The Romantic and Victorian eras, vampire fiction and post-apocalyptic cyberpunk films are just a few of the inspirations for modern gothic clothing. The key to developing your own gothic clothing style is to find your own influences. You do not need sewing skills at all, as an entire gothic wardrobe can be easily assembled through smart shopping.
Romantic and Victorian Elements
Flowing, ankle-length skirts, ruffled collars and cuffs and antique lace are hallmarks of the Romantic and Victorian gothic look. Velvet and satin are popular fabrics, and colors include black, burgundy and jewel tones.
Dressing from head to toe in these pieces can make you look elderly rather than gothic, so use these pieces sparingly. Pair a ruffled white shirt and velvet jacket with leather pants, or a long flowing skirt with a fishnet top.
The gothic movement developed out of the punk movement in the late 1970s. The two styles share many common elements. Leather pants and jackets, band T-shirts, fishnet pieces, spikes and chains are punk-influenced components of a gothic wardrobe.
If you want to create a gothic, rather than punk, look, combine these pieces in new ways. Choose a soft, tailored leather jacket rather than a bulky version. Pair a spiked dog collar with a long, sheer skirt and lace tights. Soften a short suede skirt with a rich, flowing jacket.
Cyberpunk is a newer element in gothic clothing. Besides post-apocalyptic fiction, cybergoth borrows heavily from David Bowie’s 1970s look, as well as the 1960s “mod” style. Tall, heavy boots, PVC, and creative uses of duct tape feature prominently. Neon colors are common. Bright, artificial hair falls made of yarn and fabric are popular. Goggles complete the look.
Cybergoth styles are largely crafted to look interesting under black lights and the pulsating, changing lights of techno clubs. If you are attending other events such as poetry readings, you might want to blend cybergoth elements with influences from other styles. Cybergoth can be garish under normal lighting.
Vampire Goth borrows heavily from the clothing styles of Romantic and Victorian Goth. Makeup is added for both men and women to create a pale, undead pallor. Heavy black eyeliner and fingernail polish, and dark, smoky eye shadow complete the effect of a Hollywood-style vampire.
Be careful when applying white makeup, as it is easy to create a clown face. Instead, use products such as alabaster pancake makeup to create a thin, see-through sheen. Although some Goths go all-out, makeup is best used in moderation. Pair vampire-style makeup with punk-influenced clothing for an unusual spin, or add such elements as glitter and jewelry to soften the effect.
Putting It All Together
There is no single style or way of dressing that defines “Goth.” The gothic subculture encompasses music, books, and even a way of life. Listen to the bands that inspire you. Visit different clubs and coffeehouses to find the one that speaks to you. Develop your identity, and let that lead you to the clothing choices that make sense for you.