Of Finding Goth Fashion at Mainstream Stores!

The Lady of the Manners has been so pleased with the response to the Gothic Charm School masterpost of clicky-links, Snarklings! The Lady of the Manners is even more pleased with the additional suggestions people have been making in the comments, so keep doing that!

Of course, making a massive post of goth clothing shopping links had another effect that the Lady of the Manners should have expected: a wave of emails asking for help finding day-to-day goth fashion and places to look when budget or circumstances puts shopping at specialty goth vendors out of reach. Is it possible to assemble a spooky wardrobe without shopping at dark specialty shops?

Of course it is. There is no goth rule stating you have to buy your fashion exclusively from oh-so-goth stores and merchants. In fact, to indulge in the tiniest bit of cliched Eldergoth cane-waving: back when the Lady of the Manners was a spooky teen (and in her 20s!), finding gothically-inclined stores and merchants was rather difficult! It involved looking through the few spooky magazines you could find, squinting at address information printed in elaborately–but not always legibly!–designed advertisements, mailing off your self-addressed stamped envelopes, and hoping, hoping that you’d get a catalog back.

Also, Back In The Day â„¢, black garments were not as easy to find. Not every mainstream store offered separates in black; you really were stuck with whatever the “seasonal” colors were, and finding a good black skirt or shirt was something to rejoice over.

But nowadays! Black clothing is considered to be a standard, and every mass-market retailer offers at least a handful of inky-hued things. Add that to the fact that mainstream fashion gleefully mines the gothic subculture for style inspiration at least once a year, and you’ve never had a better time for being able to pull a basic goth wardrobe together.

Behold! The Everyday Goth Fashion Pinterest! Yes, the Lady of the Manners spent many an evening browsing through sites such as Target, JC Penny, Sears, KMart, H+M, Forever 21, Roaman’s, and the overwhelming choices on Amazon.com, and has pinned over 350 items of gothy fashion interest. All of which are US resources, so the Lady of the Manners would love comments from Snarklings about international budget retailers!

(A caveat: 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.)

Even if you don’t buy any of the items suggested and pinned on that page, it can be a useful tool to show, say, parents, what sort of items some of you younger readers are asking for when you talk about wanting a more spooky wardrobe. Your parents may be assuming you want couture frock coats and vampire gowns, when really, you want some black tops, a black jacket, and some black skirts and leggings!

The Lady of the Manners had so much fun window-shopping and assembling the Everyday Goth Fashion Pinterest that she’ll keep updating it, though probably not in such a frenzied manner. However, seasonal updates? Almost certainly.

There’s another way to create your wardrobe of darkness on a budget, but it takes time, patience, and a bit of luck: thrift shopping. Shopping at thrift stores is a treasure hunt which can turn up some wonderful things, but will also have times where you walk out empty-handed and shaking your head. The Lady of the Manners has some tips to make your treasure hunt a little easier:

  • Wear. Comfortable. Footwear. Thrift shopping is not the time to wear the icepick-heeled boots or the ones with more buckles than toes.
  • For that matter, wear clothing that you can try things on over. (Yes, the Lady of the Manners goes thrift shopping in full, petticoat-enhanced skirts, but they’re part of her everyday attire, and anything she buys at a thrift store would have to fit properly over them, anyway.)
  • Know your measurements, not your “size”, and take a fabric measuring tape with you. Check the measurements of potential finds instead of going by the number on the tag!
  • For that matter, don’t look for things grouped by size on the racks. Thrift stores are not known for their ability to keep things organized, so look everywhere in the store.
  • Keep a mental list of things you’re looking for, but don’t go in with expectations of what you’ll find that day.
  • Keep at least a vague eye on what’s going on in mainstream fashion, because that will give you an idea of what will turn up in thrift stores six months to a year later. For example, if you like tops embellished with black sequins or black chiffon skirts, NOW is the time to be searching the thrift stores for them.
  • Halloween is when thrift stores (especially Value Village/Savers and Goodwill) put out the more vintage and gothy garments that could be used as a costume. THREAT LEVEL: PUMPKIN applies to more than home decor!

With that, Snarklings, the Lady of the Manners is going to go back to wading through the Gothic Charm School mailbox, and browsing Amazon.com for more gothy fashion, even though she knows she doesn’t need more lace capelets or shawls, they’re very tempting ”¦

Finally, there’s some behind-the-scenes housekeeping that needs to be done here at Gothic Charm School, which means the Correspondence page may or may not be working. So if you have a question, this link should help you reach the Gothic Charm School inbox!

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20 Responses to Of Finding Goth Fashion at Mainstream Stores!

  1. Amy says:

    This is a wonderful list! Thank you for putting it together.

