Of Finding Goth Fashion

At this point, the Lady of the Manners just needs to admit that she goes into a state of hibernation during January and February every year, because a distinct lack of posts for those months seems to have been a trend for … a while. So let’s just leave it at that, and move forward into this shiny new post!

During the months that she was in torpor, the Lady of the Manners received questions that were all variations on a theme that is familiar; Goth fashion – where to find it? In fact, a question from an anonymous user over on the Gothic Charm School tumblr summed it up best:

Any resources for gothic clothing? All the ones I find just bring up the stereotypical goth.

A much-expanded version of the Lady of the Manners’ reply to this question is as such:

The term “gothic clothing” encompasses a vast collection of different styles under one inky black parasol. A tiny selection of goth and goth-adjacent styles include:

  • Romantic goth.
  • Victorian goth (which is subtly different from romantic goth).
  • Vampire goth (which, again, is subtly different from the preceding two styles).
  • Trad goth.
  • Deathrock (which is subtly different from trad goth, no really it is).
  • Dark mori.
  • Gothic Lolita (and its sibling, Elegant Gothic Aristocrat, which is, in the Lady of the Manners’ opinion, the beautiful amalgamation of the romantic, Victorian, and vampire goth styles).
  • Corp goth.
  • Metal goth.
  • Goth punk.
  • Pastel goth
  • Steampunk (much like Victorian goth, but with more goggles and brown).
  • Wearing all black with no particular stylistic leanings.

Well, you get the idea. So many goth styles! Which means that the very first thing that someone looking for gothic clothing should figure out is what style(s) of gothic clothing are they looking for? If you’re not entirely sure, search for images of the styles that sound interesting (Pinterest is great for that sort of thing), and browse around.

Because it’s not enough to type “goth clothes” or “gothic clothing” into a search engine and hit ENTER. The Lady of the Manners has done exactly that during some insomnia-stricken nights, and has found, well, stereotypical goth clothing from big name goth fashion companies: Restyle, Devil Fashion, Hell Bunny, Lip Service, Killstar, Tripp, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with those companies! The Lady of the Manners is extremely happy that there are more and more goth fashion companies springing up and catering to our dark community. However (and you knew there would be a however) those companies don’t offer a wide range of designs or sizes, and prices tend to be on the higher side for things that aren’t custom made. But there is nothing wrong with buying off-the-rack goth fashion from those stores and “big name” goth fashion companies. NOTHING. Buying off-the-rack fashion helps support the goth fashion industry as a whole, which is always a good thing.

But instead of searching for “goth clothes” or “gothic clothing”, be much more specific about what you’re looking for. This is where deciding what sort of gothy style you’re shopping for is a huge help. No surprise, “Deathrock clothing” will get you very different results than “Victorian gothic clothing”. For that matter, try removing “goth” or “gothic” from your search entirely. If you know the more generic names of the items of clothing you want, it will be much easier to find them. For example, the Lady of the Manners has learned to search for things such as “black ruffled blouse”, “chiffon maxi skirt”, or “long velvet vest”, all of which which give her far more results than searching for “romantic goth clothing” or “vampire goth clothing”. “Black denim vest” or “vinyl pants” will turn up more items than “deathrock clothing” or “goth pants”.

You can find some great things on eBay, Etsy, and shopgoodwill.org by using the right keywords. You will also find some hilarious, terrible things. It helps if you filter your results to remove any “costume” sections. Also, do not purchase or bid on things if you are sleep-deprived or in an altered state! Window-shop responsibly! (With regard to the “do not purchase or bid on things if you are sleep-deprived” warning, the Lady of the Manners is well-aware that she is giving all of you advice she herself often ignores.)

However, here is a list (in no particular order) of the keywords that the Lady of the Manners will occasionally frequently search for on sites such as eBay, Etsy, and shopgoodwill.org:

80s goth
90s goth
black chiffon
black lace
black maxi dress
black maxi skirt
black sheer
bohemian/boho/g*ps* (UGH. But sometimes sellers tag wonderful things with offensive keywords)
dark mori
Edwardian
EGA
EGL
goth punk
gothic romance

Lagenlook
mourning
new romantic
pirate
poet
strega
Victorian gothic
Victorian romantic
Victorian vampire
visual kei
witch/witchy

Also, for a large (but nowhere near comprehensive!) list of goth and goth-friendly fashion sites, take a look at this 2016 Gothic Charm School post!

