re older.

In the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, no, “eldergoth” doesn’t really apply to you. She feels that while eldergoth does describe someone above a Certain Age (possibly starting around mid-to-late 40s), the more important part of the eldergoth designation is that the Goth of a Certain Age has been a part of the subculture for 20 years or more. The reverse is that if someone isn’t an adult and old enough to attend night clubs, they’re a babybat, even if they were raised in the subculture by spooky parents.

What to call yourself? A goth. For that matter, you don’t have to apply any label to yourself! Labels can be useful as a shorthand way of describing the interests you have (Victorian, vampire, witchy, industrial, cybergoth, etc.), but you don’t have to embrace or stick to any labels! You certainly don’t have to label yourself or provide a description to attend an event, and anyone who would demand that you do such a thing is, again, being a gatekeeping jerk.

Turning to the other end of the age spectrum:

Dear Lady Of The Manners,
I am 16 years old and have been goth for about 3 years now and I love the way I dress and the music I listen to. However, I have a bit of a problem. I liked someone very much, but they didn’t like me back mostly because of my goth appearance. They also said the reason I struggle to find someone to date is because I’m goth and a lot of guys don’t like that. I come from a large town yet I appear to be the only goth here and I have very little to no friends already, but I feel quite lonely in the sense that all the other 16 year olds my age are dating someone and no one seems to like me in such a way. I would never change myself but I’m incredibly shy already so that doesn’t help either. What would you suggest I do to meet other people who are open minded of the way I dress even as friends not necessarily to date and how can I not let this bother me?

Kind regards

A confuzzled babybat

Oh, you precious bat. The Lady of the Manners feels compelled to get her first reaction to your letter out of her system, and please be very aware that this is written with no condescension and the utmost affection:


(Yes, this is an example of the Lady of the Manners being protective (some might say overprotective) of her younger readers.)

:: The Lady of the Manners dabs her forehead with a black lace handkerchief ::

The Lady of the Manners is also irked by the person you liked telling you that “a lot of guys don’t like goth”. One, that statement is dripping with the expectation that you should change yourself to find a date, and two, saying that to someone who was open enough to express their romantic interest is incredibly unkind. The Lady of the Manners is very relieved to see you say that you’d never change yourself for someone; please always remember that.

How to find people who are open-minded enough to accept you? Go online. The Lady of the Manners realizes that this is the answer she always gives, but the Internet is a good way to find people who share your interests. Just please remember that the Internet is not real life, but that you’re talking to real people. Be kind, but if someone or something makes you uncomfortable or upset, feel free to block them or turn off anonymous comments.

You say you’re in a large town, but appear to be the only goth there; the Lady of the Manners bets you’re not, but the others may be harder to find. Do you know people who go to different schools? If so, ask them if there are any spooky types at their school, and if they can introduce you.

Some places that were traditional hangouts for younger goths included coffee shops, used bookstores, and comic shops, but the Lady of the Manners has no idea if that is still true. Perhaps additional suggestions about where you can find other spooky folks will turn up in the comments!

Which leads the Lady of the Manners to the now-traditional ending of a post here at Gothic Charm School: the comments are open! They’re moderated as ever, forever and ever, world without end, but please DO comment!

Show and Tell: the Wet n Wild “Goth-o-Graphic” collection

7 March 2018

As the Lady of the Manners has said (for what feels like centuries), mainstream fashion has realized that the goth subculture is a lucrative market. While there are some creatures of the shadows that are affronted by this, the Lady of the Manners isn’t. Being able to find clothing and cosmetics that can be appreciated by those with a darker sensibility without going to specialty shops or having to rely on mail order is incredibly helpful. Not to mention that the more awareness the mainstream has of us, there’s the possibility of more acceptance for the up-and-coming generations of goth. (The Lady of the Manners has discussed the pop culture growth of skulls, memento mori, and dark symbols in general here (the very last question in the article) and here.)

Therefore when the Lady of the Manners heard that Wet n Wild cosmetics were releasing a limited edition goth-themed collection, she was VERY interested.

Wet n Wild is a company that goths have been able to rely on for decades. Not only did they cater to us for years with decent quality black lipstick every Halloween season, but their liquid eyeliners are excellent, they have a good selection of eyeshadow colors, and they almost always have dark lipsticks in their main line. (Cherry Crush and Vamp It Up are two of the Lady of the Manners’ stand-by colors.) Their prices are shockingly reasonable, the product quality is very good, and they’re cruelty-free! If, unseen forces forbid, the Lady of the Manners’ day-to-day makeup suddenly vanished, she could pull together an acceptable replacement set from going to the Wet n Wild section at any US drugstore.

