Be honest, girls—are you tired of sulking in the same black T-shirt and pair of raggedy black jeans all the time? Maybe it’s time to vamp your up your Gothic style a little bit by venturing outside of Hot Topic once in a while. Say goodbye to the middle school interpretation of the Dark Side and hello to the ever-elegant and ever-mysterious Victorian Goth look. Here are your closet’s top ten staples (not necessarily in this order but if you want to take arbitrary numbering seriously, be my guest):
1. FISHNETS: Dress up your gams and every starving artist in town will hunt you down for your number. You can wear fishnets every season of the year (except perhaps spring and summer, depending where you live and how often you go outside). Smaller, more discreet holes look more elegant than gaping ones. (Some fishnets’ holes are so large that they defeat the purpose of wearing hosiery at all!) These are best worn with skirts obviously but get creative—you can pair them with tailored shorts if you like. Also, your fishnets DON’T have to be black. Grabbing some in red or purple, for example, is a great way to add color to your wardrobe. Unless of course you’re totally sold on the morbid zombie thing.
2. CORSETTE: Talk about cleavage inducers! Forget push-up bras and slip into one of these mega boob enhancers. There are two main types of corsettes: overbust (which, not so surprisingly, go OVER the bust) and underbust (which, also as the name implies, cinch UNDER the bust). Make sure that the corsette fits you VERY WELL (consider the same factors that you do when you’re shopping for a bra) because if it’s too small, it will squash your chesst and if it’s too big, it won’t do anything for your figure. If you’re not so comfortable exposing cleavage in public, layer your corsette over a camsiole, fitted tee, or any other top with plain, thin fabric that won’t take away from the main attraction.
3. CAMEO: If you don’t know what a cameo is, remember that Wikipedia exists for a reason. For those of you too lazy to look the word up anyway, I’m going to give you an annoyingly simplistic definition: a cameo in this context is a silhouetted profile of a female aristocrat from the Olden Days, often used to decorate jewelry. Your grandmother or great-grandmother or some elderly woman in your life probably owns one from the time she was a little girl so see if you can “borrow” one from her. If not, buy your own but don’t limit yourself to choker necklaces. Why? Because virtually every Goth girl in the world owns a choker necklace of some sort, many with cameos, and you want to stand out not blend in. If you wanted to blend in, you’d probably be wearing a preppy polo, pearls, and a flirty tennis skirt, anyway. Rings, earrings, bracelets, and broaches are other interesting options but tend to be harder to find.
4. DRAMATIC SKIRT: Think of something long with an interesting flourish, like a ruffled trim or lace-up sides. You’ll probably want a piece in a solid color that grazes the floor (but isn’t so long that you trip over it). Mini and knee-length skirts can be cute too but they often don’t deliver the same message of “I’m a romantic in anguish.” With shorter skirts, you’ll probably want to wear a more conservative top; with longer ones, you can get away with showing off a little bit more flesh upstairs.
5. VELVET JACKET: Okay, well velvet anything really. If you don’t feel like splurging on the real deal, then go for polyester textured like velvet. It feels and looks almost the same and costs a lot less. The reason why I mentioned a jacket in velvet was because it will be a solid investment that will keep you warm and flatter you. Find a good fit and look for girlish (and ghoulish!) details. Maybe you want a Victorian style collar, lace trim, or tiny skull buttons. Your choice. Just make sure it will match something else in your wardrobe. If you go TOO over-the-top, then it won’t.
6. LOCKET: Like cameos, this is a piece of jewelry that your grandmother or great-grandmother probably owns. You can put a photograph inside of it or a lock of your lover’s hair (gross in one respect but sweet in another) or simply leave it empty. Some lockets come with additional charms on the chain, like keys or mini teapots.
7. FITTED VEST: I’m not talking about your Aunt May’s wool sweater vest with clip-on teddybears or the one with embroidered globes that your Social Studies teacher wears on quiz days. I mean a cool, possibly cropped vest with buttons, in plaid or a solid color. You can pull this over a tee or blouse but don’t layer it under a jacket unless you have a formal event in mind.
8. LADYLIKE BOOTS: They can be tall or stop at the ankle but they should be feminine. No biker boots and no tacky 5-inch platforms. You’re not a Spice Girl, you’re an elegant lady of the Victorian Goth variety. Don’t confuse the two. Either rounded or pointed toes will do but regardless of what you choose, be sure that the boots aren’t too ‘clunky.’ You might consider getting rouched or lace-up ones. If you’re on a tight budget, find a pair that will go with both pants and skirts/dresses (tall, slender boots in brown or black are usually pretty versatile).
9. CHANDELIER EARRINGS: You can buy these at dollar stores and high-end department stores alike. They don’t have to be diamond encrusted or real gold but they should look classy (most are; in fact, it’s hard to find a really tacky pair of chandelier earrings). Avoid clip-ons and ones that are so big and heavy that they hurt your ears within the first hour that you wear them!
10. VICTORIAN BLOUSE: This is supposed to look a little bit fussy. There should be ribbon or lace or bows or something that screams ‘porcelain doll.’ It doesn’t have to be costume-y (unless you want it to) but it should be dressy. These usually look best in jewel tones, various shades of white, and black.