Saturday, March 31, 2012

A non-post: Packing and College

Ahh, finally I'm on Spring break. Yes, yes, I love school, but it still is very nice to be on a break for a while, epecially since I'll be abroad for much of the break! I leave for London this Tuesday, April third and I will be gone until April tenth. Yay! Excitement! Unfortunately, this means that I will not be posting on this Wednesday or on this Saturday. I apologize for that, but I don't want to be distracted from my trip by having to update my blog while I'm there.

Source: Tumblr

But, that's not the only news I've got. I just committed to my college! What college is that? Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts! Yes, the pleasantly Gothic picture above is of my future home. But, I was invited to go in for their Spring semester, so I have to find out what to do with my Fall semester. I would absolutely love to study abroad in the UK, but I'm having trouble finding a place that clicks for me. Oh well. I'll find somewhere, I'm sure. I just need to think positive.

Yeah. I have nothing else really to say, I'm just excited for my trip and for college in the fall. I told you this was a non-post.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thoughts On: Faking Confidence

Instead of my usual intro, I'm going to give you a quote and ask you to ponder it. Deal? Deal.

The great surrealist artist Salvador Dali was described by his fellow students at the Madrid art academy as "morbidly" shy according to his biographer Ian Gibson. He had a great fear of blushing and his shame about being ashamed drove him into solitude. It was his uncle who gave him the sage advice to become an actor in his relations with the people around him. He instructed him to pretend he was an extrovert and to act like an extrovert with everyone including your closest companions. Dali did just that to disguise his mortification. Every day he went through the motions of being an extrovert and, eventually, he became celebrated as the most extroverted, fearless, uninhibited and gregarious personalities of his time. He became what he pretended to be.

- Michael Michalko

Source: Shroomery

Now, why am I asking you to ponder a quote about Salvador Dali? Was Salvador Dali a Goth? Of course not, but what Michalko has said about Dali is something very interesting that I find applicable to the Goth subculture. It's said that Goths have to have some sort of self confidence, but you have to admit that self esteem issues and introverted behavior are rampant in the subculture (though those things are not necessarily always intertwined.)

There's no doubt that our subculture accepts introverts, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. We as a subculture pride ourselves of our acceptance of everyone, whatever their quirks, and you have to admit that there are some Goth activities that are more tailored to introverts than extroverts. What's more Goth than staying at home with a vampire book and listening to the music of your choice? Even Goth dancing usually isn't done in partners but instead is an individual exploration of the music. Being alone isn't a bad thing to most Goths at all.

However, Goths are under certain pressures. We are constantly under social critique from the people who find our music "satanic" or our clothes provocative or morbid, so many seek out companionship with other Goths who understand our interests and share our burden. From the small town Goths that want to be accepted by someone for their oddness to the big city Goth who knows other Goths but is too shy to meet them, there are a lot of circumstances that would lead a Goth to wanting companionship.

For a personal example, I now know that I am going to one of two schools: Mount Holyoke College, or Seattle University. I am the only person I know going to one of those schools, so I'll have to undergo the chore of meeting new people and making friends. I say chore because I can be a somewhat shy person around new people and very introverted at times, which isn't ideal for meeting new people. That and, unfortunately, Goths can appear a little intimidating to people, so I could be considered at another slight disadvantage when it comes to meeting people (since they may judge me, or something like that.) However, I would be willing to act extroverted because it is important to me to make friends as part of my college experience. I will not let my shyness hold me back.

Do you, my readers, think that people should use this behavior when seeking out other goths? Is it worth pulling a Dali and being not-yourself in order to find desired companionship, or should you stay true to yourself? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cleaning a Corset

I'm not the only one that does spring cleaning, am I? I certainly hope not. It's a fantastic way to shake off some of the left over winter blues and prepare for the long, warm months ahead. Yes, it's only March, but with the eighty degree weather here in Maryland, I've been thinking about spring cleaning a lot more. So, in light of that, I thought I'd give you guys a little guide that I certainly wish I'd had a while ago. That is, I'm going to give some pointers on how to clean a corset.

Corsets are not necessarily garments that most people think to wash regularly. And, honestly, unless you're wearing your corset very often, you don't need to wash it all the time. If you want to prevent odor, hanging your corset to air out is often recommended, but that does not require serious washing.

