How to Add Gothic Flair to Your Wardrobe

The Gothic look harkens back to elegant Medieval and Victorian fashions. But as beautiful as Gothic clothes and jewelry may be, the style is often too dramatic for the average woman to pull off without coming off as overly theatrical. There are ways, however, to add Gothic flair to your wardrobe without seeming like an extra from a Tim Burton film. Here’s how to wear a tame version of Goth:

*Wear black the right way: In small quantities, black is stunning. In large quantities, black is morbidly unattractive. You can achieve the slimming effect black brings without shrouding yourself in all-black outfits. Pair black with navy, forest green, dark brown, deep violet, charcoal gray, burgundy and similar drab colors or use them as complete alternatives to black. Also remember that black and scarlet or black and purple are two popular Goth color combinations.

*Wear silver jewelry: Silver charm necklaces and bracelets are popular Goth accessories. Look for charms like lockets, birdcages, crosses, skulls, suns, moons, stars, owls, unicorns, and fairies. Avoid bright gold-colored jewelry. Faded gold jewelry looks best if paired with silver pieces. Try putting some lightweight faded gold and silver chains together with a scoop neck or V-neck blouse. Silver chandelier earrings with beads are also classically Goth. Just remember, that the dressier the jewelry, the subtler the clothes should be, at least for day.

*Wear textured hosiery: Hosiery can make an outfit. For a sophisticated Goth look, go for fine fishnets in black, charcoal, chocolate, burgundy, and forest green. Avoid fishnets with giant holes, as they reveal too much flesh in an unflattering way. (If you’re aiming to show off a little skin, better unbutton your blouse for some cleavage instead or simply go barelegged.) Pair textured hosiery with plain skirts and dresses—no competing textures or patterns, like reflective silk or floral. Opaque tights in black and interesting shades of wine and plum are good for more intricate dresses and skirts.

*Wear dark velvet: Everything–even lounge pants—looks elegant in velvet. But as tempting as it may be to drape yourself all over in this comfortable fabric, try to add variety to an outfit by mixing in other materials. Wear a velvet hoodie over a cotton tee or a velvet skirt with a fitted wool sweater. Also search for jeans with velvet details, like velvet embellished embroidery or velvet covered pockets. If real velvet is too expensive for your budget, search for polyester or rayon textured like velvet. They give the same effect for far less money and most people cannot even distinguish between the two.

*Wear lace: Lace is the most feminine of fabrics, which is why it’s so hard to wear well without seeming like you’re in a period piece. The key is to mix lace with more gender-neutral or even masculine fabrics to offset its inherent flounce. That’s why black leather and lace are such a classic combination. Another idea is throwing a casual fitted cardigan over a lace-trimmed camisole (or two or three layered camisoles).  Black or burgundy lace trim is also a classy trim for jeans and denim jackets. Lace chokers are graceful touches to any outfit, but to avoid looking too dressed up during the day, throw on some jeans or a casual top. Also shop for lace headbands for girly panache. 

*Wear pearls: Pearl necklaces, long or short, are classy additions to any outfit. Pearl bracelets look very Victorian, but for a modern touch, stack them up with short-sleeved or sleeveless tops. Also search for buttons and jackets with pearl buttons. Be careful when shopping for peal earrings—they can easily look too matronly. Tiny pearl studs are usually the freshest, most modern size. Small pearl drop earrings are also lovely. Look for pieces in black pearls, too, which are gorgeously Goth when paired with black lace.

*Wear tall boots: Boots don’t have to be high-heeled, but they should cover the majority of the calf. Look for leather or suede or convincing vinyl and details like laces and subtle buckles. Black, gray, brown, red, and purple are the ideal colors, especially in darker shades. Find sleek cuts and steer clear of anything that screams ‘high school punk rock concert,’ like mega-platforms.

The Goth style is unusual and mysterious and easy to over-do—but that shouldn’t prevent you from sporting the look you love! Glean your favorite elements of Goth fashion for the smartest, most modern, and most wearable outfits.