Friday, May 30, 2014

Gothic Martha Stewart explains slipcovering furniture

Do you have a second-hand couch or chair that came with unpleasantly pale upholstery? When you can't afford a new piece of furniture and ripping off the current upholstery feels like too daunting of a task, slipcovering can be the solution to a more elegantly dark decor.

In my Gothic Martha Stewart tutorial, I discuss several methods of slipcovering, from simple to complicated. You can start by just throwing a piece of fabric over the offending furniture. This has pros and cons. It's cheap, fast, & easy. But it's messy because this kind of slipcover doesn't stay put on the furniture very firmly.

For a more fitted slipcover, you'll want to sew. Most commercial pattern books have patterns for slightly fitted slipcovers. These are a good start, & they're usually fitted over part of the back &/or arms of a sofa or chair.

For the ultimate slipcover, you'll need to custom-fit one to your specific piece of furniture. While that make seem daunting, it's less tedious than re-upholstery & will give a totally new look. Read more about slipcovering furniture, & see my burgundy velveteen slipcovered couch.

What I'm wearing: Pink patterned cardigan, Chadwicks | Black sleeveless knit top with ruffled neckline, Michael Kors | Black skirt, NY & Company | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black flats, Aerosoles | Dark grey & pink pearl necklace, Salamanca Designs | Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Deceptively Not Summer

Close followers of this blog (are you out there?) might notice that photos show me wearing tights, sweaters, jackets, & such, even tho' it's almost June and summer on it's way in the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, Silicon Valley has experienced a number of mini-heat waves recently, with 90-degree temperatures. But I keep wearing cardigans & blazers, along with tights.

Sure, part of it is the goth thing -- I wear black tights year round. But mostly, it's because my new job's office building is COLD!!! Classic corporate overly air conditioned. Worse than most places I've worked. I rarely take my sweater or jacket off when I'm inside.

Do you work in a building with a totally different temperature than outdoors? How do you cope?

What I'm wearing: Black & white stripe knit jacket, Nordstrom | Black T-shirt, Old Navy | Grey corduroy skirt, Newport News | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black wedge T-strap shoes, Kenneth Cole | Pewter & brass necklace, local artisan

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vintagey Night Out With Friends

A few weekends ago, some friends & I went out for cocktails & dinner at a new restaurant. And we dressed up, as you do. This dress is an old fave, & I went all out with old-fashioned glam accessories, as you do.

What I'm wearing:
Red dress with black corsage, Stop Staring | Black minky-fur shrug, second-hand from a friend | Black fascinator with net & maribou, made by a friend | Black leather gloves, vintage | Black spiderweb tights, unknown brand | Black ribbon-tie pumps, Clarks | Black, silver, & rhinestone necklace, random accessory store | Black dangly earrings, random accessory store | Faux diamond ring, random accessory store

with my pal Sarah

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Five: Body Time

1. What is one thing about your body that you hate?
My skin. At 45, I still get acne. It's not terrible (I don't really *hate* it), but it's annoying.

2. What is one thing about your body that you love?
My legs. Strong & capable of walking for miles.

3. If you had to change one thing about your body, what would it be and why?
I'd be able to wear contact lenses comfortably & with good vision because I'm tired of trying contacts & having them fail. I'd like the option not to wear glasses all the time, especially when I dress up.

4. What is one word that you would use to define yourself?

5. Imagine what you would look like in a perfect world -- what do you look like?
Perfectly clear, smooth, porcelain skin. No glasses, excellent vision. Long, wavy hair that's either naturally black or red & can take color easily. Three inches taller. Feet one size smaller & a natural B width. Eh, you know, all the stuff I can't do a damn thing about ;-)

Questions culled from The Friday Five on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Black sheath dress, Target | Black & purple stripe cardigan, Old Navy | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black flats, Aerosoles | Silver & amethyst earrings, gift from a friend

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Being Carfree in the 'Burbs

If you live in Europe or even New York City, not having a car & driver's license may not be a big deal. But for a native Californian, especially living in the suburban Silicon Valley, a functional adult who chooses to not drive might as well have 4 arms & bright green skin -- it's that weird.

