How to Tell If You're a True Goth: 10 Steps

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How to Tell If You're a True Goth: 10 Steps
How to Tell If You're a True Goth: 10 Steps

Have you considered yourself goth for a while, but have come across forums, groups or articles on the internet that make you question your identity? The gothic style is not what you thought it was, and are you trying to figure out if it belongs to the group or not? No matter how many stereotypes and labels you've received, how do you know if you really belong to this subculture that is about to turn half a century? You can take several tests online, consult with different people and stare in the mirror for hours, but how do you come to a conclusion? Well, below we will try to unravel the Gothic subculture to shed some light on the subject. Come on?


Know if You Are a True Goth Step 1

Step 1. Find out whether or not you are a poser

Be honest with yourself and try to answer the question, "Am I trying to be something I'm not?" If your goal is to try to fit a style, impress someone, or get attention, you are lying to yourself and you may end up losing your true inner self. It's okay to like goth fashion or music without belonging to the movement, however. The problem is when you force yourself to act a certain way just to fit in. Don't lie to yourself or try to deceive others. It's okay to admire certain aspects of a subculture, just try to blend them with your own style.

Know if You Are a True Goth Step 2

Step 2. Run away from stereotypes

The Gothic subculture has been in place for nearly 50 years, and various stereotypes and misrepresented views about the style have emerged, particularly in traditional media. There are inside jokes and stereotypes like drinking black coffee, smoking clove cigarettes and the love of absinthe in the goth community, but there are also negative views that many people believe are true. Some of these misconceptions are:

  • Goths only wear black. Traditional goths really used to wear only black clothing, but the subculture grew and expanded, making way for styles like romantic goth and deathrock, and different colors were added to the style. Romantic goth, for example, tends to include many shades of red and purple, whereas deathrock uses white, purples, pinks and yellows.
  • Goths are depressed and suicidal. This is probably the biggest lie told about goths. Black has different meanings in every culture and many people believe it represents depression, but this is a lie. The style's dark atmosphere comes from the original goths' rebellion against the colors of the 1970s disco scene.
  • Goths like drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. Again, this statement is completely false. Although some goths are more irresponsible, it all depends on one's personality, not goth style.
  • Goths worship Satan and other evil spirits. This is one of the main reasons why goths are frowned upon, and that's not the case for everyone. There are many goths, atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Wicca (who don't believe in Satan)… the important thing is to be yourself and believe what you want. If you don't want to believe in anything, that's fine too!
Be Goth Step 7

Step 3. Assess your music taste

Deep down, gothic is a style based on a musical subculture, and to consider yourself gothic, you have to enjoy the music. A subculture needs several aspects, traditions and characteristics that create a common denominator among those who consider themselves within the "label". Like the metal subculture, the Gothic style is based on music.

  • Gothic music genres include: post-punk goth rock, second wave goth rock, dark wave, deathrock, coolwave and ethereal wave.
  • There are also genres of music that are not gothic, but that appeal to members of the style. This is the case of EBM (electronic body music), industrial (fans of this genre are called Rivetheads) and some metal genres.
  • Some people believe that saying "goths listen to goth music" means that someone who likes the style can only listen to music of the style, What is not true. As long as you listen to goth music, you can be considered goth. It doesn't matter if you also listen to other genres.
Appreciate Goth Music Step 5

Step 4. Research more about the gothic subgenres and find your favorite style

  • Post-punk goth rock includes bands like Bauhaus, Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult, Siouxsie and the Banshees and any other band that made the transition from post-punk to goth style. These are considered the original and classic Gothic artists, being the most mentioned when someone asks for style recommendations.
  • The second wave of goth rock began with the arrival of the band The Sisters of Mercy. Instead of the minimalist post-punk guitar sound. Current bands include The Merry Thoughts, Dreamtime, Star Industry, The Mission, Nosferatu, Fields of the Nephilim, etc.
  • Darkwave, a subgenre that was synonymous with goth rock, until other bands took advantage of their extra drums and synthesizers. The style bands are Clan of Xymox, Switchblade Symphony, Black Tape For a Blue Girl, Diva Destruction, etc.
  • Deathrock, originally from the west coast of the United States. It's a more atmospheric and horror-focused version of punk. When style bands started to become popular and toured, they managed to influence the sound of England's goth scene. Some examples 45 Grave, Christian Death, Bloody Dead and Sexy, Alien Sex Fiend, Kommunity FK, etc.
  • Coldwave, originally from France and Belgium in the 70s. In 1977, Siouxsie and the Banshees described their music as "cold, machine-like and passionate at the same time". Some notable bands in the genre include Marquis de Sade, Asylum Party and Twilight Ritual.
  • Ethereal wave is an extension of darkwave commonly described as "out of this world" and is common in the productions of UK label 4AD. The best known bands include Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil.
Know if You Are a True Goth Step 6

Step 5. Think about clothing style

Fashion is an intrinsic part of the Gothic subculture, but it is secondary to music. Contrary to popular belief, Gothic fashion came from Gothic musicians, not from periods like the Victorian or Edwardian era. The style was defined and popularized by people like Peter Murphy, Dave Vanian, Siouxsie Sioux, Patricia Morrison, Jonny Slut and Robert Smith. Traditional Gothic fashion includes:

  • Lace pantyhose over the arms, usually torn and torn, popularized by Peter Murphy.
  • Winklepicker boots, rivet heels, high boots, shiny long boots or Doc Martens boots.
  • Silver jewelry such as skulls, skeletons, bats and religious images such as crosses on rings, brooches and necklaces.
  • Piercings like eyebrow and lip rings, tongue jewelry and earrings. Usually black with colored tips.
  • Layered belts with metal rings and chains, decorated with spider or bone loops.
  • Socks or pantyhose with stripes.
  • Clothing made of leather, PVC, lace, velvet or silk.
  • Leather jackets painted with band logos.
  • Black and red nail polishes.
Create a Romantic Goth Look Step 15

Step 6. Take care of your hair

Gothic hairstyles have a distinctive look, with many different styles depending on the shopper's taste.

