I am a Goth. Here’s how I stay true to my style when traveling the world – Fodors travel guide
A Goth of a lifetime shares her tips for maintaining her look while traveling.
What is a Goth? The first image that comes to my mind might be someone like Wednesday Addams – a pale, moody youngster listening to The Cure and hanging out in a graveyard. But if you get to know a few real-life Goths, you’ll discover a vibrant and multi-faceted subculture populated by individuals who share a passion for the ‘dark side’.
Goths tend to turn to certain aesthetic (Victorian, horror) and musical (darkwave, industrial) genres. However, they can express themselves in very imaginative ways, from futuristic cyber-girls with neon pink hair to Japanese gothic lolitas in cute ruffled dresses. If you are visiting a gothic club, you might be surprised at the wide variety of looks that go beyond the creepy stereotype of black clothes and white makeup.
Since I was a teenager, I have identified myself as Goth. To this day, I feel most ‘myself’ when I am dressed in fishnets and leather and dancing on The death of Bela Lugosi in clubs with my friends. I made a career of my travel blog La Carmina, which focuses on my gothic outfits across the world, in places like Transylvania and Salem.
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During my globetrotting years, I have found that it is possible to maintain a dark aesthetic under just about any circumstance. With a few smart choices, it’s possible to tailor a gothic wardrobe (or any underground style) for the office, the gym, or for traveling the world.
Here’s how I’ve visited over 70 countries, in all climates and conditions, and stayed true to my style. You might be surprised at how practical these outfits are for various circumstances, while still retaining a signature ghoulish touch. Whether you identify with yourself as Goth or with some other niche subculture, I hope these tips help you stay true to your self-expression while you’re on the go.
While it is possible to be a Gothic backpacker, I always take a checkered suitcase when I travel. Goth wardrobe basics tend to take up a lot of space. I need a rolling suitcase to hold my wedge boots, a wide-brimmed hat, and a bulky makeup and skincare bag.
You might assume that a Goth would wear simple dark bags for a trip. However, black tends to be the default for all travel accessories. Instead of making you stand out from the crowd, black luggage will allow you to blend in with the rest of the luggage carousel.
To express your gothic tendencies, look for travel bags with spooky shapes and details. I found rolling cases in the shape of vampire coffins and backpacks decorated with bat wings and pentagrams. I also have suitcases printed with Halloween designs, like Jack Skellington from The nightmare before Christmas.
If you can’t find the right accessories, add dark charms or goth decals. For example, I put an Egyptian ankh charm on my leather backpack to give it a more edgy look. I also covered my passport holder with cute ghost stickers from Japan.
I often take flights to Asia that last longer than 10 hours, so it is important that I dress comfortably. However, I prefer to wear something darker than black sweatpants or yoga pants.
I recommend looking for comfortable clothing with animal prints, skulls, and other morbid designs. On one of my last flights, I snuggled up in a faux fur leopard print jacket from Sourpuss and one 1991 New Work shirt printed with a Japanese devil.
Halloween is my favorite time of year to stock up on these cozy Gothic wardrobe basics. Many fashion brands, such as Wild fox, Urban Outfitters, and Modcloth publish limited edition articles each October. Last fall I found a sweet corn print sweater and a scarf covered in flying bats.
I have really long purple hair, which I put in two “space buns” to avoid getting caught in the straps of my backpack when I travel. Almost every time, airport security fills in the color and tightens my bundled hair to make sure I don’t smuggle anything inside!
I do not wear jewelry in flight as I find it bulky and sharp accessories could be considered dangerous by airport staff. Some of my goth friends have body jewelry that they can’t take off. If these set off the metal detector, they just have to show them to the officials (and can request a private room if they prefer).
Sun protection all year round
Even though I’m known to avoid the sun like a vampire, I often travel to sunny destinations. My goth friends and I have found smart ways to protect our skin from UV rays while preserving our aesthetics.
Whenever I spend time outdoors, I keep my phantom white complexion off with four coats of mineral sunscreen. I start with a layer of SPF 30 of The ordinary and put Mineral from La Roche-Posay tinted SPF 50 above. So i apply Dr Jart Black Label SPF 30 BB cream to all uneven areas and finish with a dusting of mineral powder.
My “sun protection” icon is Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice. She cradled a large, wide-brimmed black hat and covered her limbs with a long, loose black cloth. I also protect my eyes with glamorous oversized sunglasses from alternative designers like Oliver goldsmith and Pugnale.
Health Goth ‘suits
Swimwear and workout clothes have come a long way since the aerobics era of the 1980s. Today, you can find unconventional designs and prints that reflect a Gothic personality.
You might be surprised to learn that there are several brands of satanic swimwear. I love Baphomet pentagram and goat head print bikinis by Disturbia, Killstar, and Too fast. I’m also looking for bondage-influenced sports bras and leggings that feature mesh cutouts and crisscrossed harness straps.
In the colder months, I like to have fun with flamboyant outerwear. To stand out in a sea of dark quilted coats, Goths should take inspiration from Hollywood movies and bygone eras.
If you like cyberpunk, you can wear a long leather trench coat like the ones in The matrix. For an elegant Victorian look, wear hooded capes and rows of military buttons.
As a disco fan, I was delighted to find a 1970s white coat with a fur collar in a vintage store. I recently wore a bright pink Mongolian lamb coat from Skandinavik at New York Fashion Week, with tight leather pants and a black beret.
Dress for special occasions
Goths love to dress up for fancy occasions such as fine dining or opera. Think outside the coffin – you don’t have to emulate the style of Morticia Addams or Vampira.
When I need a dress for a special occasion I sail The RealReal, a complete site for second-hand sewing. You can find dresses from Balmain, Valentino and other designers for a fraction of the original price.
Subvert the all-black gothic stereotype and play around with colors and textures on a night out. Dark purple, blood red, lace and leather clothes allow you to convey deadly glamor.
For makeup and hairstyle inspiration, go for pin-ups and slapstick bombshells like Bettie Page. Her red lips, black cat eyeliner and bobby pins never go out of style.
Dark and luxurious accessories
I’m all about investing in fine jewelry with gothic themes. I recommend avoiding costume pieces that appear to be from a Halloween store.
Look for high-end jewelry in silver or white gold, decorated with skeletons, snakes, bats and crosses. Two of my flagship pieces are a dog collar bracelet from Hermes and a leather envelope with snake heads from Bulgari. I also love the Skull by Britain’s collection Stephen einhorn, designer of Johnny Depp rings in Dark shadows.
Even as you explore difficult places around the world, you can stay true to your personal style, whether you identify with Goth or some other subculture. Be creative and you will find chic solutions for all circumstances. As the saying goes, “the right shoes take you to the right places” – so I’ll continue to rock my studded platform leather boots on my next trips.