Kawaii goth is taking the internet by storm. By pairing the striking accessories and bleak colors of gothic fashion with cheery pastels and anime culture, kawaii goth creates a style that's both edgy and approachable.
While kawaii goth has been around for a few years, there's still plenty of room left to explore. This fashion trend has continued to gain traction on sites like Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, meaning it's likely here to stay. If you're looking for bold outfits with lots of contrast, unique looks that manage to stay approachable, or you simply want to add a twist to your existing Kawaii fashion or goth wardrobe, it's definitely worth investigating kawaii goth.
Want to know where to start? Here's everything you need to know about kawaii goth: what it is, how to spot it, and what you can do to achieve this look for yourself.
The goth subculture is difficult to define. The original goth movement centered around music, with late 1970's English post-punk bands like Bauhaus, Siouxsie, and the Banshees, and Joy Division serving as the focal point. From there, things get muddier: ask a goth if Robert Smith is a goth and you'll almost certainly get a resounding yes. Asking about Marilyn Manson or Gerard Way, however, is unlikely to be met with any formal consensus.
Goths tend to listen to darker music that shares roots with these English bands. This might include punk, hardcore, emo, industrial, various metal subgenres, or post-rock. For many goths, it also includes other melancholy music: the soundtrack of a Tim Burton film doesn't have a lot in common with Killing Joke, but it's a staple in many goth's music collections.
Goths often enjoy media that's dark. Images of death are pervasive in goth culture, with things like skulls and ravens serving as common ornaments. Films that portray darkness and oddity as positives are especially popular, like Tim Burton films and the Addams Family. Goths also tend to dress in dark clothes, dye their hair black, and wear lots of accessories.
Members of the goth subculture are quite different. There are plenty of die-hard fans of The Cure who wear clothes you might associate with other subcultures, for example, and plenty of people who dress goth but don't really like 80's post-punk. Both groups are still goths.
One of the things about the goth culture that's most universal is that goths tend to be kind and welcoming. There are still some jerks in the scene, sure, but in general, people are drawn to goth culture because they feel like they're outcasts. The goth movement exists to welcome them and give them a place where they belong.
Not sure if a look is kawaii goth? Here are some guidelines to identify if the outfit in question belongs to the Kawaii goth fashion genre, or if it's best identified as something else.
Kawaii goth is a blend of traditional goth with bright pastels and anime references. Look for both. On the goth front, look for dark clothes, especially fishnets. Anything with tears or shreds earns bonus points here.
Shoes with spikes or laces that go above the ankle point towards a Gothic influence, as does Doc Martens. Kawaii goth looks tend to incorporate a LOT of silver or black metal accessories and piercings, one or more belts, and materials like leather, PVC, velvet, and lace.
On the Kawaii side of things, look for bright pastel colors. Pink, blue, purple, and red are strong signals that you're dealing with Kawaii goth and not standard goth. Kawaii goth clothes are often chosen to heighten a 'cute' aesthetic, so you'll see lots of oversized shirts, jackets, and sweatshirts. You'll also see a lot of plaid skirts in odd colors.
Kawaii goth looks almost always feature extravagant hair. Classic goth looks can involve elaborate backcombing to create incredible volume. Modern styles often fall on the opposite extreme: you'll see lots of dyed, straightened hair and flat-cut bangs. Pink, purple, or pastel blue hair is a great indication that you're looking at kawaii goth. Don't discount the classic black goth look, however, as you can definitely pull off a kawaii goth look with jet-black hair.
Goths tend to make bold makeup choices with strong, contrasting colors. Eyeshadow is applied in harsh and angular lines, often evoking Egyptian themes. Goth eyebrows tend to an extreme: you'll often see both thick, triangular brows and high, arching thin brows on Goths. Lipstick isn't limited to "real" colors in goth looks: expect lots of blacks, greens, purples, and even yellows.
In kawaii goth, look for any of these, normal everyday makeup, and everything in between. Kawaii Goth fashion juxtaposes themes of everyday approachability with the cold hostility of Goth themes. This means that some Kawaii Goth looks will sport full-on Goth makeup, with jet black lips and extremely harsh eyeliner, while others will feature subtle makeup that might not even be there. Pastel colors on lips and eyes are surefire signs of Kawaii Goth influence. Lacking these colors, however, is not evidence that a look is not Kawaii Goth.
Kawaii goth is all about color and contrast!
While many kawaii goth styles lean heavily on traditional gothic blacks, it's almost always supported by pastels. Pinks, purples, blues, and even greens are all common, and many of the best looks show off the interplay between different hues. Add in some edgy goth accessories and you're good to go. Holographic fabrics can spice things up here, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for items that will go with your outfits.
Traditional goth patterns tend to be limited to fishnets, stripes, and the occasional morbid tessellation of skulls, crosses, and ravens. Kawaii goth has no such limitations. While you can still go with repeating bats, cute patterns with cats, candy, or characters will work great with your kawaii goth getup. Graphic prints on shirts, sweatshirts, or other clothing items can also help add to your look.
