Gothic belly dancer Tempest sums up the gothic style on her website, The Gothic Belly Dance Resource, “Wherever there is dramatic/romantic human expression in art and word, Goth has had its way with it.” While at first glance, an outsider may see only black clothing and a pale, made-up face, the Gothic community takes its influence from medieval times, the 1920s, or punk style and attitude.
However, there are some commonalities – color and material – to Goth clothes. Makeup and hair complete the look which is artistic, dramatic, and romantic when pulled together properly.
Clothing is highly textured. Look for fishnet, lace, vinyl, latex, PVC, leather, gauze, velvet, imported textiles, and heavy satins. Since the color palette is dark, black accented with red, wine, purple, and metallic colors, look for a different fabric for each garment.
Even an all-black outfit will take on a dramatic dimension when several materials are incorporated into the overall look. Remember, even leather and metal accessories such as belts and boots add interesting textures.
Metal details can include chain mail, spikes, chain fringe, and even antique metal jewelry from India. Again, these details add dramatic texture to a Goth outfit. Look through books or Internet sites that highlight different eras and their clothing styles. Go with details that are personally interesting.
Makeup is both artistic and dramatic. Unlike conventional street makeup (think Maybelline), the effect is not to simply accentuate features but emphasize facial features such as eyes or lips. Go for deep red or black lipstick. Outline eyes with a dark eyeliner. Emphasize eyes with a smoky eye shadow. Face makeup doesn’t have to be a ghostly white but can instead highlight the individual’s natural skin tone.
Piercings and tattoos have also become accessories for Gothic dress. Individuals who dress up Goth for Halloween or another event can use magnetic and other fake piercings to add to the effect of their costume.
Again, artistic is the key word for Gothic hair. Look for dramatic colors and cuts that require work and attention to accomplish the desired style. These are not wash-and-go styles. Hair embellishments and fake hair may be incorporated into the look. When going for a striking style, consider if this will be the look worn day-after-day or if variety is desired. Of course, hair grows quickly, so a hairstyle could change every month or so.
This is not a look that suggests the individual’s ability to jump out of the shower and head out the door five minutes later. Each component of the individual’s overall look – clothing, fashion accessories, makeup, and hair requires thought and effort.