Friday, November 28, 2014

The Professor's Homework Assignment: Fur Babies

Since I recently added kittens back into my life, how could I resist The Professor's latest homework??? After the passing of my baby boy Toulouse earlier this year and our beautiful Melusine the year before, my husband and I were almost desperate to have the pitter-patter of kitty feet in our home again. And Bellatrix, Hermione, and Luna are freakin' adorable and wonderful and cute as pie! They're sweet-natured with us and visitors, and they're litter-mates so they like each other. We love the heck out of them.

Hermione & Luna in the mail basket.

Bellatrix in the sewing room.

Hermione playing with a mouse toy.

Me with a Bella 'stash.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nice Reads

I'm kind of late on these, but they're still worth reading -- this 11 women who are changing geek culture article profiles some fascinating ladies, not the least of which is our old friend Jillian Venters, aka the Lady of the Manners, aka the woman behind Gothic Charm School. She's definitely my kind of geek to be proud of!

Not exactly a read, but a video worth watching is this report on Amsterdam's Lolita community. The usually quite mainstream site Refinery 29 takes a thoughtful, careful look at Lolitas in Europe (as contrasted to the original Japanese subculture), how they dress, and why. I admit, I've never quite understood the appeal of Lolita or Gothic Lolita, and this video was enlightening.

What I'm wearing: Black knit dress, Newport News | Black velveteen jacket, White House Black Market | Black & white polka-dot scarf, Express | Black & white flats, Zappos | Silver & pearl earrings, vintage from my grandmother

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wow, Reports, Whoa, So Busy

This is just a quick note to thank all of you who participated in this month's status report! I was genuinely surprised and pleased by seeing so many different posts. I was a little worried that the topic of commuting would be boring or not goth-fashion enough for many of you to want to participate. But I enjoyed reading all of your stories, from short drives to complicated multi-step public transit routes! We really have a ways to go to work, don't we?

And I apologize for not commenting on each of your posts, as I prefer to do. But I'm currently up to my eyeballs in work at the office and sewing at home. I'm helping out on some outfits for a Society for Creative Anachronism investiture this weekend, and I've taken a few commissions due at 12th Night at the end of December. Add in the homemade Christmas gifts my family usually does, and, um, where'd my free time go? Eeek!

So I have a few posts auto-scheduled for the next weeks, but I may be a little quiet around here. However, I am writing about costumes and movies at Frock Flicks, and we have podcasts planned for the next month. Feel free to read our blog, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We're planning a big event for January too.

Monday, November 17, 2014

CorpGoth Status Report: My Commute

This month's status report is about your commute, whether to work or school, whether it's across town or across the room. I hope you share a little something about how you start or end your day, what you see or what you wear! Post between now and Wednesday the 19th.

As I've mentioned before, I don't drive, which is pretty freakish for a Californian. I consider it analogous to someone who's a vegan (note: I'm a happy meat-eater). I don't drive, it's just a part of who I am, it's a preference, it's a philosophical stance, it's a lot of things, but it's not changing. Much as a vegan doesn't just grow out of it or something, I'm not going to suddenly start driving one day.

Thus, my commute to work is always a little bit complicated. I have to plan in advance. Then again, like vegetarians in a meat-eating world, this non-driver in a car-centric world is used to it. My current job is about 15 miles away, which can be a 20- or 30-minute drive. But thanks to Silicon Valley's weak public transit system, it takes at least 45 minutes on the most-efficient light rail route for me to get to work -- IF my husband drives me to the train station, PLUS a three-block walk to my office. Oh well.

I make the most of my time by bringing both my iPod and my iPad so I can either listen to podcasts or surf the web, checking in on email and social media before I get to work. I read through my favorite blogs and often compose a few blog posts for CorpGoth and Frock Flicks on the train to or from work. It's not the most ergonomic setup for computer use, but at least I can get stuff done. I have a feeling I may be doing some sewing on the train soon, due to upcoming projects. Any way to use the time!

