Saturday, 22 October 2011

Jehovah made this whole joint for you....

 Is the title of one of my favourite songs ever, by the New Radicals. It has the immortal line, which I often quote:

"So original in her black lipstick; listening to some obscure band
But isn't she pissed that all the other non-conformists; listen to the same obscure band"

Sometimes I feel very much that way about the alt. scene. Sometimes I feel it can be a little, well, samey. You only have to walk into to the local branch of Blue Banana to get what I mean. Pick up a copy of Bizarre magazine and the same half naked women in latex stare at you from the inner pages of this hallowed 'alt.' tome. I think I'll leave my feelings on those latex clad ladies for another post though!

So how can you avoid looking like just another face in the crowd? How can you turn a pallette of blacks and greys into a distinctive style that noone misses?

1. Think about your inspiration. 

Is music your first love? How do the songs make you feel? Maybe a song will make you feel like wearing a striking red lipstick, another a pair of fishnet tights.
Maybe films or tv shows fill you with ideas. Or print media. Maybe art. Figuring out your inspiration is a pretty good starting point for creating your own personal style. If you see something that inspires you, take a picture, or make a note of it.

2. Do some research.

There are loads and loads of different styles of clothing in the alt. world: rock, metal, goth and all its subsets, steam punk, post apocalyptic, military, fetish, burlesque etc. Google is your friend here - just pop a term into the image search and start working your way through the tabs. 

3. Mood Boards. 

What catches your eye when you browse the internet or the shops? Are you drawn to particular styles over and over again?  Using a service like Pinterest may be of help here, as it allows you to 'pin' your images to a virtual board and keep them in one place. You can browse other people's boards to gather more inspiration.

Build a mood board or two (I have one for make up and one for clothes) and after a while you may start to see some patterns in your likes, and use that as inspiration for your style choices.

4. Figure out your colours. 

There is no point in fixing your heart on a wardrobe of black and grey if those colours don't suit you. Contrary to popular belief colour is not banned in the alt. scene! It is crucial that whatever style you develop suits you, from the shape of the clothes to the colours that you wear, otherwise you end up with outfits that come across as pastiche, or just plain trying too hard.

5. Shop around.

There is absolutely no point buying up the entire stock of Blue Banana or whatever your local goth shop is, if you want to retain some individuality. Sure, pop in for particular items, but don't base your entire wardrobe on their stock. You can be sure as hell someone else already did that.
Regular high street stores have plenty of pieces you can work with, and incorporate into your style. Often specialist shops are actually really expensive, so buying off the high street often works out cheaper.

6. Learn to sew. 

The ultimate in individual personal style is hand made clothing. With sewing the hobby du jour at the moment, sewing equipment has never been more available and affordable. A basic sewing machine that will perform well enough to make simple garments will cost between £50 and £70 brand new, or pop into your local sewing machine shop to see what second hand reconditioned machines they have.
Sewing classes are springing up all over the place and the internet has a wealth of resources available. Handmade clothes are truly original, as no 2 garments will be exactly the same. The possibilities are endless and once you have a handle on working with patterns and fabric, you can expand your horizons beyond the regular.

Most important of all, go forth and have fun! Personal style should be about expressing our personalities and working that into every aspect of our lives. I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but I like to think that the way I look reflects me as a person, and that means the way I dress will change from day to day, depending on how I feel when I wake up, and what I have to do for the day.

Look out for further posts on worker a more edgier, darker sense of style into everyday wear (including work wear!).

Further reading: Wiki entry on alternative fashion, Devolution Magazine, AltFashion Magazine


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