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Last Updated on July 29, 2021
Goth might have begun as a niche fashion choice, but it has managed to survive through the decades and establish itself as one of the most easily recognizable fashion styles out there.
As long as there are moody teenagers, the goth style will continue to gain adepts.
The truth is, there is more to goth than black clothing and we are here to break down what the style is all about.
Plus, give you tips on how to achieve the look yourself, of course!
What is the 90s Goth Look and Where did it Come From?
Known for its dark and edgy look, the goth fashion scene came to particular prominence in the 90s fashion world. A trademark of the goth subculture, this fashion style adopts dark colours, accessories and often the extensive use of dark makeup. The gothic style takes its inspiration from the Edwardian and Victorian era as well as embracing modern punk fashion trends.
The goth style can be traced back to its inspiration in the mourning clothes worn by residents of Victorian England. The style embraces often highly elaborate outfits, incorporate large jewellery pieces and is characterised by the use of stark black material.
The goth subculture developed in 1980s within the gothic rock audience, although attributes of the goth subculture can be found in much earlier sources in the art and literary sectors. The trend survived much longer than many other 1980s subculture trends and is still highly prevalent today.
The global fashion market, including the high fashion industry, has taken inspiration from the goth fashion subculture. High end designers including Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen have drawn inspiration from goth fashion for elements in their couture designs.
The goth look is still one that is incredibly popular in today’s society, so if you are looking to embrace those 90s goth vibes in your style read on for the best tips, tricks and styles for your 90s goth wardrobe.
Black on Black
A colour palette that is primarily black is the most recognisable element of any 90s goth wardrobe.
This limited use of colour doesn’t have to be boring though, mixing textures and styles and embracing chunky jewellery and embellishment are all parts of goth fashion. Layering different black clothing items is a big part of the goth aesthetic and gives a variety and versatility within this style.
The 90s goth look embraces both mini-skirts and skinny jeans, can be rocked in a black dress or a leather coat. The primarily black colour palette of the goth look is a favourite in the celebrity community as well with famous faces adopting this look since it first rose to fame.
Some stars that have rocked the goth look include:
- Angelina Jolie has embraced the goth look many times on the red carpet, showing the versatility of this look in a formal setting. She even wore a goth inspired look to the 2000 Oscars.
- Lorde has adopted the goth vibe for her performance outfits and street styles. Famous for her black clothing and dark lipstick, Lorde is a true goth fashion icon.
- Winona Ryder, known for her alternative style, the legendary Winona Ryder has seriously embraced the 90s goth aesthetics. Winona is often seen in layered back clothing and effortlessly flaunts a goth style in both her streetwear and formal outfits.
Don’t Forget the Neck
Every 90s goth knew that a proper look was not just about clothes but about the accessories. A favourite of the 90s goth was the choker necklace, often adorned with studs or lace and always in black, this added an extra aesthetic element to an outfit and tied together the whole goth look. Take some inspiration from the 90s goths and don’t forget that iconic choker necklace.
These styles both work great:
- Black lace chokers give a daintier look. A piece of pretty black lace tied around the back of the neck embraces the goth look while still maintaining a timeless, elegant aesthetic. This style can also be more practical in setting like an office while still embracing the goth vibe. If you need some extra inspiration then check out Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice who rocks this style to perfection
- Leather and studs. This bold accessory is perhaps one of the most recognisable pieces of goth fashion. A leather choker necklace with metal or plastic studs will inject an instant goth element to your look. This accessory can be paired with a black dress or jeans, giving a versatility to it while always keeps those goths vibes.
A Touch of Colour
While the primary colour of a goth style wardrobe is black, this doesn’t mean that an injection of colour is never called for. A touch of colour, particularly red or blue in an outfit can really add an extra element and help to tie together a whole outfit.
- A great way to add some extra colour to your style while still maintaining the goth aesthetic is to add some dark red or blue to your hair. If you don’t want this to be permanent you can buy coloured extensions that can do the trick.
- If you like your hair just the way it is, then a coloured waistcoat is another option. A Victorian style waistcoat is a favourite of the 90s goth and choosing one in a dark red or blue, particularly if it has a subtle pattern in the fabric is a great way to bring some colour into your look.
Just because something is black doesn’t mean that it has to be bland, and this is the message to embrace when styling outerwear in the goth theme. For a 90s goth look, the coat is just as important as the clothing underneath. Like most 90s goth fashion pieces, outerwear draws its inspiration from the Victorian period with coats with embellished form fitting bodices.