(Disclaimer: the Lady of the Manners purchased these products. They were not sent to her by Wet n Wild for review purposes.)

How Wet n Wild describes the collection:

Goth meets holographic in the Spring with our limited edition collection that melds broody and bright together. Eyes are smoky with graphic lines in bright pops of color. Dark moods lighten up with pops of holographic liquid eyeshadow. Dark lips shimmer with a new goth topper that gives them holographic dimension. Cheekbones get edgy, with our new highlighter stick and coordinating highlighters.

The Lady of the Manners is in favor of holographic and glittery makeup. Very, very in favor, and her collection of glitter and highlighters in unnatural hues is taking over all of her makeup storage space. However, when she read the original article about the collection on, a quote jumped out that made her feel uneasy:

Wet n Wild witnessed fatigue erupting alongside the plethora of unicorn-inspired products that were being released through 2017. […] But they weren’t all talk. They leapt into action and created moodier looks that were a direct contrast to the glittery, rainbow-and-unicorn aesthetic.

That didn’t seem to match up with how Wet ‘n Wild themselves described the collection. In fact, looking at preview photos, the Lady of the Manners saw distinct similarities between the Goth-o-Graphic products and … the glittery, holographic, unicorn-inspired products that every brand has released.

WnW Goth-o-Graphic box

WnW Goth-o-Graphic packaging

This is pastel goth. There is nothing wrong with pastel goth; the Lady of the Manners is quite fond of black with pink details. And while others have derided the packaging as something you’d see at a mall store, it’s no worse than when Sanrio released a goth-themed Hello Kitty line.

But the products themselves? The Lady of the Manners is a bit underwhelmed with the collection. The reviews, in the order of great, not bad, disappointing, and awful:

The highlighters
All of the highlighters are wonderful. They all have an excellent level of shimmer, the powder products apply smoothly, and could also be used as super-shimmery, if slightly sheer, eyeshadows. The highlighter stick gives a sheer holographic sheen that can be built up for an unearthly creature effect.

The swatches, from the Lady of the Manners’ wrist and proceeding up the bats are: Moon Tears MegaGlow loose powder, MegaGlow highlighting stick, White Raven MegaGlow pressed powder, and Purple Ashes MegaGlow pressed powder.

WnW Goth-o-Graphic MegaGlow highlighters

The MegaLast Liquid Catsuit eyeshadow

These are creamy eyeshadows that dry to relatively smudge-and-crease proof. The tubes have doe-foot applicator wands, and the best application method seems to be applying a thick-ish smudge of product, then using a stiff eyeshadow brush to quickly get the color all over your lid.
However, the “liquid” shadows had a slightly dry, crumbly texture, and went on unevenly, with streaks and splotches. Even when blended out with a brush, there were tiny crumbs of color that wouldn’t smooth out. The pink Mystic Dreamer color was especially bad, with a thin layer of pink oily liquid at the top and the glitter layer at the bottom of the (factory sealed!) tube. However, other people have said that the products they purchased had a fluffy, mousse-like texture, and applied relatively smoothly, which means there may be some quality control issues.

The swatches, from the Lady of the Manners’ wrist and proceeding up the bats are: Pure Intension (yes, that’s the spelling), Mystic Dreamer, Goth Tears, and Nyctophillia (one of two actual “goth” colors in the entire collection, in the Lady of the Manners’ opinion).

WnW Goth-o-Graphic MegaLast Liquid Catsuit eyeshadow

The MegaLast Liquid Catsuit lipstick

These are glitter liquid-to-matte lipsticks. They have a gritty consistency, which is to be expected with any glitter lipstick, and dry down to relatively smudge-proof. However, these also have the same uneven streaks and splotches issue as the Liquid Catsuit eyeshadow, and they’re very sheer. They might make a good glitter top layer for another lipstick, but you’d have to work fast to get a smooth application.

The swatches, from the Lady of the Manners’ wrist and proceeding up the bats are: Wicked Pink, Pastel Grunge (the Lady of the Manners has SO MANY issues with this name, because she was in Seattle during the original grunge era, and this is. not. grunge. At all.), Gunmetal Heart, and Death to Unicorns.