However, even if you're extremely careful, accidents can happen and your corset can get something spilled on it or get otherwise grimy. But, luckily, it's not all that hard to clean the corset. I say this as a blanket statement beforehand: dry cleaning is the best option, if you can find a good dry cleaner. However, since that's not always possible, here is what has worked best for me:

For general materials, the first thing you need to do is use a stain stick (such as a Tide To-Go pen). Preferably, this would be in your purse. The only reason that your corset could not have one of these stain sticks used on it would be if the fabric itself could be damaged by the chemicals in the stick. This might be something to consider before getting the corset, but being as it might already be too late, it's a generally safe assumption that most corsets can withstand a stain stick.

Then, when you get home, apply a damp washcloth or other rag to the dirty area. The rag should not be sopping wet, just a little damp. Press in with the rag, do not rub in circles, and lift off. If the dirt is not coming off, apply a little bit of a very mild (preferably baby) shampoo. The shampoo should be worked into a lather in your washcloth or rag, not on the corset itself. If even that doesn't work, corset blog Bridges on the Body suggests "sudsing some liquid Tide up in a bowl with lukewarm water, then putting the foam on the dirty spots... [then adding] more foam, then gently scrubb[ing] what remained with [a] toothbrush." Continue to do this until the dirt is removed.

White corsets may be more difficult to clean, since stains in white fabrics stick tend to stick around. We might think to bleach the corset, but most delicate fabrics cannot stand up to the "dose" of bleach which would remove a stain on white cloth, so only use bleach if your corset is made of a heavy-duty cotton or linen (and stay away from the metal bits with the bleach.) If your corset is delicate, try to sponge off the dirt as best as you can, but I don't have any tips for how else to help. I've heard people having various degrees of luck in dyeing over a stain, but the results vary on that one.

Fully immersing a corset in water is not a good idea. Any metal fixtures, including the boning, grommets, etc. can become rusted and will break more easily. However, you can rinse sections of your corset away from the boning and metal bits. Rinsing in cold water will produce the best results.

But what about drying? You can't exactly put the corset in a dryer, can you? No, but you do have a few options. Putting the corset in a shaded area (so as not to fade the color) to dry would work, but others prefer to blot-dry with a towel as much as possible. One widely suggested thing by corset owners is to put your corset on at some time during the drying process. This is supposed to allow your corset to mold to fit you while it dries, improving the fit. However, it is not necessary if you prefer not to wear damp clothing.

How do you wash your corset, dear followers? Do you have any tips?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Minimalist vs. Maximalist

One of the latest loves of the interior design industry is the concept of minimalism. The idea was not to have a lot of "stuff", but instead to have a few things which, when arranged in a particular way, would make the most impact on the viewer. Minimalism is supposed to look fresh, clean, organized, etc. but some view it as sterile and uninteresting. However, what about before Minimalism? For a long time, and certainly during the Victorian era, there was a design now referred to as Maximalism. For the Victorians, one of the best ways to prove how wealthy you were was to have a lot of stuff. And, since people were already groaning under pounds of fabric at the time, it made a lot of sense to show off how much stuff you had in your home. But, how does this work in a Goth aesthetic? I'd like to show you some examples.

First, the Minimalist Goth:

Next, the Maximalist Goth:

Source: ColorMeBlind

Minimalist Goth design reminds me of what the background of a Vogue "goth" photoshoot would be. Clean lines, black furniture, highly polished, elegant, but nothing that firmly says "Goth." The Maximalist design, on the other hand, is very heavy on the design details. Coordinating but not matching colors, ornate furniture and fixtures, many motifs popular among Goth, all coming together to lend to a purposefully cluttered feel.

In many ways, I am a Maximalist at heart. I love coordinating elements and colors, layering textures and collecting "stuff." However, as I look up at the above example of Maximalism design, I can see how overwhelming it can be at times. And think of all the dusting you'd have to do! I think, perhaps, that Maximalist can work in some rooms of a home, but not in all of them. For some reason, a Maximalist bathroom does not appeal to me. Or, really, any small room would easily be overwhelmed by a Maximalist design aesthetic. Perhaps that's something I'll have to keep in mind while decorating my dorm room this coming fall, as dorms aren't known to be particularly roomy.

One might think that certain design schemes lend themselves to one style or the other, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that that's not necessarily true. For example, looking up at the above bedroom's medieval design you might think that Maximalist is completely necessary to carry that design. I mean, when you think Medieval, it's completely reasonable to think of Maximalist design. The layers of patterns, textures, and design elements is very Maximalist. But, not always. This Minimalist room surprised me with how well it portrayed a Medieval feel without layering a lot of patterns, textures, etc.
Source: MyDeco

The great thing about the distance between those two styles is most decorations will fit in with either design. To create either "feel" for the room, you just have to focus on how many of each decoration you have and how you present them. For example, consider this skull candle from Urban Outfitters.

