Gothic fashion is a clothing style marked by conspicuously dark, mysterious, exotic, and complex features. It is worn by members of the goth subculture. A dark, sometimes morbid fashion and style of dress, typical gothic fashion includes a pale complexion with colored black hair, black lips and black clothes. Both male and female goths wear dark eyeliner and dark fingernail polish. Styles are often borrowed from the Punk fashion, Victorians and Elizabethans. Goth fashion is sometimes confused with heavy metal fashion and emo fashion.
Goth fashion can be recognized by its stark black clothing. Ted Polhemus described goth fashion as a "profusion of black velvets, lace, fishnets and leather tinged with scarlet or purple, accessorized with tightly laced corsets, gloves, precarious stilettos and silver jewelry depicting religious or occult themes". Researcher Maxim W. Furek noted "Goth is a revolt against the slick fashions of the 1970s disco era and a protest against the colorful pastels and extravagance of the 1980s. Black hair, dark clothing and pale complexions provide the basic look of the Goth Dresser. One can paradoxically argue that the Goth look is one of deliberate overstatement as just a casual look at the heavy emphasis on dark flowing capes, ruffled cuffs, pale makeup and dyed hair demonstrate a modern-day version of late Victorian excess.
Nancy Kilpatrick's Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined defines "poseur" for the goth scene as follows:"goth wannabes, usually young kids going through a goth phase who do not hold to goth sensibilities but want to be part of the goth crowd...". Kilpatrick calls poseur goths "Batbabies" whose clothing is bought at [mall store] Hot Topic with their parents' money.
One female role model is Theda Bara, the 1910s femme fatale known for her dark eyeshadow. Musidora, Bela Lugosi, Bettie Page, Morticia Addams, Nico, David Bowie, Lux Interior, Dave Vanian, Robert Smith are also style icons. Siouxsie Sioux was particularly influential on the dress style of the Gothic rock scene; Paul Morley of NME described Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1980 gig at Futurama: "[Siouxsie was] modeling her newest outfit, the one that will influence how all the girls dress over the next few months. About half the girls at Leeds had used Sioux as a basis for their appearance, hair to ankle."
In 1977, Karl Lagerfeld hosted the Soirée Moratoire Noir party, specifying "tenue tragique noire absolument obligatoire" (black tragic dress absolutely required). The event included elements associated with leatherman style.
Goth fashion has a reciprocal relationship with the fashion world. In the later part of the first decade of the 21st century, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh, Ann Demeulemeester, Philipp Plein, Hedi Slimane, John Richmond, John Galliano, Olivier Theyskens and Yohji Yamamoto brought elements of goth to runways. This was described as "Haute Goth" by Cintra Wilson in the New York Times. Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix have also been associated with a gothic style. In Spring 2004, Riccardo Tisci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Raf Simons and Stefano Pilati dressed their models as "glamorous ghouls dressed in form-fitting suits and coal-tinted cocktail dresses". Swedish designer Helena Horstedt and jewelry artist Hanna Hedman also practice a goth aesthetic.
Gothic lolita, sometimes shortened to Gothloli (ゴスロリ gosu rori?) in Japanese, is a combination of Gothic and lolita fashions. The fashion originated in the late 1990s in Harajuku.
Gothic lolita fashion is characterized by darker make-up and clothing. Red lipstick and smokey or neatly defined eyes, created using black eyeliner, are typical styles, although as with all lolita sub-styles the look remains fairly natural. Though Gothic make-up has been associated with a white-powdered face, this is usually considered poor taste within the (largely Japanese) lolita fashion scene.
- Grunenberg 1997, p. 172
- Cintra Wilson, "You just can't kill it", New York Times, September 17, 2008.  Access date: September 18, 2008.
- Polhemus 1994, p. 97
- "The Death Proclamation of Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge and Heroin" by Maxim W. Furek. i-Universe, 2008. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0
- Nancy Kilpatrick. Goth Bible: A Compendium for the Darkly Inclined. St. Martin's Griffin, 2004, p. 24
- Hannaham 1997, p. 93
- Steele & Park 2008, p. 26
- Steele & Park 2008, p. 18
- Steele & Park 2008, p. 38
- Hannaham 1997, p. 113
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- Steele & Park 2008, p. 35
- Grunenberg 1997, p. 173
- Steele & Park 2008, p. 3
- La Ferla, Ruth: "Embrace the Darkness". New York Times, October 30, 2005. 
- Johanna Lenander, "Swede and Sour: Scandinavian Goth," New York Times: T Magazine, March 27, 2009.  Access date: March 29, 2009.
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- Hannaham, James (1997). "Bela Lugosi's Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Either: Goth and the Glorification of Suffering in Rock Music". Gothic: Transmutations of Horror in Late-Twentieth-Century Art. Boston: Mit Press. ISBN 978-0-262-57128-9. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
- Polhemus, Ted (1994). Streetstyle: from sidewalk to catwalk. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-27794-2. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
- Steele, Valerie; Park, Jennifer (21 October 2008). Gothic: Dark Glamour. Yale University Press and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
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