Ms. Mary Rose, a.k.a. The Everyday Goth,
Hello! I am a young woman in her early twenties, and I find myself in a state of self-exploration. Particularly I am finding myself drawn towards the Gothic subculture. I've flirted with it before, as a teenager, but now I feel as if I've finally found who I am.
This should be happy thing I know, but I am feeling rather frustrated as of late. I've searched, far and wide, through countless retail stores and thrift shops, but I can't seem to find any suitable clothes to start building my gothy wardrobe. I am a size 24-26 and even in thrift stores the selection is dismal. Budget restraints and affordability are also key factors in my search.
Where could I find clothes to suit my style, budget, and body type/size? Is it as hard for you to hunt for pieces? Do you know of any resources that cater to gothicly-inclined plus-size fashion?
Please help :(
Hi K.B., and welcome to the spooky side! I'm glad you're coming to terms with your Goth self, and your situation is one I find eerily familiar (as a plus-sized Goth who is turning twenty this August.) I'll say this now: you're not going to build this wardrobe overnight for $50. Building a wardrobe is a complicated thing, especially when you have the limitations of clothing sizes and a very specific style, but it's not impossible! Jillian Venters at Gothic Charm School covered this topic back in 2012, but here are my two cents:
First, you're going to need a to sit down and really decide A) what your style is and B) what pieces you need to fulfill that plan. For example, I use my Pinterest fashion board for inspiration as to what I want my style to look like and then planned my Corp-Goth wardrobe more specifically here. Now is the time to decide if you want something super elaborate and frilly, like Gothic Lolita, or something more similar to Nu-Goth, or TradGoth/Deathrock. That will inform what you buy later on.
I suggest anyone looking to build up a Goth wardrobe first buy some basics and, unless you're dressing in the most elaborate of Goth styles, that usually means you can begin close to home with regular stores. Whatever is nearest to you, really. I've found some of my basics at Macy's, Nordstrom Rack, H&M Target, Torrid, Forever21 (no, really) and other places you wouldn't usually think of as Goth.
And a bonus resource: WTF, Plus Size Clothing has a masterpost of locations that offer plus-sized clothing and, while the goth-ness of it all might be questionable, it's a great place to start looking.
Look around stores for basics in your size: plain t-shirts, slacks or skirts suitable for work, jeans, jackets and blazers, tights/stockings, and simple shoes. Reference the wardrobe plan I told you to create earlier. For a Goth wardrobe, it makes the most sense that these basics that will form the foundation of your wardrobe will be black. If you find a basic that you especially love, and if you can afford it, buy multiples. I myself have 3-4 black v-necks from Target and they're my go-to top.
Remember: if these basics seem boring and totally-not-Goth to you, that's fine. You're going to add in the Goth later with more special pieces, and you can always DIY something.
Next, we're going to get into the world of online shopping, which is where you're going to build up the Goth-y side of your wardrobe. Unfortunately, because these are more specialty stores, they're going to be more expensive. However, if you already have your wardrobe basics somewhat cheaply, you should be able to purchase more expensive pieces occasionally to add more spook to your wardrobe. And, as always, remember to wait for sales and special offers from the stores, usually around the holidays.
First thing's first: get thee a tape measure.
A lot of your clothing shopping is going to happen online, so you're going to need to figure out what your measurements are. Forget vanity sizes and just focus on numbers for your waist, hips, bust and upper arms, which will be far, far more helpful when shopping online.
Here are some of the stores I know that offer plus-sized Goth-y fashion:
- Fan Plus Friend for Gothic Lolita, Aristocrat, and Visual Kei inspired fashion.
- SimplyBe, a plus-sized online store that goes up to 28 and is currently having a big summer sale.
- ChicStar, which has some retro-y and goth stuff and a variety of sizes.
- Pin-Up Goth Clothing, pin-up fashion "for all sizes"
- Sour Puss Clothing has mostly straight sizes but they offer stuff from a lot of stores so there is usually something in your size.
- Heavy Red, which is on the expensive side but some of their items go up to a 3X and others have a lot of stretch.
- Gloomth, who offer lolita-styled clothing, some of it in plus-sizes.
- The Gothic Shop, which has an entire plus-sized section on their website, bless their hearts.
I know the difficulties of plus-sized thrifting which can turn "fun fashion scavenger hunt" into a saddening realization that plus-sized fashion options are incredibly limited, especially if you're not interested in stained t-shirts and weirdly bright and shapeless polyester tents. But! That doesn't mean you should give up on thrifting altogether. My IRL friend Bridie, known on Tumblr as thriftorama, has a wonderful, body-positive guide to making the most of thrifting as a plus-sized person, which I suggest you read. Again, look for basics for your wardrobe rather than specifically Goth-y pieces.
Then, it's time to add the icing to this wonderful Goth-y cake we've been making. There are really great stores out there that offer Goth-y jewelry and accessories which can turn even the most basic of black outfits into something unmistakably Goth. Some of my favorites are:
- Restyle.Pl, who don't have a great plus-sized selection of clothing but who have amazing bags and jewelry for decent prices.
- Farjil, an Etsy jewelry retailer with great animal skull necklaces, among other things.
- Ghost Love, one of my first spooky jewelry loves.
- Corset Story, who have one of the most popular and best priced selections of corsets, including plus-sized.
- Demonia, the Gothic shoe store
- New Rocks, the runner-up Gothic shoe store
- Dr. Martens, the...boot store? I rambled about some of my favorites here.
- Bone Jewelry, an Etsy jeweler who make items out of animal bones.
- Body Jewelry Shop, which offer jewelry for your various piercings and which I've reviewed here.
- Hips and Curves, which make beautiful corsets and lingerie for plus-sized women, some of which is beautifully spooky and elegant.
- Sock Dreams, which is exactly what it sounds like. Amazing socks and stockings in tons of styles.
- Alchemy Gothic, which is on the expensive side of spooky Jewelry so it's more of a treat.
- Blood Milk Jewels, also on the expensive side but beautifully occult-like
Lastly: DIY. Any of the above pieces, especially the thrifted stuff and the store-bought basics, can be DIYed into something completely new and spooky. Adding notions like lace or scraps of fishnet, changing buttons, adding safety pins, etc. can give a custom look that people of any skillset can accomplish.
To my other readers, do you have any advice for K.B. on where to find good budget plus-sized Goth clothing?