Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Thanks for the Memories

Hi everyone; I was going to post this over at UGG but I logged in and checked my comment moderation and there was some hella weird stuff in there so I thought perhaps better not. (An FYI: I've left comment moderation switched on on UGG to avoid spam and general abuse, so if you've posted a comment and it hasn't appeared, that's why!)

But for those of you who do see this, it's just a little note to say I won't be updating this blog or Ultimate Goth Guide any longer (what do you mean, you noticed?) and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has stopped by over the years with some helpful advice or a kind word. You guys have been amazing and I am delighted and honoured to be able to consider many of you my friends.

I still post over at my new(ish) blog She Might Be A Faerie, largely personal stuff, and a far cry from ye olde Goth days, which I'm aware may not be of interest to many of you. However, if you would like to, please do come and say hi, I don't (usually) bite and it would be great to hear from some of you whose online paths I haven't crossed for many years.

Thanks once again to all of you for the support you've shown me, you're fantastic.


Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve! Yay! :-D

Just a short post to wish all of you a very merry Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah, I hope you have a wonderful time and I wish you every happiness in the new year. You are amazing! <3

Who Do You Want To Be Today?: A Review

When I was first starting to explore the world outside of Goth fashion, it's fairly safe to say I was a little confused. I felt like I didn't know who I was; my identity had been wrapped up in fashion and blogging for so long that I didn't know how to figure out what I liked. The upshot of this was that I ended up buying a whole bunch of those really cheesy style guides from such luminaries as Gok Wan (yes, yes I went there).

From most of these I learned very little, other than that your average style guru's idea of unique and quirky was very different than my idea of unique and quirky, and that the supposedly classic and stylish things I 'should' be wearing were not at all what I was interested in. Nevertheless I persevered, and continued to flick through the most appallingly boring celebrity style guides whenever I came across them.

I did, eventually, find one style guide that I thoroughly enjoyed, which remains on my bookshelf to this day. I like to flick through it for inspiration when I don't have any ideas for what I'd like to wear, and whilst it's definitely best taken with a pinch of salt, I really like that unlike others of its ilk, it actually encourages readers to break the mould and try something new, fun, and different.

Believe it or not, this book is by Trinny and Susannah. I had flicked through some of their incredibly tedious passages in their other books on colour coordination and dressing for your shape and decided that they were taking all the fun out of building a wardrobe and getting dressed in the morning. (Not that colour coordination or dressing for your shape is a bad thing in itself. I just don't need four books on how to do so, thanks.) And, What Not To Wear? Don't tell me what to wear, bitches, I am capable of deciding that for myself (and if sometimes it's a disaster, at least it's my disaster).

I picked up the book because of its title and tagline: Who Do You Want To Be Today? (Be Inspired To Dress Differently). Whilst generally I want to be myself today, I liked the tagline, and the essence of this book is literally that - it presents a variety of looks and styles, with a description, moodboard, examples and a how-to for each, ranging from the Audrey Hepburn-esque Gamine to the Isabella Blow-inspired Avante-Garde Eccentric (also including Diva, Rock Chick, Androgyne, Sophisticate and many more).
Source: Google
Personally I fell in love with the description of a Boho girl - 'those carefree girls with the wind in their hair and daisies between their toes. They don't stick to decaf coffee. They don't worry about matching their shoes to their handbag... they just go where the music takes them. A boho chick [...] mixes her clothes into a delicious concoction of alter egos, eras and styles. Her socks and earrings will be odd and she will have reminders written all over her hand. A boho's life is one big Glastonbury... music, mud and freedom.' - with a dash of Avante-Garde Eccentric - 'a little madness is required, backed up by a fierce individualism that wages war against a congealed high street' - and perhaps a sprinkle of Diva for date nights and special occasions.

It's not a serious book or a lifestyle guide (in fact some of the outfits featured border on fancy dress), but it is a bit of fun and it certainly helped to bump-start me out of a creative rut. I would recommend it to those looking to feel a bit less 'samey' or who are as confused as I was; I like to have a signature look rather than change my style from day to day, but it helped me pinpoint what sort of styles I was drawn to and what felt like 'me', which of course is the first step in creating a wardrobe.

What books help you feel inspired?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Suddenly, Christmas

I'm really not sure how Christmastime snuck up on me this year. I mean, Tesco brings out the mince pies just before Halloween and the shop where I work starts stocking Christmas cards in August. There are plenty of early warnings; you'd think that would leave me enough time to get prepared.

This year, I did at least have Christmas cards by the end of October (some pretty ones from Cancer Research and some slightly raunchy ones from Alchemy Gothic), and I even managed to find some very, very Gothy wrapping paper on special offer at Studio a few months back. Apart from one box of liquorice allsorts still outstanding, my shopping is also all done (although next year I'm determined to be more organised and have fancily-wrapped packages with handmade gift tags, posh ribbons and what-not all prepared by the end of November. But we'll see!).