- A longer black coat made in a heavy wool or leather is a great choice for embracing the gothic look without freezing in the winter. Make sure the coat is double breasted and is form fitting around the bodice, this style also looks particularly good with a hood.
- In the summertime, a full-length black coat might be a bit warm. In the warmer months, rock the goth aesthetic with a tailcoat inspired jacket. In all black, these vintage style jackets with waistcoat style fronts and longer tails at the back look great styled with a pair of black boots and some black lipstick for a weekend look.
The Lips, Eyes and Nails
The 90s goth look doesn’t end with clothing, makeup is just as important for any outfit. Black and dark coloured make up play an important role in the goth look.
Some non-clothing additions that are a must in any 90s goth inspired wardrobe are:
- Black lipstick. A favourite of the stars with celebrities like New Zealand singing sensation Lorde opting for black lipstick, rocking the black lipstick elevates any goth look. When paired with a lace choker, black lipstick can create the perfect look for a night out, or if sported with a pair of black skinny jeans can add an extra element to a more casual look.
- Black nail polish is a great addition to any 90s goth inspired wardrobe. This more subtle addition really completes a goth look, adds some extra style to a party outfit and is subtle enough to pass in most office environments too.
Ditch the Strappy Heels
The goth style is not one for dainty, strappy heels. When embracing the goth aesthetic is it all about bold aesthetics and there are few looks bolder than the classic goth boot. A heavy black leather boot, often in a knee length style, this boot is a staple in any 90s goth inspired wardrobe.
This chunky style of boot shares similarities with the combat boot. It often heavily features buckles or laces and a thicker, heavy sole and is a must have for completing the goth look.
You don’t have to give up on heels all together though, this style of boot can be worn as a flat boot or with a heel for a more formal look.
- If you are heading out on the town and really want those heels but still want to fully embrace the 90s goth aesthetic, never fear, the goth look still has you covered. Goth style boots still look great with a stiletto heel in an over the knee or knee length style. Embellished with chunky buckles, this style can give a whole new element to your outfit, particularly when styled with a black mini dress. Singer-songwriter Taylor Momsen wore this style to perfection stepping out in over the knee black boots complete with chunky buckles.
- When looking for inspiration for flat boots look no further than Blake Lively who has been seen stepping out in knee length black boots with chunky laces. These boots can complete any weekend outfit and look great paired with a black skirt or black skinny jeans for an everyday style.
Tights and Stockings Don’t Have to be Perfect
Your mother may have always told you to never step out in ripped stockings but the 90s goth aesthetic would have to disagree! Black ripped stockings or tights are one the 90s goth’s go to pieces. Although this look may not always work in an office setting, it is great look for the weekend and can even be adapted for a night out on the town. Worn under a black mini skirt, this fashion item injects a grungy theme to the classic goth look.
Ripped black stockings can be styled with different outfits to create the perfect vibe for whatever it is you have planned.
- For a casual weekend look, style a pair of ripped black stockings under a black mini skirt with a pair of goth style combat boots that reach near the knees. In cooler weather, this aesthetic also looks great with a vintage style tailcoat added.
- If you are heading out for a night on the town, pair some ripped stockings with a little black dress, style it with some heeled boots, add some black lipstick and tie it together with a black lace choker for a cute party look.
A Jewellery Statement
It’s impossible to fully embrace the goth look without mentioning jewellery. As well as the classic choker necklace, the goth style embraces heavy statement jewellery often withdrawing inspiration from the Victorian era.
The versatility of the goth look means you can pair these pieces with a choker necklace or wear them separately and still embrace the goth aesthetic.
- Long necklaces featuring heavy pendants like oversized crosses or crystals look great when styled with a black skirt, ripped stocking and combat boots.
- The goth look isn’t just about necklaces, some chunky metal rings featuring engravings or black crystals or adornments can inject an understated goth vibe, perfect for the office environment.
So as you have seen, the 90s goth fashion style is one that is truly unique. Enduring the test of time it has claimed its place in fashion history, it has been adopted by stars around the world, inspired high fashion pieces and became a favourite of the 90s.
Remember when embracing this style that it is about so much more than clothing, embrace bold jewellery choices and try out different make up styles to include in your new 90s goth look. This unique style mixes elements from different eras and gets inspiration from bygone eras to create a style like no other.
So when you are looking to change up your style, why not add some 90s goth vibes to your wardrobe. Grab those ripped stocking and black lipstick and don’t be afraid to have some fun with this unique fashion style!