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A Primer on How to Dress Goth

Updated on December 30, 2012
Goth Girls in Corsets
Goth Girls in Corsets | Source

Goths draw on historical influences, personal taste and sheer creative whimsy to dream up styles that are sometimes shocking and always eye-catching. Whatever appeals to you, and whatever your budget, experimenting with Goth fashion can be a thrilling journey.

Colors, Colors, Colors

The palette of Goth fashion is more than just black, though black is unquestionably the foundation. Dark shades like burgundy, dark purple and midnight blue plus white and grey work well on Goths. Others, especially younger Goths, may like to wear blacks with electric pinks, blues, reds or greens.

If you’re just starting out as a Goth, finding items in your wardrobe in these colors make the transition to Goth easier. You may have very little work to do before you’re full fledged!

A Goth Couple in Elizabethan Dress
A Goth Couple in Elizabethan Dress | Source

Period Style and Beyond

The Goth subculture takes cues from Victorian, Elizabethan and medieval fashion. Women often wear long frilly skirts and corsets, while men may wear stovepipe or top hats and frilled shirts.

Beyond these traditional themes, Goths sometimes incorporate other, less orthodox styles like pirate and punk (the connection between Goths and punks can be seen in ripped Goth shirts and fishnet tights). New Goth subcultures in their own right include Cyber Goths, who wear neon colors and modern fabrics, and Gothic Lolitas, who dress like dolls.

Do a little research into period fashion and see what gets you excited. Goths often become enamored with a particular style and commit to it, though you don’t have to.


Jewelry and Accessories

Wearing the right accessories is a shortcut to transforming yourself into a Goth. Two popular symbols are the pentagram and the cross, often worn as pendants. Other common Goth symbols found on jewelry include skulls, skull-and-crossbones, spiders, cobwebs, snakes and roses.

Accessorizing is a fun way to make yourself stand out. If you’re in a period outfit, you may want to wear a pocket watch or top hat or even carry a cane. Studded belts, cuffs, chains and hair clips all add glamor to your look. Goth women often carry parasols; some even wear veils. The more authentic your accessories are to your period style, the more together you’ll appear to (amazed) onlookers.

You may want to dye your hair or spring for a luxurious wig. For a simpler hair upgrade, teens can use clip-on hair pieces in bright colors.

Building Your Wardrobe

At first, it can seem daunting to transition to being Goth. In fact, it’s best to change slowly; that way your friends and parents will be able to adjust easier. Check around thrift stores and online Goth stores for a few important pieces like a dress or coat. If you’re able, buying an entire outfit at once (like a shirt and pants or skirt) will ensure that you don’t end up with a lot of pieces that don’t go well together.

For help finding your one-of-a-kind style, take a look at my new labor of love,


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