Traditional Gothic Fashion

Written by scott thompson
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Traditional Gothic Fashion
The Gothic look is based on morbid romanticism. (NA/ Images)

The Goth subculture has been largely defined by music and fashion since its emergence from the post-punk scene in the late 1970s. The traditional or "old school" approach to Gothic fashion combines elements of a punk aesthetic with an elegant neo-Victorian or neo-romanticist style.

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Early Goth Fashion

The Goth look developed, along with Goth music, from the British punk scene of the 1970s. Dave Vanian, singer for British punk band The Damned, used to dress in elaborate handmade vampire costumes. Post-punk band Bauhaus combined this spooky look with glam. Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees wore fishnet tights, heavy dark eyeliner and black clothes with a punk hairstyle, thus creating the classic Gothic female look which was soon imitated by thousands of fans.

Goth Fashion for Women

There is and always has been more than one Gothic "look," but the elements that make a Gothic sense of style traditional are set by the early Goth bands, musicians and fans. Essentially the look is a combination of spooky "vampire" imagery with aspects of the punk look -- piercings and spikes, spiky hair styles, combat boots or high heels, white face paint with black make-up, long dresses or skirts and clothing made out of leather, velvet or vinyl.

Goth Fashion for Men

Old school Gothic fashion for men includes the same basic elements as Goth fashion for women, combining morbid romanticism with punk. Some men may dress in vampire-inspired clothing while others might emphasise leather jackets with spikes or long black trench coats. Because of the acceptance of androgyny in the Gothic subculture, Gothic men often dress in the same types of clothes as Gothic women, including dresses, corsets and make-up. Within the Gothic subculture, men who dress in female clothing are not generally seen as being transsexual -- it is simply part of the overall Goth aesthetic.

Old School Goth

There is a distinction within the Goth scene between traditional Goth and newer developments in the subculture, which are often seen as being tainted by commercialism and lacking in integrity. Goth took on the DIY or "do it yourself" ethic from its punk-rock roots, and this ethic emphasises the idea of putting together your own unique fashion statement rather than purchasing an expensive off-the-shelf "Goth outfit" from a corporate chain. The newer Gothic look is often derided as "Mall Goth," and its representatives are sometimes seen as "poseurs" by those who consider themselves traditional Goths.

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