Just as importantly, always keep an eye on mainstream fashion retailers. No, they don’t cater specifically to goths, but the Lady of the Manners has noticed that goth-tinged fashion is now always somewhere in the mainstream, be it velvet jackets and blazers, lace and tulle skirts, fishnet tights, spikes and studs, or skulls everywhere. In fact, it looks like the fashions for Spring 2018 (well, the women’s fashions) are leaning heavily toward ruffled blouses, mesh accents, lace dusters, and black with large floral prints. (The Lady of the Manners is especially happy about the black-with-floral thing, as she’s developed a fondness for #floralgoth .) Not to mention that it looks like black-and-white striped blazers are returning, which means that all of us who want to invoke Beetlejuice can do so without resorting to painting the stripes ourselves.

Speaking of mainstream fashion retailers, the Lady of the Manners took this as a very helpful excuse to go browsing around: presenting the Gothic Charm School 2018 goth fashion resources Pinterest board! And this time, the Lady of the Manners plans on doing more regular browsing and updating of that board, because it seems more community-minded than spending insomniac nights searching for yet another red velvet frock coat or lace jabot.

This time around, the Pinterest board is divided into three sections:

  • Men’s and/or gender-neutral!
  • Plus-size friendly!
  • Women’s and/or femme!

There is of course, some crossover, because there are plus-size friendly things in both the Men’s and/or gender-neutral and Women’s and/or femme sections. Alas, there’s not a lot of plus-size friendly things in the Men’s and/or gender-neutral sections, because there just isn’t that much being manufactured that is goth-friendly, gender-neutral, and plus-size friendly. The majority of plus-size clothing is decidedly femme, and filled with peplums over the hips and necklines that highlight the cleavage. Which are wonderful styles, but not everyone wants to wear them, or have them be their only option.

There are a lot of links to fashion shops on Amazon. A LOT. Because it turns out that many Chinese fashion manufacturers realized that there is a market for goth fashion. In fact, if you’ve looked at the big name goth fashion designs, you will probably notice some very similar styles being offered on Amazon. Which the Lady of the Manners is mostly okay with, because almost all of those big name goth fashion companies are having their designs mass-produced in China, too. However, a caveat, which is just as true today as it was in this 2016 Gothic Charm School post: fast and/or inexpensive fashion–goth or not–often cuts corners during production. It’s a sad truth that you won’t be able to avoid sweatshop-produced clothing unless you’re not on a tight budget, or are able and willing to sacrifice and save for it. Alas, that isn’t always possible, so be aware, but don’t punish yourself if it’s unavoidable in your circumstances.

Of course, if you can support independent designers, please, PLEASE do so. Independent designers are a vital part of the goth community.

With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to lose herself yet again in looking at “velvet Victorian” fashion on Amazon and eBay, while repeating to herself that she doesn’t really need any more frock coats.

As always, comments are open. Moderated with a fist inside a velvet, lace-frilled glove, of course, but feel free to comment! Especially if you have suggestions of other retailers and goth-friendly companies!

20 Responses to “Of Finding Goth Fashion”

  1. Trystan Says:

    I have a CorpGoth Pinterest board that I’ve been adding to for years that may be of inspiration https://www.pinterest.com/trystanbass/this-is-corpgoth/

    Also, I highly recommend the biz eShakti.com for semi-custom-made dresses. Many come in black & jewel-tones, & while the styles are not expressly goth they are gothable & can be accessorized. Really good for a CorpGoth wardrobe, & you can send in your measurements for an accurate fit. Reasonable prices, made in India, great quality.

  2. Caroline Åsgård Says:

    Great post!
    The past few years H&M seems to become a better and better shop for goths, so I definitely recommend that! I’ve bought Siouxsie and Joy Division clothes there, as well as lovely clothing that look like leather or PVC.
    I also love thrifting, DIY, ebay and etsy. I also buy from ”goth stores” (though not the modern ones), but that’s more sporadic.

  3. Libby Bulloff Says:

    Love this list, Jilli! <3
    I've taken to buying nice quality secondhand basics through Thred Up (invite code for $10 off: http://www.thredup.com/r/UBONWC). You can filter by size and color as well as search for specific goth-friendly brands including some high-end designers that I could never, ever afford new (like Alexander McQueen or Comme des Garcons). I've scored some excellent striped skirts that are office-approved for less than the prices at Goodwill.

  4. Alyson Melody Says:

    Soooo helpful, Jilli, as always!

  5. Rhias Hall Says:

    Re: Chinese sweatshop clothing. When ordering from overseas manufacturers remember that their sizes tend to run small, and that the clothing you order will be made of the cheapest fabric imaginable. I have several pieces I’ve ordered from Rosegal that look good and fit well – but have no illusion that they will survive more than a year or so. I also find that many goth stores on-line are simply buying from ChicStar and marking the clothes up, so it pays to shop around! Another trick that I use is to check out places that sell “western” apparel, because many of them have Victorian skirts and blouses at lower prices – and larger sizes.