That's me, the non-driving freak. I'm 45 years old, & I choose not to drive.

It started simply enough. I took driver's ed classes in high school. My mom even got me a beat-up old car to practice driving in. I passed the class, but I didn't enjoy it. All the other teens were chomping at the bit to get their licenses, & I just didn't care.  Driving made me edgy & nervous & uncomfortable. I didn't want to bother with it. And I didn't really need to drive. I could walk or take the bus to school, & my friends all drove, so they took me anywhere further.

I went away to college, to a very compact town with horrible parking problems. It was much easier to get around on foot or by public transit in the 4.5 years I lived there. Maybe I'd get a driver's license later. Or maybe not.

My first job out of college was an hour's drive away from town, back towards my hometown while I still lived near the university. But I got into a carpool with three drivers going the same route & toughed it out for three months, until I decided to move back home & closer to work. Where I again carpooled.

Then I went to grad school, living on or near campus for a few year, having no need of a vehicle. Even my part-time jobs were all within walking distance or a quick pubtrans route away. When I dropped out of grad school, it was for a great job that was literally a six-block walk from my apartment. I stayed at that job for five years, though I moved from the apartment a little farther away, just a short bus ride away. And because I had started working on the Internet, I could work from home occasionally. 

This became the pattern for my working life -- figure out a carpool &/or public transit route, plus add in one or two work-from-home days. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, traffic congestion on the freeways is relieved by carpool lanes, so my riding alone usually helps lessen the commute time a bit for a driver, plus I always chip in with gas money. The public transit system isn't very comprehensive, unfortunately -- buses & light rail don't connect conveniently, & they're slow, so it can take me double the distance on pubtrans that a car would take. Still, it's cheap, & I can enjoyably pass the time listening to music or podcasts or surfing the net on my phone.

I do a lot of my personal shopping & errand-running by bus as well. This forces me to be very organized. I plot out where I want to go, exactly what I need, & how much I can carry. If not by bus, then I shop online, so I still have to plan in advance. This cuts down on impulsive shopping & being last-minute about things. You have to be a planner if you can't just jump in the car to run to the store for more milk or another spool of thread or whatever. I'm the queen of scheduling & to-do lists!

For a long time, my mom kept asking when I was going to get a driver's license. Sometime after I turned 30, she stopped. My husband (who I've known since I was about 22) also kept thinking I'd learn to drive, but he finally realized, nope, that was not my thing. We do have joint ownership of our Prius, & he drives us to do things like get groceries & he takes me to many doctor's appointments. But I do try to get around by myself.

Being carfree is a deep & essential part of me now. It's like how some people are vegetarian. This is something I do & something I am. I don't want to drive a car, I wouldn't feel right doing so. There's nothing traumatic or terrifying about the concept -- I obviously ride in cars all the time. I'm not militant about not driving. It's not like a strident vegan who is offended by your steak. I'm more like the vegetarian who doesn't care what you eat, but doesn't prefer to eat meat myself. That's me & driving. It's not my bag, baby.

What I'm wearing: Grey knit dress with black trim, bought in London | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black ankle boots, Aerosoles | Chunky silver bead necklace, random accessory store | Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday MemeDay: How Things Have Changed & Have Not

If you could meet your 16-year-old self right now, what 5 things would she find most surprising about your life?

1. You work on a computer all day. Yes, that lame, complicated thing Mom & her new geeky boyfriend played with all the time (btw, they got married & it's great). Computers are really big now -- I mean, they're important, but the actual box is really small. And they're easy to use, thanks to the Macintosh (remember the Superbowl commercial last year? it all comes true! well, kind of. not so much the computer, but the iPod. Wait for it). And that dumb typing class you took in freshman year will come in *really* handy, but no, it's not just for secretaries. You *will* be a writer someday in some way, no surprise there.

