traditional goth, trad goth, trad goth makeup

What Is Trad Goth Fashion?

In the word of fashion, any variants fall under the category of “goth,” - and one of the most famously popular versions is trad goth.

Yet, plenty of people nowadays don’t know what “trad goth” actually means. And with so much chitter-chatter about this variant on social media, it makes the issue that much more confusing.

If you’re curious about what trad goth is and what the trad goth style revolves around, keep reading. Below, you’ll find all the essential information about trad goth - including how to be trad goth and the difference between trad and mall goth.

What is Trad Goth?

Trad goth is the short version of traditional goth.

This goth type was born in the 1980s, inspired by favorite bands, including Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie, the Sisters of Mercy, and Joy Division. In fact, most Trad goths will tell you it’s not about the fashion - it’s all about the music.

However, there’s no denying that fashion plays a significant role in a traditional goth’s appearance.

The 80 Trad goth wanted to take on the classic 80s style, yet with a spookier and edgier twist. That’s why they reached for darker and more exotic looks, from dark black lipstick to fishnet clothing and accessories from head to toe.

Trad Goth Fashion 

Some undeniable fashion staples make up the Trad goth “look.”

Trad Goth Makeup

One of the most standout features of any Trad goth look is the makeup. The monochrome scheme features jet-black lipstick, a thick line of black eyeliner, and creamy white makeup. This ultimately creates an exaggerated appearance that instantly sets the Trad goth apart from the crowd.


As for a  typical Trad goth outfit, it will generally consist of a lot of fishnets. For men, fishnets are typically worn on the hands and wrists as an accessory. For women, fishnets can be worn as shirts or on the legs - especially when paired with a short black skirt or dress (black in color, of course).

Gothic Motifs

Plenty of Trad goth outfits will also showcase other “gothic favorites,” such as leather, chains, skulls, coffins, and bats. They may also wear accessories or shirts showcasing their favorite bands.


Black From Head to Toe

Regardless of what motifs a Trad goth might wear, one thing is for sure - a Trad goth will be layered in black clothing from head to toe. From regular t-shirts and jeans to leather and lace, black is the color sought out by traditional goths.


As far as footwear is concerned, there’s one goal for the Trad goths - the chunkier and higher, the better. Plenty of Trad goths opt for edgy combat boots, while others enjoy the somewhat casual nature of platform shoes. Still, others like to dip their feet slightly into the romanticism realm, sporting Victorian-inspired high boots.


Lastly, you can’t talk about a traditional goth outfit without discussing the hairstyles. While looks can vary, ultimately, you can’t go wrong with big, sky-high, teased black hair. Essentially, the Trad goth takes the famous “80s big hair” and kicks it up a notch with more height and a jet-black shade. However, some Trad goths will add a splash of deep red to their mane to enhance the overall spookiness.

Trad Goth vs. Mall Goth:What is the difference?

Some people may confuse Trad goths with Mall goths. And while both fall under the umbrella of “goth,” distinct differences set them apart. 



To put it simply, Trad goths wear a more “traditional goth look,” with everything black and plenty of fishnets, chains, and other motifs like coffins and skulls.

Mall goths have a more commercialized aesthetic. They can be seen wearing neon colors, face masks, arm warmers, and over-the-knee striped socks - among other items that a Trad goth would never wear.

In a few words, Mall goths are less “morbid” and more “eclectic” compared to Trad goths.


Trad goths are passionate about post-punk and gothic rock bands from the 80s. In fact, their favorite bands laid the foundation for their aesthetic.

On the other hand, mall goths can have a more diverse range of music tastes - including mainstream bands.


Finally, attitude can set a Trad goth apart from a Mall goth.

While Trad goths believe in nonconformity and individualization, Mall goths don’t mind mainstream and may readily embrace the influence of others. 

If you want to know more about mall goth, you can read our complete guide to mall goth fashion.

Tips on how to be Trad Goth

Think that the Trad goth theme might be right for you? Are you considering stepping into the “Trad goth” lifestyle? 

Here’s how to do it.

Learn and Listen

Before deciding whether or not to be Trad goth, it’s essential to fully understand what Trad goth is.

That said, take some time to learn about Trad goths and how the whole culture started.

From there, start listening to Trad Goth music to see if you like it. Remember - Bauhaus and Joy Division are two of the most favored bands enjoyed by the Trad goths.

Wear the Right Clothes

Aside from a passion for post-punk and gothic rock, style is another thing that sets Trad goths apart from the pack.

With that in mind, you must immerse yourself in the proper clothing.

While there’s some wiggle room in terms of style, there are a few key things to remember:

  • The more black, the better
  • Don’t forget the black lipstick and black eyeliner with white foundation
  • Fishnets are your best friend
  • You can’t go wrong with leather or Victorian-inspired garments
  • Accessorize with plenty of skulls, bats, coffins, and other similar motifs
  • Black hair is the go-to. Keep it long and flowy, or tease it up to the roof

Adopt the Trad Goth Attitude

It’s not enough to look like a Trad goth; you have to act like one, too.

Traditional goths like to go against the grain and reject mainstream society. They prefer individualization and don’t want the world to change them. 

Embracing the Unique Expression of Trad Goths

From their style to their love of music, their goal of individuality to their love of the dark side, Trad goths were the stepping stone for following gothic generations, making them an intriguing and highly-respected subculture in the gothic realm. What do you think about Trad goths?

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