Monday, October 31, 2011

Goth Challenge #13, 14 - Ts & DIY

#13: What was your first band T-shirt?
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)

No idea what the very first one was, but I've held on to one from 1987 -- it's from the Cure's "Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me" tour, which I saw at the Oakland Coliseum about a month or two after graduating from high school. This T-shirt is almost falling apart, but I've kept it from pure nostalgia.

Ancient Cure T-shirt

#14: What was your best and worst DIY attempts?

Best? Well, I've made a ton of things, full gowns & such, so it's hard to say what's the best. My current faves are jewelry for everyday wear, if we don't count the costumes.

Worst, oi!, there are plenty of disasters that I stopped mid-construction. I learned the hard way that I hate making corsets, they're a royal pain. After making a dozen different styles in different materials, I just stopped, & now I gladly pay others to go thru that hassle for me.

Wearing a spiderweb-print corset made by a friend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CorpGoth Guide to High-End Black Lipsticks

Around Halloween, the BabyBat's fancy turns to black lipstick. Admit it, we've all done it, we've gone to the drugstore or the Halloween outlets that pop up everywhere and bought a tube of Wet 'n Wild (or worse, the generic) black lipstick and tried it out.

That waxy, hard, horrible tasting/smelling so-called lipstick leaves an ashen grey smear on our lips and we toss it in the trash, finally understanding why friends don't let friends dress as The Crow. And as the years pass, we begin to think the black lipsticks are just another of those childish rites of passage, certainly nothing fit for mature, sensible goth gals and boys.

However, in the past few years, several of the high-end makeup lines have come out with black and almost-black lipsticks that are of much better quality than the Halloween lippies of yore. These lipsticks are as moist and rich as you'd expect for a $20 tube, and the colors are quite nice.

Here are my reviews.

MAC Cosmetics Lipstick, Cremesheen Black Night (possibly discontinued; look at Nordstroms and other department-store makeup counters if MAC stores don't carry it) -- The lightest black lipstick of the bunch. Has a touch of shimmer. This one does go true black, but I think it looks best layered over another color, such as a dark pink or burgundy for a blackened cherry look.

Illamasqua Lipstick, Pristine (matte black) -- Very matte finish in a true, solid black lipstick. This gives a classy look to the old goth cliche, nicely adult yet edgy. A winner if you want a sharp, matte look. $22.

Make Up For Ever Professional Lipstick, #50 (satin black) -- A bit creamier than the Illamasqua but also a true, solid black. The satin finish isn't exactly shimmery but it's not the flat, matte of Pristine. This one stains a little bit. $19.

Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick, Bewitch Me 24 (deepest cool grape) -- Actually, I'm not positive of the shade because in the stores, Sephora's house brand lippies don't have names, just numbers. My tube has the number 816-211A on it, and the color appears to be a brownish purple with shimmer. Don't let this fool you! It goes on as a rich, dark black with the barest hint of brown, like dried blood. And like all of Sephora's Rouge Cream line, it's smooth and silky with a satiny finish. If you can find this shade, it's a great, creamy black lipstick, and the most affordable of the bunch at $12.

While my photos aren't the best, you do get the idea that the differences between these lipstick shades are subtle, at best. The biggest choice is whether you want matte or satin/creamy finish

These colors -- like most makeup colors -- won't be available forever, so stock up if you like the look, or just want to avoid the memory of those nasty BabyBat experiments. I don't recommend wearing black lipstick to the office, but it can be fun on the weekends with simple eye makeup and an elegant outfit.

Related link:  A Review of MAC’s Black Lipsticks from Gothic Charm School.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goth Challenge #11, 12 - Lifestyle & Inspiration

#11: Is goth a lifestyle for you?
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)  

Goth is part of my lifestyle. I couldn't say it *is* my lifestyle. My life is made up of many things. I spend many weekends of the year dressing up in historical costumes, pretending to be in a different century. I spend most of my weekdays as a professional writer & editor at a major Internet corporation. Gothic is the major style in which I do both of those things in my life -- my costumes all have a goth edge (whether or not that's historically accurate, hah!), and I'm CorpGoth at work.