WnW Goth-o-Graphic MegaLast Liquid Catsuit lipstick

MegaLiner Metallic liquid eyeliner

These are the products that broke the Lady of the Manners’ heart. She LOVES Wet n Wild liquid liner; in her opinion, the liquid liner from their regular product line is some of the best around, with better pigmentation and application than many higher priced “department store” brands.

These metallic liquid eyeliners are nowhere close to being as good as the regular liquid liners. In fact, these are awful. It’s not just that they have the same uneven streaks and blotches as the other liquid products, but the brush applicators are hideous. Pulled straight out from a factory-sealed bottle, the brush fibers don’t form a fine point, but instead some wildly splay out in every direction. There is no way to get a sharp line from any of these liners.

The swatches, from the Lady of the Manners’ wrist and proceeding up the bats are: Skull Prayer, Pink Coffin (why does such a wonderful product name betray the Lady of the Manners so badly?!), and Black Butterfly.

WnW Goth-o-Graphic MegaLast liquid liner

In the end, the only products from the Goth-o-Graphic collection that the Lady of the Manners can recommend are the highlighters. You may want to play spin-the-wheel of product quality with the Liquid Catsuit products if you have your spooky heart set on glittery eye and lip products, the Lady of the Manners won’t stop you. She will just remind you of her warnings.

Do you have favorite W n W products? Do you have other suggestions for glittery or holographic shimmer makeup? Do you want the Lady of the Manners to rant some more about the very idea of “pastel” or “soft” grunge? If so, go forth to the (moderated) comments!

Of Finding Goth Fashion

22 February 2018

At this point, the Lady of the Manners just needs to admit that she goes into a state of hibernation during January and February every year, because a distinct lack of posts for those months seems to have been a trend for … a while. So let’s just leave it at that, and move forward into this shiny new post!

During the months that she was in torpor, the Lady of the Manners received questions that were all variations on a theme that is familiar; Goth fashion – where to find it? In fact, a question from an anonymous user over on the Gothic Charm School tumblr summed it up best:

Any resources for gothic clothing? All the ones I find just bring up the stereotypical goth.

A much-expanded version of the Lady of the Manners’ reply to this question is as such:

The term “gothic clothing” encompasses a vast collection of different styles under one inky black parasol. A tiny selection of goth and goth-adjacent styles include:

  • Romantic goth.
  • Victorian goth (which is subtly different from romantic goth).
  • Vampire goth (which, again, is subtly different from the preceding two styles).
  • Trad goth.
  • Deathrock (which is subtly different from trad goth, no really it is).
  • Dark mori.
  • Gothic Lolita (and its sibling, Elegant Gothic Aristocrat, which is, in the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, the beautiful amalgamation of the romantic, Victorian, and vampire goth styles).
  • Corp goth.
  • Metal goth.
  • Goth punk.
  • Pastel goth
  • Steampunk (much like Victorian goth, but with more goggles and brown).
  • Wearing all black with no particular stylistic leanings.

Well, you get the idea. So many goth styles! Which means that the very first thing that someone looking for gothic clothing should figure out is what style(s) of gothic clothing are they looking for? If you’re not entirely sure, search for images of the styles that sound interesting (Pinterest is great for that sort of thing), and browse around.

Because it’s not enough to type “goth clothes” or “gothic clothing” into a search engine and hit ENTER. The Lady of the Manners has done exactly that during some insomnia-stricken nights, and has found, well, stereotypical goth clothing from big name goth fashion companies: Restyle, Devil Fashion, Hell Bunny, Lip Service, Killstar, Tripp, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with those companies! The Lady of the Manners is extremely happy that there are more and more goth fashion companies springing up and catering to our dark community. However (and you knew there would be a however) those companies don’t offer a wide range of designs or sizes, and prices tend to be on the higher side for things that aren’t custom made. But there is nothing wrong with buying off-the-rack goth fashion from those stores and “big name” goth fashion companies. NOTHING. Buying off-the-rack fashion helps support the goth fashion industry as a whole, which is always a good thing.