2. You watch hockey now. Yes, that thing you think only happens every 4 years at the Olympics (btw, Olympics? every 2 years now, alternating summer & winter, weird, huh), it's not just Russia vs. USA anymore (btw, no more Commie Russians either, not like back then). Hockey is in your own hometown, & you like it, when it doesn't piss you off.

3. You married a man. Go figure! But he's a sensitive new-age guy, so it's OK. And you're not some Stepford Wife, so don't freak out.

4. You bought a house in your hometown. Nope, not your college town, not that hip-seeming place with the orange bridge either, & not some exotic foreign land. You'll realize that the infamous "there" really is here.

5. I'm sorry to say, you haven't held political office. You haven't even run for one. But you have voted in every single election since you turned 18, you've participated in rallies & protests, you helped shut down the Bay Bridge to protest the 1st Gulf War (eep, sorry! yeah, we have 2 of 'em, plus even worse in Iraq & Afghanistan; you protested that too), you've volunteered on political campaigns & for the Democratic Party, & you've written a boatload of letters to your state & federal reps over the years, plus you gave money during campaigns whenever possible. So you're still involved in the process. Btw, there's a black Democrat as President, & a Democratic woman has run once & has a good shot at winning next time. Can you imagine that? Heh, you probably thought it would have happened sooner, my little idealist younger me!

What 5 things would your 16-year-old self NOT be surprised by in your life right now?

1. You still dress up in funny clothes & your motto could still be "nobody every said I had taste." If people wanted to, they could still call you Fucking Gypsy Poseur (tho' they wouldn't know the exact provenance, & frankly, you'll forget it offhand anyway). You're still sewing & crafting & thrifting strange things to wear, bigger & better even. And you still have plenty of lazy days wear you roll out of bed & where all-black because it's easy.

2. You still write in a journal constantly. It's online now (don't ask me to explain what that means 'cept it has to do with those computers I mentioned before; just trust me). You will scribble on anything, anywhere, all the time, same as ever. Only now, your crappy handwriting doesn't matter, yay!

3. You still laugh really loudly. And a lot. You make anything into a joke when possible, usually bad ones, which might explain why the comedy troupe didn't work out (sorry!). But the humor is always essential, crucial, & found in everything.

4. Despite said humor, you will continue to be depressed. You'll find ways to cope (thank the gods, it's a medical thing, not a personality defect), but it will be a constant companion, a dark shadow in the wings of your life.

5. You've seen the world. You always knew you would somehow. Didn't know how it would happen, didn't know what parts of the world you'd make it to or when, but you just knew you'd go Out There. Well you did. Every single continent including Antarctica (OK, that one may surprise you ;-), & you are still going!

What I'm wearing:  Black knit top with 3D roses, Newport News | White & black & pink cat-print skirt, Etsy | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black flats, Aerosoles | Gunmetal hoop earrings, random accessory store

Friday, May 16, 2014

Musings About a Long-Past Paris Cafe

Years ago ... a late afternoon sitting in a café in the Marais, a rather trendy area, as evidenced by the increased amount of leather and hair gel. Waiters in crisp white shirts and formal vests leisurely bring coffee to the people who crowd the tiny row of sidewalk tables on this very narrow Medieval street. Pouty boys with collar-length locks walk by. Unconsciously elegant women pause at the bath goods shop across the way. Two elderly gentlemen in berets chat on the corner. Dyed-orange-haired scenesters on cell phones stride confidently to their next tryst or business meeting or to buy fresh bread for dinner.

Shiny brass letters on a 500-year-old stone wall proclaim "patissier" and promise sweet heaven inside. Walk past any boulangerie and you don't need a sign to know everything inside is no more than an hour old.

The woman with long frizzy hair in a beautifully tailored black jacket hands a ruby sweater over the counter at Feinturerie du Temple. The driver of Taxi Parisian bobs his head to music that's drowned out by the low rumble of too many cars crammed into the slim street. A beautiful man with shoulder-grazing curly black hair and a vivid red scarf tastes his sticky patissier purchase.