#12: What's your gothic inspiration?

Lots of stuff! I especially love Pre-Raphaelite artists, for the combination of romantic medieval imagery through a Victorian lens. As mentioned in the "cliches" question, I also love original gothic literature a la the Bronte Sisters, and I love crumbling cemeteries and churches and old castles. And the things that would go inside them, like candles dripping wax and old leather books and tapestries and such. Romantic old things, that's it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Casual Redux With Cameos

I'm on the road, so I'm auto-scheduling some outfits I'd photographed a while back but never posted. Casual stuff that I didn't wear to work (tho' in my office, I could). My version of snappy weekend wear.

What I'm wearing:
Burgundy corduroy blazer, buttons swapped out for vintage jet by me, Kohl's | White long-sleeve top with cameo print, Newport News | Dark grey jeans, Calvin Klein | Pointy black boots with kitten heels, Bakers | Black beaded necklace with cameo, random accessory store | Silver cameo earrings, vintage | Black roses cocktail ring, Icing | Black & white flower hair pin, Random accessory store

Friday, October 21, 2011

Goth Challenge #10 - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

#10: What do you hate and love about the subculture?
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.) 

Oh dear. Where to start... well, I do get tired of the samey-ness, which is kind of to be expected. Everyone dresses in black, everyone wears corsets & big boots, everyone wears a lot of eyeliner & dark lipstick, everyone listens to the same music & goes to nightclubs, everyone likes skulls & bats, blah blah blah. The cliches can build up & look trite, tired, & old.

It's why I don't want to wear more obviously goth stuff than I do. Corp with a goth flavor, instead of cliche goth trying to squeeze into corporate. I do not want to look like a cartoon character because I'm not one. I'm a real person, I'm an individual, I may like the subculture, but I'm not only made of this one subculture.

What do I love? The aesthetic, which combines modern edgy darkness with a connection to the past. While the music clued me in about the subculture as a kid, it was the fashion, the style, the trappings, all that really drew me in and kept me going throughout the years. I discovered I could goth my whole world, not just a few mix tapes. That's what I find appealing, the beautiful darkness in everyday things.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spirit Day

Goths often get bullied as teenagers because we dress different, we may be shy or introverted, we might not play sports or be into the same things as other kids, and we generally don't fit in with the mainstream. If you're the only kid at your school interested in goth fashion and music, you can feel awfully left out and isolated, and you're a ripe target for bullying.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids have it even worse in school. They can be the subject of intense and very cruel bullying. There is some overlap between LGBT teens and goths, of course, and picked-on kids may tend to hang out together for support.

In the past year, the suicides of LGBT kids due to bullying has gotten some much-needed media attention, and resulted in the It Gets Better Project. While primarily for an LGBT audience, the messages of hope and reminders that you can live through school-year bullying are relevant to all outcast teens.

Another response to these tragedies is Spirit Day, October 20, when everyone is encouraged to wear purple to show support for stopping bullying in schools. It's a small thing, and obviously it's best done in conjunction with giving time to a local group or donating to an organization like the Trevor Project.

My employer, Yahoo!, encouraged people to wear purple today at all our offices (you can see a photo on Y!'s Facebook page -- I'm in there somewhere ;-). This is our brand color, but also, Yahoo! has a long history of supporting LGBT issues. It's scored 100% on the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign for the past four years, and Yahoo! has supported many LGBT charities in the communities where we have offices.

I wore purple today both because I'm a Yahoo and to support awareness of bullying and the fight to stop it. I was picked on as a teenager because of my gothiness. I was also called "dyke" because I had a girlfriend. But I was lucky that my parents, teachers, and friends were supportive and encouraged me to be who I was. For kids who don't necessarily have family and friends behind them, I hope they find the Trevor Project, which is doing amazing work in supporting teens in trouble. I hope all kids will realize it does get better when they grown up.