At least the light rail is relatively uncrowded most days, and it runs on time. And it's not far from my office. Oddly enough, there's this life-size bronze statue, pictured here, near the waiting area at the station near my office. It's of two children riding an crocodile, one kid holding a parasol. Why? No idea! There's no marker, no indication of the artist or the piece's name or date. I presume it was added when the station was built. I walk past this almost every day and can't help but smile.

What I'm wearing: Dark grey pinstripe dress, made by Donna | Black cardigan, Macy's | Black cat-print scarf, Etsy | Black kitten-heel shoes, Aldo | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Silver & pearl earrings, vintage from my grandmother

Friday, November 14, 2014

*smack* read the FAQ

A long, long time ago, in an Internet far, far way (oh, about 1995), I assembled & maintained a FAQ for a group called It was a little community on a thing known as Usenet, a quirky part of the Internet, back before social networking, before blogs even. It probably still exists, & no, I don't want to go find the sad, sorry remains. Because whatever left is nothing like what it was Back In The Day.

The place wasn't the only thing I'm nostalgic about. It was the FAQ itself. We needed a frequently asked questions file because newbies would pop up all the time asking the same old things -- where can I buy pointy boots? what's the best black eyeliner? how do I take care of velvet? The real heart of the FAQ was the resources section, the mail-order catalogs & precious few stores selling honest-to-darkness gothic clothing & accessories.

Years before Hot Topic, before Chanel's Vamp, before eBay even. Back then, places that sold pointy boots & corsets & pale foundation were rare & unique, so we had to round up every last name & share it with our fellow dark fashionistas. We sent away (by snail mail!) for printed catalogs (yes, on paper!) showing sketches & horribly dark photos of gothic clothes & fetish gear. We had to make a lot of stuff ourselves too. There were also fewer of us back then, so when someone reviewed a store or product, we could trust their opinion because we pretty much all knew each other.

Nowadays, the clothes are the easy part. Have you heard of this thing called Google? Yeah, gothic clothing is but a click away. It's everywhere online, it's in the malls across America. Even if you live in bumf**k  nowhere, you can log onto eBay & find a billion items to fill your closet & have new clothes delivered right to your door.

It's also a hell of a lot more diverse, which actually makes finding stuff easier. We used to mostly be RomantiGoths / AntiquityGoths who wore drippy velvet garb vaguely based on historical styles. MyLittlePony & CyberGoths started to invade, which vastly expanded the possible wardrobe selection. By the time Hot Topic made it big in the U.S., gothwear wasn't limited to black clothes anymore. These days, there's Goth Lolita, Steampunk, emo, & gawd knows what other varieties people call "goth."

The last version of the FAQ kind of lives on -- it's hosted by someone I don't know, with a date of 2009, here: As she notes, broken links abound. But there's still some gems of wisdom. The DIY sections are still pretty awesome, & tips like "how to make really big hair" are timeless.

But kids today, they don't need my old FAQ. They don't ask questions, they just google things. Feh. *waves cane*

What I'm wearing: Black & white stripe knit dress, Nordstrom | Black ruffled bolero sweater, Kohl's | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black patent heels, unknown brand | Gunmetal skull earrings, Walgreens

Monday, November 10, 2014

Boots & Sweater Weather

If you're in the northern hemisphere, it's probably cold outside. You may have been experiencing autumn for some time now. Halloween is past, Thanksgiving is on its way in the U.S., and Christmas / Hanukkah / Solstice / New Years are practically right around the corner.

But here in northern California, fall is a tricksy thing. It comes in fits and starts. A foggy morning here, a crisp evening there, punctuated by bright sunny days where half the people you see are wearing shorts and flip-flops. It's only gotten more like this in the past decade, as the effects of global warming become more and more apparent. We've experienced the hottest summers on record every year, and the warm temperatures last from April to October. November is just the start of the "slightly cool" season.