Otherwise, Christmas seems to have taken me by surprise. (Next week? Really? Are you sure?) I have only just started writing my cards, and, eek! need to wrap half my presents by tomorrow as I am meeting a friend for coffee, then going out for a festive-y gathering at the pub. After that I will be away for a little while; I'm going to stay with my uncle in Oxford whom I haven't seen for about the last decade! Very excited! Mind you, since I don't post with tremendous regularity, you might not notice that I'm away...

I do love Christmas, though. I have all my favourite rituals, such as the Grand Christmas Eve Viewing of the Nightmare Before Christmas, the first mug of mulled wine, multiple chocolate advent calendars, dancing to Slade (shaddup, you) and eating all the chocolate baubles before Boxing Day.
Self, a couple of Christmas Eves ago.
This year, in theory, should be my last year of eating Christmas dinner as an omnivore; I have no idea what I'll be tucking into next festive season but I'm glad to feel sure that it will be cruelty (and guilt) free.

I have very little idea of what presents I might be getting, although I know Mum is giving me some money towards pre-ordering a skirt from The Snow Field and Dan (the boyfriend) has been dropping hints about an iPod! :-)

What are your festive-season rituals? Are you an organised shopper? And, what presents are you expecting? <3

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Preparing For 2013 (New Year's Resolutions)

I know that many people don't make New Year's Resolutions, for the very simple and good reason that, if you want to make changes in your life, you shouldn't wait for a certain date - you should just do it. But being the slightly overdramatic type of person I am, I like to have a certain amount of ritual around things, so as it is coming up to New Year anyway, I thought I would configure some upcoming changes I would like to make to my life with the changing of the year.

In 2012, I feel I have already been through some changes as a person. Nothing huge or groundbreaking; just small-but-important adjustments to how I see myself and how I relate to the world around me. These small changes are the foundation for most of the resolutions I am looking forward to putting into practise in the year ahead.

  • Go vegan.
This is probably the most drastic of the changes I want to make. This year I have been trying to be less focused on myself and to spend more time thinking outwards, which has led to a whole waterfall of new views and outlooks, running an entire gamut from feminism to spirituality, environmentalism, random acts of kindness, body positivity and a whole load of things I had taken for granted and never really paid attention to.

As I hunted through the interwebs and the library to try to understand and put into perspective all the new-to-me things I was learning about, I decided to take some steps towards a more eco-friendly, cruelty-free lifestyle. And as I was researching this, I discovered veganism. Obviously I'd heard of it before, but I had never taken it seriously as a lifestyle choice - clearly too extreme, too unhealthy, too limiting to be a viable prospect for a growing woman needing a supportive and healthy diet.

I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian; partly because of the green issues with meat farming and partly because of the horrendous conditions endured by animals bred for slaughter. But on PETA's website [tangent: I have discovered in my research that PETA are not tremendously popular amongst the vegan crowd due to their sexist advertisements and overly-aggressive tactics, but they were the first resource I found when I began looking into veganism] I began to discover that dairy produce and eggs were subject to similiar ethical concerns.

So I looked further into veganism, and to my surprise I found that actually, a good vegan diet is not only incredibly good for you (vegans are, apparently, proven to live longer and have more energy) but boasts an enormous variety of recipes and is not at all as 'extreme' as I was originally led to believe.
I don't have a relevant picture, so here is a photo of me and my cat. I feel this is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
I am using the time between now and January 1st to ease my way into a vegan lifestyle, using up the meat and dairy products I have left in the house (I am on a very tight budget; waste is a no-no) and beginning to replace household products and cosmetics with vegan alternatives. I have just done this week's food shop and am proud to say I bought no animal products whatsoever - for exactly the same amount of money as my usual weekly grocery run.
  • Write a novel.
I have really fallen out of the habit of fiction writing; with six (awful) vanity-published novels to my name, I'd love to get back on board and get back in the swing of gloriously cheesy pulp fiction tomes.
  • Get up earlier.
Imagine what I could do with all that free time in the morning. I could sew. I could write. I could go for a calming stroll in the spring sunshine. I could actually eat breakfast for once.
  • Stay de-junked.
In all aspects of life. No more hoarding. No more buying stuff I don't need, don't use and really only 'liked' because it was there when I wanted to blow some cash and get my spending fix. Also no more hiding bank statements in the cupboard without opening them. No more letting paperwork stack up. I will be buying a Filofax... and I'm not afraid to use it.
  • Stop buying clothing from chain stores.
Perhaps this is a resolution I could have done with making in my Gothier days. No mass-produced, boring, sweatshop crap. At least if I buy my mass-produced sweatshop crap from charity shops (I'm also giving the OK to buying handmade, organic, FairTrade and vintage) I know my money is doing some good.
  • Keep a book journal.
  • Go abroad.
I've never been abroad. Ever. Unless Wales counts. Even then, that was a decade ago.
  • Exercise regularly.
I have a body. Bodies like moving.
  • Craft more.

