Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Guide to Cemetery Etiquette

Today, readers, I discuss a topic very close to my heart: cemetery visits. I started visiting cemeteries with my grandmother and mother as soon as I could walk and, to me, they've always been a pleasant place for a visit. They're quiet, calm, and full of rich history. I'm not alone in my love of these places. Many Goths are partial to cemeteries (particularly cemetery picnics) and it's one of our great cliches. However, I'm saddened by the amount of disrespectful behavior I've seen from my fellow spooks in regards to cemetery visits. So, I've decided that I want to compile my short guide to proper cemetery behavior.

Source: Funstoo

Why am I asking you to alter your behavior on cemetery visits? Let's face it: not everyone shares our morbid interest in cemeteries. In general, most people come to cemeteries to mourn their loved ones. It is imperative that you be respectful of these people while you are in the cemetery. No, it doesn't matter what your ideas about death and mourning are. The last thing you want to do when someone is saddened by a passing is upset them further with insensitivity. So, without further ado, I present to you my brief guide of cemetery etiquette:
  1. Do not damage any of the headstones - This, really, should go without saying. Purposeful damage of a headstone is utterly rude and disrespectful. While it might seem insignificant, headstones can cost hundreds to thousands and thousands of dollars. Accidents happen, everyone knows this. If you somehow cause to any monuments of headstones, report it to the cemetery staff and be prepared to pay for damages. It's the right thing to do.
  2. Do not take anything from the cemetery - Flowers, mementos from gravestones, etc. are all off-limits. Even if you intend to remove the item and then replace it after snapping some photos, it's incredibly rude and you shouldn't do it. It should also go without saying that grave robbing is a disgusting practice. Please do not remove human remains from the graveyard, they do not belong to you. But none of my readers would do that, of course.
  3. Do not stand, sit, lie, have sex, or otherwise support yourself on the headstones - Headstones, as previously stated, as extremely expensive. Some of them might also be old and historic and easily breakable, so do not drape yourself over the headstones. Not only that, but that marker does not belong to you. I'm not one for complaining about people "disrespecting the dead," but if you are on the headstones you are disrespecting the family who the deceased has left behind. This is especially important if you are taking pictures. Also, watch your step when you are walking; you never know if a flat headstone is under your feet. The exception to this rule is bench monuments, but use your best judgement about if the stone will support you or if it is simply too old.
  4. Avoid contact with funeral goers or mourners - Ideally, you should quietly and inconspicuously move away from any mourners or funeral processions if you see them. However, if you have your little black heart set on where you are, keep your voices down and avoid staring at the procession. And, no, shouting "hey, can I have that hearse when you're done?" isn't cute. Be respectful of people in their time of weakness.
  5. Respect the fences and gates - If part of a grave site is closed off via a fence, please do not try to climb onto the fence or into the fenced-off area. It is fenced off for a reason and, really, you can probably get your photos from outside of it.
  6. Do not bury anything without permission - A cemetery, along with being a place for mourners, is a business. The cemetery plots have to be bought by those who want to use them (for themselves or their family.) Burying anything there without permission is akin to stealing real estate. If you must bury your deceased pets, go to your own yard or find a pet cemetery.
  7. Obey the wishes of cemetery staff and cemetery rules - The easiest way to find out about cemetery rules is to check the website for the cemetery (this may be the website of a church, if the cemetery is associated with it.) They should have hours for the cemetery, a list of banned practices (such as grave rubbings, attending the cemetery when there is a funeral planned, and taking pictures) and contacts should you have any other inquiries. Likewise, if a cemetery worker asks you to leave, you would be wise to do so or you run the risk of being called a trespasser and having the police called.
Source: Me
Picture taken in Mount Auburn Cemetery, MA

I hope that this guide was helpful to all of you who are unsure of the proper behavior during a visit to a cemetery. I also hope that I did not come across as talking down to you. Recent events on other websites about the glorification of grave robbing in particular have make it a necessity for me to outline what is an is not acceptable behavior for visiting the cemetery. So, readers, what do you think? Did I leave out any rules that you try to abide by? Or do you take issue with mine?y

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Halloween Decor for Year-round Design

Well, darlings, it's that time of year again: American stores such as Michaels and PartyCity have begun stocking their usual Halloween treats. For many Goths, this is the time of year where we can buy up some of our home decor without ordering online or dipping into our DIY materials. Hooray! Now, of course, you'll have to wait until after the "back to school" sales to get the whole inventory, but it's better to have a battle plan now than when surrounded with all kinds of spooky delights! While last year I wrote a little piece about shopping around Halloween time, I'd like to revisit that topic and spend a bit more time on one particular aspect of it: using Halloween decor year-round. For you, now, I present my guide for buying Halloween decor with intent to decorate year round:

