The most instantly recogniseable facet of Goth culture is, of course, the fashion. Black, black, and more black, often accessorised with ripped tights, chunky boots, spikes, piercings, tattoos and heavy, dramatic make-up.
I've mentioned before that Goth fashion, just like the music, has many different subsets and offshoots, which we'll talk more about later. But there are a few key points that tend to be universal to the Goth 'look'.
But wait, there's more, honest. OK, so not all Goths wear all-black-all-the-time, but it's a good place to start. Black clothes are simple to find, suit nearly everyone, and form a great basis for all kinds of looks, from day-to-day casual to aristocratic elegance to down'n'dirty rips, pins and spikes.
White is seen in many Goth outfits and seems to be gaining popularity; being seen far more often at clubs, festivals, and other Gothy events. White can be used as an accent, or as the main colour (wearing head-to-toe white creates a strong contrast to everyday black, and can look either starkly futuristic or elegant and a little mournful). Goths who regularly wear all white ensembles have garnered the nickname 'ice Goths' or 'negative Goths'.
Grey is not seen as often as white, but is tasteful, elegant, and delightfully dreary. Would also work well for occasions when all black is not quite the thing, such as attending church.
Jewel tones, e.g. emerald green, ruby red, sapphire blue, are often used to accent an outfit, and are also a practical choice for occasions such as job interviews and weddings. Less gloomy than grey but certainly more suitable than black or white.
Neon colours are most often seen in cybergoth fashions (something else that will crop up later - stay tuned, sports fans), although many deathrock outfits have bright accents. My advice would be to use neon sparingly to begin with, or else you run the risk of looking as though a Hot Topic store exploded on you. Handle with care.
Tertiary colours - that is, shades of orange and brown - are rarely seen outside steampunk fashion, as most Goths tend to steer away from warmer colours. Pastels are occasionally used as accents, or worn ironically (why yes, I do have a baby pink My Little Pony T-shirt...). In more traditional Goth outfits, when pastels appear it is rare, and they are usually cool shades such as mint green, icy blue, or pale lavender. Metallic colours are sometimes worn by rivet-heads, steampunks or cybergoths, or used to compliment an outfit.
(Apologies to any Goth newbies who are confused by some of the terms used in this post - all will be explained in future posts, I promise.)