What I'm wearing:
Purple top with leg o' mutton style sleeves, bought in London
Black velvet skirt with satin underskirt, Spiegel, gift from Lisa
Purple & black vertically striped tights, unknown brand
Black T-strap wedge heels, Kenneth Cole, thrifted
Black skull scarf, gift from my husband
Purple dangly earrings with bats painted on them, local artist
Purple lipstick, Make Up Forever Professional #14

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Goth Challenge #9 - More Music

#9: What genre of music do you dislike?
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)  

I can honestly say there isn't an entire broad genre of music I dislike. There are subgenres I don't enjoy and plenty of artists I hate. But when it comes to things like country, rap, jazz, classical, sure, I like a little bit of each of them. There are bubblegum pop songs I dig. I will always karaoke to Patsy Cline's "Crazy." I will jump to the dancefloor if the DJ plays "Baby's Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot.

But I'm not fond of speed metal, industrial, new country, acid jazz, & probably a few other things that I don't know what they're called.

My friends Lisa (left) & Francis (back) & my husband Thomas (front)
playing Renaissance music.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mixing Metals

First off, goths tend to wear silver, so mixing metals isn't usually an issue. But some time ago, I realized I didn't mind so horribly wearing a touch of gold (my high-school prom notwithstanding ;-). As long a the gold has a soft, antiqued look, more of an old gold, I rather like it. And, admittedly, my wedding band is a mix of gold and white gold, not really sure how that happened.

So when I found this adorable jacket with big, brassy buttons, well, I didn't blink. Of course I bought it. Brass, gold, minimal difference. Brass tones have come into the goth world via steampunk these days, but I don't do much steampunk.

And wearing this jacket with a chunky silver necklace right near the gold buttons? Years ago, that would have been a mainstream fashion faux pas, not just a gothic no-no. HAH. I don't care.

What I'm wearing:
Black knit military-style jacket, Macy's
Black & grey knit dress, Coldwater Creek
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Black kitten-heel pumps with silver buckles, Payless Shoe Source
Chunky silver bead choker, Target
Square pewter earrings, local artist

What fashion 'rules' have you broken recently?

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Little Bit of Monday Shine

Oh what a weekend. Which started with our department's annual offsite on Friday -- in CorpSpeak, an "offisite" is an event where employees go somewhere away from the office for some kind of fun, presumably team-building activity that may also blow off some steam. Ideally it's a reward for hard work. Last year, our department went to a goat farm, which was both educational and tasty (mmmm.... goat cheese!). This year, we went to a place called the Crucible, and half the team did some kind of glass-fusing activity, and the half I was in did blacksmithing.

Yep, we worked with a furnace and hammered hot steel! It was crazy, intense work, seriously hard labor. My arm still aches a little from all the hammering. But we all did finish our projects -- we each made an iron hook in about 2 hours. What started out as square rod of metal became an elegantly twisted hook with a hole in one end.

Friday evening, I left from the blacksmithing for a weekend of portraying a lady of leisure with my friends, Bella Donna Venetian Courtesans at the Folsom Renaissance Faire. While I'm not a singer like these fine women, I've been acting at renfaires for 20+ years, so they welcomed me into the fold for this event, and we had a grand time. I used an old gown from my closet -- French, not quite Italian, but close enough to blend into their look. I hope someday to make a pretty Venetian gown.

But now it's Monday, back at work. Our department has move to a new building at the company, and I'm settling into a new and larger cubicle. Yay, I get to decorate! At some point, I'll try to get pix of my work environment. But for now, today's outfit.

