Goths in southern Germany
Gothic fashion is a style of dress of young people who identify themselves as goths. It is allied to Goth music, but not all those who dress in this fashion listen to Goth music.
Typical goth dress consists of black clothing accessorized with silver and/or pewter. The sterotypical gothic outfit, referred to jokingly as the "mopey" or "romantic" look, is limited only by what the wearer thinks he or she can pull off, and can (and frequently does) include elaborate gowns and corsets, veils, teased hair, lots of eyeliner, fishnets, and styles borrowed from the Elizabethans and Victorians. Also popular are tight-fitting trousers, flouncy shirts in the manner of Lord Byron, and anything with buckles on it. The nature of the event will to some degree dictate the dress code, but personal style is generally more important, and it's not unusual for several club-goers on a given night to appear dressed to the nines for no apparent reason.
The simplicity of the style lends itself to variation, and it is often seen combined with elements of other styles (typically punk or BDSM fashion). Various piercings are not uncommon, and both males and females often wear dark makeup. Hair is most often dyed a flat, matte black. There are similarities between goth fashion and black metal fashion, which can make it difficult to discern the subculture of the individual. This may present a problem, since goths tend to not like black metal, and metalheads tend to not associate with goths.
Gothic fashion is a part of the identity practices of the goth subculture. As such, a person's style (including their clothing, hair, makeup, accessories), is a major factor in determining whether the person will be perceived as authentic by others in the subculture. This is not particular to goth; rather, it is a feature of many subcultures. Members of the subculture may and often do have different ideas about what consitutes gothic fashion than members of the population at large, and some styles which read as "goth" to many people are seen as "outsider" by those in the scene. In his book Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture (Berg Publishers Ltd., Oxford, 2002), Paul Hodkinson talks about goths using their fashion choices to demonstrate commitment to the subculture. In particular, he asserts that more extreme, less easily concealed choices -- such as dyeing ones hair or shaving part of it off -- demonstrate greater commitment.
However, the core of gothic fashion is that whatever you like is fine, as the gothic culture per opposition to "fun society" is against the rules of how one has to to look. While there are recurring patterns in the clothing, many different and unique outfits can be witnessed in events like the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, where the color range ranges from complete white to pitch black. Between those two extremes, anything goes, be it modern, classic, conservative or ragged.
Occasionally, goths will tear or cut their clothes apart, normally with scissors, then repair their clothes with safety pins. This gives an odd 'Splitting at the Seams' look.