Even when I was a kid, Halloween trick-or-treating was a crapshoot as to whether or not you'd wear a coat with your costume (moms would always beg us to, and nobody wanted to, of course). Christmas morning is more and more likely to be sunny and bright.

It's terrible for the crops and plants, and it means I don't get to wear sweaters and boots as often as I'd like either.

What I'm wearing: Dark grey sweater dress, Macy's | Grey tights, Calvin Klein | Tall black boots, Clark's | Silver-grey beaded necklace, gift from Lisa | Silver hoop earring, random accessory store

Friday, November 7, 2014

Clothing Stores I've Loved and Lost

I used to love shopping at real, live brick-and-mortar stores for clothes. Because I used to find things of interest there, unusual garments, quirky fun clothes, fashions I could work into a wacky wonderful wardrobe of my own style somehow. Even without thrift-shopping, there was a time when "going shopping" was a fun hobby in its own right.

I was part of the first-generation of mall rats in the U.S., in the heart of suburban California, I was essentially a Valley Girl -- ok, Silicon Valley, but still, like, totally, omg, gag me with a spoon, it was the '80s, and shopping malls were our native habitat. Most weekends, my girlfriends and I roamed the malls in search of good times and cool clothes.

This continued, off and on, for me through college and the early '90s, as mall culture wore down, stores changed, and the Internet started to take off. My needs changed, but I still wanted new clothes, and for many years, catalogs were a bigger supplement to malls than the Internet itself. Until finally, even that faded away, and now all my favorite brands are gone.

Today, I'm left with just the hodgepodge of big retailers. Sure, they're reliable for sales, their websites are searchable, and I can generally find something. But they don't specialize, they don't cater to my needs the way these long-lost faves did... ah, back when once upon a time there was...

Judy's clothing store
Judy's -- This California-based chain had about 70 women's clothing stores in Western U.S. states at its peak in the mid-'80s. This was the first store that I really clicked with. It sold cutting-edge clothes and accessories, very hip styles, things like you'd see in new wave music videos. The prices were just at the edge of my allowance, I always saved up for a month before buying anything there. The chain had an annual blow-out sale, early on a Sunday morning, at a large, regional mall that my best friend and I went to (begging whoever's mom could stand taking us), and we'd buy a HUGE bag of really crazy stuff.

Contempo Casual clothing store
Contempo Casuals -- The last 200-some-odd stores were acquired by Wet Seal in 1995, but before that, this mall store was the supplier of A LOT of my wardrobe from 1984 to 1992. Every pair of leggings I wore (in every color!), all the big button-down shirts, a ton of broomstick skirts, scads of brocade and lace New Romantic stuff, piles of accessories, you name it. The brand gets some anti-nostalgic flack for being the home of neon, baggy '80s weirdness, but damn, those sale racks was where I built a fabulous RomantiGoth wardrobe on a reasonable budget! You can still find some of the labels turning up on eBay, but the really good stuff seems lost to history.

Newport News clothing catalog
Newport News -- This was my one, great, mail-order love. I bought from Newport News using actual paper catalogs long before it ever had a website (snail-mail, how novel!). The brand has been subsumed into Spiegel's catalog, and all the unique clothes are gone. Back in the day, us goth girls online would alert each other to the latest Newport News offerings. Did you see the velvet duster coat? It comes in black *or* burgundy! And the faux riding jacket, I wonder if the buttons are functional? Yay, more silk poet blouses -- and there's a sale, stock up. We joked that it's a good thing we didn't all live in the same city, or we'd have to worry about showing up wearing the same Newport News dress or coat. Sadly, I only have a few items left from those days that are still in good condition and that fit. I have an eBay search saved for this brand and occasionally find classics. But alas, no retailer has really filled the void for this or any of the others.

What I'm wearing: Black & white stripe knit jacket, Marshalls | Black T-shirt, Target | Black jeans, Eddie Bauer | Red heeled ankle boots, Aerosoles | Black bat necklace, Walgreens | Pewter key earrings, made by me

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wednesday Wondering: The Line Starts Here

Prompt: What is the longest you've ever waited in line?

