Of “Friendly Goth” Fashion

For this installment of Gothic Charm School, the Lady of the Manners is responding to a Snarkling who said the questions in her mail were “a bit all over the place”, but the Lady of the Manners quickly spotted a link between them: how to have a subtle Goth style that won’t worry or intimidate parents or kids?

Dear Headmistress,

My questions are a bit all over the place.

My family and I (17 y/o female) are Christian which I don’t have a problem with but I can’t tell my parents that I’m goth otherwise they might disown me due to stereotypes. My wardrobe is all neutral colors (leaning more towards the darker neutrals, of course). All the clicky links you have provided are very helpful, but my parents won’t let me order from them because they won’t allow me to order from any shop with any name related to something in a subculture or violent. What are some shops with names that aren’t dark that still sell gothic clothing/jewelry?

I’m starting a job (my first job, nonetheless) at a kid’s toy store (Creative Kidstuff) and I know I won’t be allowed to wear things like black/dark lipstick/makeup, dark band tees or anything of that because, well, it’s a kid’s store. The store’s signature color is dark purple so I could do something with that but I don’t own anything purple. I want to incorporate a bit of my gothic style to show kids that people who are part of a subculture aren’t bad or mean but I don’t want to seem scary wearing a sparkly red skull necklace and bat stud earrings in the middle of Spring. How can I weave a bit of gothy-ness into a kid-friendly outfit?

Soli deo gloria,
A very very grateful little Snarkling

There’s a simple way to find shops your parents (probably) won’t have problems with you buying from: don’t restrict yourself to looking for things that are labeled gothic or directly marketed to goths. All sorts of goth-friendly fashion can be found at “normal” mainstream stores. Target, Forever 21, Amazon, H+ M, Modcloth ”¦ all of these places have oodles of items that will work in a darker wardrobe. No matter the stylistic season, mainstream fashion always borrows at least a few stylistic touches from our spooky subculture, even if it’s just inky hues and black lace details. While the Lady of the Manners admits she hasn’t created a board (yet) showing some examples of what’s currently out there, her Everyday Goth Fashion board on Pinterest will give you an idea of what sort of things to look for. When you’re looking at those places, don’t forget to search through the accessories sections for jewelry, hosiery, and hair ornaments; again, mainstream fashion wants to collect as much money from as many people as possible, which means they’ll always have some “safely quirky” accessories for people to toss on.

(The Lady of the Manners is using safely quirky entirely approvingly. For one thing, not everyone wants to be a velvet and lace bedecked creature of the night (or not all of the time), and for another, safely quirky goth influenced items make it easy for friends and family to show stylistic support of the goths in their life by way of earrings or barrettes adorned with cute skulls.)

As to how you weave a bit of gothy-ness into a kid friendly outfit? The Lady of the Manners feels that a sparkly red skull necklace and bat stud earrings are a perfect way to start! Remember, most kids aren’t very scared of goths, especially when the goths don’t feel they have to embody the (incorrect and outdated) stereotype of glowering and glaring at everyone. The Lady of the Manners has witnessed kids gleefully smile and wave at goths dressed in the height of deathrock style, or assume that a person with blue hair is a friendly cartoon character. So don’t fret about scaring the kids; instead focus on your outfit and accessories being appropriate and comfortable for your job. As an example: an outfit of sturdy patterned leggings with a long black shirt and lightweight cardigan (and comfy shoes!) is practical, yet easy to dress up with your sparkly red skull necklace. Black jeans, a black t-shirt, gothy socks, and some red lipstick will subtly indicate where your interests  lie, but still be “family friendly”.

Congratulations on your job! May you not have to deal with any awful customers, and may you never hear the dreaded words of “I want to speak to the manager”.


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7 Responses to Of “Friendly Goth” Fashion

  1. Rhias Hall says:

    I am goth, and my boyfriend isn’t…but he loves Disney. So we compromized by having a Haunted Mansion theme. Disney goths are certainly a thing, and you could incorporate some Disney Villain stuff into your wardrobe without raising too many eyebrows, or being inappropriate for kids.

  2. Erika R Heins says:

    Oh yes, I know this particular struggle well! As a Christian who grew up in a very conservative family, I still carefully edit my wardrobe when I go to visit my family. (Although sometimes they surprise me, like the time my mom wholeheartedly complimented me on the Tripp trench coat I’d picked up secondhand and dared to wear home.) I’ve also taught in a private school for the last ten years, and have somehow managed to not break dress code and not get parental complaints, and yet the kids call me the “goth teacher.” I mostly shop at thrift stores, to be honest, and go for things that are darker in hue but not exaggerated in style. It helps that I like to upcycle clothes and can turn a jacket into a Victorian vest, for example, or add lacing to a blouse. Things like simple combat boots, flowing skirts, striped socks, and cameo jewelry- or other subtle jewelry- will do the trick nicely without causing much concern at all.
    I was initially frustrated- in fact very frustrated- that I had to “hide” this side from my family and sometimes from my students, but I’ve realized that it’s less about hiding than realizing that some of the people around me don’t get it, and won’t, and dressing down for them is no different than choosing to wear a swimsuit to the pool but not to the mall.
    It’s really nice to see someone else from a Christian background attracted to this style, by the way! For me, my goth inclinations are actually closely linked to my worldview and faith, and it saddens me when people around me see them as something unnecessarily evil.
    Best of wishes to you!

  3. Check out sites like Rosegal, they have some pretty gothy clothes, but since it’s not actually a goth site the name doesn’t sound evil. Also, they’re prices are pretty good.

  4. Lady of the Manners says:

    But be warned: Rosegal, Wish, and the other deep discount sites are infamous for stealing photos from other companies; what you buy may look nothing like the photo when it arrives.

  5. The_L1985 says:

    Fun fact: When people say that stuff with skulls on it is “Satanic,” bringing up the medieval Christian “memento mori” motif and the principles behind it is a very, very good way to gently let them no that, no, you’re not sacrificing people to Satan or whatever.

    Signed, an ex-Catholic who was all about skulls even when she still was Catholic 🙂

  6. Don’t limit yourself to just stores marketed towards “Goths”. Most of my wardrobe came from Walmart and the Goodwill stores. My advice is to start off with a few staple pieces like tanks, tee-shirts, and pants. Like start out with some purple pieces and have black accents like bracelets and necklaces. Some smokey makeup shouldn’t hurt either.

  7. Meghan says:

    I also have this issue. I cover my head for religious reasons and hope for the day scarves with bats are easier to find 😀. In the meantime pins are a great thing

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