If you're going all out with kawaii goth, you'll probably want to dye your hair pastel blue or pink. There are no hard and fast rules, however, so don't feel limited to these choices. The classic goth black works great, as do more natural colors. Long and short hair are both common among kawaii goths, although longer, choppier haircuts are slightly more common.
If you're planning on changing your look often, consider going for a dip dye or picking up a wig. Synthetic wigs are perfect for kawaii goth, as they come in vibrant colors that match the aesthetic perfectly.
Be sure to accessorize your hair as well. Gothic clips with bats, ravens, or skulls are perfect for holding pigtails!
Kawaii goth outfits tend to make bold choices. Each item often screams 'cute' or 'dark,' with multiple examples of each throughout a whole outfit. You might choose a pastel collared dress with a cute printed pattern, dark ripped fishnet sleeves, Chuck Taylors, and plenty of leather belts and accessories. Alternately, try a leather skirt and an oversized graphic sweatshirt along with your favorite goth shoes. Other options include pastel goth tops or corset tops with plaid skirts, accessories like goth chokers and arm cuffs, and pastel sunglasses.
Mix it up! Your goal is to find lots of contrast. This might mean a dark outfit with a few pastel sprinkles, a bright outfit with a few goth accessories, or anything in between.
Shoes are a fantastically fun part of kawaii goth. Classic goth options are always welcome here, like chunky heels, creepers, and boots, but you get to mix in lots of fun pastel colors. Consider changing out the laces for something more colorful to kick things up a notch. Flat shoes are also popular, especially ones decorated with gothic imagery. As usual, look for ravens, pentagrams, crosses, and skulls. Be sure to pick up an appropriate pair of socks, leggings, or fishnets to go with your shoes as well.
Kawaii goth's penchant for contrast means that accessories are especially important in any kawaii goth outfit. The right accessories let you dial that contrast up to 11, whether it's by reinforcing the primary theme of your outfit or by directly contrasting against it. Hair accessories are especially important, including bows (to reinforce the kawaii) and ornaments with gothic imagery. Consider chokers in both black and pastel colors, necklaces, and gothic rings. Bracelets and arm warmers are a must, especially if you're not planning on employing the traditional goth strategy of fishnets everywhere.
Goth fashion employs lots of bold jewelry options, from big hoops and bold shapes to gauges and nose rings. If you like piercings, take advantage of this! Switch out a few pieces for items in bright, bold pastel colors, or change your tame earrings to ones with gothic imagery. Again, your goal here is contrast. Choose jewelry that reinforces either side of the kawaii goth spectrum.
Most goth makeup involves lots of contrast, and kawaii goth is no exception. You can get away with classic black lips and dark eyeshadow. It's not your only option, however. Play with dark hues that work with your outfit as well as bright pastels and more natural looks. A pink top might go great with dark purple lips, rosy red ones, or even a pink pastel.
Another popular strategy is to contrast your makeup with your clothing. If you choose a more dark theme for your outfit, think about going the exact opposite direction with your makeup. Rainbow highlighters and vivid, bright lipstick will offset the blacks in your outfit and give you an incredible overall look.
The goth movement has strong themes of uniqueness and individuality. Don't be afraid to make things personal! If you can, try to choose items and imagery that have significance or meaning to you. Wearing a graphic shirt or sweatshirt with a picture of a favorite character is a great start.
Choose colors that you genuinely enjoy and styles that you think you look good in. It doesn't matter how something looks on an influencer. What matters is how you think that item looks on you. Pick out accessories and clothes that are in line with the styles you prefer and you'll build an outfit that you love, guaranteed.
Don't be afraid to choose clothing options that are comfortable, either. If you're not a fan of heels, there's nothing wrong with flats or even bright sneakers. The same applies to other clothes and accessories. The important part isn't any individual item, but rather the contrast between them. As long as you choose great styles that you like and accessorize appropriately, you'll build a wonderful look!
Goths are proud of their individuality. If you're shooting for a kawaii goth style, try to embrace this confidence. People will always have things to say about your outfit, whether you're wearing a uniform, a 'casual' outfit, or an extravagant kawaii goth getup. You're the one who gets to decide what to wear and who to listen to.
When you choose kawaii goth, you're intentionally offsetting yourself from the standard a little bit. Own it. You'll get a few looks, sure, but most people will just think, "hey, it's a goth!" or "wow, that outfit is really cute." They just won't have the courage to say it.
Kawaii goth is all about contrast. By contrasting traditional gothic ideas of darkness with bright, pastel imagery, kawaii goth creates a distinct look that's memorable and striking. Fans of the subculture have created a storm of interest on sites like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
There aren't a lot of hard rules in kawaii goth. Instead, kawaii goth celebrates creative, individual expression and allows for a single outfit to represent multiple subcultures. It's a wonderful world of fashion to check out!