I'm not one who does a lot of standing-in-line-on-purpose. While I love Apple products, I've never waited out in front of the Apple Store for the latest version. And I usually despise seeing movies on opening night. The lines I usually stand in are for public transit, and if it's taking a long time, that's not as planned.

But back when The Lord of the Rings movies came out, I did go to the final one, "The Return of the King," on opening night with a bunch of fiends in costume. We lined up around noon for the evening show, must have been 6 or 7pm. So I was in line for 6 or 7 hours. It was great fun, we brought snacks and played in character and were generally big geeks. Loved it!

Questions culled from the discontinued Writer's Block feature on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Dark grey denim belled-sleeve jacket, Newport News | Black & grey knit dress, Macy's | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Silver-grey wedge pumps, Anne Klein | Black & silver chunky bead necklace, random accessory store | Silver cameo earrings, vintage

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

CorpGoth Status Report: The Daily Commute

Subject: How do you get to work or school? Do you drive, walk, ride a bike, take the bus, subway, train, or some combination of these? Do you work from home and walk across the room? Does your commute require specific shoes or a big bag, do you need a coat or umbrella? Do you see anything unusual along the way? Share something about your daily commute in this report.

Due Date: Monday, November 17 to Wednesday, November 19

How to File Your Report:

1. Post to your blog on or around the due dates.

2. Include the following code in your post so the This Is CorpGoth Mid-Month Status Report graphic will display (if you're using Blogger or WordPress, switch to the 'HTML post' setting & then paste this code in):

<a href=""><img border="0" src="" /></a>

3. Comment on my Monday the 13th post including your blog link.

4. Read everyone else's reports via their links in the comments!

Monday, November 3, 2014

CorpGoth Garage Sale

We interrupt your usual blog with a brief advertisement: I'm running a little virtual garage sale to clean out some things. You can find the listings here. I'm selling a few historical costumes and gothic outfits, a lot of vintage / gothic style jewelry, and a bunch of rare books on either historical costume or vampire themes, plus some miscellaneous goodies here and there. Take a look.

Please contact me through the email address linked on that page if you're interested in buying something. I accept PayPal and can only ship in the U.S. due to costs. Feel free to share my garage sale link with friends who may be interested. Thanks!

25 Things About ... This Is CorpGoth

It's my fourth blogoversary! How time flies. In honor of this milestone, I'm indulging in a little look back and some useless trivia...

1. While I had a couple posts earlier, I consider November 3, 2010, the real start of the blog because that's when I did my first "what I'm wearing today" post. Before that, I was just testing the waters.

2. I still have and wear everything in that first outfit!

3. At this point, I can't quite remember what inspired me to start the blog. It may have had something to do with a couple outfits I wore to work, looking in the office's restroom mirror, and thinking "THIS is CorpGoth, somebody should take a picture, people need to know how it's done." Yeah, that has my egotism written all over it ;-)

4. This blog has become the only regularly updated, wholly public place anyone can find me online anymore. My costume website is fully public, but I only update when I have a new costume. And Frock Flicks is public, but it's not just me posting. But every week, I have some work outfits that are decent enough to photograph. And while I'm constantly checking in on Facebook and LiveJournal, those are strictly friends-only.

5. This blog has lasted through three cameras and two tripods. What up with that?

6. I read a ton of blogs, for both entrainment and inspiration for this blog. My RSS feed is filled with gothic, costuming, fashion, and quirky lifestyle blogs that I check in with throughout the week.

7. I remember when I got my first comment from Sal of Already Pretty -- I felt like I'd hit the big time! Wow, a popular mainstream blogger said something nice on my blog, yay!

8. Aside from just web searches, a TON of this blog's traffic comes from Already Pretty's blogroll.

9. The other BIG referrer is Gothic Charm School, run by a good friend from way back in my Usenet days (back when she was the Gothic Miss Manners and I was the Gothic Martha Stewart; she decided to have a go with her moniker and thus had to make it more copyright-friendly).