What I'm wearing:
Dark grey denim jacket with belled sleeves, Newport News | Black T-shirt, NY & Company | Tiered plum velvet skirt, NY & Company | Pink rhinestone bib necklace, random accessory store | Black tights, unknown brand | Black patent square-toed pumps, second-hand| Pearl & garnet earrings, artisan at a convention

Oh & I kind of hate Blogger today. It ate a post I've been working on for MONTHS with my top tips for dressing goth at a casual workplace (because most 'wear to work' guides seem to be for environments where suits are the norm; I wanted to answer the question of 'how goth can / should you go if you want to still be considered a professional and yet fit into the casual office' -- tons of work, down the blog drain!!!! I guess I have to go old-school and write my posts in a Word doc and carry them around in a thumb-drive, instead of relying on The Cloud. Feh.).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Medieval CorpGoth Faux Tattoo

At an SCA event the weekend before last, I got a "Rat Tat." This is a silly little thing common around here -- there's a guy nicknamed Rat who does lovely calligraphy and has a taste for drawing on women's chests (with permission, of course). The lady chooses the words, he writes in medieval script. I've never done one because I couldn't think of anything that I wanted drawn across my chest (and let's just not get into any implications of the act -- it's all meant in harmless fun).

Until that weekend when a friend, who reads this blog and was complimenting it, suggested "CorpGoth" for a Rat Tat. Heh, well, that I could get into. And thus, I did. Not exactly work-appropriate!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Goth Challenge #8 - Non-Goths

#8: What's your worst and best experience with non-Goths?
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)  

Worst -- Haven't been many, but I do recall my grandmother picking on a coffin-shaped necklace I wore during a visit to see her, maybe a dozen years ago. Even tho' I was wearing a white T-shirt and blue-jean cutoff shorts. She zeroed in on the only goth thing on me at the time and criticized it. Sheesh.

Best -- All my friends. Offline, I don't associate with that many people who self-identify as goths. Not on purpose, but "goth" isn't the first or main thing I look for in a potential friend. My friends have no issues with my style, it's just part of me that they love because they're my friends. That's why we're, y'know, friends!

My pretty pretty princess, non-goth, BFFs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Goth Challenge #5, #6, & #7 - Music Matters

(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)  I'm combining these because I don't think I have enough content in either one...

#5: Is there a local Goth band or group in your area?

Hah! There isn't even a goth club anymore. Downtown San Jose used to have a fun little goth night on Thursdays called Backlash in the mid-1990s, but it's long gone.

Not that I care much. I'm not really interested in going to clubs or seeing live music anymore. Not my thing -- I'm an old lady and far happier hanging out with friends at my house or theirs, where we can drink not-overpriced cocktails and actually hear each other talk.

#6: Handwrite your favourite lyric and take a picture.

Uh... sorry, I can't think of a fave lyric!

#7: Ten of your favourite goth bands.
  1. The Cure
  2. Sisters of Mercy
  3. Love and Rockets
  4. The Smiths
  5. Siouxie and the Banshees
  6. Bauhaus
  7. The Mission
  8. Dead Can Dance
That's as far as I get! In goth music, I don't like much made past 1990. And I didn't think it would be fare to start listing out special projects like The Sisterhood, Tones on Tail, or The Creatures, just to pad the list, not when I already have the main parts of the bands there (note: listing both Love and Rockets *and* Bauhaus is ok, imo, because their music is significantly different).

And no quibbles, please, about The Smiths -- the music is so freaking dark, at least lyrically, that it's goth in my book! Also, see Goth Challenge Day 1 to see how it was a influence on my BabyBat days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Casual Tuesdays

I don't know why, but I think Tuesdays deserve to be extra-casual. Mondays start off the work week, so they require a proper dress-up, dive in, let's show 'em how it's done sort of outfit. Besides, I have meetings on Mondays, and that requires something that looks good.

But by Tuesday, the reality of the week has sunk in, and that tiny bit of bravado about "I'm going to get it all done!" has worn off. I'm staring the giant to-do list in the face, and it ain't pretty. This calls for comfy clothes.

What I'm wearing:
Black & grey stripey tunic with sequin epaulets, Macy's | Black knit skirt, Target | Black bat-print leggings, Target | Chain & ribbon belt, eBay | Black ankle boots, Aldo | Silver chunky bead choker, Target | Silver hoop earrings, random accessory store

In about 10 days, I'm leaving for Spain. This weekend, I'm performing at a Renaissance faire with a new group (tho' made of people who I've known for ages). In between all of this, I have two major medical tests that may help with my ongoing chronic condition. Right after I return from Spain, I'm running a major volunteer event.