    I have a small Pinterest tip, though””it’s more helpful to pin from the actual item’s listing page, not the page that shows all the search results for “black skirts”. Those search pages change pretty drastically over time and things may be end up being listed several miles down the page, but if you pin from the item’s page it will take the user straight to the item.

  2. Lady of the Manners says:

    Thank you for the tip! I’m relatively new to Pinterest. 🙂

  3. BlackRose says:

    I’ve actually found a lot of my gothy wardrobe at stores like Walmart and Target.

  4. NVR says:

    From a (rural)UK and plus sized perspective, online is generally the place to look. Ebay obviously, it’s where I get a lot of my bargains and some new things that are moderately priced but quirky. Also there is Forever 21, Asos and Yours that all have plus-sized ranges as well as the standard sizes. You might be able to find the odd thing from ASDA, H + M and New Look as well as other high street shops, and catalogues like JD Williams and Kays, but they vary depending on season and trends etc.

    Kate’s Clothing sometimes do reverse auctions, if there’s brand piece you really want but can’t afford at full price it’s an idea to be on the e-newsletter list so you know when they’re having them.

    Also, Torrid. I love Torrid, though it’s US based so the shipping and customs charges are a nightmare for me. But the stuff is really pretty and they tend to do gothic-applicable stuff year round.

    I can’t comment much on UK thrifting/Charity Shops though, as my local ones are not usually that good. However they are always worth a look, especially if you’re a smaller size, because you never know what you might find.

  5. Thank you again for the tips. I love your board full of witchy stuff. That’s pretty much what I wear daily. Pinterest is completely addicting by the way. 🙂

  6. Fal says:

    Didn’t dig through the whole list, so you might already have it on there, but Uniqlo is a great resources for basics like t-shirts, leggings, tights, and the most awesome stretchy leggings-pants in the universe. The colors sometimes run a bit more to pastel than I like, but black and grey are usually options. They have some physical locations, mostly on the coasts, and ship throughout the country. I buy a LOT of my clothes through them and generally find that the quality is very good for the price.

  7. Quib says:

    This is pretty cool, I followed your board!

  8. Raven Princess says:

    I’m UK based and I get most of my new clothes from TU (Sainsbury’s) and Peacocks, as I find they do nice basic cotton t-shirts and long sleeved tops, and the occasional amazing find like faux leather skirts. Bon Marche came up with some goods, I got two gorgeous dresses from them recently, which was shocking as I think of them as an old lady shop! Most of my other clothes are charity shop finds, our local ones are good for skirts, of which I had a massive haul of recently.

  9. The JurassiGoth says:

    I found you through Toxic Tears’ YouTube video, “Getting Into Goth.” I am also an ElderGoth, hence the name. I’m Stateside, and here are the places I’ve been able to find things on this side of The Pond:

    Walmart–black basics and the occasional skull shirt or accessories; found a Dia De Los Muertes scarf with sugar skulls that I LOVE!

    Old Navy–again, basics (shirts, skirts, shoes) and antique-y style jewelry

    Music stores–not just HT, other stores, especially small shops; they might have tradgoth band shirts that don’t require shipping money

    Bookstores–again t-shirts from classic horror like Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.; also neat gadgets & decor; Once Upon A Time, Barnes and Noble had reading gargoyle bookends. Broke mine, now they don’t make them–grrr!

    Finally, for the beginning-crafty Goths like me, once you find something at a thrift store (charity shop) or discount store, if you can sew a button or use pliers, it’s super easy to customize your budget-friendly find.

    For around $20 grand total, I bought a purse, upholstery needles, strong black cording, and sewed a fleur-de-lis patch, sewed on some buttons with a chain (all of which I bought on sale at A.C. Moore) to look like a military medal, and made myself a steampunk handbag.

    If any of this is repetitive, I apologize. Thanks, Lady of the Manners!

  10. KnitterKat says:

    Ooooo, that purse sounds absolutely lovely, Jurassi-Goth!
    Haven’t done much in the way of modding clothing or accessories, aside from sewing a few pendant/jewelry bits I found on clearance at Michael’s to a thrifted skirt, But I’m getting into making my own chainmaille jewelry. First project is (somewhat ironically) a byzantine chain bracelet for mom, which needs a little lengthening as I type this to fit her (skinnier than my) wrist. And add some oddments that she likes.

  11. Amara says:

    I think hot topic is a good place, even if some of their things are not goth. Just don’t buy the things that aren’t.

