Goth clothing, or gothic clothing, refers to the clothing associated with the Goth subculture. The Goth subculture began in England in the 1980s as a subgenre of punk rock. Goth rock is typified by dark music centered on the keyboard. The lyrics are usually introspective, and may be considered depressing in nature. In literature, the subculture includes horror and mystery, with a gloomy undertone. Additionally, Goth culture is associated with vampires, which is a literature and entertainment trend that waxes and wanes. Currently, the vampire trend is very popular, although the vampires of the 2000s are less Goth in nature than earlier vampires.
The Goth subculture is associated with dark and mysterious, often morbid, music, fashion, and aesthetics. Furthermore, the Goth movement is a revolt against both the stylized disco fashions of the 1970s and the bright colors and focus on material excess of the 1980s. Some say that the fashion is a deliberate overstatement of the Victorian-era cult of mourning. Much of the basic styles of Goth clothing can be found in the fashions of the British Empire at the height of its powers.
Goth clothing is dark and morbid in nature, and sometimes include eroticized fashion. Along with dark clothes, most who subscribe to the Goth culture (both men and women) dye their hair black and wear black or dark makeup, including dark nail polish. Body piercings and tattoos also play a big role in Goth fashion, although tattoos and multiple piercings are not required. Goth tattoos usually contain religious imagery, such as devils or dragons opposite a virginal or saintly figure, or medieval motifs, including swords and castles.
Goth Clothing Choices
Much of Goth clothing choices are borrowed from Elizabethan, Victorian, or medieval fashion, including high collars, corsets, bustles, long skirts, and capes. Various styles of hats and headwear, most notably the stove pipe hat, are also reminiscent of Elizabethan or Victorian fashion. Other specific pieces include ruffled Regency shirts, ruffled cuffs, and leather clothing and accessories, such as spiked dog collars and leather boots. Goths frequently mix the fabrics of their fashions, wearing velvets, leather, and vinyl in one statement. Also, it is common for lingerie to be visible, such as with an outer corset or visible petticoats. Additionally, Goth clothing frequently expresses pagan, occult, and other religious imagery. This imagery is heightened by the tendency to include black velvets and lace, tinged with purple and scarlet, furthering the macabre effect.
Goth Clothing History
It is noteworthy that Goth styles are often confused with that of heavy metal fashion, which is characterized by black trench coats and what is known as corpse paint—black and white makeup usually applied in a manner reflecting the dead. Another similar style is Steampunk, which has no set guidelines, but tends to blend the edges of a variety of styles. Steampunk is characterized by fashions from Victorian-era Briton, as it embodies a science fiction or fantasy notion of a time when steam-power was still used.
The Goth subculture has received some notoriety as a safe haven for depressed misfits, and studies indicate that those who loyally subscribe to the cultural axioms have an elevated tendency towards self-harm. Additionally, Goths have been accused of Satanism, white supremacy, and intolerance. However, overall, the Goth subculture is considered peaceful, does not promote violence, and in fact, is very tolerant. Most Goths simply want to express themselves in a way that is personal to them.
While it is not the place of this article to provide medical advice regarding depression, parents can rest assured that their Goth child is likely to lead a productive life. Goth culture emphasizes classical education, so drop-out rates are lower than in other subcultures. Also many adults who embodied the Goth subculture as a teen viewed it as a passing phase, and while some still appreciate many of the subculture's qualities, most gravitate towards the status quo as they mature.