How To Sophisticatedly Style Pastel Goth

In the world of fashion I’m as old as dirt. In my own head, where I operate most of the time (‘cause that’s where the party is!!) I’m still sixteen years old, stalking hardcore/screamo guitarists and chain smoking Salems. Once in a while the awful world of reality collides with my own. It is from this heartbreakingly tangible smashup that I am all too abrasively reminded of the dissonance between my age and my appearance. I am the anti-thesis to the sixteen year old me who tried to look 26. Here’s how this slap-in-the-face usually occurs:

Me: *Being adorable* *Wearing an a-line mini dress with over the knee socks* *Combat boots* *Skipping, carefree, down the hallway*

My mother: “You’re too old for this!”

Me: *Death stare* *How is she surviving my death stare?*

My mother: “You need a grown up purse.”

Me: *Nuzzles my eyeball backpack purse* *I can’t even fit anything in this* *But look how cute it is*

I was no fashionista growing up. I always had my own peculiar style though. To one side of an invisible line, my style was edgy and dark. To the other side, it was creepy and goth-y. To me, it was “If everything in the closet is black, everything I own matches. All my problems have been solved.” Scene style came and went after my high school days so I only experienced it via an accidental face plant into another female’s hair at my local coffee shop. “What are the children wearing?!” I wondered. “Hoodlums! The lot of them!” I wanted to be a hoodlum too. Just not one with so many colors around my face.

Pastel Goth on Pinterest

Pastel Goth on Pinterest

I was recently trying to be more relatable to my younger cousin, who was a junior in high school and said things like “obvi.” “Make a twitter!!” She told me. “We can tweet.” “Make a tumblr!!” She begged. Done. “Make a Pinterest!!” She prodded. You got it, virtual cork board. It was during a late night on Pinterest that I saw my spirit animal. There she was: Waist-length pastel pink ombre hair. Black thigh highs. Black acid-washed jean shorts. A black T-shirt with “Freak” emblazoned on the front in red, bloody font. And a pair of baby pink creepers with black hearts on the top. Can I be you?

“Pastel goth.” I found the tag while rummaging through more fantastic Pinterest pictures. On my break at work I’d google image search pastel goth and pore over the adorably creepy snapshots of girls in black mini dresses and skull print leggings, all with My Little Pony-esque tresses down to their hips. Septum rings and black lipstick with butter-yellow, oversized crew necks. These are my people. I have found them. Why so late in life?!

I’m not one to be easily discouraged. I knew there had to be a way for me to pull this off. If only I could sophisticate the style somehow. Maybe substitute leather pants in place of a bustle skirt. If you find yourself walking that fine line of, “I’m still cool, but I’m getting too old for this shit.” I am here to help you. Pastel goth, get ready, here is your quantitative how-to on pulling off sub-culture style with grown-ass-woman refinement.


Purple lipstick from MAC Cosmetics

1. The Makeup

“If it weren’t for black lipstick I don’t know how I’d mark my territory.”

Yes, black lipstick is the edgiest of the lip colors, and oddly enough is making a real statement in the fashion world these days. However, it tip-toes on that tight rope of propriety. Done properly you’re an “It Girl,” done improperly you’re thirteen with a lunch table all to yourself. The cure? Dark purple.

A$ap Rocky didn’t write a song about purple kisses for no reason. Purple lipstick is the bad girl’s trademark. Red is sexy, pink is sweet, nude is practical. Purple is practical, its dark tones lend maturity and mystery to the wearer. Black lipstick reminds us it’s not Halloween, 364 days out of the year. Purple lipstick doesn’t need a holiday. Nobody questions purple.

Nothing screams dark-and-stormy-in-that-work-appropriate-way like winged eyeliner. As versatile as a makeup trend comes, you can do a dramatic cat eye, or a subtle, lengthening wisp. Pair this with bare or neutral lids to retain the “pastel innocence” of the pastel goth look.

Pastel ombre hair

Pastel ombre hair

2. The Hair

“Gorgeous hair looks as though it’s never been dyed.”

But Gorgeous hair is so overrated. I prefer statement hair. I prefer hair that says, “I earned a comfortable living today, then I ate steaks at the local gentleman’s club.” I like hair that starts the night with vodka sodas and ends it with grape pucker and a shiny new friend.

At “almost thirty” it’s increasingly difficult to pull this kind of hair off. You simply cannot get away with a full head of neon or pastel or rainbow streaks if you’ve been buying your own booze for more than two years. It’s Unfortunate, but this is the barbaric world we live in.

You have a couple of reasonable options. One: you maintain your natural color. Although, I never recommend this route, no matter how beautifully pigmented your natural color is, it is always an option. The plus side of keeping the natural color, while following a trend as edgy as pastel goth, is that it looks like you don’t really give a shit. But you’re still dressed super stellar. Like maybe you were born in cool clothes, with mousy brown hair, and you just keep livin’ your life. You ain’t worried bout nuffin.

Your second option is to go with a traditionally goth color, those being black or white-blonde. Either will work with the pastel goth style, however you’ll be much more dependent upon your outfit to consistently showcase your subculture. In other words, that quick run to the laundromat on Saturday, you know, the one you make in sweatpants and your ex-ex-boyfriend’s T-shirt? Yeah, no one there is going to know what exactly you’re going for. You’ll just appear to be a normal girl with a very severe dye job.

Your third, and my favorite, option is sneaky sophisticated pastel color. With the darkest part of your hair near the roots, because this builds volume and frames your face with some normalcy, you may want to ombre a pastel color into the bottom. This can be pinned under in case of funerals or work meetings, and set free for more appropriate occasions such as pizza eating and unicorn hunting.


(from left to right) Chloe, Balmain, Gucci

3. The Clothes

“A woman is only as fierce as her accessories.”

How do you pull off subcultural swag like a mature, modern maven? One word: Black. Black, black, black. You can’t go wrong in all black with one simple statement color threaded through your ensemble. If your hair or lips are lilac purple, do an all black tailored suit with a lilac tie. If mint green is more your thing, try a black maxi dress with a mint bag. Get the idea? Less is more here. You want simple, but striking. A black canvas is the perfect showcase for sweetly-scary pastel pink creepers. Never underestimate the power of your own darkness.

Charlotte Free for Complot

Charlotte Free for Complot

4. Be an ‘It Girl’

Essentially what you have here are the makings for a fashion forward fringe-rider. Trends are for basics, which inversely makes sense, because the only things that should ever repeatedly trend are basics (see what I did there?). You were built to kill the catwalk, whether your runway is an office corridor or the hallway in your home. Be different. Be bold. And don’t be afraid to be you. Shit, don’t be afraid of ANYTHING anymore. You’re f@#$ing pastel goth now.


Katherine Vergin is a Detroit based model, singer, writer and entrepreneurship student. She has always had an interest in the obscure sub-cultures of fashion, music and pop culture. Previously a featured contributor for the comic-book website, Katherine also currently operates a number of personal blogs. She can be found on Twitter, Instagram and her blogs and

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