Across the street, behind us, a bored shop girl with a thick blonde ponytail flips through a fashion magazine, perhaps dreaming of her own pretty self on the runway. I know what makes a French woman or man truly beautiful -- it's the thick, dark eyelashes and mysterious narrow brows. They frame the eyes and add depth of expression. Mascara is wholly unnecessary for these natural beauties.

Older gentlemen are the finest dressed of all. Exquisitely tailored three-piece suits in charcoal or black with lush silk ties in peacock colors or cloud-like pastels, sharp and perfectly kempt leather dress shoes, a wool greatcoat, a jaunty scarf, sometimes even a dashing cane, for both support and effect.

Ancient arched doorways, thin streets between tall buildings that block out the March sun, tiny café tables with chairs brazenly facing the street, leather blazers, labret piercings, motorcycles and scooters everywhere, mussed ponytails on women, short Caesar cuts and sideburns on men, every other person leading a very pampered little dog on a leash (yes, there really are more poodles here), cell phones, baguettes, dark sunglasses, cigarettes at every lip and clouds of blue smoke.

Those were the streets of Paris.

--from A la Mode in the Marais District

What I'm wearing: Black, pink, grey & white print dress, made by Donna | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black pumps with silver buckles, Kenneth Cole | Silver & amethyst bat necklace, Jewels by Olivia | Garnet & pearl earrings, London National Museum

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mid-Month Status Report: Just a Little Bit of Makeup

Makeup is one of those traditional elements of gothic fashion, much like wearing black, loving velvet, & stomping around in pointy toed boots. But the corporate work environment isn't conducive to painting yourself with deathly pale foundation, dramatic black eyeliner, & stark red lipstick ... or is it?

Well, I do a very simple version of goth makeup for the workday, partly to toe the company line, & partly because I have to get up freakishly early for my commute. I rarely wear foundation unless I feel like covering up a blemish (& this week, temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit so a full face of makeup would feel icky or just melt off). My standard work-week makeup is just black eyeliner & dark lipstick.

My favorite eyeliner is Nars Stylo. As I've said before, this felt-tip pen is easy to apply & lasts all day. I've abandoned all other liners for this one. On weekends or evenings, I can build it up for a thick cat-eye look that really stays put.

 My favorite lipstick is Chanel "Vamp." It's been discontinued for a while, & I have a few tubes stockpiled & carefully secured in a temperature-controlled location. I will cry when I run out (or when I open the next tube & realize it's gone all gross & useless!). Ok, maybe I won't cry because, really, I have a million lipsticks, I buy a new one every few months, I'm a totally junkie. Every time I pass Sephora & see a new dark-ish burgundy shade of lippie, I have to buy it. I cannot resist.

Ok, now it's your turn -- What makeup do you wear to the office? How does it differ from your weekend or extra goth makeup? Do you have favorite products? Any special tricks or techniques to share? Post any time this week, include the Monthly Report code in your blog, & share your link in the comments below!

no glasses, can barely see my eyeliner, just tons of freckles!
What I'm wearing: Black & white stripe knit sleeveless dress, Issac Mizrahi | Black pointy toed kitten-heeled shoes, Aldo | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black & white stripe bead earrings, Kohl's | Black eyeliner, Nars Stylo | Chanel "Vamp" lipstick

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Five: Workin' Girl

1. What job do you have and why do you like/hate it?
I'm a writer & editor for an ecommerce website. Since I started recently, I can't say too much about like/hate yet -- I like the job so far, good people, challenging tasks. I'm not thrilled that I can't work from home like I used to tho'.

2. What did you want to be when you "grew up" as a kid?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a stewardess for National Airlines. Not a "flight attendant," that didn't exist yet. And National was the only airline that flew direct from the SF Bay Area to Pensacola, Florida, where my grandparents lived. At some point I discovered you have to be a certain height to be a stewardess, which busted my dreams right there.

3. Is the job you have now, anything like what you imagined as a kid?
Considering the Web didn't exist when I was a kid, no. But when I was a teenager, I thought, hey, it might be cool to write for newspapers & magazines (bec. I knew I hated writing fiction), so this kinda comes close.