  12. Donnalee says:

    I went on a rampage of gothy and similar on pinterest sort of recently, so maybe my boards will interest someone:


    They include gothy decor and fashion, do-it-yourself and remaking clothes, etc. I hope folks enjoy! I made a special effort to include diversity of age, race, size, anything I could in the gothy fashions too–

  13. Mattie says:

    Would anyone mind pointing me towards a website in which I might find pastel goth type items? The style has intrigued me quite a bit, and I’m very much interested in trying it out

  14. Polara says:

    I am originally from the USA, but have recently moved to the UK because I am getting married to the man of my dreams, who happens to be a Brit, this August. Finding gothic clothing hasn’t proven to be a MASSIVE challenge in the UK. I miss having easy access to some of my favorite retailers like Heavy Red, but through hours of browsing eBay and Amazon, I’ve discovered new favorite companies like Hell Bunny (and specifically, their Spin Doctor branch) and Necessary Evil. Poking around on Google with various searches such as “women’s gothic clothing UK” and the like have also directed me to websites that specialize in clothing with a darker aesthetic.

    Finding stockists of Manic Panic Amplified hair color at a reasonable price was a bit trickier. Sally Beauty *does* carry it, but I had a difficult time finding the Amplified versions of the colors that I use (the Amplified colors really do last longer, even if they do cost a bit more!). Kate’s Clothing actually has an amazing selection of both hair dyes of various brands (including Manic Panic!) and gothic clothing/accessories. What makes Kate’s even better for my Manic Panic fix is that they do a deal in which you can purchase 3 bottles for £30 and 6 bottles for £59.99, both of which include free shipping!

    Sorry for the huge wall of text…I hope that this helps other goths in this neck of the woods out a bit 🙂

  15. Willow Ravenloft says:

    This helped me so much! Thank you, Mistress, for posting this. I’m just starting to get into the goth subculture, and not yet ready to pay lots of money for elaborate outfits. I also live in an area where there are little to no clothing departments, and all of the ones around are very mainstream. Would anybody be able to point out an online gothy-kind of store? Preferably one that isn’t extremely costly? Thanks so much 🙂

  16. AtheenaVamp Hoy says:

    I love your blogs. I’m an elder Goth who wears only dark colors. I find QVC home shoping to be a good place to shop they cary most every fashion in black HSN n Evine are all good places to look. 🌹🌑

  17. kittykatie says:

    Where I live, Savers puts out their own range of Halloween costumes and accessories starting from around mid-August (to coincide with Book Week events that schools put on). I’ve gotten a lot of my tights and accessories from there.

  18. Hexenstern says:

    Hello to all
    I m a Elder Goth living in North Germany.I m a plus size Woman ,who sewed her first Gothic Clothes on herself back in the 80ties were the only Shop in Underground in London.Today you can buy cheap Goth Basics in all Sizes up to 52 via KiK ,Tk Maxx,Ernest Family and Woolworth.Clothes up to Size 16 you find in Primark,Orsay or Pimkies.But thats Morefor young small Size .You can also look for Mens Shirts and totally stylish Apocalyptica War at New Yorkers
    Myself buys her Basics from C&A,especially Cardigas and Gowns

  19. Hexenstern says:

    Forgot to tell about Thrifting
    Thrifting in Germany normally runs over EBay.We have a handfull of Second Hand Stores,but their normally not AS cheap as EBay.And I live in the third biggest City of Germany.
    As Plus Size Women ,the best online Source is BonPrix or the German Source of Asos.
    I get thre most oft my Basics Form EBay Germany and pimp Thema up with Laces,Studs,Textil Painting ala Killstar .Its not that difficult that the most People think.I ask friends for old Sweats and Shirts ,to restyle it .

  20. Sophie says:

    This topic is so dear to my heart. I’m a bit more Metal than Goth, and have toned down my style a bit over the years as it’s just been more practical for me.

    This was definitely not the case when I was in high school. My style back then was far more victorian/romantic influenced, but living in a tiny little town that didn’t have a mall left me a little low on options. What we did have was a thrift store, and it can be remarkable what you can find there, even in a very cowboy/redneck influenced town. I would buy slips to wear as skirts, and camisoles to layer up, and once even found a nice little black satin jacket with lace puffed sleeves and pearl button, that may have been flashy Rodeo Queen attire, but fit my aesthetic perfectly. I wore it with a long taffeta skirt I made myself, because we were lucky enough to have a fabric store.

    Beyond that, I would hunt around when we would go shopping in the nearest “city” which was still fairly small, and being lucky to be a teen in the early 2000s, there was no shortage of things like mesh tops, or lace-up details (and they happen to be coming back, yay!). I just bought all the teen fashions that happened to come in black, or have a red rose on them, etc. Halloween was also a great shopping time for me, as it was the time all the fishnets and black nail polish/lipstick were available at the drugstore. If I was lucky i could find some pretty gloves as well! I also embellished a lot of my clothes with ribbons, fabric paint, lace etc to give it that little something extra.

    I hope my ramble has been helpful to some, all this to say, you don’t need to go to a specialty goth place to find cool clothes. Right now I own two articles of clothing from Hot Topic, which is the most I’ve ever owned. It’s totally feasible to dress gothy from mainstream, affordable stores.

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