Goth Fashion Tips For The Ultimate Aesthetic
Every era of fashion introduces a certain style that goes against the norm. These often represent subcultures before the style inevitably trickles into more public use.
Amongst these subsets of fashion, the goth aesthetic is one of the most pervasive. While elements of emo or goth clothing –– like chokers or fishnet tights –– have spread to more mainstream use, it still takes a certain kind of unique individual to really rock this look.
With Halloween around the corner, this is the perfect time to lean into some dark and gothic fashion. If you’ve always been intrigued by the gothic clothing aesthetic and want to try your hand at it, this article is for you. Or, if you’re a goth expert but are looking for some fresh tips, this article is also for you!
Whether you want to go all out or just dip your toes in, we’re going to go over some tips and tricks on how to get started!
History of Goth Style: How Did It Begin?
Gothic fashion has been heavily inspired by pop culture, such as movies, literature, and music. This alternative fashion style has several offshoots, including punk rock, pastel goth, and more.
Gothic Literature and Films
The Gothic movement of the early 18th century revolved around a fascination with the Germanic Goths, somewhat in contrast to the Age of Enlightenment.
Gothic writers favored fantastical, emotionally driven narratives and reveling in feeling and sensibility. The Castle of Otranto, a novel written in 1764 by Horace Walpole, is often believed to be the first piece of gothic literature.
Gothic novels were often marked by gloomy, isolated locations, lonesome and emotional heroes, and a descent into darkness at some level. Many featured some level of the supernatural, such as Dracula.
These kinds of atmospheric elements carried over into the Romanticism of the late 18th century. And they still carry over into the gothic aesthetic today.
Fast forward over a century, and you find blockbusters from the 1990s like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) and Interview with the Vampire (1994) help bring about popularity in a vampiric look. As such, ashen skin, dark, intense eyes, and blood-red accessories were all the rage in the goth community. Victorian clothing, such as lacy corsets and long velvety sleeves, were also in part inspired by this.
Musical Influences on Gothic Fashion
Music from the late 1970s punk era heavily influenced gothic fashion. David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and the angsty band Joy division, for example, were all part of an eccentric mix of artists who served as inspirations to early gothic teens.
The biggest influence, however, came from Siouxsie and the Banshees. With heavy eyeliner, spiky black hair, fishnet leggings, and a decidedly dark sound, they set the tone for goths to come. Bauhaus served a similar purpose. Macabre music and deep vocals were thorough lines between a lot of these musicians.
The goth clothing style in music grief throughout the 80s and 90s, especially with the rise of death metal.
Subsets of Goth Fashion
Believe it or not, but there are actually a lot of different labels that fall within Goth fashion. Many goth fashion enthusiasts have splintered off into tangentially related aesthetic sections.
To give you an idea of all the creative ways people express themselves under the umbrella of goth fashion, here are a couple of the most popular ones:
Typically, we associate goths with dark, drab colors. However, industrial goths incorporate rave-style bright and neon shades, whether it be in their clothing, accessories, or hair.
Initially inspired by David Bowie, this style of gothic dress is littered with fluorescent colors, whites and silvers, and synthetic materials like rubber and plastic. Leather and chains may be heavy components.
This subset of Gothic fashion hails primarily from Japan, where it has its roots in the 1980s. Petticoats and blouses, along with frills, lace, bonnets, tights, and platform Mary Janes, are all essential elements of this style. Many hope to evoke the feel of a porcelain Victorian doll.
While some might identify steampunk as a completely separate category, others would agree that it falls within goth parameters. With its typical Neo-Victorian style featuring corset tops, petticoats, and bustles, Steampunk is inspired by a vision of the past and a rustic future.
Many don parasols and goggles to evoke an industrial yet romantic feel. This style is often seen at cosplay conventions.
You may have heard of rockabilly fashion, which harkens to a style of dress popular in the 1950s. Gothabilly fashion combines these elements, such as poodle skirts, sweetheart necklines, and cat-eye glasses, with dark gothic elements. Pinstripes and corsets, jet-black curls, and skull and crossbones patterns are frequently found here.
Popular Elements of Goth Fashion
While there are many ways to interpret the gothic style, here are elements that really make up the classic goth outfit:
Goth Style Clothes
Corsets and petticoats
Long, swinging sleeves or romantic blouses
Tight and structured fabrics
Dark colors such as black, deep scarlet, forest green, etc.
Platform shoes and combat boots
Edgy details, such as spikes or leather straps
Goth Style Accessories
Black hats or bonnets
Hair bands, necklaces, or hair clips featuring black roses, bats, etc.
Fishnet or lace tights
Silver or black earrings, as well as other piercings
Heavy eyeliner, dark eyeshadow, and lipstick
Dyed or dark hair
How To Pull Off a Casual Goth Aesthetic
If you don’t feel like going full out with piercings, makeup, and expensive corsets, don’t worry –– you don’t need all that to explore a gothic aesthetic.
If you want to try something a bit more casual while still channeling some October spookiness (all year round), try these tips:
Dark clothes are pretty essential. This is, after all, a key cornerstone of the gothic aesthetic. Whether you go all black or add in some fun or spooky details is up to you. If you want to feel goth to the bone, you can even go for some black underwear.
Hoodies and Jackets
A great way to embrace the mystery and Victorian vibes of gothic fashion is by experimenting with layers. A simple way to do this is with a black hoodie. You can even add a bit of a Tim Burton-esque touch with black and white stripes.
Pop Culture Elements
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of gothic fashion draws inspiration from movies, literature, music, and TV shows. If you’re a fan of any of these, why not show it off? Whether it’s a Buffy: The Vampire Slayer backpack or a brooding Batman short-sleeve tee, mix your nerdy side with some dark elements. Band T-shirts are heavily encouraged.
Incorporate some gothic elements to your ensemble by wearing classic goth footwear. Black combat boots are a classic gothic staple that happens to pair well with a lot of things. Other types of black leather footwear, especially ones featuring platform soles, are a great idea.
Gothic fashion and culture have undergone many iterations over nearly two centuries. While new features and subgroups continue to spring off, the basic elements of a gloomy atmosphere and romantic influence are continually present.
With Halloween right around the corner, now is the ideal time to experiment with gothic fashion on your own. You can go as extravagant or as subtle as you wish –– when you do, check back to this article for some tips and guidelines! Goth has a long history, and the movement is always changing!
Goths and Fashion | LoveToKnow
Gothic to Goth: Exploring the Impact of the Romantic Era in Fashion | The New York Times
Gothic novel | Definition, Elements, Authors, Examples, Meaning, & Facts | Britannica