  6. Mark G Says:

    Men’s clothing is NOT the same as gender-neutral clothing. And people need to stop treating it like it is.

  7. revassez Says:

    It’s always nice to have more clothing resources! Over the last year or two I’ve been buying some (admittedly really cheap) gothy clothes from the sites DressLily and RoseGal. They’re both Chinese, and your items with ship from China, so don’t order things you want right away. The quality is not always great, but it’s serviceable, just be aware that you are getting what you pay for. Some of it is better than others. For instance I just got two “jackets” that are made of really really thin material, and I would say they are more like jacket-shaped shirts, but they look nice.

    I do buy most of my clothes from non-goth retailers, such as Kohl’s and JC Penney. It does take some patience to browse through everything (I do a lot of my shopping online, and have found some really nice gothy looking clothes from both places. I do find more the the gothy looking things on the online sites, as my local community is NOT a target market for those things, so we don’t see them often here).

  8. storyteller Says:

    Those in the U.S. should check out Poshmark for second-hand treasures, as well. If one is simply looking for black clothing, the options are wide and varied. There are women’s, men’s, and kids categories; price points run from dirt cheap to luxe; and size range is only limited by what sellers have posted, so there’s everything from petite to plus. Not to mention you can find all manner of accessories!

    There’s also a decent amount of Iron Fist, Tripp, Lip Service, and other alternative brands. It’s tougher shopping them for those of us who wear larger sizes, but patience pays off. I recently scored a glorious long Tripp skirt for almost half what the current style in the Darkstreet line retails for.

  9. Lady of the Manners Says:

    Fair enough; I’ll admit that as a cis woman, my first thought of gender-neutral clothing is androgynous-flavored-by-menswear. What sort of things should people keep in mind when looking for gender-neutral clothing?

  10. Lady of the Manners Says:

    You are absolutely right about needing to size up when ordering from overseas manufacturers!

  11. Megan Says:

    Very helpful, thank you!

  12. Mary Mourning Says:

    Thanks so much for the excellent search tips! I will definitely give it a go next time! Another mainstream website to try is E-Shakti. You can choose the design you want and even put in your own measurements for a custom dress. Its pretty impressive. Of course a local dressmaker or designer can do the same! Cheers!

  13. Mary Mourning Says:

    P.S. I love all the black florals too! Reminds me of the 90s and all those Grunge dresses I made back then!

  14. Nyx Shadowhawk Says:

    It’s actually really difficult to find Romantigoth fashion in American prices! Many of the best Goth fashion websites are British or European! I’ve found several, though. My favorite resources for clothing are The Pyramid Collection (highly recommend), Spiral USA (Spiral Direct), Dracula Clothing, and occasionally Dark In Closet. Alchemy of England is ideal for jewelry, of course.

  15. Marianne Says:

    It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for outerwear, the Dark Angel Design company do custom sizing on their coats for no extra cost, and is run by really nice people. They’re UK based but getting things shipped to Germany only cost a couple of euros more than the shipping within the UK.

  16. Gene Wirchenko Says:

    “… goes into a state of hibernation during January and February every year …” got me thinking of a groundhog dressed in dapper goth. Thank you for the smile.

  17. Sapphire Says:

    If anyone can point me in the direction of a black velvet frock coat with flared sleeves and lots of buttons I would be eternally grateful. (I know I’m picky.) Whenever I try googling ‘black velvet frock coat’ I come up with eBay listings that finished ages ago or things that are no longer in stock. *sigh*

    Anyway, the trend for flared sleeves has been useful, I acquired some nice dresses and tops during the A/W season from high street shops. Most of my clothes are either high street or charity shop finds, with a few things I’ve got from Gothy labels and larp websites. (Like my cloak.)

  18. Max Sky Says:

    Would searching for “Victoriandustrial” clothing yield decent results, do you think? Or would that be something entirely different?

  19. Lady of the Manners Says:

    I’ve never actually looked for that term! And am I misremembering, or did Emilie Autumn occasionally use that term back in the Opheliac days?

  20. Justme Says:

    Oh, wow—i just figured out what “g*ps*” is (yeah, took me a while). I’m amazed (but not really surprised, sadly) that people still use that term. Especially since “bohemian” works just as well to describle that particular clothing style, without being offensive. Ugh…
    anyway, figured i’d share how slow i am with everyone—fantastic pinterest, thank you for putting it together!

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