I used to be Gothic. Not in the purist, I look like a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees and glare at everyone menacingly sort of way, but rather in the I listen to a fare amount of the music, wear mostly black all the time, generally find disturbing dark things amusing, and go out dancing in clubs Gothic people are known to frequent, sort of way.
I do continue to listen to the music, of course. I also continue to like things that go bump in the night, and am not afraid of bats or snakes. I absolutely love my pale skin and a really good novel about the supernatural or a tormented soul, living or dead. I’m a geek about historic costume and old things in general, and have a million hobbies. I also really love art and fashion that is dark, contrasty, moving, and a little surprising, or at least unexpected.
As I get older there are two things that really irk me. Things I miss greatly. Due to responsibilities, it is very hard to go out dancing, which always seems to be on an off night here in Philly, and I miss it – the music, dancing, hanging out with friends, and getting dressed up. The second, is looking generally odd and unusual. The dancing is really beyond my control, but one should be able to express oneself as one wishes, within reason.
The problem is, I need, or want, to look polished and professional. Over the last few years, I’ve been gravitating to vintage 1940s style because it’s very ladylike and elegant and, with no shortage of suits, totally work appropriate. But, as I become more and more normal-looking I really miss being slightly odd and unusual, which to be frank, was just more fun.
This, now lengthy, discourse, is due to a recent article I read in Gothic Beauty magazine. I picked up the magazine for hair ideas because I am having a style crisis as my hair gets longer and longer. It also had this article about “being you” at work and I thought, hmmm… might be a good read. It wasn’t. The magazine was full of beautiful things I can neither afford, nor wear to work. But it is lacking in a Goth for the established grown-up primer. Surely somewhere between Hot Topic and custom club wear, there must be some elegant options for the Goth who needs to present a professional face to the working world. After all, we all can’t be freelance creative types. Some of us, by now, have kids and mortgages and corporate jobs.
In the 1970s and 1980s (I was there for almost all of that), Goth was the anti-fashion. Vivienne Westwood was one of the more influential designers who took feminine things like fishnet and destroyed them. It was all about deconstructing the accepted modes of fashion. One got bonus points for being especially disturbing. But what if you don’t want to be disturbing?
By it’s nature, Goth fashion is provocative, over-the-top, and pushes the envelope of what’s accepted. Neither pushing envelopes nor provocative over-the-top really work well in a traditional workplace. It’s times like this I miss New York, where I think you can get away with more, although I was younger then.
I am determined to find a balance between elegance, professional, vintage, and Goth that is refined and understated. I would be sharing all this exploration on Pinterest but apparently that’s rampant copyright infringement and I’m giving it up before I get sued. They always take all the fun things away. No one on there is saying the things they copy are theirs. It’s just more, free, exposure and since it links to the original website, does it really matter? Maybe if I make more concrete attribution and better links? But that’s another post.