Goth subculture is an alternative scene with a rich history and distinct aesthetic. Emerging from the post-punk movement in the late 1970s, goth combines influences from Gothic literature, horror films, vampire mythology, and punk rock to create a darkly romantic style.
At the heart of goth culture is a focus on individuality, creative expression, and an appreciation for the macabre. Gothic fashion tends to feature black clothing, dark makeup, antique accessories, and religious iconography. Common goth styles include romantic goths in floaty black dresses and lace veils, and punk-inspired goths in torn fishnets, chunky boots, and spike jewelry. Now, there are many aesthetics that use the term “goth,” such as fairy goth and whimsey goth. Are they truly goth though? They borrow a lot of the aesthetic, but goth is not just about the clothes.
Goth is about Music
Music is core to the goth scene. Goth rock bands like Bauhaus, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees paved the way with moody, atmospheric songs in the early days. Today, there are many goth subgenres including ethereal wave, darkwave, deathrock, and industrial. Club nights at alternative venues let “goths” come together to dance and socialize while celebrating shared musical tastes. Personally, I’m a fan of The Cure and ethereal wave and not really into Deathrock. And some of what I feel is goth-sounding is not considered “true goth,” like Evanescence. There are elements that fit me, but not for the goth subculture as a whole. That’s ok!
Here is a great video with a kind of sampler of the music.
In fact, I find Angela’s channel to be a really great deep dive into the Goth subculture.
Other Goth influences
Literature and film provide inspiration for the goth aesthetic. Gothic horror stories by authors like Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley resonate with the goth community’s interest in the deeper, darker questions about life, death, and morality. Tim Burton movies have a dark, but fun, take that is instantly recognizable. And what goth hasn’t watched The Crow a hundred times?
Contrary to stereotypes, goths are not obsessed with death and darkness. Well, not exclusively. Rather, goth culture allows people to explore taboo subjects, question societal norms, and express themselves creatively. It provides a community where people who may feel like outsiders can celebrate their uniqueness together. Freaks unite! Many (not all) goths find their way into a witchcraft practice, or at least lean heavily toward witchy vibes. I’m one of these, in case you couldn’t tell.
But Black Though
Black is the primary color of this aesthetic, but it isn’t the only one. White provides a nice contrast, especially when layering. Red is a favorite, especially a dark, blood red. Jeweltone blues, greens, reds, and purples are also common.
Then there’s other kinds of goth looks that will even use pastels. This “creepy cute” will bring in light pinks and purples to contrast the black. I love pairing hot pink with my goth styles, but purple is my favorite.
While mainstream popularity has fluctuated, goth subculture remains ingrained as an alternative scene. Elements of goth fashion and music continue to evolve and inspire new trends. At its core, goth culture empowers people to embrace their individuality and interests without judgment. Its dark romanticism and theatricality will continue alluring free spirits far into the future.
So, for those drawn to the shadows, goth subculture offers a supportive place to let your freak flag fly. Black lace, vampire fangs, and melancholic music bring goths together to cherish the strange and sublime.
Am I A Goth?
I don’t fit neatly into just one subculture and I never have. But, yes, I’d consider myself a goth as well as other things. I listen to the music, I love the literature and films, and a large chunk of my wardrobe is goth. My particular clothing aesthetic swings from romantic goth to whimsey goth and through fairy goth and then all the way over to Sailor Moon. Which is definitely not goth. In high school, I was considered a “diet goth” or a closet goth, because I couldn’t dress the part. I was forced to wear preppy clothes. Even now, polo shirts make me gag. But I was listening to The Cure while hanging out in the graveyard with my friends, and I still had my combat boots. My friends were goths, and they accepted me in all my weirdness, even the weirdness of being a goth girl in a polo shirt with khakis.
What to Wear?
This post is just a quick and dirty dive into the subculture. I will be writing more specifically about where to find goth clothing. But this has become an easier aesthetic to shop for. Thrift shops (online and in person) and even mainstream clothing stores will all have something that could work for a goth wardrobe. And, as always, if you use the code BLYTHESREVERIE at Scarlet Darkness, you can get 20% off, and they have a great selection of both basics and special items.