Source: Bat-cave-beauty 

1. Materials - Halloween decorations generally come in one of five materials: paper, foam, rubber, plastic, and metal. Right away, I will tell you that it is generally not a good idea to buy Halloween decorations made out of paper and foam because they are not meant to last very long. They will tear and chip and will generally not be a good use of your money. I would also avoid from buying anything made out of rubber because they tend to be Halloween-specific decorations that look cheap or cheesy. (I know, we all love rats, but I have yet to see someone successfully incorporate a bag of rubber rats into Goth decor.) This leaves plastic and metal decorations, which are by far your safest bet for long-term wear.

2. Motifs - This one is more up to personal taste but it is generally accepted that while there are many elegant and Gothy ways to decorate with Halloween items, hanging a banner that says "Happy Halloween!" on it isn't as elegant as it is...silly? Feel free to disregard this rule if you're making a Halloweentown-themed room or similar. For the rest of us, sticking to motifs such as spiders, coffins, vampires, etc. will look less "Halloweentown" and more "Gothic abode."

3. Quality - The quality of the items has a lot to do with the previously mentioned materials that they are made out of. Most people have their Halloween decorations up for a maximum of about three or four weeks so the items they buy for the holiday don't have to be particularly good quality. However, if you're intending on buying them for year-round wear, you'll quickly find that they deteriorate faster than you intended. Thus, you should be picky about what you're buying. Beware of items heavily coated in glitter (it will shed on you like nobody's business) and candles that, while they appear black, are just white with a black wax coating. To preserve items that might not be the best of quality, place them in areas where they will not be regularly handled (for example, hang a wreath on your wall instead of on the back of a door which will regularly hit the wall and cause it to crumple to pieces.)

4. Price - This is the biggie. While Goths are no stranger to paying mark-ups for our clothing (that The Cure t-shirt is how much?!), there's no reason this has to be the case when shopping for decor. After all, part of the reason we're shopping at these stores is because it's cheaper and more convenient than buying specialty Goth items. Still, because Halloween items are only available for a short time, stores that sell these items are looking to make as much of a profit off of them as quickly as possible, so the items can often not be worth the full price. If you can, find coupons for chain stores and shop in the after-season sales (be quick, they move into Christmas gear faster than you can say "Bauhaus!") to avoid paying huge mark-ups.

Here is a small list of items which are generally safe to buy during the Halloween sales and which might turn up useful in a Goth's decor:

  • Black, red, orange, and purple candles 
  • Halloween-motif tableware (plastic or ceramic, not paper, please, and note that these might not be microwave safe!) 
  • Lenticular photographs 
  • Halloween Flags 
  • Spooky wreathes 
  • String lights in unusual colors (purple, red, orange, etc.) 
  • Candelabra and other candle holders (aim for the metal ones, not paper) 
  • Black or "bloody" white roses 
  • Decorated storage jars and containers 
  • Window clings 
  • Spooky stuffed animals 
  • Bolts of black cheesecloth, gauze, etc. 
  • Plastic/ceramic 
  • Halloween knick-knacks (busts of creepy creatures, tombstones, etc.)
  •  Wall clings 
  • Paint-able wooden shapes (you can see Bane of GIY: Goth it Yourself putting these to use on an amazing chest of drawers here!) 
  • Wall posters and signs 

I'm afraid I am not overly familiar with your shopping options in other countries, but perhaps someone in the comments would like to lend a hand? For the rest of you, what guidelines do you try to adhere to as far as using Halloween decor year-round? Can you add more to the list of "Safe bets" I have above?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snapshots: My room

Readers, we all have our safe places, do we not? Somewhere where we can retreat when the days get long. For me, that would have to be my room. I'm a little nervous to be leaving this safe place of mine when I go off to college, so I thought I'd snap some pictures and share the place that I call home. Hopefully this will also spark some inspiration for decorating my dorm room, which I'm still a little bit nervous about. (Especially since I can't exactly fly big posters across the ocean, now can I?) 
Anyway, here we go:

Here you can see my bookshelf, an original piece by Jayne of The Dark Victorian, and my closet door.

