Pastel goth is a subculture within the goth subculture that combines macabre themes with pastel colors. Although goth purists may think that the color black is the one true king, the goth movement has incorporated a range of different elements over time (from Victorian lace to cabaret fishnets), so it’s not altogether surprising to see a sub-group adopt a color palette that’s a bit “out of the box.”
If there’s an especially feminine or even a cutesy side to your dark soul, the hues and details of pastel goth apparel could be just the blend you’re looking for to express your particular shade of goth. While this trend might not be as ubiquitous as its all-black counterpart, it provides devotees the chance to mix genres in an intriguing and imaginative way.
History of the Evolution of Pastel Goth Fashion
The pastel goth style emerged in the late-2000s as a blend between traditional goth elements and kawaii, which is the Japanese word for “cuteness”. The pastel goth look juxtaposes the dark and macabre with pastel colors for a hauntingly playful twist on a classic style. Creating this look isn’t witchcraft, it's as simple as pairing a goth dress with pastel accessories.
Thanks to the firestorm known as social media—especially Tumblr and Instagram—pastel goth clothing took off and gained popularity as a way to explore the darkness and depth of gothic fashion history while still appreciating the color wheel. Pastel goth hit its peak in the era of 2010, and while it’s not seen quite as much today, it still has a devoted following.
The Fashion Elements of the Pastel Goth Aesthetic
Pastel goths often have pastel-dyed hair—styled in unique ways, paired with more traditional goth clothing choices like Victorian or DIY-inspired fashions. Goth accessories like chokers, spiked jewelry, and platform shoes combined with feminine elements like oversized bows and pink eyeshadow create a mystical and edgy look.
The combination of dark and sweet tantalizes while clouding the look in mystery; the perfect way to put anyone under your spell. A pastel goth outfit encapsulates the provocativeness of blending two distinct styles into one.
Interpretations and Expressions of Pastel Goth Style
Like any movement or style, pastel goth can be a deeply personal look. There is no one way to style this look, and the way the elements are combined is at the mercy of the wearer. Some may choose to play up the sweet and innocent aspects of the colors and connotations, while others may prefer to add only subtle dashes of color.
The creativity and flexibility of this style are what make it so magical. Pastel goth outfits have no boundaries. The wearer makes the rules, adapting the traditional darkness of the gothic with modern elements that scream self-expression. Pastel goth accessories are a baby step into evolving the traditional style into one that lets in just a little bit of light.
Fabrics and Imagery in Pastel Goth Fashion
Much like the design and imagery found within the goth aesthetic as far back as its eruption into the fashion scene, the pastel goth look incorporates leather, lace, skulls, and fishnet. The aim is still to be evocative and provocative while softening the look with unexpected elements of femininity.
Darkness and morbidity are definitely still paramount, and nothing says that bats and skulls can’t come in lavender or baby blue. This play on traditional grave images is what injects cuteness into the cultness. Pastel goth clothes harness the subcultural elements of the classic style while infusing them with modern twists.
Music and Culture’s Influence on Pastel Goth Styles
Be it the more traditional eerie and spooky looks of old-school goth or the pretty evolution of pastel goth, both pull their dark inclinations from music. Traditional goth is often associated with goth-rock and post-punk bands like Joy Division and The Cure, whereas pastel goth dances to a different beat.
The musical influences on pastel goth vary from Cruel World headliners to obscure members of Vaporwave. Ethereal and sometimes whimsical, pastel goth is a balance between fairies and fear, fantasy and foreboding.
Color Palette of the Pastel Goth Aesthetic
Traditional goth fashion typically revolves around dark and muted colors, such as black, deep purple, burgundy, and midnight blue. Commonly associated with darkness, mystery, and melancholy, traditional goth attire is moody and evokes an air of despair.
Pastel goth clothing takes inspiration from blending new and unique elements and often integrates light shades of pink, green, and baby blue to inject a little magical mystery into the otherwise dark and cruel world of the gothic.
The Look: Pastel Goth Style
- Embellishments.Dresses and skirts adorned with lace, ruffles, and other soft details harken back to the Victorian era. Paired with a top—which can be in a wide range of colors—that features gothic imagery, these details allow pastel goths to blend the traditional and the modern aesthetic together in one outfit.
- Accessories.Accessories play a crucial role in completing the pastel goth style. Chokers, spikes, and skulls add edge and morbidity whereas cute accessories like clips and bows add just a touch of cuteness to an otherwise dark look.
- Makeup.Makeup makes a difference. Pastel goth makeup is about mixing elements of creepy and cute. Pairing traditional goth makeup features like a dark-lined eye with a soft pink cheek gives just enough vamp and fairy to create an iconic pastel goth ambiance. Pastel goth makeup can take on many forms: bold and classic with hints of sweetness, or fantastical and otherworldly. Your imagination is the only limit.
Make the Pastel Goth Aesthetic Your Own
Self-expression is personal and defining. Style is about community, and the pastel goth community is no exception. There is no right way to create a personal aesthetic, but for those influenced by the phantasmagoric elements of the gothic, there are myriad ways to shake up the traditional.
Pastel goth greenlights the space to genre-mix and channel your impish imagination while staying true to your dark heart. Visually striking and overtly sexy, this iteration of the goth aura can be worn by all. Building a pastel goth wardrobe requires nothing more than stepping into the shadows and letting a modicum of fantasy and playfulness enter your dark world.