4. Do you have a 5 year career plan?
No. I have a points in the past, & they didn't pan out like I wanted. So I'm keeping my options open for now.

5. What's your dream job?
At this point in my life, I'm not sure what my "dream job" is, if it exists in reality, or if it's simply not having a job & being able to volunteer for things that matter to me without worrying about money at all. I'd love to study & research historical topics for a few months, then work with children's theater, then work at an animal shelter, then start all over again, all while writing & publishing quirky blogs. That'd be pretty dreamy.

Questions culled from The Friday Five on LiveJournal.

What I'm wearing: Blue knit dress, Ruche | Black camisole, Old Navy | Dark grey denim blazer with belled cuffs, Newport News | Black & white cat-print scarf, gift from my husband | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black buckled wedge shoes, Kohl's | Silver medallion earrings, random accessory store

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Here's a rare outfit without black. Not a single black garment, not even black tights. Of course, I still have black hair (thank you, cancer wig) & my shoes are mostly black (because the only non-black shoes I have are bright colors & that didn't work).

It's like my toner is running out of ink.

What I'm wearing:
Grey sheath dress, Target | Grey & white stripe hooded cardigan, Forever 21 | Grey textured tights, Calvin Klein | Black & grey pumps, Target | Silver chunky bead necklace, random accessory store | Gunmetal skull earrings, Walgreens

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gothic Martha Stewart stamps velvet

Did you know I've run a little site called Gothic Martha Stewart since about 1997? It's predicated on the idea of 'what if Martha Stewart did projects in goth themes & colors.' For a change of pace, I thought I'd share some of my favorite GMS projects over here. Such as...

Stamping Velvet
This is an easy technique you can use to decorate fabric for garments or home decor items. You can even stamp ready-made clothing, just as long as the item is loose enough to get an iron at & there aren't many seams in the way.

The only special item you'll need is a rubber stamp with a large, chunky design. Everything else you probably have around the house, such as an iron, a spray bottle, and a heavy hard-back book.

Follow the instructions in the complete tutorial, & get creative! This is easy to do for a scarf or bag, but stamped designs would be a lovely accent on a straight skirt or a flat portion of a jacket (think lapels, pockets, or center back).

What I'm wearing: Black velveteen jacket, White House Black Market | Black & white damask knit top, Speigel | Burgundy skirt, NY & Company | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black & white T-strap flats, Nine West | Garnet drop earrings, London National Museum

Friday, May 2, 2014

Renaissance Shoes & Velvet Punk

For a night out at the Meadery with my sweetie & friends, I wanted something comfortable but cute. The dress was a given -- nothing beats knit -- & then the shoes seemed appropriate given the crowd (my friend who designed these shoes would be there), plus these shoes are very comfortable.

I needed a sweater or light jacket since it was a cool evening, & my hand fell upon this oldie, a beat-up velveteen motorcycle-style jacket I've had for a million years, all decorated from my more more-obviously goth days, yet with a couple recent touches. Perfect!

What I'm wearing:
Black knit dress, Newport News
Black cable-patterned tights, unknown brand
Oxblood "Stratford" 16th-century shoes, designed by Francis Classe for American Duchess
Burgundy & gold shield necklace, local artisan
Pink & gold earrings, vintage
Black velveteen motorcycle-style jacket, International Male
Pins, various sources

Highly recommended, just order a half size up. They come in black too!
Favorite pins on jacket lapel
Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, & my college sorority badge
Peace pin & Clan Ventrue from Vampire: the Masquerade (my Toreador pin is on a purse)
San Jose Sharks 10th anniversary pin
Symbolic charms I attached to a zipper pull

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Plan for May's Status Report: Your Office Makeup Style

Don't forget, the Mid-Month Status Report is back for May. Here's the drill...
Subject: Makeup in the office. Do you wear any? What kind? How often? Show &/or tell about your makeup routine for the workday. Extra credit if you have product reviews, tutorials, or other useful tips for working girls (or guys even)!

Due Date: Monday, May 12 to Wednesday, May 16

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 12th post including your blog link.

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