Monday, September 30, 2013

The Gothic Budget: Tips for Acquiring a Less Expensive Wardrobe

You actually have Sary Walrus to thank for this post.  She asked me if I had any tips for acquiring an inexpensive wardrobe, and what started as a short reply turned into... this rather long post!  While I can't guarantee the results will be inexpensive, it may help to make things less expensive.

Here are my tips, taken from personal experience:

1.  Learn to love thrift stores!  Find at least one that makes you feel good when you visit it and that seems to frequently have the kinds of things you want, and visit it once or twice a month. This works best when you go in "just to look", and don't have some very specific item(s) in mind.  Check ALL the size sections, not just your usual size.  I've found things that have been misplaced or sized larger or smaller than I usually wear that fit me perfectly.  (If you like it, try it on, even if it looks like it might not fit.)  And if something is damaged and it's not noted on the tag, ask if they'd be willing to mark it down a bit more.  Swap meets, garage sales and flea markets can also be great sources in this category; go early to get the best selection.

2.  Most of what I buy in "regular" stores is on sale, preferably clearance.  I also make use of the coupons from circulars and the gift cards that get sent in the mail from stores trying to boost their sales (like Kohl's does here on the West Coast since they started expanding). 

3.  I have a Victoria's Secret credit card, but the ONLY time I pick up new underthings is when they send me a coupon for a free pair (which is frequently!) and when I get a $10 gift card during my birthday month.  My lingerie drawer is overflowing, and most of it was free...  Awesome!!  I also make use of any Rewards program offered by stores I have credit cards with, like Torrid; between that and the coupons and birthday gift cards they send me, I frequently pay only a quarter to a third of the original price for brand new items.

4.  Catalogs can have great prices, but sizing and shipping can be a real problem.  I usually only buy jewelry and accessories from catalogs, but I've gotten some great deals.  For example, Victorian Trading Co. offers a $2.00 flat shipping rate on orders of any size once or twice a year, usually from August through October 31st; that's when I buy from them!  (It's noted on the catalog cover and on page 2 when this is offered.)  My incredible black lace parasol was $30 (not on sale), but with the low $2 flat rate shipping, I saved about $7 in shipping on my total order.  If you're buying clothing or furniture from them, this is the BEST POSSIBLE SALE you will ever get. 

5.  Private sales of used and unwanted new items in online communities like GothFash and GothMart on LiveJournal can land you some awesome stuff at very low prices.  You do have to have an account with LJ, but the basic account is free. is another good place for buying used items, and I've found that there are a LOT of sellers but not too many buyers there, so it's worth checking out.  Shops on have many unique items; they're not always inexpensive, but some sellers are open to trade or other deals.  It never hurts to ask; if you don't ask, the answer is always "No"!

6.  Commercial websites can be another good choice, if you're willing to take a chance. offers "Mystery Bags" of clothes, shoes, legwear and jewelry for really low prices.  My experience is that they have some really crappy jewelry, but their legwear is excellent; I've gotten lovely thigh-his and tights in their Mystery Bags.  You don't get to choose anything but the size, but the price can be worth it. And don't forget to see if there's a "Deal of the Day" going on!

7.  If I DO pay full price for something, it's because it's AWESOME and perfect for me!  I found a Halloween-themed t-shirt yesterday at K-Mart that I LOVE, but it was in the juniors section.  They had only three left: a Small, a Medium, and a 2XL.  Needless to say, the two smaller ones I wouldn't even bother trying on, but the 2XL fits perfectly, and the fitted cut actually makes me look slimmer!  And while I did have to pay full price, it was only $15 which made it an even better deal.

8.  Impulse or comfort shopping is almost never a good idea.  The clothes I've bought when I was upset or not really in The Mood for shopping usually end up cluttering my closet and never being worn, mainly because I'm just grabbing things that don't really call to me, and that IS expensive.  Remember this motto:  If it doesn't BEG you to wear it, don't buy it, or get rid of it to make room for the things that do!

I hope this post is helpful.  May you all find the dark wardrobes of your dreams!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

OMG, An Actual Outfit Post!!