  • Back in the Batcave era, singer Siouxsie Sioux inspired girls to comb their hair back and forth, while Patricia Morrison of The Sisters of Mercy influenced others to grow their hair and dye it black.
  • Bauhaus, Robert Smith of The Cure, Specimen and Dave Vanian influenced men's fashion and Jonny Slut, keyboardist for the band Specimen, became the face of the band because of his flamboyant style and his huge, different mohawk.
  • Obviously, you don't need to do anything extreme in your everyday life. If you want long, dark hair, a bit spiked, great. There's no rule about how your hairstyle should be, but it's good to follow a recognized style. A good tip is to search for tutorials on YouTube.
Be Goth Step 3

Step 7. Wear makeup

Just like in fashion, gothic makeup is based on the style of the movement's musicians. Some examples:

  • Eye makeup inspired by Cleopatra and the "Egyptian" style, as Siouxsie Sioux used or in solid blocks of metallic, blue or purple eyeshadow.
  • Deathbrows, popularized by Daniel Ash. This eyebrow style was drawn in black, going straight up towards the forehead. Try a little with eyeliner and eye shadow!
  • Female eyebrows were thin and high, arched like Morticia Addams, or pointed, triangular and thick like Siouxsie Sioux. If you don't like the style, that's fine! Create your own gothic brow version to represent your personality, but be aware that these looks are common due to movement idols.
Get the Vampire Look at School Step 13

Step 8. Join the local goth scene and attend festivals, clubs and concerts

Meet new people on the scene and hear stories from those who have been part of the movement for the longest time. The idea is to immerse yourself in the Gothic subculture and feel more comfortable dressing up in the way you dress and present yourself to others. Obviously, this step is optional, as you should do what feels most comfortable.

Remember: World Gothic Day is celebrated on May 22nd

Get Into the Goth Scene Step 5

Step 9. Discover new goth bands and support the local movement

Watch the concerts and buy records from bands in your area, as this will help them write, produce and release new albums, bringing the local movement to life. This is how the gothic subculture has maintained itself for decades!

  • Listen to fast gothic and alternative stations, on the radio or even on the internet.
  • Check out the profiles of goth bands on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with upcoming shows, tours and albums.
Be Goth Step 5

Step 10. Go shopping at thrift stores and get ready to modify your clothes

In the original Gothic scene, you couldn't find style-oriented stores. People had to be creative and take what they found in thrift stores, which means there was no "fixed style". Punk is very focused on the "do it yourself" style, and that goes for goth as well. Try a little on the clothes, and don't buy anything too expensive in case you make a mistake. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet, YouTube and blogs, should you need ideas. Some tips:

  • Buy or paint patches with the logos of your favorite bands. Buy these patches at craft-oriented websites such as Elo7 and sew them onto your jackets.
  • Buy or make your own pins with band logos and use them as you did patches.
  • Learn how to make jewelry. You can even sell them and start your own business.
  • Cut old clothes with gothic patterns and sew patches to the pieces. Plaid and jaguar prints go great with black leather jackets.
  • Buy some safety pins and get creative! They can be used to hold pieces or to make designs on clothes.
  • Bleach clothes with bleach to create permanent prints on them.


  • Remember to be yourself. You don't need to prove anything to anyone.
  • Don't feel pressured to wear gothic clothes all the time, as even the original members of the movement only dressed like that for going out at night.
  • Remember the difference between Gothic style, referring to the modern post-punk movement, and Gothic art, referring to 12th century French architecture and 18th century literature.
  • If you can't attend gothic concerts, parties or festivals, don't worry. You can support the goth scene by buying music and helping to get the word out about style to others.
  • Styles like Victorian goth, pastel goth and cybegoth are different subcultures, scenes and fashions that don't necessarily come from goth itself, but go by that name. That doesn't mean you can't dress up in these styles, but rather that they alone don't make you a goth person.
  • The Gothic style is a subculture that encompasses music and fashion, but that should not limit or put anyone in a box. You are free to pursue other hobbies and interests, including sports, as you please. Remember that you are a complex human being and that you are not limited!
  • Understand that bands like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Asking Alexandria are not goth. They fit the metal style, but that shouldn't stop any goths from listening to them.
  • Accept bands for being the genre they are, without trying to limit them to fit the style you want. Genres are defined by sound, not lyrics: gothic is a style and has a distinctive sound, as are subgenres like darkwave and ethereal wave.
  • The most important thing to be goth is to be yourself. Find your style, no matter how long it takes, and don't let stereotypes and teasing get you down. Live in your gothic style!


  • If you're very young, you're likely to be called a poser by other Goths. Even so, don't let yourself be shaken and believe in yourself. Goths are simply tired of people who try to push the envelope and disrespect style, but if you know you're being genuine, other people's opinions shouldn't matter.
  • Being "different" from others can make you an easy target for bullying, but remember this is not your fault. As a Goth, you don't hurt anyone and you are not responsible for the actions of others. Don't be afraid to seek legal advice if you are discriminated against, and if you are a victim of crime, call the police.
  • Following a goth trend doesn't necessarily make you a goth, especially if you're basing yourself on 90s trends (the mall goths) or if you're just listening to metal bands that are seen as goth (some metal genres that are wrongly called goths are nu-metal, symphonic metal, black metal and death metal).

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