Leather chokers and thick-soled combat boots don’t exactly scream “summer”, but if you’re a goth, it’s likely these are staple pieces in your wardrobe all year round. While non-goths might retire their darker clothes once spring has sprung, it’s not so straightforward for dedicated goths. Goths are for life, not just for Christmas!
But what exactly do goths wear when it’s a heatwave, like the one we’re experiencing in the UK right now? I’m assuming most of the gothically inclined wouldn’t immediately pivot to wearing floral sundresses and Birkenstocks once the temperature hits over 25. So how do you stay true to your style while avoiding sunstroke?
Wearing clothes you feel comfortable in while simultaneously staying cool in the blistering heat will always be a mean feat if you feel most at home dressed head-to-toe in black – but it’s not impossible. We asked seven goths how they adapt their wardrobes for Hot Goth Summer.
‘You definitely can’t wear chokers if it’s 1,000 degrees outside’
I love a good shorts and oversized T-shirt moment - usually a band shirt of some sort, normally Deftones. But for going out, it’s always some sort of pleated or long skirt with a little top, then a fishnet or mesh shirt underneath.
I struggle a lot with body confidence so I’ll never have my arms fully out. I’ll normally wear fishnet tights so ripped I can put my head through them. You definitely can’t wear chokers if it’s 1,000 degrees outside – it can get really sweaty and not very comfortable at all. I also have a big leather biker jacket that I love wearing but I can’t wear that in summer. My mum would love to see me in a little yellow summer dress but it’s just never going to happen. – Lydia, 25
‘Any form of black tennis skirt’
One thing I wear on repeat in summer is just any form of black tennis skirt. Pair that with some whale nets and you’re sorted. It’s mainly the heavy leather jackets and leather harnesses and stuff that you want to avoid, as well as anything that is quite restricting – so no corsets, no heavily-buttoned stuff – just nice, long, flowing clothing that can still look dramatic.
A lot of your makeup does tend to run but there’s ways around that, like getting a good setting spray. In winter you can really rock up in thick stompers, big leather jackets with spikes, massive leather harnesses, but in summer it’s almost like a challenge to try and do gothic looks that don’t make you overheat. I’ve always found that charity shops and kilo sales are fantastic for finding summer outfits. I firmly believe that you don’t need to go to the more expensive online outlets. – Maxx, 24.
‘You just can’t breathe in the summer in a corset’
It’s really nice to show off my leg tattoos by wearing a skirt in the summer, and I don’t get to do that in the winter. My tattoos are a big part of my identity. In the summer I also dye my hair a bright colour, so it’s pink and green at the moment – I feel that makes things a lot more summery.
Usually I like to wear band T-shirts because my style is based on the music I listen to, but I can’t wear band T-shirts in summer because it’s just too hot to wear a black T-shirt. Also I can’t wear corsets either - I love to wear them but you just can’t breathe in the summer in a corset. Big black boots as well are horrendous. I still wear them but my feet do get very sweaty. – Hollie, 20.
‘Maxi skirts and dresses are my go-to’
Maxi skirts and dresses are my go-to. They’re so easy to style and can easily be dressed up or down when needed – they’re a goth’s best friend in summer. Usually I immediately gravitate towards my velvet and lace pieces, but in the summer it’s definitely not the best choice to make, although sometimes I power through for the sake of style – sweaty goths unite!
My wardrobe is chock full of BlackMilk Clothing and Killstar – they’re great places to find gothy fits all year round. I’ve also started shopping at smaller UK handmade stores like Exo Umbra, Pick ‘N’ Minx and Cosmic Drifters, and they have some incredible pieces that can be worn in warmer months. – Abi, 27.
‘More skirts, less layers, less jumpers’
My style doesn't really change much in summer, it just gets more appropriate – so more skirts, less layers, less jumpers and all of that. But my style itself just stays the same. I would say it is hard to dress more gothic in the summer, especially if your wardrobe is like mine and the majority consists of black clothing, as it absorbs more heat. I just walk around with a water bottle, just to cool myself down if it does get too hot, and I just stay in the shade when possible. And I’d wear a pair of sunglasses as well because I like to wear eye contacts and I don't want to be staring too brightly into the sun, obviously. I prefer autumn, just because I'm more of a sweater weather kind of girl. – Shirleen, 23
‘It’s not worth getting heatstroke just for the outfit choice’
I try to focus on accessorising my outfits during summer because I can wear as many necklaces as I want and it won’t affect my temperature. And I always wear my New Rocks boots regardless of the weather. I do find it hard to dress gothy in summer, especially as someone who has grown up in Yorkshire and lived in Yorkshire my entire life. I’m more suited for colder climates, especially rainy weather. I definitely prefer winter when it comes to my wardrobe. I implore my fellow goths to please listen to their bodies in summer - you look fantastic always, but my God it’s not worth getting heatstroke just for the outfit choice! – Moosh, 22
‘I always wear black crop tops’
In the summer I always try and wear really flowy dresses. They’re always black, or sometimes I switch it up and go for a bit of grey. I also always wear black crop tops – I’ve got one which is backless, so it’s still black but actually appropriate for the weather. It’s one of my favourite tops that I wear on repeat.
Accessories are key – I think they’re what can make your outfit go from an average outfit to an alternative outfit. B&Q is the best spot for chains - I usually get a lot of my chains and necklaces from hardware stores rather than fashion stores. A lot of the outfits I get from vintage shops or charity shops or thrift stores. I don’t really buy much fast fashion, I tend to avoid it. I find that in vintage shops you can find more one-off pieces. – Georgia, 22.