Nail The Summer Goth Trend With These Essential Pieces
Less leather, more lace.
Thanks to Zoë Kravitz’s sexy The Batman press tour looks, Megan Fox’s Machine Gun Kelly romance-rollout tour fashion, and a distinct vampire prom vibe at the Met Gala, gothic-glam style is having a moment. But here’s the thing: temperatures are starting to rise, and all that thick leather, clunky hardware, and heavy black clothing is not so comfortable when the forecast is 90 degrees and climbing. So what’s the coolest (literally) way to pull off the summer goth trend?
“Tiny summer silhouettes, little miniskirts, and corsetry are all huge,” says Chelsea Davignon, a senior strategist on the youth team for trend forecasting agency Fashion Snoops. She explains that the warm weather friendly take on the style is skimpier than previous versions, with regards to both silhouettes and textiles. “The fabrication of it is also important. We’re seeing lace trims, there’s a lot of knitwear involved, but also features like leather and some plaid accents — all odes to some of the aesthetic’s obvious staples, but modernized and reimagined.”
Look no further than Rick Owens’s SS22 show for inspiration: The designer’s trademark affinity for darkness showed up on the runway as expected, but with a bit more sensuality than his usual, with billowing black capes and thin, gauzy floor-length gowns to complement the edgier leather looks with fitted bodices and daring sternum cutouts. Nensi Dojaka is another one to watch. The Albanian womenswear designer (and 2021 LVMH Prize Winner) favors a dark color palette and lingerie-inspired designs. Her last few runway collections have featured Dojaka’s signature stringy minidresses with sexy cutouts in barely-there sheer black fabric — aka, the perfect option for the goth girl on her way to the beach.
Davignon says the wheels for this newest iteration of gothic style were set in motion well over a year ago during the Fall 2022 shows when brands like Trussardi, Kristian Aadnevik, and CHB all sent takes on gothic glamor down the runway. She explains that though it’s common to see elements of the aesthetic in fall-winter shows most years, Fashion Snoops’ runway report indicated a definite spike in vampy style recently.
“There’s always a bit of dark glamour [on the runway], but it was so prevalent this past season. It was sort of a shift from this hyper Y2K bubblegum, which we’ve been seeing so much of, to this vampy, goth glam,” says Davignon. She sees the trend as a continuation of that nostalgia for early 2000s fashion, building onto the gothic styles of the era but with a twist toward more fitted, revealing looks that makes it perfect for summertime. “I do think it draws from that early aughts period, because there was always a little bit of bondage inspiration and hardware involved in the goth looks of that time, but it’s a little bit sexier and more revealing.”
The co-founders of goth-inspired brand Aesthetic Noir, Lily Li and Isabella Marino, have certainly been watching closely for changes in taste around the look. Their marketplace, which features a wide selection of dark, vampy styles, is a go-to for lovers of gothic fashion. Influenced by the industry titans known for turning out stunning ensembles in darker colorways, including Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, and Issey Miyake, the pair launched their brand in 2012. A decade later, Marino says she sees that same synthesis of attributes from previous fashions, especially early aughts trends, to create the current goth style that Davignon points out.
“Many pieces made in the early 2000s or before are still stylish today,” she says. “Long-time fans of goth styles have shifted slightly; in a sense, there has been a renaissance of goth style within witchcraft, astrology, and other areas of interest that have adopted avant-garde and gothic styles to create fusion styles.”
Davignon notes that such fashion fusions could be the result of TikTok’s influence. She theorizes that the summer goth look came together in part as a coalescence of several other recent trends, all of which found large followings on the platform.
“These TikTok aesthetics come and go so quickly but they make such an impact,” she says. “E-girl and cottagecore feel like trends that have already been done, but if those are things that have been integrated into wardrobes or styling choices, how can you then update them into what’s next? It’s about making something new and interesting out of these things you’ve already dipped your toe into, and I feel like this new gothy look is a combination of e-girl, cottagecore, and also a bit of regencycore.”
With TikTok, runways fashions, and celebrity styling all boosting interest in the goth look, Li and Marino say consumer demand for their items has been huge; Li notes they run out of products and fabrics every day. The co-founders strive to stay on pace, battling both the recent global supply chain issues and buyer demand for such a hot trend: “Overall, we can barely keep up with sales,” says Li. “Japanese, gothic, and avant-garde fashion has really taken off and hopefully we can continue to provide our customers with products they love.”
They’ve seen an uptick in popularity for items including their loose kimono suit and harem sweatpants, gesturing toward buyer interest in breezy, high-drama items to incorporate into warm-weather wardrobes.
“[Our] fabrics are generally pretty light and breathable,” says Li, who notes that they’re launching new items this month in preparation for summer. Her favorite pieces for the season? “We really love the Chain Leather Skirt and the Cropped Button Down.”
Check out the below for a breakdown of goth-inspired looks that’ll help you make your way over to the dark side in style this summer.
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A gothic take on the naked look is certain not to weigh you down in the heat. For a fearless foray into the summer goth style, reach for embellished sheer or knitwear garments, both of which Davignon says have been on the rise. “We have this grannycore sort of look with crochet,” she says. “I’ve been seeing a lot of knitwear brands making crochet but adding some hardware in, or adding embellishment, or doing it in these dark colors, which is obviously perfect for summer. It’s super slinky and has that gothy look.”
Corset tops are a hallmark of this current goth moment, though bodices and bustiers have been experiencing their own boom outside of just gothic fashion with regency core, inspired in part by the styles worn on Netflix’s Bridgerton. The dominant trend is now a wardrobe staple, and it pairs perfectly with miniskirts — another standout style of the season, thanks to Miu Miu’s viral micro-minis.
With all the Y2K-inspired rocker girl looks making a comeback, it feels timely to lean into the intentionally destroyed, punk-chic arena of gothic dressing. Davignon credits a resurgence of the early aughts era of the musical genre for renewed interest in the look. Big influences include current reigning pop-punk princesses Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish, who draw from the styles of the time musically and sartorially. (Both recently paid more direct tributes to their punk royalty predecessors Avril Lavigne and Hayley Williams by bringing them out for guest appearances their own tours.) “It feels very music-driven,” says Davignon. “With the return of touring, I’ve been seeing a lot of musicians like Olivia Rodrigo doing this pop-punk princess look. I think there’s something to how bringing music back into it sort of grounds it in its core.” And what better way to give the punk princess aesthetic a summer-suitable update than with a spiderweb-thin bodycon dress? Edgy cutouts and fishnets can also add that sultry, scandalous goth-punk feel.
For the vampiest, most ultra-feminine take on the gothic look, aim for a ballerina noir style: a lacy slip dress paired with a peek of playful lingerie goes the extra mile to make it high romance. An amulet-like pendant necklace is the ideal accessory to kick up the drama. To take the ballerina effect of the dress in a different direction, try it in tulle — same tutu-adjacent vibe of a dancer’s ensemble, but with a punk edge.
All About the Accessories
Keep it cool and simple with a LBD and let your accessories do the talking. Davignon believes add-ons go a long way toward pulling off the goth aesthetic, suggesting fingerless gloves or a grommet belt. Statement accessories replete with chainmail and studs are of course a trademark of the style, but in the summer it’s best to keep all that hardware to a minimum: consider a sexy waist chain to get that cinched silhouette. Moody makeup and punk-inspired hair can also act as the perfect touches to complete the look. “Accessories are huge here, and even some of the styling and beauty,” she says. “A dark, smudgy, smokey eye or spiky updo added to a look automatically brings your mind to that [gothic] place. Integrating some of the styling and beauty influences into this just brings it to the next level.”