Friday, 22 July 2016

Goth on a Budget

This is another request post and a question that I get asked frequently: how do I build a good wardrobe with little cost?
I don’t have much money, so I don’t buy clothing too often and definitely shop on a budget. So here are my tips (tried and tested) on creating the best outfits you can!
(Because I've lived in the US, the UK and Europe, some of the clothing prices switch between dollars, pounds and euros. Bear with me.)

Know where to look

Second hand stores, flea markets, recycling stores, bargain stores, online auctions, and closets of friends and family are gold mines. They are full of hidden treasures if you just have the patience to look. If your local stores don't sell the kind of clothes you're looking for, you can look things up online. eBay is great and there is also a website called Velvet Garden which sells second hand goth clothing.

A huge part of my wardrobe is second hand but here are some of the best examples:

Left: The vest was 8 euros and bought second hand. The lace jabot I made myself out of lace I had lying around. The cameo was originally a ring I turned into a brooch with some glue and a pin. The headdress I made myself.
Middle: Very basic strap top from H&M under a Lip Service shirt I got from my friend who did not fit into it anymore.
Right: The same basic top under a lace shirt I got at the recycling centre for 1.5 euros. The headdress is again by me.

I have also found an amazing light striped jacket, numerous skirts, and jewellery to name some. Recycling centres tend to be cheaper than charity based second hand stores because they want to get things back into use rather than gather money, and I'm so saddened that the one near me is not operating anymore. (But maybe this is a Finnish thing; We recycle like crazy anyway.)

Goth being a phase for some people also comes in very handy for those of us who stick with it, because the (expensive) clothing they wish to get rid of usually ends up going for way below the retail price. This also goes for accessories like shoes.
These shoes were mostly either discounted or second hand.
In the top photo, from left to right: Demonia Gothika 200s bought from an online store that was having a sale. I also had a discount code so they came down from their original price of about $90 to $34! (They also offered free shipping.) New Rocks I found from a German flea market for 30 euros and saved about 200 euros in the process. The other big boots were from a German second hand store and cost 10 euros. Pleaser ankle boots (ELECTRA-1020) cost 12 euros at a Finnish second hand store. These ankle New Rocks were new from Camden Market but they are still as good as new after 6 years of heavy use and were well worth the money. The boots on the right were also second hand.
In the bottom photo: The big platform shoes by Demonia (BEAR-202) were given to me by my friend who no longer wears alternative fashion. The Demonias and Pleasers are the same as in the top photo. The skull creepers were from TK Maxx/TJ Maxx in London and cost £10.
And last year I bought second hand New Rocks from eBay and ended up buying them for £28, once again about £200 less than the retail price for a new pair.

Cheap clothing is everywhere, if you know where to look!

Know how to DIY

It never hurts to have basic sewing skills. From fixing holes to changing buttons and adding trimmings, stitching is a very good way to make an otherwise plain outfit look like you. I know, it's easy for me to say as sewing is what I do all the time, but trust me, it's a great skill to have. When you get more comfortable with it you can take it even further with painting and dyeing.

I had always wanted a spiky bra, so I bought a bra I liked from Primark for £5 and some studs from the local craft store and created the bra on the right below. (The spike necklace was also second hand.) The ripped sleeves in the photo on the left were a pair of broken tights. All I did was cut off the feet, make a hole in the crotch, and cut and rip holes in the sleeves. There you go: an effective piece for less than a pound (and some serious 80s tradgotn cred)!

You can also make outfits of your own: buy a basic dress, a frilly blouse, and a lace skirt. Take the frills out of the blouse and the lace from the skirt, attach them to the basic dress however you think it looks best and ta-dah! A whole new dress just like you like it for less than $10. You could also use that skill to make and add patches and studs to your clothes (which can also be taken from other cheap pieces of clothing.)

So always keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find at any store. Don’t just look for finished pieces, also look at clothing and accessories as materials you could reuse. Don’t think “this piece of clothing isn’t goth enough for me” think “what do I own/need that I could I add to this to give it a gothy look". The quality isn’t always great but if you’re on a budget it’s the look you’re after. 

Know how to accessorize and put outfits together

In my opinion, right accessories and colour matching are key to a good outfit. It’s not just what you wear but also what you wear it with. You could wear a very basic black dress, for example, and give it a gothy twist with a corset or a pair of striped stockings or a spooky hair bow.
These are some good examples of how I've mixed very basic, “normal” clothing with alternative pieces to create an outfit that looks expensive but actually isn’t:

Left: These shoes were free from the recycling centre (and so comfortable!) and the blouse (a gothic lolita brand) was 8 euros as it was second hand. The skirt is what I wore as a part of the “business casual” school dress code when I lived in the States. The jabot which is hidden among the shadow came with another blouse. The corset I bought new and even that was marked down.
Right: I dressed as Persephone for a costume party and ended up creating this. The corset is the same one as in the other photo, the harness was on sale on Amazon, the headdress was made by sewing fake flowers on a headband from Poundland, and believe it or not the dress is a beach dress (made of swimwear fabric) that cost £4 at a second hand store. Someone on Instagram asked me if this outfit was by Killstar when in reality it cost less than £20 all together (plus the corset, which cost 69 euros ten years ago and has paid itself back plenty)!

You’d also be surprised by how many nice accessories you can get from the Halloween section of mainstream stores, especially right after Halloween when they’re on sale. I even buy jewellery from places like Claire’s and then modify them if needed. (For example, I have some pieces that I have painted black with nail polish to suit my style better.) Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to mix and match basic pieces of clothing with accessories like shawls, hair clips, hats, jewellery and gloves.

Mainstream fashion also embraces goth every once in a while which shows in their collections, and even generic stores like H&M can have very gothy pieces for very little money. And eventually they end up at second hand stores for even cheaper. Both of the shirts above were given to me by my sister who worked at a very basic mainstream store and didn't want the shirts anymore. The one on the left is beautifully Victorian-inspired and the one of the right would fit any gothic lolita outfit. So don't shy away from mainstream fashion just because it's mainstream!

Even though a big portion of my wardrobe is second hand I do also have brand clothing and other pieces that I have paid full price for. The trick is in learning when the price matches the quality and it is wise to make a more expensive investment in order to save money in the future. I hope this has helped and inspired you to get creating on those beautiful wardrobes <3

Stay spooky!

1 comment:

  1. You look stunning in this black collection of vintage.