It's a little bit busy around here, mostly in good ways, but still. You can see the desire for comfy clothes!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ruffles & Plaid

Plus a haircut, finally. Remember my bad hair day recently? Well no more complaining -- I got a nice trim this weekend, and while it's probably hard to tell in pictures, the cut really helps make my hair more manageable. Just a few inches off and a little bit of shaping, and I love it.

What I'm wearing:
Black sweater with ruffled collar and cuffs, Newport News
Black & white plaid skirt, made by Donna
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Silhouette pendant on silk ribbon, gift from Kendra
Gunmetal & rhinestone hoop earrings, NY & Co.
Round-toe pumps, Target

Also, my tripod is getting pretty crooked. Not sure why, but it refuses to stand straight, and I end up fixing the problem in PhotoShop afterwards. Weird.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dodging Raindrops Whilst Going Back to School

The heavens opened in Silicon Valley yesterday, perhaps crying to mourn the passing of visionary Steve Jobs. Well, I like to think so. He meant a great deal to me -- I am not a tech-geeky type by nature and would never have gotten on computers, on the Internet, or into my current career if not for the magical machine that is Macintosh, truly the computer for the rest of us. Apple products changed my life for the better, no exaggeration, and I owe Steve (& Steve W.) a huge debt of gratitude.

One of the most appropriate Steve Jobs quotes for me is: "Apple's major contribution was to bring a liberal arts point of view to computers."

And yesterday, I had one of my occasional opportunities to return to a seat of liberal arts learning myself -- the local university I started a Master's degree at, but abandoned to work in the Internet industry. This time, I was there to talk to a couple combined classes in the journalism department. The topic was an overview of 'writing for the Web,' where I tried to cram everything future writers and editors should know about the topic into one hour.

But enough shop talk! What about the outfit? Professional, yet comfortable, plus suitable for the weather. Yep, had to wear the Clarks again, both for the rain and for being on my feet. I also like to wear something purple whenever I represent my company (not hard, considering how much purple is in my wardrobe). I wasn't sure if I'd get hot in the sweater, but I'd forgotten how drafty those old buildings get.

What I'm wearing:
Purple knit dress, Target
Black ruffled sweater, Kohl's
Black tights, Calvin Klein
Black knee-high boots, Clarks
Silver disk earrings, random accessory store

Are you a Mac or a PC? Do you care?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Summer Dress Goes Fall

I've done this before -- wearing a summer dress on a cool day. It's clearly not rocket science. But I so love the effect, and I was just *waiting* for autumn crispness to be able to do it with this particular dress. It has a very deep neckline that demands wearing with some kind of top underneath, so the dress is as perfect for layering over a long-sleeve T as it is a cami. Of course, when the temperature drops even more, I could add a sweater or jacket on top.

What I'm wearing:
Blue knit dress, | Black long-sleeve T-shirt, Old Navy | Black tights, unknown brand | Black spool-heel boots, Target | Black linen scarf printed with skulls, gift from my husband | Dangly purple earrings painted with bats, made by a local artist | Purple flower pin in my hair, random accessory store

So, do you get multi-seasonal use out of summer clothes? Or do you just pack them away during the cold months?

(Note: I actually wore this yesterday and am a day behind on blogging. Today's outfit worn while presenting to journalism students will get blogged tomorrow, even tho' I'm working from home as per Friday usual ;-) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Finally Fell!

We got rain yesterday and beautiful crisp, cool weather today. Light rain is predicted thruout the week. Huzzah! This is proper goth weather and much better suited to my wardrobe.

What I'm wearing:
Dark grey pinstripe jacket, made by Donna | Black knit dress, Target | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Tall black boots, Clarks | Silk scarf printed with skulls & other spooky things, Target | Pewter square earrings, made by a local artist

My health problems have resurfaced recently, but I'm cheered by the prospect of delicious fall weather. That makes up for a lot of things. I can wear boots & velvet & jackets & sweaters & layers & all the pretty, comfy, fabulous things in my closet that have been languishing for months. Yay!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Goth Challenge #4 - Good Cliches

#4: Name a stereotype or cliche you can relate to.

