American Goth

Some of you may have read the New York Times article about the recent resurgence of Gothic culture and fashion, a niche that supposedly has been a persistent underground force since the Victorian era. This sparked a clever article idea at last week’s Nass meeting – why don’t I dress up as a Goth for a week or so and observe people’s reactions to it? A bit of self-immersion a la Fear and Loathing, except instead of LSD, I’d be licking up blood. Perhaps I’d even get to know some of the younger Gothic townies. And so I set out that Thursday night decked in my “Gothic” attire: a racer-back leotard, lamé leggings, and a lamé track jacket – needless to say all black, and all from American Apparel. I threw on a few chains and a red-beaded rosary from my Confirmation ceremony to add to the Goth factor. Okay, so let’s dissect everything that’s wrong with this composition. The fact that I even own more than one article of lamé from American Apparel is pathetic. Wearing them all in one outfit was basically just a masturbatory statement of my “hipness.” What’s even worse is that in my attempt to dress Goth, and in essence backhandedly try to poke fun at a culture of teenagers trying to find unity in their conforming diversity, I only succeeded in revealing what an ass I am in regards to the fashion trends that I, and so many others, partake in.

Why is it that everything deemed fashionable on the latest post of The Sartorialist or the clichéd mass productions of Teach-Me-How-To-Dress-Hipster clothing from Urban Outfitters draws from trends that used to be considered nerdy or uncool at some point? Let’s take a moment to examine the latest, and in some cases, now outdated trends: “Oh my god, Converse are like, so last year. Let’s all wear boat shoes and look like ironic hipster douches!”

First there was the indie phase. I believe that was when we brought back the shoddy Lumberjack westerns and just-barely boot-cut jeans. All I remember is that at one point I wouldn’t wear anything that wasn’t bell-bottomed out to twice the circumference of my knee, then all of a sudden the tapered “mom jeans” look was in. Then came the nerd glasses. I cannot explain how I fought to resist those plastic frames in middle school. (Unfortunately they were the only type that fit my flat Asian face, so yeah, suck it.) I finally got some cool and sophisticated metal frames in high school, which then immediately became uncool and had to be replaced with my now super cool plastic frames. Cause you know, it was all about being cool.

Anyway, when all these trends began to appeal to the general public (you know something’s wrong when guys who used to pop their Polos are wearing Chuck Taylor’s), it was obviously time for a change. And thus came about the evolution of the “hipster.” Now, this era is mainly an augmentation or even caricature of the previous indie phase. Wearing skinny jeans has turned into wearing leggings, low-rise jeans are becoming high-waisted up to the boobs (I’m told these are unflattering to the female ass. Thoughts?), plastic frames now take up half of your face, and the v-necks just keep getting deeper and deeper. It’s like a return to the 80’s: acid wash jeans and bright neon everywhere. But even these are starting to become just a bit too accessible to the outsiders of the hipster clan, apparently. The lacrosse player was wearing what? How dare he wear that cardigan? How. Dare. He.

My prediction? The next big thing is going to be a subset of Goth. Yes. Obviously sans the heavy eye makeup and depressing thoughts, but elements of the chic all-black look are easily a part of the averagely stylish person’s everyday wardrobe. Which is why it was so easy for me to dress Goth without actually achieving the real thing. That Thursday I had told only a few people of my plan. Among them, their reactions ranged from “Wtf, you don’t look Goth,” to, “Damn, Tina you look hot–- you should always dress like this,” to “Whose clothes are you wearing?” Once I actually got to Terrace, things only got worse. I was cornered in the library by a group of vegans saying, “I hope that’s not all leather you’re wearing.” No, it’s just some stretchy fabric made to look badass like leather. Several men of questionable nature hit on me, and then I fell down the taproom stairs in my clunky black heels.

The most enlightening comment of the night was from my good friend Adam Tanaka, who made the observation that I was looking more and more Goth everyday. This made me realize that I had already been starting to wear all black in a non-costumey manner – that in the future, wearing the all-black equipped with the metal accessories may just be a fashionable thing rather than an indication that you’re Gothic. For those of you who actually keep up with high fashion trends, you may have noticed that runway models are already sporting the huge crosses, studded black boots, and drapey black tops over skin-tight leggings made of shiny material. And we all know that European high fashion just eventually trickles down to the masses where it then gets commercialized for our use. This only goes to show that no matter how ridiculous a certain type of clothing may seem now, beware – you my be sporting it in the future when you jump on that hipster bandwagon, or whatever it’s going to be called next year.

I’ll be the first to admit that I bought a pair of huge plastic frames last year and probably will never stop wearing American Apparel– if only so I can buy clothes and look at soft-core porn while shopping on their website. So no shame, go ahead and start stocking up on your black now. After all, we all want to be able to say, “Man, I was wearing (insert popular clothing item) way back in high school, before anyone else was. That shit’s so annoying.” And for all of you who take pride in the fact that you were always too sensible to take on these “stupid trends,” fuck you. Your clothes are ugly.

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