This is a better shot of my bed. I'm not the only Goth who has little stuffed animals, am I? Haha.Here's a better view of the pirate flag I have covering my window.My desk. It looks more hectic in this shot than it actually is. At least I know where everything is, no? Oh, and you can see the bulletin board I featured in a previous post.

My room has a long chest of drawers along one wall (most of them are filled with old school papers, more books, etc.) but you can see two of my deer skulls, my lineage vest, my type writer, and an Edward Gorey poster in this shot.

Here's a closeup on the top of my bookshelf. Those ornaments on it came from a lot of different places. The candelabra and spider-shaped candle holder came from Michael's. The gray angel candle holder and the little cauldron came from a thrift store. The little octopus sculpture was made for me by a friend at my high school. The black skull was purchased at Otakon 2010 and the silver one was from Necromance.

The back of my closet has a poster from the Mutter Museum on it (not the one I had intended to buy, but I actually prefer this one, haha) and right next to it is a chart of the kings and queens of England.

Here is my wall of photography and art. Most of it was gathered from DeviantART back when they were having one of their print sales which are, by the way, great ways to support your favorite artists and get some excellent pieces for your home.

A closeup of my desk, where I'm blogging from right now.

What are your favorite feature's from your room, friends? How have you made it fit with your spooky style?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wardrobe Overhaul: More Plans

First, I would like to thank you all for following me! I just recently achieved over 200 followers and I'm quite pleased with that. I really hope you do enjoy reading my posts and that you'll contribute through comments occasionally so I can get to know you. Now, I know I made a previous post about what the wardrobe overhaul would entail as far as what I was looking for, but to be honest when I saw this post on Bats and Bunnies I couldn't help but think that it was a brilliant idea. Velvetbats himself borrowed the idea from another blogger Woxje, and I can't thank either of them enough for bringing it to my attention. So, without further ado, my rambling thoughts about what I would like to encourage with my wardrobe.

So far as colors go, here is my current palette. You'll see the traditional black (which will, indeed, make up the most of it) alongside colors such as gray, white, dark red, a mid-tone red, and indigo. Personally, I find the hardest shade to find in Goth clothing to be the indigo color. To remedy this, I am considering buying clothing in white and then dyeing it until I get the shade that I want. Apparently there is a RIT shade which, with a touch more red, will come very close to my vision, so I'll be looking into that and then writing down the exact formula so that I can match the color in all these articles of clothing.

As for patterns, I think I would like to stick with just two for the time being. Perhaps I will add to this overtime, but these are what I know look good on me. The first of them is a vertical stripe, preferably a pinstripe but I like to pretend I'm flexible with this sort of thing. I love the vertical stripe because it's extremely flattering, in my opinion, and very elegant. The second of these is a brocade/damask pattern that I love. I already have it on one of my jacquard jackets and I think it's just stunning. However, unlike in the image given, I prefer for the pattern to be less stark. For example, I would like it to be grey/black or black/black rather than white/black. I find it more pleasing to the eye and less jarring.

Finally, I thought about the details that I find most aesthetically pleasing in my wardrobe. First and foremost would be the traditional bell-shaped skirt (in knee-length or full-length, depending on the occasion.) This silhouette was what first drew me to Lolita fashion, now one of my largest influences. Secondly would be Victorian-esque boots and footwear. While not what I would call practical, they're extremely elegant looking (and besides, I'll always keep some flats around for long-distance walking anyway, haha.) Third is actually a recent discovery of mine, which would be my affinity for some military styled details (especially on jackets.)

Next, I would like to develop a collection of blouses with higher, Victorian-styled collars. To me these epitomize elegance and my love for the Victorian era. Bonus points if there's a brooch at the collar. After that, I have to say I really like the look of a nipped in waist. I would prefer not to be walking around in baggy clothes and, if I have to, will use a belt, corset, or some darts to create the desired effect. Sixth on my list is black opaque tights. While I sometimes like the look of stripes or all sorts of other patterns, I think nothing beats the simple elegance of a black opaque tight. It makes my legs look longer and slimmer and matches pretty much everything. I'll have to buy several pairs.
Now, you might be wondering why there is a little image of a woman's cleavage as the next one. Well, simply put, I really like to display my cleavage when I'm dressed up. So, while this contradicts a previous detail I had mentioned, I really can't forget it. Next, I thought it apt to mention my love for the look of an underbust corset. I've actually been thinking about beginning to tight-lace, which would be fun, and I need some quality corsets for that. Besides, they just look really nice. Lastly, I have a love for black venetian lace which cannot be tamed. The only form of it I have right now are in the form of wrist cuffs, but it seems that it would be even more lovely as a detail on a hat or at the hem of a skirt. My current plan is to buy a few yards of it and begin experimenting on where the details would fit best.

