How To Dress Like A Victorian Goth (Without Looking Frumpy)

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I have dressing Goth for (eeeek) a long time. Ok, so I will let you into a secret – Los Lobos were about to become number one with a song about a little goat…

Something like that.

In fact, it might have been Los Lobos’s fault that I turned to black, painted my nails black, gave up smiling the following Lent and started panting after Robert Smith from The Cure.

Today, I am a little more conservative my approach to Victorian dressing. I guess it’s the corporate world that did that to me. Although I have to admit, on particularly difficult days (and there can be few) I will go out and out Victorian (minus the bustle of course.)

Thanks to more recent years of secretly sourcing stuff online, finding that unique look has never been so easy. (So, why do normal people look so, normal then?) Now, I can find the cheapest, fanciest, gothic-ist and Victorian clobber anywhere and have it delivered to my door (ah! Christmas!) Even Primark (cough) is one of my favourite shops for tights, gloves and just about anything black.

Ahem.

Ok, so here today, I am going to share with you some of my favourite things in my wardrobe. Yes, I am going to let you take a peak inside!

 

Blouses:

Perhaps the first stop in my wardrobe in the morning when I want to make a bit of an impact at work is this beautiful blouse. High necks, lace frills and tight cuffs and puff sleeves on any blouse or shirt will put you straight back into 1891. Perfect!

blouse

Women’s Gothic Victorian by Scarlette Darkness

 

Boots:

Boots were the staple diet of the Victorians – everything was lace up. If you couldnt’ do up your laces during the 19th Century, you were probably in trouble – or you didn’t have any shoes.

Gibson style was all the age for both men and women but it was the well dressed ladies in this era who lived for their boots. I have to admit, calf length styles were the most popular. Despite the fact that most of the time, you couldn’t see what was on their feet for layers of bustle and crinoline, boots and shoes were vital – especially if there were in the same colour as your dress.

These days, I think knee-high lace up boots look more stylish that something only half crawling up your leg. As I tend to wear knee-length skirts (popular for Victorian girls up to the age of 12) simply because they are more practical for the 20th century, showing off a cool pair of long boots makes the outfit not look so well, frumpy.

how to look victorian without looking frumpy

Joe Brown ladies lace up boots

 

Coats:

You can’t possibly step out in the world in a Victorian outfit without finishing the look with dark frock coat. This has to be my favourite, but I will let you in on something. I took the sewing machine to it. I simply couldn’t stand the up down hem going on around it. So I turned it into a flared riding coat and raised the hem to an equal length at the front. Now it sits to my knee comfortably draping down to mid calf at the back. Much better. Even so, this is a beautiful coat which looks great with A line frilly skirt and of course, all the trimmings above!

frock coat

Corduroy frock coat in black – yest black. It’s not brown, although it looks as though it is

Skirts:

So, we get to the bottom half at last. So, the dilemma I have each day is do I go for a skirt or trousers? The thing about trousers is that I suddenly feel like a bloke and that I should be slapping my thigh at every avaliable opportunity like I am Anita Harris in panto. Still, with a long pair of riding boots, they are idea for being heavily practical. For preference, it has to be a skirt and the following has been my favourite for a few years now. It even comes with a giant ribbon at the back.

High waisted and with a zip, it might look like you won’t be able to breathe but it is comfortable. Just make sure you get a bigger size than you think you need. Click on the link to find out more if you want to find out more about this skirt featured below. (By the way, you might think that this skirt is knee length, it’s not, just above actually. So the image is a little confusing!)

 

how to look victorian without looking frumpy

 

 

 

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Welcome To The Black Bacarra Blog

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mee4When I first stepped into Goth way back in 1985, I hadn’t considered the impact it would have on my life. (This picture was taken about 4 years ago and I have to admit, not my best!) Looking back, for me, it has been on a way of dressing but a state of mind – a lifestyle that means you can still be Goth even when you’re in pink fluffy PJ’s and watching EastEnders… sometimes…

Since being a 15 year old Goth thing decades ago, I have ditched the black (several times) added in some screamingly awful pastel shades a la Haircut 100 (eeeek!) Moved into vintage, rockabilly, vintage again, back into Goth, went steampunk for a couple of (very lost) years but decided that brown could stay where the heck it was and black soon made a triumphant return.

Thank the darkness for that!

Now as an elder Goth (I only found this term this year and like it) I’ve started to delve deeper into the roots of my beloved sub culture to figure out what it’s all about. What it means to me at least, and hopefully, to a lot of other Goths too.

Back in the day, I stuck steadfast to The Cure and Sisters of Mercy without actually knowing why (my guilty pleasure was Rick Astley at the time) and only layers of black fish nets, ribbed tube skirts and patent brogues rather than running over the moors shouting Heathcliff which is probably where I’m at now. Then, I thought I needed to do was hang around Carnaby Street and pout a lot on street corners. I certainly didn’t know what I was aiming for/rebelling against/delete as appropriate. To me, I looked cool in black, but that soon changed…

I had always hated novels and thanks to my educational years, I was put off Dickens for much of my adult life, yet now I can been seen, with booted leg hanging over the side of a winged back chair in an average coaching Inn indulging in Great Expectations and the like. For me, nothing is as Goth as social decline, poverty and Victorian workhouses. Now I have become obsessive about literature. From Mary Shelley to Wilkie Collins and HG Wells, I feast my eyes and mind on billowing shirts, riding boots, anguish and oversized castles. Now, this is the Goth I spent years painstakingly trying to define!

There aren’t a great many of us around, I have come to notice. I look longingly across the aisles of my local Asda in the hope I might catch a glimpse of a ruffled shirt or frock coat, but I never do. I agonisingly scan the Facebook pages for Victorian groups for like-minded souls, but so far, I have found few.

When I’ve not parading the supermarket aisles, I can often be found drifting around old houses (sometimes with the roof still attached) and drafty castles (thank you National Trust) on my days off from being a PR professional. (You will find some of my recent adventures below.) I travel the length of the country in search of barren estates, wild, rambling hillsides and a decent tea room. All of which, you will find in this blog as it fills up…

In short, I hope you like this blog and I would be delighted if you could join me as I don camera, tails and hat and wander the rambles of England in search of our Victorian Gothic heritage. Throughout, my mind will drift back to the roots of our glorious subculture and I might ask a few weird questions (not the ‘how did I get here’ ones) and I will expect you to answer them as I will need to hear some Goth voices (and not just the ones inside my head…)

Until the next post….

With love and Absinthe,

 

BB x

 

 

Read on for….

Brilliantly dark days drifting around Salisbury Cathedral

Goth history – the lost shop years

Goth Days Out: Wells Cathedral in Somerset

How it was to be Goth in the 80’s

Goth Days Out: Hampton Court Palace in Surrey

 

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