Source: ThisNext

For Minimalist design, you could do something as simple as putting it on a highly-polished mirror tray on an end table. For Maximalist, however, you could group it with other gothic design elements. For example, setting the candle on top of a stack of antique books on an end table with an extra-long table runner on it. Next to that, put another grouping of tapered candles or an hour glass. This skull candle will, in each grouping, portray a completely different design. This can be achieved with a great many other decorations that you might like in your home.

So, readers, which do you prefer? Or do you dislike both? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Goth Challenge 21-25

No excuses. Just memes.

21. What body mod do you have or have you considered?
The only mods that I have so far are one piercing in each ear. I had another piercing in each, but my skin scarred thickly so I couldn't push an earring through. I would like to get two new piercings in each lobe, a rook and both of my cartilages done, and then there is the tattoo that I've been planning of the three hares symbol.

A tattoo design created for me by OpalDragon on Tumblr.

22. If you could attend any Goth event what would it be?

I would really love to attend the Vampires Masquerade Ball one year, but if I went anytime soon I would probably end up reusing my prom dress and feeling inadequate as far as level of frippery goes. My ideal dress would be a black velvet dress in the 1885 style with the high collar and large bustle, maybe with a feathered hat. Besides the clothes, it just seems like a nice time to get to know people in the same subculture. I suppose it might be different if you go alone, so maybe I could rope a few friends into going with me.

Source: Vampire Ball

23 – Your favourite artist or photographer.
My favorite artist is Jayne, known as The Dark Victorian in the blogger world and OpiateVampire/Magical Tea Time on Tumblr. You can find her online portfolio here, and a scan of the drawing by her that I actually own here (not to brag, but I own my favorite piece by my favorite artist? AWESOME.) Not only is she very talented, but she's also insanely nice. We went to the same high school a few years apart and I just recently bumped into her at Otakon this summer and she is as delightful as ever.

Name the best websites for Goths.
Blogging websites such as Blogger, Tumblr, etc., honestly. You will find huge amounts of art, style inspiration, music videos, song lyrics, DIY instructions, recipes and more all over that website if you follow the "right people." It really is reaffirmation that you aren't the only one with your particular interests, I've found. Of course, there are drawbacks, like the incessant drama and the snarky Anons, but any scene is prone to that on the internet.

Source: Tumblr

25. Did you ever consider leaving the subculture?
When I was a freshman, I had a problem with a particular male Goth who was a senior. He repeatedly told me that I was copying another Goth and was just an ass in general to me. This seriously made me reconsider myself as a Goth because I knew that I would have to deal with these people all the time if I went further into the subculture, but I stuck it out and it's been very, very worth it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Accessory Appreciation: Collar Tips

I have a soft spot for accessories. In a style as (usually) monochromatic as Goth is, the accessories can really make it stand out. Most Goths know that just because something is black doesn't make it Goth, so how do you make a plain black dress or pantsuit look delightfully spooky? Accessories would be your savior here. So, in honor of accessories, I'd like to spend a bit of time going over accessories that are, in my opinion, seriously under-appreciated. The first up accessory is the humble collar tip.

Collar tips are accessories that fasten onto the, well, tips of your collared shirts. They're unisex accessories and can fit a variety of styles. They are usually metal, though some will have gem stones, lace, chain, etc. attached to them. Some will even have dangling components or will be linked together by a chain (creating a necklace-like effect.) They are traditionally associated with Western styles from the 19th century, but with a modern twist they can really prove to be an unexpected but pleasant detail. Here are some examples:

(Check the shop, there are other designs available such as spiders, devil heads, etc.)

Curious as to how you're supposed to coordinate them? While I don't mean to dictate your fashion sense (because you can really wear them however you want,) my suggestion would be to find a plain colored shirt without a loud pattern (a pinstripe might be okay) and fasten the clips on. Don't detract from them by loading up on necklaces, brooches, or loud, attention grabbing earrings. Keep the rest of the jewelry on your hands. This makes the collar tips stand out as much as possible.

What are your opinions on collar tips, my dear readers? Do you find them to be too Western Kitsch or can they really work with Goth?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How do you decorate a Goth Dorm Room?

I feel as if I allude all too often to my age and education in regular articles, and if you agree with me then you might not want to read this one because it's pretty much all about that. I've recently entered into the third quarter of my senior year. With that comes stress, seniorities, and college application decision letters.