Tombstone at Holyrood House,
Edinburgh, Scotland
(Continuing the Goth Challenge questions -- follow the tag below to see all.)  Oh dear. Goth cliches, there's so many of 'em! Some I'm really tired of. But I must admit, some I am entirely guilty of and revel in, like...
  • I dye my hair black (even tho' it's almost naturally black).
  • I only wear dark, dark lipstick.
  • I only wear black eyeliner.
  • My favourite authors are the Bronte Sisters (original Gothic novels, yeah!).
  • I love bats & skulls (but I hate spiders!).
  • I love cemeteries & crumbling churches.
  • I have been depressed a lot of my life.
  • I buy Halloween merchandise most every year (best item this year: skull damask tablecloth from Target).
  • I love old-school goth music like Sisters of Mercy, the Cure, and Siouxie and the Banshees.
  • I sleep on dark sheets (black, purple, black & white stripe).
  • I painted the walls inside our house dark colors.
  • I love velvet (both wearing it & using it in home decor; we have a velvet-covered couch, velvet bedding, and velvet curtains).
  • I prefer silver jewelry.
  • I love cats (we have two).
  • I enjoyed playing Vampire: the Masquerade -- in fact, my husband (then-boyfriend) & I used to run a live-action game.
  • I don't wear pastels.
I'm sure there are others, but that hits some of the bigger cliches that qualify.

Now, for more fun, here are some ways I deviate from goth cliches!
  • I'm not afraid of the sun, in fact, I regularly take tropical vacations.
  • I really dislike industrial music.
  • I kind of hate most goth clothing brands (I'm looking at you, Lip Service).
  • I'm not into piercings.
  • I enjoy wearing blue jeans.
  • I still don't get elegant gothic lolita.
  • I'm totally over goth clubs, seeing live goth bands, & most any goth music made after 1995.
  • I absolutely despise tiny top hats (remember my rule: your hat must be bigger than my fist or I will punch you!).
  • I mostly hang out with non-goths.
Hmm ... most of my non-cliches are more about me not liking specific parts of the subculture. Well, I tried :-)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lacey Costume Review

The Sophistique Noir monthly theme for October is lace, and I realized I don't have much in my everyday wardrobe with lace. A bit of trim here and there, nothing dramatic or terribly interesting. However, I love to use lace in my costumes. Also, on October 1, I'll be away from the computer at a costume event, so it seems appropriate to post about a few lace-decked costumes!

One of my favorite uses of lace was in this stripey 18th-century polonaise with a decidedly goth flair. I trimmed the neckline with a deep lace flounce (edged in velvet ribbon) and gave the sleeves lace ruffles. More photos are here and you can follow the complete dress diary by scrolling back thru here.

This era really lends itself to lace. Here's an 18th-century anglaise made of embroidered silk, made by my dear friend Sarah, which I trimmed in coordinating silk ruches, velvet ribbon, and huge black lace sleeve flounces. More photos here.

Those sleeve ruffles used scraps from another project -- they were leftover from the layered lace skirt over a purple silk hoopskirt I made to portray the Marquise de la Tour-Maubourg in the Franz Xavier Winterhalter portrait of "Empress Eugenie Surrounded by her Maids of Honor" with a group of friends. Here's the portrait gown...

 And here's my recreation. Our group won "Best in Show" for our costumes and presentation at Costume-Con 26 in 2008 (which is kinda like winning an Emmy or an Oscar for costume hobbyists!).

More photos, including ones of the whole group, are here.  The dress diary, con write-up, and a video of our performance are here.

I also like to use lace on accessories. For my 16th-century garb, lace is the crowning touch on ruffs, like this heavily starched 1590s ruff. The dress diary his here.

Finally, a photo of some lace in my fabric stash! I hope to use this on a really extravagant ruff in the future. I bought 10 yards in the L.A. garment district.

Can't wait to see the rest of this month's lace extravaganzas!