Have those of you who are joining me on the "wardrobe overhaul" journey been thinking about which colors, patterns, and details you enjoy the most?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shallow Wants: School Bags

School is on the brain, friends! When I sent in my payments for University of Stirling in the fall, it hit me pretty hard that I'm going to be on my own for a while. After alternating between stressing out and becoming so excited that my heart lept, I remembered that just paying my fees. I still needed to register for classes, buy supplies, move in, and begin classes. So, as a no-stress exercise, I decided to go shopping for a new bag to hold my books. Here are some interesting ones that I turned up:


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Historical Styles for Long Hair

As previously stated, summer has hit my area with a vengeance. While summer is great for people who want tans and for "outdorsey" types, it's the bane of us Autumn/Winter children with black wardrobes. Still, reading "summer guides" to Goth informs me that I can change my black leather for thin black cotton and swap my thick opaque tights for fishnets but there's less of an explanation for what to do with hip-length thick hair. "Wear it up" seems to be the general advice. Perhaps I'm not creative but "wear it up" always feels dull since all I can come up with is a tight bun at varying levels on my head. However, in looking for inspiration for long hair styles, I came to the realization that there was, in fact, a solution: historical hair!

It cannot be said that short hair was particularly fashionable for much of history. In some times, a woman's long hair was her crowning glory and chopping it short was a mark of particularly deep shame. Thus, the longer it was, the better off you were. Still, you'll notice that in many of these cultures, a woman's long hair was kept up most of the time in various styles. Loose hair could indicate a loose woman, for example, or someone who just didn't particularly care about her social status. Thus, historical hair provides the answer to my prayers: up-do's for wannabe-Rapunzels like myself.

The Victorian (1874)

Source: Fashion-Era
(Click this link for a larger picture)

If you can tear your eyes off of the fancy dresses (I don't blame you for staring, I want them all, in black of course!) you'll notice that most of the women's hairstyles in this picture are made up of curls piled and pinned on top of the women's heads and then adorned with various decorations. Victorian women who could afford to dress in this way were encouraged to have long hair, perhaps around the mid-back or longer, but the addition of curls and their placement makes the hair seem much shorter. This way, the hair adds height and is off of the back of the women's necks. Unfortunately, this hairstyle also takes a long time to put on and might require hairspray, which is impractical for some.

The Regency (1813)

Source: EKDuncan
(Click this link for a larger picture)

Perhaps you are more Elizabeth Bennett than Jane Eyre in your fashion sense. If that's the case, you might want to look earlier. The Regency hairstyle was a revival of some of the Roman hairstyles (more on them later) which were given more glamour to match the fashions of the time. Actually, the hairstyles might be my favorite part of Regency fashion (I'm certainly not a fan of the empire waists of the time, unfortunately.) To achieve you can have shorter hair (still usually around shoulder-length, however) and give yourself ringlets with dishrag curls or a curling iron. Most of those curls should then be swept up so that they lie close to the head with some dangling free of the small bun you have going. On either sides of your face, there should be small ringlets and you should definitely be free to stick as many delicate shiny things in your hair as you can.

The Medieval (10th-11th century)

Source: Medieval Muse

This one might be the most basic style that I'll cover here, but the basics need to be covered. Two long braids is a hairstyle I generally reserve to bedtime when I really don't want to be bothered with untangling my hair in the morning, so it's nice to see it used as an actual fashion statement. The bonus of Medieval braids is that the braids themselves don't have to be limited to the three-strand cross-over method that's popular now. In fashion plates from the era they often seem to be more like coils than anything else, so you can have fun with the different kinds of braids available. Also, braids in the era were often highly decorated with strips of brightly colored ribbon. Goths taking inspiration from this style might be tempted to use Halloween-patterned ribbon which could definitely be a casual-cute interpretation.

The Roman (1st Century)

Roman women seemed to fully embrace up-do's as a part of their usual look, which makes sense when you think about where their culture sprang up. Leave the men to build the roads, we're building hairstyles to last thousands of years! Anyway, the typical Roman woman's hair seems to be a combination of thick braids and wavy bits. In the above image, I personally find the top right face to be the most useful to the modern day. A simple headband crowns off what appears to be a wavy ponytail (one that is pinned to the base of the neck where it ends) which can be easily done in modern times. However, the very ambitious can attempt the crown braid (top left) or a crown of sorts, if you're feeling particularly sassy and stylish. If you find trouble with achieving the "height" of the hairstyles pictured, don't worry, the Romans did too! It is reported that they used padding or "rats" to support their higher hairstyles. If you want a tutorial for a hair rat, look no further than Quaintrelle Life!