Several people have commented that they wanted to see some of the outfits I've mentioned in previous posts, so (FINALLY!) here are a few.  Sorry it took me so long, but I'm a technological dinosaur (would that make me a "technosaurus"??).  I use a "real" throwaway camera and have prints made, so I had to use up all the film and have it developed at Walgreen's.  Then it took three days for Martin to remember to scan the pics into our computer.  ::rolls eyes::

This one is what I wore when I got my driver's license renewed back in April.  The choker was a birthday gift from Martin.  The gloves were from a private sale on LJ, about $3.  Both the skirt and top are from EcoThrift, and probably cost me about $5 total:

And here is the green "batty" skirt that I made after reading Bane's post about making HER skirt (I not only used the same material, I used the same pattern, too!), with another $3 top from EcoThrift.  The shoes were from Torrid, and I LOVED them, but I literally wore them to death, and had to toss them in the trash last month.  :-(

And finally, here is a picture of me and Martin taken on our 13th anniversary:

Yes, that's the same two skirts I wore to the cemetery picnic (but here you can't see the red rosettes I sewed onto one side).  The white tulle skirt was free from a swap meet, the black velvet underskirt was a gift, and the top is the one from my driver's license pic.  The shoes are actually a deep red raw silk material, and were given to me by my boss, who bought them but never wore them.

It's amazing how my wardrobe has become so versatile AND inexpensive.  I love it!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Surprise of Gothic Proportions

On Sunday, an old college friend of Martin's dropped by to visit.  We hadn't seen him in several years, so it was interesting to catch up with him.  I must mention here that while Joe does know my real name, Martin usually refers to me as Rhi, which is short for my Renn faire character's name, Rhianna.  Since we met at faire and that's what everyone called me for years, he never got out of the habit.

After a couple of hours, I had to get ready to go visit a friend, so I excused myself to get ready, privately wondering what his reaction would be when I came back out "all gothed up".  As I started to leave the room, he commented, "You know, Sisters of Mercy is my favorite band, and "Lucretia My Reflection" is my favorite song of theirs.  How come you don't use your real name?"  I turned around with total shock on my face (Martin said my mouth was hanging open).  I said, "Don't tell me... you're goth, too???"  And realized I've never seen him wear anything but black and gray.  Turns out he was in the scene years ago (he's about 5-6 years younger than I am), and his wife is a raver!  I told him to be sure to look up our meetup group, because he doesn't know anyone any more, and he said he would.  Martin had NO idea, so I guess he kept that side of himself hidden from his non-goth friends.

Talk about a small world... that's full of such nice surprises!  :-)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Rest for the Living: Cleanup Day at the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery

Today was the last 2013 cleanup day at the San Lorenzo Pioneer Cemetery.  I missed the previous one, but wasn't going to miss this one, too!  It was scheduled for 9am-1pm, but I figured I'd only go from 9-11, as I had other things I needed to do today.  Not to mention I figured I'd be exhausted after two hours of "yard work". 

I arrived a little before 9am, wondering what kind of cleanup you do on a cemetery that has NO grass or bushes and very few trees except around the edges.  Well, the biggest problem with a place like this, located across the street from a shopping center and right next to a freeway on-ramp is... trash!!  You would not believe the amount of accumulated trash I picked up, much of it receipts, wrappers and sauce packets from the Taco Bell right across the street.  Because there are so few plants of any real size, the trash blows right in, but the grave stones and borders often prevent it from blowing out again.  There was also an incredible amount of broken glass, mostly from bottles.  I have a feeling people manage to climb the fence and go in there to drink beer, etc. at night. 

At around 10:40, I was talking to another volunteer while taking a quick break when it started to rain.  The weather ouija board had said there was an 80% chance of rain today, so I was prepared for that.  But it didn't just rain... it poured!  In less than ten minutes we were getting drenched.  I decided it was close enough to 11, so I left, and didn't feel guilty about not staying for the whole thing, because I don't think they were going to stay any longer, either.  Apparently the cemetery has very poor drainage, so when it rains hard, it frequently floods as well!

Back at home now, I'm tired and extremely sore, but very pleased that I was able to keep my committment on this one.  I think I pulled a few shoulder muscles, but I feel like it was worth it.  Next time I'll bring a camera, but in the meantime, here are a few more pics that someone else took on a sunnier day.
You can see where all the leaves pile up in gutter-like areas; I found much of the wrappers, butts and other trash in the same gutters.

 An energetic volunteer...   

You can see how the earth has shifted over time, so that some of the stones are leaning, or have even fallen over:

Most of the weeds were dead long before today, so instead of the lovely green accents in the pics above, we found only dried, prickly yellow and brown plant corpses...

