A leather dog collar complete with a dangling silver heart, studded belt, black puddle trousers and kohl eyeliner—lots and lots of kohl eyeliner. This was my uniform between the ages of 12 and 16, which I look back on fondly as my goth phase, when Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice served as my muse. Though I perhaps wasn't as invested in it as others in the goth community, I could best describe my style as falling under that sartorial umbrella. It might also surprise you to learn that many of my fellow fashion editors also embraced the goth aesthetic in their youth.
Back then—I'm talking the early to mid-noughties—trends were more singular and didn't tend to overlap quite so freely as they do now. As such, you were more likely to embrace a specific look. On one side of the spectrum, you had OG Y2K, which featured low-slung jeans, halter tops from Kookaï and Von Dutch caps. The other? Its antithesis, goth. I put my energy into the latter, as it felt less conforming and more expressive—fashion editors are creatives at heart, after all.
What I always loved, and still love, about the goth aesthetic was just how inclusive it could be. There are so many facets to being goth—from those who take the more traditional approach to those who subscribe to the romantic Victoriana vibe. And these offshoots only keep expanding.
For its annual Pinterest Predicts report, Pinterest revealed that all things goth have been spiking over the last year. It read, "Welcome to the goth-aissance. Goth will make its way into the mainstream this year across all age groups—just not in the ways that you might expect. Goth business casual, goth baby clothes, and even goth kitchen décor are all rising trends." I was particularly intrigued by the term "goth cowboy," which is up 70% in searches on the platform.
Now, I know there's a lot more to the goth aesthetic than just wearing black, but I wanted to see which gothic outfits I could assemble from my existing wardrobe to see if I could tap back into it. And you know what, it was pretty empowering. Scroll below to see my makeshift gothic outfits. Then continue on to see how some of my favourite influencers are also channelling the goth aesthetic in 2022.
SHOPPING THE GOTH AESTHETIC FROM MY WARDROBE
1. MESH TOP + BRA TOP + TROUSERS
Style Notes: Okay, so I know this doesn’t look intrinsically gothic, but I used the mesh long-sleeve top as a nod to the fishnet ones I previously wore underneath printed tees and vest tops. I don’t often wear top-to-toe black, but I felt incredibly confident in this.
2. VICTORIANA DRESS
Style Notes: I’ve always loved Victoriana-style dresses—show me a pie-crust collar, and I’m sold—and I love how many black velvet options there are out there that tap into the goth aesthetic. Although this & Other Stories number has since sold out, the brand often creates similar styles to shop. In the meantime, why not make your own with a detachable ruffled collar?
3. VINYL COAT + PLEATED MINI + PLATFORM MARY-JANES
Style Notes: The inspiration for this ensemble started with the Dark Academic trend that swirled in 2020, pulling out a pleated skirt and wearing it my stacked Mary Janes to create the school-girl look. In the process, I came across this coat, which I snagged from Alexa Chung’s first-ever collection for M&S. (How great were they?) Admittedly, it’s a little tight these days, but the contrast of textures adds a fashionable spin to this gothic-inspired look.
HOW TO DO THE GOTH AESTHETIC NOW
1. LEATHER BIKER
The nipped-in waist feels more goth than rock.
2. VAMPY DRESS
It’s the gloves for me.
3. FITTED LONG-SLEEVE TOP
This is the goth equilivant to a plain white tee.
4. WIDE-LEG TROUSERS
Jeans can often feel more skater than goth, so black trousers are where it’s at.
5. TARTAN SKIRT
Blur the lines of goth and punk with a tartan miniskirt.
6. TRACK-SOLE BOOTS
Goth, but make it high-fashion.
7. SOMETHING FEATHERED
Feathers might not feel like an obvious part of the goth aesthetic, but the addition of the romantic texture certainly fits with some gothic subcultures.
8. LEATHER TROUSERS
Leather is a good starting point for anyone looking to explore their inner goth.
9. MESH TOP
Like me, Maja experiments with wearing a black mesh top.
10. COLLARED DRESS
Looks like I’m not the only one who favours the Victoriana goth aesthetic.