The Goth culture is very distinctive. People who identify themselves as "Goth" often wear black outfits and make-up, have piercings or tattoos, unusual hairstyles and often have purposefully pale skin. The Goth culture is also noted for having an obsession with depression and death. In this respect, it meshes very well with the culture of Victorian times. Gothic and Victorian-style clothing go very well together, and it is not difficult to achieve a look that combines both. This look is appropriate for both men and women, though women may find it easier to achieve.
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Things you need
- Fitted shirt
- Skirt or trousers
- Vest or corset
Wear a shirt that is fitted and has buttons down the front. High collars, lace, ruffles and decorative sleeves are all characteristic of Victorian shirts. Both men and women wore close, fitted collars and cuffs. Elaborate ruffled or lacy collars and sleeves are appropriate, as well, and appeal to the Gothic look. While black and red are more associated with Gothic clothing, a white shirt is also suitable, especially if you decide to wear a vest or coat.
Wear a full-length skirt or long trousers. Very full skirts with pleats and ruffles were in fashion at the time and could be very elaborate, so be creative. Women often wore petticoats or hoop skirts to make their dresses fuller. Use materials like black lace to both enhance and make a skirt fuller. If you want a masculine look, wear black, black-striped or pinstripe dress trousers. Do not wear a belt. Belt loops were not used at the time; suspenders were more common and are suitable for a Victorian Goth look.
Wear a corset or a vest. A corset was an essential item of clothing for a Victorian woman. If you can, wear a real corset that narrows your waist, as a very narrow waist was a desirable Victorian aesthetic. While a corset was considered an undergarment in Victorian times, a corset designed to be worn on the outside is a good choice for a modern Gothic look. A vest is also a good choice if you do not want to wear a corset or want a masculine style. A black or red corset or vest with attractive fabric and heavy patterns is appropriate. Silk or satin are good fabrics for a corset or vest.
Wear black boots. Laced boots were the style at the time. Pointed or tapered toes are more Victorian than other styles. Choose a boot with a heel for a more feminine look.
Wear a hat. Victorian men and women alike were expected to cover their heads with a hat of some type. The top hat was invented at the start of the Victorian period, making a top hat or mini top hat highly suitable for a Victorian Goth look. Decorate a hat with roses, lace or net in black or red. Any symbol fitting Goth attire, such as a decorative cross, is suitable for decorating a hat, as elaborate hats go well with Victorian fashion.
Choose accessories that complement the look. Strands of pearls or elaborate brooches are appropriate jewellery items for a woman. Gloves were worn by both genders. A man would have worn a cravat and might have worn a pocketwatch in his vest. Choose jewellery that is silver or pewter in colour and decorated with gemstones in black, red or other deep colours for a Gothic look, and choose accessories in black or red.
Tips and warnings
- Choose clothing that covers you completely. While Goth clothing is sometimes provocative, Victorian clothing covered the wearer completely from the neck down, only sometimes showing the arms. If you want to show a little skin, wear sheer, lacy or netted clothing that covers your body for a good blend of both looks.
- If you want to wear a coat, straight-cut frock coats and tailcoats were in fashion for men. Women often wore shawls.
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- Religious Tolerance.org: "The Goth culture: Its History, Stereotypes, Religious Aspects, etc."
- Victoriana Magazine: Top This . . . The story of Top Hats; Lou Carver
- Victorian Lifestyle: A Look at Victorian Ladies' Hats
- Victoriana Magazine: Victorian Clothing 1855-1860
- Victoriana: Victorian Fashion- Dressing the Victorian Lady from the 1850s; Atelier Polonaise
- Gentleman's Emporium: Dressing the Part: A Victorian Gentleman's Personal Guide