Goth Styles in the '80s

Updated April 17, 2017

The origins of goth lie in the British music genre that developed in the 1980s and continued to spread to America and around the world. Goth broadened into a subculture consisting of a particular style of fashion and social philosophy that still exists today.


The goth genre developed on the heels of the punk scene in Britain and constituted a less aggressive rejection of mainstream culture, according to the Chiff website. The term is believed to have originated from music reviewers and critics commenting on the latest punk subculture, using the Gothic label. It is generally believed that the goth genre originated with Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead," a song which contained a dark, introspective, eerie sound.


The predominant fashion trend in gothic style, or the "goth look," entailed wearing black clothing, or combining black with other dark colours. Long ornate dresses and skin tights were, and still are, a common goth fashion for girls. Other common goth fashion statements included long black trench coats, boots, fishnet stockings, high heels, lace, silver and spiked jewellery, and dark band T-shirts.


The main trademarks of Goth make-up consisted of black eyeliner and pale foundation. Bright red eyeliner, black lip liner and eye shadow was also common, as were other bold colours. Eyeliner was typically applied thickly and boldly. The general rule was the more bold and extravagant you go, the more "goth" you were.


Goth hair varied, although it was commonly dyed black and came in many lengths. One common hair style for girls was straight and sleek with fringe, yet goth hair came in a variety of styles. Bright highlights or random streaks of colour were also common. Hair was sometimes extravagantly styled with hair gel, matching the more "punk" version of goth. Men would also experiment with longer hair lengths.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Jane McDonaugh has been a professional writer and editor since 2010, with expertise in literature, television, film and humor. She is a freelance reader for Author Solutions Film and has held many other positions in television and film production. McDonaugh holds a Bachelor of Arts in television production and English from Emerson College.