Are you making any New Year's Resolutions? What, and why (or why not)?

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Cruelty Free

It's been a little harder to be cheerful this week as I have had a constant dull headache for the last four days. But really, it's been another wonderful week! And with (supposedly) nine days left to live, it would be a shame to take it all for granted.

[Tangent: what are you guys thinking about alleged upcoming end-of-all-things on the 21st of this month? I read a book this week that was lent to me by a friend, called HOPE: Healing Our People and Earth which theorises that rather than the end of days, on the 21st we will begin to experience a 'cosmic shift' towards a collective consciousness and a more peaceful, mindful existence. I think I'd much rather a cosmic shift than explosions, zombies, fire and death, so I'm rooting for that one myself!]

Doomsday aside, this week I'm celebrating:
  • A beautiful shopping trip with my bestie at Winchester Christmas Market. We went down in the late afternoon when it was just starting to get dark, so all the chalets and stalls were lit up with little twinkling lights. The market is in the grounds of the cathedral which makes the whole atmosphere absolutely gorgeous. I bought some lovely things, including a fairy figurine from Fairyglass.
  • Making my New Year's Resolutions. It's a long list this year (but the first time in a long time that the list hasn't included 'lose some weight') but if anything that makes me feel really good because I actually have goals and things that I want to achieve and do.
  • Going cruelty-free. It's such an obvious thing to do that really I'm amazed I'd never thought about it before. I have always bought cosmetics that say 'this product not tested on animals' but I read recently that this is not always reliable (because the product might not have been animal-tested, but the ingredients might have been - very sneaky!). I ordered a free copy of The Little Book of Cruelty Free so that I have an at-a-glance handbook to take with me when shopping.
  • Fab support and advice from you guys on my style dilemmas! The wonderful Courtney (a shooting star in the shape of a woman, if I may borrow the phrase) wrote this post about her own similar rut and how she dealt/is dealing with it. (Courtney's post contains boobs and is NSFW.)
  • Working through my reading pile. Because of this very annoying headache I had a day off work this week (I am currently functional, but earlier this week that was not the case). I couldn't look at TV or computer screens so I got down to some serious reading and ploughed my way through four and a half books off my unread pile. I saw an article about how many books the average person reads in a lifetime; I'm hoping to outclass the optimum of 22,000. Unfortunately I haven't been keeping count, so one of my Resolutions for 2013 is to keep a book journal.
  • I have been spending a lot of time on this Pinterest board, and highly recommend it. It really makes me feel great about myself, and the articles I have read that are linked to from here are equal parts heart-warming and heart-rending. (I actually came across the Stop The Thinspo board when I was searching for pictures of skinnier women to beat myself up with, and it stopped me in my tracks, gave me a hug (metaphorically) and put me on a much better path.)
  • Shopping. Or rather, looking at shopping in a new light. I'm not buying things because they're 'Goth' or because they're this or because they're that, but because I need them, or because I really like them and they speak to me on some level. I thought that buying things I like would mean buying more, but actually, when I narrow it down to things that I really, genuinely like (again, not because they're this or that or because I'm hoping they will make me more this or that, e.g. Gothier, sexier, more stylish) I have become very picky and am buying *gasp* hardly anything. Shocker.
  • Getting in contact with old friends. I dropped my best friend from school (she moved away, and I left school) a message on Facebook and we are going to start writing proper, old-school snail mail letters to each other. I am usually awful at replying to letters but I'm going to really make an effort from now on!
  • My dreads starting to lock up! Today is day 71 and they are getting pretty tight and knotty. (They are also very loopy still but if anything I think that's cute...) I love how they feel, I love how they look when they are freshly washed and I have to say it, I'm proud of myself because I would never have dreamt that I would spend 71 days with terminally messy hair. I'm super-excited about having mature dreads but I am enjoying every part of this process.
  • My dad. I have a pretty awesome dad. At times when I was younger we struggled to connect but now we see each other twice a week - on Saturdays for lunch and on Mondays for dinner, followed by a TV schedule including Salvage Hunters and Never Mind the Buzzcocks (gotta love Buzzcocks!), juggling lessons, and general chit-chat. I really love our routines. El Daddio is also considering starting a blog. I am trying to talk him into it.
What have you gorgeous people been up to this week? <3