I consider myself lucky in that I am so far two-for-two in my college acceptances. Currently, I am accepted to my safety school Hood College and one of my favorites, Seattle University, with merit scholarships at each. I feel incredibly proud and very lucky to be able to go to these schools, but that also means that I have one thing on my mind: dorms.

Essentially, I now am aware that I will be spending nine months of the coming year packed like sardines in a room with one or two other girls trying to get used to life away from home. If I go to Seattle University (which seems likely) I will also be 2750 miles from home, without much chance of coming back on the fly. I'll be out of my element in more ways than one, but for all that I am still very excited.

I've already started planning some of my dorm room by reading Tumblr blogs such as Fuck Yeah Cool Dorm Rooms for inspiration and trying to translate ideas to fit a more Goth aesthetic. There are a lot of guides on Goth decorating, but many of them seem unfit for Dorm rooms. In my dorm room I will:
  • have plain white walls
  • have plain brown furniture (that I won't be able to move)
  • have limited space
  • not be able to use thumbtacks or nails
  • not be able to hang lots of fabric (fire hazard)
  • have a probably non-Goth roommate who might be intimidating by all the black.
Do you see my limitations here? I know I'm not the only Goth who has had to deal with this, but no other Goths seem to have left any advice that I can find. There have been threads on the forums about how to decorate dorms, but they weren't all that inspiring. So, this will be a regularly revisited topic on this blog. I plan to chart my progress on decorating the room as a reference to other Goths who will someday be in the same boat.

Who among you has lived in a dorm room at some time in your life? Have I missed any guides for this decorating that I should read? Do you have any tips for a soon-to-be college freshman? Thank you!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Keeping Black Clothes Black (and An Outfit Post)

Most of us have been there. You're searching for something to wear, you find an old stand-by piece that you love, and you put it on. Then, when you go look in the mirror, you're crestfallen. That piece that once seemed blacker than night is now just gray. Somehow, one of your favorite pieces managed to fade while you weren't paying attention. In this post, I'd like to help give some advice on what to do to prevent your favorite items of clothing from fading to an unintentional gray.

My first tip might seem strange to some, but it is to carefully consider whether certain items really need to be washed before they can be worn again. Trousers (especially jeans) can be worn multiple times before they need to be washed and most outwear will only need to be washed when it gets a stain on it. Reducing the amount of times you wash your clothes will make the dyes fade less, so your blacks stay black longer.

Another trick that has been used for a long time is to turn dark items inside out while you are washing them. This ensures that if there is fading from the clothes rubbing against each other and being exposed to the water, it will be mostly on the inside of the garment. However, if you have dirt on your clothes, this may prevent some of the dirt from getting washed off, so that's something to consider.

Next, you might want to reconsider what you're washing your clothes in. Using cold water will cause the dye to run less, and a detergent specially formulated for dark and black clothing will keep your blacks blacker longer. A popular choice is Woolite Extra Dark, which contains no bleaching agents often found in other detergents. Another option is to add a bit of vinegar (no more than one cup) to your wash, which helps "set" the dye. This is especially helpful the first time you wash your article of clothing, which is the time when most of the dye is going to run.

How you dry your clothing is also going to determine how much it fades. In general, using a machine dryer is always going to cause some sort of fading in your clothing. For best results, take your clothes out of the washer and hang them up somewhere. While a clothes line outside seems like a good (and eco-friendly!) idea, it's important to remember that the sun will also fade dyes overtime. Hanging them up in the shade to dry, or in your home, will keep dyes from fading a lot.

When all else is lost (because even these tips will not help a garment last forever), it might be necessary to redye your faded clothes. This is generally fairly simple. Just purchase a brand of black dye that is formulated to work on the type of fabric your garment is made of and follow the instructions. However, extremely delicate pieces and pieces with appliques, embroidery, or beading on them might be damaged by the dye, as well as any pieces that have lighter colors on them, so use your best judgement here. If you're not comfortable redyeing pieces on your own, ask your local tailor if they can help you out. While it's not a typically offered service, you'd be surprised at what tailors can do.

And, speaking of black clothes, have an outfit post!

While I was in Richmond last weekend, I had a conversation with my father about the infamous Goths Up Trees tumblr blog. He found it oddly hilarious and thus decided that he had to take a picture of me for that blog. Up in a tree. Okay, dad. While I won't be submitting this picture to the Goths Up Trees blog, I thought I'd share it with you all.

Outfit Rundown:

Shoes - Payless
Skirt - Fanplusfriend
Shirt - Old Navy
Capelet - Victorian Trading Co.