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Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Your basic Goth wardrobe

Brand name Goth clothing can be very expensive, and DIY-ing your own takes time and effort. But it's easy to begin accumulating a day-to-day Goth wardrobe with a well-chosen selection of basics.

A few points to remember - just because it's black, doesn't mean it will look Goth, and just because it isn't black doesn't mean it won't. Try on an item before you buy; look at the fabric (opulent fabrics such as velvet, lace and satin are particular Goth favourites and can often be found for knockdown prices in charity shops and secondhand stores) and make sure it is of good quality (or not, if you later intend to rip it up for a punky, deathrock feel); imagine how the item would look alongside your other wardrobe items. Do you need to customise it for it to work?

Also, when you begin building a Goth wardrobe, please take into consideration your basic needs. Small children, pets, or active physical lifestyles do not cope well with tightly laced corsets, yards of flowing ribbon and lace, top hats, stiletto heels or bustles. Similarly, if you are not a feminine dresser, ruffles and lace may not be for you - a more pared-down, stark look may be more your thing; or a ripped, shredded, studded wardrobe with chunky, battered boots.

Of course, keep in mind your usual environment. Some items just cannot be worn at work or school, no matter how flexible the dress code (unless you happen to work in an adult movie studio). Some industries are more flexible than others (I currently work as an arts administrator, and regularly wear jeans, New Rocks and heavy make-up to the office without any hassle. Retail, for example, may not be as easy-going).

You can begin assembling a Gothy wardrobe with these few simple, easily-sourced items:
  1. Several long-sleeved shirts or blouses - at least one in black. Jewel tones also work well, and a white shirt can create an attractive antique sort of look. It's helpful to buy several in different styles - wide-sleeved, ruffled, safety-pinned, sharp and corporate - depending on your taste, of course.
  2. A pair of basic black jeans. Black skinny jeans, tucked into clompy boots, were the forte of the Goth before emo fashion peeked its scruffy, blonde-streaked head over the horizon. Baggy jeans may create a more 'mallgoth' sort of look (mallgoth being a term generally applied to teenage look-at-me-I'm-so-spoooky Mansonites who think they are oh-so-Gawthick) on younger Gothlings, but skinny jeans are not for everyone. If you're really not a jeans person, grab some black leggings, or even bloomers.
  3. Black skirts (bear in mind, androgynity is popular in Goth fashion, so for clubwear - or daywear if you're really brave - this can hold true for boys as well as girls). There is endless choice when it comes to style and fabric - long, short, velvet, pleated, poufy, cotton, embroidered...
  4. Black boots. Obviously. These needn't be expensive - I picked up a nice simple pair of knee-high black boots with a slight heel and metal O-ring detail from Peacocks for £28. If you're in the UK, try a discount shoe shop such as Shoezone for a basic pair of combat-style boots. Ice Princess (Academia Gothica) says, "Pointy-toed boots with loads of buckles, towering platform boots, and stompy military-style or work boots are Goth favourites, but you're by no means limited to those." Victorian-style granny boots or 'witchy' pointed stilettos are also common. If you really, really don't want to 'do' boots, there are also hundreds of styles of Goth shoes - ballet flats or chunky Mary-Janes make nice everyday wear.
  5. Black coat. Leather, PVC, velvet, silk; long and dramatic, short and smart; studded, corset-backed or even just a simple black blazer. Again, charity shops will be your friend here.
  6. An interesting black T-shirt (one of these, at least). Gothy band T-shirts are always popular, but you can really use your own style here - be on the lookout for something really unusual.
You can mix-and-match these basic items almost endlessly for a variety of different looks. They also don't have to be expensive, if you search charity shops and discount stores. 'Mainstream' shops such as New Look, Peacocks, Primark and even Asda and occasionally Tesco sometimes have some nice pieces that have a very Goth look when worn with the right outfit. (These pieces tend to pop up around autumn/winter in particular. Velvet seems to be abounding this year!) Keep in mind also that customising an item can be an easy and cheap option - more on DIY coming soon.

Listening to: Black Planet - The Sisters of Mercy

5 comments:

Lolitadewdrop said...

Hi, I'm really enjoying your blog so I'm sort of starting reading from the beginning. :)

First I'd like to say that I think that this is a very informative post. I don't know if you agree, but the idea for starting a basic 'work wardrobe' is to have 3 shirts, 3 skirts, 1 coat and 1 pair of shoes. This should be adequate enough to make a variety of outfits and allow you to wash them in between as well. So I think that this could sort of be applied to starting a Goth wardrobe. :)

Lolly said...

Hey there!

I always get some sort of twisted pleasure out of reading introductory guides about clothing. More often than not, they are hillarious. This one was spot-on. You guys don't have to rush out and buy $100 corsets that might end up sitting pretty in your closet. They will come, with time -or not. For the experimentation period, start up with basic pieces and build it up from there.

One thing, though, about skinny jeans: they don't look good (or even fit) on everyone. Heavy-bottomed girls like myself might not want to squeeze their chunky rears into breath-stopping jeans that scream "I will BURST right here and now!" I've found industrial-type cotton pants (the ones with the side pockets) to work pretty well with my body. They can be plain, studded, with ribbons... the options are endless. And they look damn good with my combat boots!

Just saying... try different things on and you will find out what looks best on you, eventually. It's all about feeling good in whatever you choose to wear.

Kudos to the author! Very good advice, indeed.

Jami Sky said...

Perfect post about goth clothing

blackbird said...

hey. i would really be thankful if you would anwser my comment. :) i live in sweden, but on the next thirsday i'm going to london! wihoo! now, i wonder: were do you think i should go shopping to get the best out of it, but with a limited time and a budget? (gotta have money for some real brittish tea! :D)

Amanda said...

Dang, you nailed it. I agree with you completely. Past this, just follow your instinct, everyone.

(Isn't it amazing that my wardrobe is almost exactly like this? Let it be known- I only shop at thrift stores. These places are treasure troves, and it only takes twenty bucks to get as many new outfits. I mean good, gothy, elegant outfits. We're not kidding. Charity stores, thrift stores, consignment shops,... they're the way to go.)

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