10. Btw, my Gothic Martha Stewart site is still around, and I occasionally cannibalize content from it here. I just don't update it over there.

11. Of course, I wear mostly black. But I like color too (have you read my Gothic Color Theory?). I've worn accents of purple 68 times, hot pink 66 times, grey 63 times, red 57 times, burgundy 52 times, and blue just 11 times.

12. I don't own a ton of shoes (just 64 at last count), and I don't buy fancy brands beloved by goths such as Fleuvogs. Yet I've still considered my shoes interesting enough to include them in an outfit post 132 times.

13. I often joke that the ability to accessorize is what separates us from the lower primates. So it's appropriate that I've shown accessories in my blog posts 185 times -- usually as jewelry close-ups.

14. The most popular post on CorpGoth these days is "How to Dress Your Gothic Self in a Casual Workplace." I feel like that's kind of a distillation of the entire blog.

15. For a long time, the most popular post was "Size Is Just a Number (Swimsuit Edition)." Pleasantly surprised that this post received positive feedback, as I was a little nervous putting my stats and swimsuit pix up.

16. You may have noticed that, this year, I've been using a lot of memes and writing prompts to add text content to the blog. Well, I got tired of and bored with writing about the actual outfit. There's only so much I can say about this dress and that sweater! I don't want the blog to become about my daily life (because that would be boring), and the prompts are a way to make it personal without being "what I had for lunch today" (which, again, is super-boring because I just eat Lean Cuisine at my desk while surfing the net).

17. The longer I've been at this blog, the more I write and schedule posts in advance. It's the only way I can keep up anymore! I create posts at night, on weekends, during work breaks, and even on my train commute. I try to get two weeks done at a time, if not more.

18. I love participating in other blogger's theme days. Whenever I have the time and have something that fits the theme, I try to join in Sophistique Noir's monthly themes and The Professor's Homework Assignments. I also love Sophistique Noir's Red & Black Week.

19. And then I started my own monthly theme day -- we've had 13 CorpGoth Mid-Month Status Reports so far! I'm so happy that you've taken to this feature, it's a lot of fun for me thinking up the theme and then seeing how everyone interprets it.

20. The most popular Status Report was February 2013's "Love What You Do." We had 15 reports, showing a love of everything from Finnish literature at university to loving being a biologist working on human genetics. You're an amazing bunch of CorpGoths :)

21. July 2014's Status Report on "Summer in the Office" featured my first (and so-far only) free schwag from this blogging gig, a dress courtesy of eShakti. The company didn't require anything of me, the dress turned out lovely, and I wore it all summer.

22. eShakti must have known I love dresses -- I've worn them 170 times on this blog. Here's my dirty little secret about why I wear dresses so often.

23. I also wear a heck of a lot of sweaters. 147 times or so. Because it's overly air-conditioned in my office, plus I like the look of a good cardigan.

24. For a classic CorpGoth touch, skulls have shown up in my outfits (typically in scarves and jewelry) pretty often at 63 times, while bats have appeared (usually as jewelry) 41 times.

25. I've shown 404 outfits on this blog. Heh, 404. Well, I hope you don't feel like this is a 'file not found' page! That tally includes a lot of repeated outfits, a few evening outfits and costumed events, an occasional weekend casual outfit, but mostly just what I've worn to work for the past four years. About 100 outfits per year, so I guess I blog a third of the work week on average, which sounds about right.

Thanks for hanging in here with me! I really do appreciate every comment, I read them all, even if I don't get a chance to reply. I love hearing from you. I'll keep doing this as long as I have the time and it seems like you don't mind having me around :)

What I'm wearing: Black silk dress, Target | Black & pink stripe sweater, Macy's | Black stripe net tights, unknown brand | Black ribbon-tie pumps, Clark's | Black & silver skull-bead necklace, DisneyLand | Faux-jet dangly earrings, random accessory store