I realize while writing this that my entries are incredibly Euro-centic. However, I worry that suggesting some hairstyles might be condoning cultural appropriation if they are not yours to wear. So, I welcome you to look into your own cultural past. Beautiful hairstyles can be found in fashion illustrations from feudal japan to pre-European contact Africa to any other place in time and I encourage you to look at them. Another great thing about looking into your cultural past for hair inspiration is the fact that you can find hairstyles which were meant to be worn with a hair texture/thickness which matches yours. For example, if I decided that I wanted to wear my hair up, I'd have an easier time with hairstyles from western Europe than I would from Asia because my hair type was inherited from Western Europeans.

Have you ever attempted a historical hairstyle for a reason other than reenactment or costuming? What was it? How did it work out?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Liebster Awards

First off, I would like to apologize for the lack of a post on Saturday. As some of you may be aware, there was a huge storm in the Mid-Atlantic area that knocked out power everywhere. My entire town (and much of the city of Baltimore) was without power for two days. Combine that with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and you have a bit of a disaster. Still, now power is back and I can resume my regular blogging. However, I've been considering cutting back on my posts to once a week anyway. Hopefully reducing it to one post a week would allow for longer, more in-depth posts and a bigger forum for discussion. It's just a thought now, but I was wondering what you all think?

That's my running trail in the woods after the storm hit.

Anyway! today I've been nominated for the Liebster awards by a few people. Thank you all!

The Rules:

Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
Create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer.
Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
Go to their page and tell them.
No tag backs.

Eleven Things About Me:
  1. My ringtone is crow's cawing
  2. My room is currently a disaster and I should probably think about cleaning it.
  3. I run two miles every day.
  4. I hate wearing sleeveless tops, they make me feel naked.
  5. I have a "thing" for weirdly shaped purses. I indulge this perhaps a bit too much.
  6. I nominate hummus for the greatest food in the history of ever.
  7. I've never worn tripp pants.
  8. I have begun collecting bones from the woods that I run in and it's a lovely hobby.
  9. I hate how green tea tastes.
  10. I love playing D&D!
  11. I've never been to a concert and I really don't want to.

Questions I Was Asked (by Sophie!):

If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
I would love to meet Joyce Carol Oates, one of my favorite authors and a huge inspiration to me.
2) What is your biggest achievement?
Placing in the Young Arts national writing competition twice, once each for a poetry portfolio and a fiction portfolio.
3) What colour is your bedroom?
Robin-egg blue.
4) What's your favourite Tim Burton film?
Nightmare Before Christmas. Cliche, but true. I've been watching it since I was really young and it always conjures up good memories.
5) Best thing a non-Goth has ever said to you?
About being a Goth? Well my creative writing classmates regularly refer to me as the "Goth Goddess" which I think is hilarious.
6) What's been your worst fashion disaster?
Wearing clothes I'd lost too much weight for which them started to fall off. Eep.
7) What are your 'must-have' cosmetics?
Concealer, black liquid eyeliner, matte white and matte black eyeshadow.
8) Cats or Dogs?
9) Why did you begin blogging?
Because I needed a way to connect to the Goth community.
10) If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you buy?
New clothes! (Shallow, but I can save my other purchases to help people for later....)
11) What's currently on your wishlist?
A few more black, knee-length skirts and a decent petticoat.

My questions:
  1. What are three things on your Goth "bucketlist"?
  2. What is your favorite Goth song?
  3. What's one Goth stereotype that you fit perfectly?
  4. What would be your ideal perfume/cologne scent?
  5. What is one of your guilty pleasures?
  6. What is a usual outfit for you?
  7. Do you collect anything? If so, what?
  8. What's something you do subconsciously?
  9. What's something you'd recommend? Anything. Clothes, movies, books, songs, whatever.
  10. The last magazine you read?
  11. The story of your username?

I tag:
EVERYONE! Do the tag and post the link to it in the comments!

In other news, I'm going to study abroad in Scotland! Eep! Yes, as I've mentioned before, I'm going to my regular four-year college in January of 2013 so I've had to come up with a new plan for the fall. Well, my plans have settled: I'll be at University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland from September eighth to December twelvth. I'm so, so, so excited! More on that later as well, if you're interested!