But instead of searching for “goth clothes” or “gothic clothing”, be much more specific about what you’re looking for. This is where deciding what sort of gothy style you’re shopping for is a huge help. No surprise, “Deathrock clothing” will get you very different results than “Victorian gothic clothing”. For that matter, try removing “goth” or “gothic” from your search entirely. If you know the more generic names of the items of clothing you want, it will be much easier to find them. For example, the Lady of the Manners has learned to search for things such as “black ruffled blouse”, “chiffon maxi skirt”, or “long velvet vest”, all of which which give her far more results than searching for “romantic goth clothing” or “vampire goth clothing”. “Black denim vest” or “vinyl pants” will turn up more items than “deathrock clothing” or “goth pants”.

You can find some great things on eBay, Etsy, and by using the right keywords. You will also find some hilarious, terrible things. It helps if you filter your results to remove any “costume” sections. Also, do not purchase or bid on things if you are sleep-deprived or in an altered state! Window-shop responsibly! (With regard to the “do not purchase or bid on things if you are sleep-deprived” warning, the Lady of the Manners is well-aware that she is giving all of you advice she herself often ignores.)

However, here is a list (in no particular order) of the keywords that the Lady of the Manners will occasionally frequently search for on sites such as eBay, Etsy, and

80s goth
90s goth
black chiffon
black lace
black maxi dress
black maxi skirt
black sheer
bohemian/boho/g*ps* (UGH. But sometimes sellers tag wonderful things with offensive keywords)
dark mori
goth punk
gothic romance

new romantic
Victorian gothic
Victorian romantic
Victorian vampire
visual kei

Also, for a large (but nowhere near comprehensive!) list of goth and goth-friendly fashion sites, take a look at this 2016 Gothic Charm School post!

Just as importantly, always keep an eye on mainstream fashion retailers. No, they don’t cater specifically to goths, but the Lady of the Manners has noticed that goth-tinged fashion is now always somewhere in the mainstream, be it velvet jackets and blazers, lace and tulle skirts, fishnet tights, spikes and studs, or skulls everywhere. In fact, it looks like the fashions for Spring 2018 (well, the women’s fashions) are leaning heavily toward ruffled blouses, mesh accents, lace dusters, and black with large floral prints. (The Lady of the Manners is especially happy about the black-with-floral thing, as she’s developed a fondness for #floralgoth .) Not to mention that it looks like black-and-white striped blazers are returning, which means that all of us who want to invoke Beetlejuice can do so without resorting to painting the stripes ourselves.

Speaking of mainstream fashion retailers, the Lady of the Manners took this as a very helpful excuse to go browsing around: presenting the Gothic Charm School 2018 goth fashion resources Pinterest board! And this time, the Lady of the Manners plans on doing more regular browsing and updating of that board, because it seems more community-minded than spending insomniac nights searching for yet another red velvet frock coat or lace jabot.

This time around, the Pinterest board is divided into three sections:

  • Men’s and/or gender-neutral!
  • Plus-size friendly!
  • Women’s and/or femme!

There is of course, some crossover, because there are plus-size friendly things in both the Men’s and/or gender-neutral and Women’s and/or femme sections. Alas, there’s not a lot of plus-size friendly things in the Men’s and/or gender-neutral sections, because there just isn’t that much being manufactured that is goth-friendly, gender-neutral, and plus-size friendly. The majority of plus-size clothing is decidedly femme, and filled with peplums over the hips and necklines that highlight the cleavage. Which are wonderful styles, but not everyone wants to wear them, or have them be their only option.

There are a lot of links to fashion shops on Amazon. A LOT. Because it turns out that many Chinese fashion manufacturers realized that there is a market for goth fashion. In fact, if you’ve looked at the big name goth fashion designs, you will probably notice some very similar styles being offered on Amazon. Which the Lady of the Manners is mostly okay with, because almost all of those big name goth fashion companies are having their designs mass-produced in China, too. However, a caveat, which is just as true today as it was in this 2016 Gothic Charm School post: fast and/or inexpensive fashion–goth or not–often cuts corners during production. It’s a sad truth that you won’t be able to avoid sweatshop-produced clothing unless you’re not on a tight budget, or are able and willing to sacrifice and save for it. Alas, that isn’t always possible, so be aware, but don’t punish yourself if it’s unavoidable in your circumstances.

Of course, if you can support independent designers, please, PLEASE do so. Independent designers are a vital part of the goth community.

With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to lose herself yet again in looking at “velvet Victorian” fashion on Amazon and eBay, while repeating to herself that she doesn’t really need any more frock coats.

As always, comments are open. Moderated with a fist inside a velvet, lace-frilled glove, of course, but feel free to comment! Especially if you have suggestions of other retailers and goth-friendly companies!