First rant about alternative fashion! Along with writing and anime, I am a huge freak for fashion, mainly alternative fashion – which is basically anything not “mainstream.” I wear anything from lolita, baggy phat pants and cartoon t-shirts, to all types of goth.
(left: OTT sweet lolita, right: goth)
As a goth, I’ve heard many negative comments towards the newer “pastel goth” style. And as someone who enjoys wearing pastel goth as well as the more classic goth style, I’d like to shed some light on the topic.
First off, if I say “goth,” is this what pops up in your head?
Though many different styles are recognized within the goth subculture, most of them are characterized by black clothing, chunky boots, silver studs and crosses, and pretty much anything gloomy and spooky.
So when THIS style became a thing and called itself goth….
It angered many “real goths” because it is too cutesy and pastel to be classified as a darker-than-dark goth style.
Pastel goth still uses a great deal of black, studs, platform shoes, and religious symbolism, but puts a girly twist by adding cute hair bows, pastel clothing, and often hair colored like cotton candy.
The style is sometimes a blend of goth and Japanese fairy kei (think classic Harajuku girls, but more pastel than neon) fashion…
…Or it can be more of a hipster-grunge look aka “soft grunge” or “pastel grunge” by mixing spooky or obscene t-shirts, pastel shorts, and beanies:
Since the style gained massive popularity over social media sites, such as tumblr, this style is often criticized as a fad fashion – something people are wearing because it’s currently trendy, not because they are goth.
I initially had mixed feelings. I liked that it was becoming easier to find Creepers shoes and spooky accessories in stores, but it was also a little frustrating that so many friends of mine were turning “goth,” but had little to no interest in the goth subculture. I wasn’t exactly angry like many other goths, but I was disappointed that I still had very few friends my age that shared my interests.
To briefly explain, the goth subculture revolves around music, fashion, and lifestyle. Music meaning, well…goth rock. Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, along with death rock bands like Christian Death and Alien Sex Fiend, and darkwave bands like Clan of Xymox and Cruxshadows. Most of the pastel goths I’ve met and heard of through “real goth” people ranting listen to anything other than these bands. Lifestyle meaning reading gothic literature (Dracula, Frankenstein, Edgar Allan Poe), going to goth clubs and concerts, and having an overall appreciation for all things spooky – seeing beauty in everything, even stuff most people find scary. The fashion is, as previously described, black with spooky elements.
ANYWAY…I always found it a little silly that the goth subculture – and pretty much all nonconformist subcultures – have very strict guidelines on how to be part of their group, despite the fact that they strive for originality. However, if we are going off those guidelines, there are many people who dress in classic goth, but do not partake in the lifestyle or listen to the music….so why are goths fine with classifying these people as goth, but not pastel goths? It’s ridiculously superficial.
However, if you do claim to be goth (or part of any subculture), know what comes along with the label. If the labeling yourself as a goth is important to you, whether you wear blacks or pastels, at least respect the other two thirds of the subculture. If you aren’t into goth music or lifestyle, enjoy pastel goth fashion, but have a strangely strong desire to be labeled, consider calling yourself “pastel grunge” or “creepy cute.”
So what’s my take?
I find clothing to be the least important part of goth subculture. Though it’s quite silly to so desperately desire a label, if being goth or punk or hipster is really so important to you, it’s what’s on the inside that matters most. What do you love? What do you find beautiful, frustrating, saddening? What you choose to wear won’t change your mindset. I don’t feel any less “goth” when I’m wearing pastel or neon raver outfits. I don’t feel any less “raver” when I’m wearing a frilly lolita dress or all black. Just because I can’t wear black lipstick or armfuls of kandi doesn’t make me less of anything that I am.
I came to really love pastel goth because it merges two of my favorite things: the spookiness of goth with the cuteness of lolita. I find all things beautiful – that includes black roses, cute little bats, and frilly bows with skulls attached. If cybergoths can wear fluffy legwarmers and perky goths can wear neon pink and black stripes, then pastel goths should be allowed to wear pastel sweaters. Goth is about appreciating the macabre – so if macabre kawaii skeletons suit your fancy, more power to you.
Now excuse me, but I must go curl up in my pastel bat sweater and read some Edgar Allan Poe while listening to Bauhaus. In the meantime, what are your opinions on pastel goth? Super cute or super annoying? Leave it be or banish it from the spooky realms of all things gothy? Post your opinions in the comments!