There’s no need to brood about, avoid daylight or dye your hair black to capture the essence of Gothic style. Inspired by dress originating in the 13th through 15th centuries, Gothic dress was reinvented in the 1980s and has since become highly personalized. Often compared with the newer emo or punk styles, it portrays a range of fashion, from quiet elegance to fierce presence.
(Not) All About Black
First and foremost when it comes to Gothic-style clothing is that black is used a lot. A lot! But, though you can choose to dress in black from head to heel, other colors are in no way off-limits. Keep most of your outfit dark, but individualize the Gothic look by incorporating a signature color. Look for pieces that carry a hint of bold green, feminine violet, mature gray, deep red, or even baby blue, if that is your favorite color.
Fabrics and Style
A variety of fabrics can give different textures and looks to your Gothic outfits. Wear a dark lace blouse, cotton tiered skirt, or chiffon dress for femininity, or don a corset of silk or cotton, with long sleeves or no sleeves; corsets are both a modern and traditional component to the Goth style, giving you a flattering hourglass shape. For cold weather, wear velvet pants and a floor-length leather coat; for warmer weather, use see-through pieces with creative designs to keep you cool.
Pair short skirts and dresses with eye-catching pantyhose designs, either with traditional fishnet stockings or spiderweb and lacy patterns. Opt for a Goth fave, black combat boots, or wear simple black shoes that complement your personal style — opt for flats, high heels, or ankle, calf-length or over-the-knee boots. Go for silver or black jewelry, as intricate or simple as you like. Paint your nails black or another dark color.
Gothic in Hollywood
You can find lots of inspiration for Gothic dress in films. Check out costume designer Colleen Atwood’s mix of traditional and modern Gothic style in her striking black and white dresses for the film “Sleepy Hollow” (1999). Or take notes on Helena Bonham Carter, a Goth on- and off-screen, as dressed in a variety of Goth outfits in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007). Take in the “Underword” series and the modern Gothic dress as worn by a bunch of characters, but especially that played by actor Kate Beckinsale.
References and ResourcesElle: Gothic Tendencies
Elle: Wicked Ways
Fibre2Fashion.com: Era of Gothic Dress Culture
Glamour: Going Goth: How to Pull Off the Fall Trend Without Looking Like Morticia Adams
Fashion Inquiry: The Popularity of Gothic Style Clothes Has Grown in Autumn, 2012
Fashionising.com: Gothic Fairytales - The New Noir