Goth! Everyone has his or her own idea of what a goth looks like, whether it’s a pasty-faced vampire clad in leather pants, doc martens, and a torn vest under an umbrella of crazy hair, or a party goer dressed in red velvet, a ruffled shirt, and jewel-encrusted fingers. The diversity of the subculture reaches far and wide across all spectrums of the taboo and the underground, but with a few constants that keep it all unified beneath the shadow of one leafless, twisted tree.
If you love the music, the parties, and the gatherings, then surely the gothic fashion must be of some appeal to you as well. For better or worse, the fashion is a significant part of what it means to be a goth. And, aesthetically, gothic fashion is beautiful, and a far cry from anything you are bound to find in the mainstream. Leather, velvet, metal—it all implies the dark and the mysterious, as well as the undeniably exciting. Yes, the possibilities of gothic outfits are virtually limitless. It can be overwhelming and confusing to decide on the proper outfit for a night out, but there is still some sense in the mess.
You might see people dress in breathtaking medieval coats and a carefully designed ensemble of all the desirable gothic characteristics. The effort that people put toward their appearance is sometimes amazing in the scene, and sometimes worthy of all the envy you can muster. But dressing goth does not mean you have to go all out at every single event, let alone every-day life. There is a simpler approach to suggesting the look wherever you are. How? This guide will show you how. Here are a few easy ways to dress goth.
1. Wear all black
This one is a no-brainer. If anything is even slightly black in your closet, then it already qualifies as goth. We’re talking t-shirts, sweatshirts, coats, pants, shoes, and even hats. It all works. It is the most basic gothic aesthetic, and it will never go out of style for as long as the subculture exist. Without the color black, goth is woefully deprived of perhaps its most trademark aspect. Black has always been associated with nightfall, death, dying, funerals, and an overwhelming sense of grief and despair. It conjures mystery and elusiveness. It covers all the ground that goth covers, and it is the very lifeblood of the scene.
2. Dye your hair a darker color
Keeping in line with #1, you can never go wrong with the color black. It is dark, subdued, and carries with it that desirable aura of mysticism. But if you find the idea of an all-black garb to be uninspired and want to spice things up a bit, then a dark shade of any color will suffice just as well. While black is the trademark, it is not the sole color moniker. Some goths will dye their hair a dark red—a shade that is immediately striking and visual, carrying with it the colors of autumn, romance, theater curtains, and, most of all: blood. Dark purple, dark blue, and green might seem like inappropriate choices, but that is where the diversity of the subculture goes unappreciated. These sorts of pigments eschew the mainstream and are meant for people with a zest for the stranger things in life. It’s alternative, it’s different, it’s fashionable, and it is dark.
3. Crazy hair
More hair? Yes. There is simply no escaping the fact that hair is such an incredibly noticeable aspect of any goth, no matter how glaring or subtle the style may be. Corporate America might not take too kindly to an outlandish display of your locks, but there is nothing stopping you from embracing your inner wildfire hair while strolling about town or going to a party. Pull a Robert Smith and tease your long black hair to create a fantastically horrific aura. Or buy a lethal can of hairspray to achieve a punk rock Mohawk reaching a foot in the sky. Straighten your hair for a look that is somber and morose, but still mesmerizing. If you’re having a little trouble with inspiration, just conduct a quick Google search of 80s and 90s gothic rock icons. The witchy hair and razor-sharp ‘hawks will get your creative juices flowing.
Makeup is another easily identifiable trait. Goths are all about spicing up their appearance with makeup schemes that are scary, dramatic, and exciting, a mishmash of Victorian and medieval renaissance and early horror films. Blacks and reds are always in gothic vogue, usually as eyeliner, lipstick, and nail polish. Your choice of style can be as loud and bold or as quiet and subtle as you prefer. For a casual day, it is yet another perfect way in which to dress down but still assert your sense of style. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of swirl and jaggedness to your makeup scheme; a little imagination will no take away from your sense of the casual.
Here is a fun one and a favorite among the scene. Goths love their accessories: Chains, rings, chokers, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and wristbands. All are glamorous and all are fitting. Leather and metal wristbands look great around the arms, and spooky necklaces can be found in any shop. Online stores usually have the provocative chokers and wristbands. While these sorts of accessories are edgy and eye-catching, they are nonetheless easily able to blend in with more casual day apparel. Of course, if you’re willing to go a step further, then piercings in somewhat unconventional places, like the lips, eyebrows, and cheeks, will also do.
Corsets will also work. Corsets are gothic royalty 100% of the time, harking back to the Victorian era and still going strong today. Prim, proper, and a perfect gothic decoration for any kind of an alternative party.
Pentagrams, pentacles, crosses, big hoops, tombstone necklaces, and miniature bats are all great and accessible accessories to goth up your getup. Feeling adventurous? Try a mixture of them all. Goth has long been synonymous with decadence and flair. In any other subculture, such a brash display of glamor would be seen as vain and conceited. While the scene is not immune to those kinds of criticisms, it is rare that most darkies have the luxury of dressing in their true colors in all life situations. As such, a bold visual expression is celebrated and encouraged, no matter how far up your arms your wristbands extend and how numerous your necklaces are.
And don’t forget fishnets. Whatever your gender, it does not exclude you from the limb-encasing laces that are adaptable for any outing, formal or scandalous.
6. Clothes with spooky designs
Surely you are no stranger to the gothic trademarks: bats, skulls, crosses, spider webs and cobwebs, scary forests, the moon, fog, wolves, and the color black. This also extends to horror movies of any sorts, be it the old black and white vintage monster classics or the 80s wave of slashers. Plenty of alternative clothing shops supply shirts with evil-looking implications, such as Blackcraft and Killstar. Trademark monster movie icons like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Michael Myers all imply an eye for the sinister. Even Pagan symbols carry with them that otherworldly mysticism that is so rare in normal, day-to-day life. Best of all, nearly all these shirts are in black.
Boots! A hallmark of punk that is nonetheless universal to all kinds of cultures and scenes. Boots are never out of style. They suggest the call to action, a purpose. They’re tough and evocative. And besides that, they just look really, really good with virtually any outfit and style of your choice. Boots are present in every realm of gothic fashion, be it the posh Victorian aesthetic or the militant industrial guise. Doc Martens are the most popular brand, offering a variety of colors and styles for everyone’s alternative needs. As is the case with most boots, they are on the pricier side, but the comfort and durability make them well worth it. Doc Martens survive the heat, moisture, storms, snow, and time.
Of course, goths have their own personalized boots as well. If you’ve ever been to a goth club or similar goth-related event, it’s a given that you’ve seen oodles of people decked out in ornate, knee-high kicks with spikes and chains. Likely these boots are from the brands Demonia and New Rock. Mutating the traditional boot look with outlandish bulk, gear, and spikey decorations, Demonia and New Rock have become mainstays in the scene. Like Doc Martens, both brands are pricey, but when they put the finishing touches on whatever else you’re wearing, you will know where that extra money is going.
Having a style doesn’t mean going bankrupt. It also means being reasonable enough to know how to assemble a look that best suits you, regardless of where you purchased the necessary items. As time goes on and you are exposed to more gothic realms, you are bound to expand your wardrobe and never again despair about what to throw on at the last second. Being a goth is easy; all you need is a checklist of all the items.