Gothic fashion choices, hairstyles, and even attitudes can define a person with or without the addition of makeup. And while some people in the goth subculture like to go all-out with pale foundations and a generous amount of eyeliner, every goth is free to choose the look they prefer and how they will go about creating it. 

To maintain a goth aesthetic without wearing makeup, focus on the other elements of a gothic look: clothing, colors, accessories, hairstyles, and nails. Whether it’s for an everyday style you feel comfortable with or you’re going without makeup for a job interview or a visit from relatives, zooming in on other elements can help you curate the perfect makeup-free gothic look.

Clothing is Key

Goth-inspired clothing items provide the base when creating your own goth fashion style. You can easily dress goth with dark and dramatic pieces such as black dresses, tops with lace or sheer details, leather jackets, fishnet stockings, and skirts with interesting textures. Look for garments with gothic elements like corset lacing, buckles, chains, or occult symbols. For example, a long black skirt paired with the right creepy top creates a perfectly dark look. 

When your clothing features a unique design that serves as a focal point, you don’t need any makeup to stand out. This Dark Fairy Dress speaks for itself, and adding a corset belt draws attention to the dramatic texture and color of the piece. Gothic fashion varies within the subculture, so whether you prefer pastel goth or a black leather look, choosing goth-style pieces (from any subgenre) “makes” the look.

Color Palettes Play a Role

Goth styles embrace a predominantly dark color palette. Stick to shades like black, charcoal-gray, deep purple, burgundy, and navy blue, and incorporate these colors into your outfits. For added visual interest, you can throw some different textures into the mix with velvet, leather, fishnet, and lace.

Black boots, black T-shirts, and black jeans are staples of the goth aesthetic, but the gothic subculture is a diverse one, and tossing in a bit of fairy-like whimsy or some unexpected elements only heightens the uniqueness of a gothic style. For example, you could go makeup-free but add just a little drama with a touch of black lipstick or an eye-catching white-lace collar.

Accessories Make the Look

Accessories play a defining role in the goth scene. Choose accessories that reflect your goth style, such as choker necklaces, statement rings, fingerless gloves, studded belts, or wrist cuffs. Look for items with gothic motifs like bats, crosses, skulls, or moon phases—these all pair dramatically with goth clothing. For example, any look will grow a little more sinister with the addition of a pair of dark Space Kitty Sunglasses.

Footwear That Enhances the Drama

Select footwear that aligns with your macabre goth style. Choose platform boots, combat boots, Victorian-inspired boots, or ankle boots with buckles and straps. Look for designs that have a darker and edgier aesthetic to enhance your overall look.

Jewelry Can Transform Any Outfit

You can transform any outfit with gothic-inspired jewelry. Classic Victorian-inspired necklaces encrusted with deep red jewels held in a collet or prong setting for authenticity heighten any outfit and give it more of a goth style. 

Look for accessories like oversized earrings with crosses or skulls, statement pendants or necklaces with occult symbols, or bracelets and cuffs with spikes or chains to place your outfit clearly within the goth subculture.

Hair Is The Ultimate Accessory

Siouxsie and Robert Smith are hair icons who know that nothing completes an outfit like great hair. Hair dye is versatile and can transform simple locks into anything from swamp green to vampiric black. Color your hair to fit the feeling, always leaning toward the dark side. Consider bold hair colors like black, dark purple, or deep red for a classic gothic look.

Aside from color, you can experiment with alternative hairstyles that capture the goth aesthetic; a teasing comb is the ultimate tool for creating a deviously decrepit aura that channels the goth looks of old. Opt for gothic hair accessories like hairpins with spikes, bats, or intricate designs to complete the look.

Nails Provide a Blank Canvas for Creativity

Experiment with dark nail polishes or nail art to add interest without wearing makeup. Choose deep hues like black, burgundy, or dark purple to keep your designs dark. You can also add gothic-inspired designs like crosses, bats, or occult symbols for a unique touch. Think of your nails as ten blank canvases—each looking to be transformed into a mini-masterpiece. A natural face will only accentuate the artistry of a dramatic manicure.

Making it Goth Without Makeup

Maintaining a unique or traditional goth aesthetic is entirely possible without a full face of 80s goth makeup. Creating an ornate look that channels darkness and mystery can be done in myriad ways with the right clothing, accessories, and colors. Fashion, like style, is limitless. Like an abyss of opportunity, personal style can be found in all the dark corners.

Experimentation is the cornerstone of fashion. Try it. Whatever it is. The magical part of the dark side is the ability to be free and creative. Make bold choices to create a unique look that fits your mysterious persona.

Midnight Hour