There are waayyy too many tombstones here that are broken; some are even missing entirely, with only a bit of the base still sticking up out of the ground to show where it used to be.  I'm SO looking forward to the workshops in tombstone cleaning and repair planned for next year!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

South Bay Goth Meetup: Dublin Pioneer Cemetery Picnic

At long last, on Sunday I hosted my first cemetery picnic!  Fortunately, the weather was perfect, overcast in the morning, but clearing and beautiful by noon, so it was not too hot and not too cold.  The cemetery was perfect as well, with beautiful headstones old and new, lots of trees and flowering bushes, and the picnic tables were even in the shade! And there were butterflies, orange monarchs flitting about doing whatever it is butterflies do in cemeteries. 

What was disappointing was that there ended up being only four of us; me and one other member who also brought her husband and almost-two-year-old child.  We had one no-show, and everyone else canceled for one reason or another.  While the four of us did have a lovely time, one of the reasons for having meetups is to... MEET people!  So we were bummed that no one showed up whom we didn't already know.

Here is a really good pic of me that Donna took:

This is the front of the old part of the cemetery.  The oldest graves are toward the back and continue along the right.  I'm standing next to an infant's grave; I always feel sorriest for the mothers.  I almost lost my son to an accident when he was only 14 years old, but this lady lost her baby after only a few months.  She never got to know him at all.

My sisterhood group started a tradition two years ago called the "Celebration of the Eternal Maidens"; on  or around Imbolc (February 1st/2nd) we go to our local cemetery, which is within walking distance of my apartment, and put flowers on the graves of children (mostly girls) who died before they reached 18 years old and have no flowers or other signs that anyone visits them now.  Most of the ones we find are under five years old, and the graves are very old.  So sad... 

Here are a couple of pics that I took.  The first is of the center front, more modern part of the cemetery.   The second one is of the same stone I stood next to in the pic above, but with more of the older part in the background.

It's such a beautiful cemetery that we plan on having more picnics here.  I just hope more people attend!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The 13th of Friday

Just wanted to say it a little differently than everyone else!  ;-)

No real post today because I spent the afternoon moving from my lovely private office with windows into a shared office with NO windows.  Bleah.  But I will soon be turning it into The Lair of Dark Darkety Darkness, so stay tuned...  ;-)

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite LOLCats, perfect for the 13th of Friday!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BabyBat and the Three Goths: A Cosmetic Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there were three Goths: we'll call them (in no particular order) Trad Goth, Romantic Goth, and Cyber Goth.  They shared an apartment in Somewhere, USA.  Although they were all different types of goths, they did almost everything together, including going to each others' clubs and friends' parties, so they were rarely ever home.

One night, while the Goths were at a party, there was a knock at their door; it was BabyBat, a young goth who hadn't been in the scene long and was looking for help with her makeup.  Of course, the Goths didn't answer the door because they weren't home, but BabyBat had been to a couple of parties there and knew where the spare key was hidden, so she just let herself in and headed straight for the bathroom.  She figured they wouldn't mind (riiight...).


Opening the cupboard under the sink, she first found Trad Goth's makeup box. BabyBat pulled out his Mabelline Expert Wear Dual Brow and Eye Pencil, and spent quite a while trying it out.  Her brows looked okaaay but it was REALLY difficult to get them dark enough, while the liner around her eyes looked faded and jerky.  This pencil was just too hard for her delicate skin.  "Oh, this one is too dry!" sniffed BabyBat in annoyance.

Next, she checked out Romantic Goth's makeup bag.  She used Wet n Wild Color Icon Liner Brow & Eye Pencil for her brows, and Mary Kay Mechanical Eye Liner Pencil for her eyes.  BabyBat tried the brow pencil first; the color was nicer than Trad Goth's and it was much easier to put on, but sooooo soft that it smeared everywhere if she touched it.  When she lined her eyes with the liner pencil, it was very skinny and hard to handle, and it was too mushy and smeared into her liquid eye shadow.  "Ewwww, these are too soft!" cried BabyBat in disgust.

Finally, she pulled Cyber Goth's makup case out of the closet... and everything in it was JUST RIGHT.  BabyBat was thrilled, because now she could go to the club without wasting more time on her makeup.

Now, unfortunately, I have NO idea what is in that section marked "..." because I'm still looking for a brow pencil and eye liner that are JUST RIGHT!!  So, based on your own makeup experience, what would YOU want to find in Cyber Goth's makeup case???

Saturday, September 7, 2013

September: "I'm SO Goth..."

Not such a great picture, but I like the sentiment... 

Although I think I would have written it this way:

"I'm so goth I died and nobody noticed."