Adding Elegance To Gothic Lolita

Many people consider any Lolita in black to be Gothic Lolita, while I personally feel that Gothic Lolita has to be a bit more... well, Gothic. I think that if you can replace the black parts of a dress with pastel pink strawberry covered print, and change all the black accessories to white and it turns out looking perfectly Sweet Lolita, than it was hardly ever Gothic Lolita in the first place. Don't get me wrong though, I love Kuro Lolita and Sweet Lolita in black colorways, I just wouldn't ever call it Gothic Lolita. So, why do black Lolita outfits tend to get lumped as Gothic Lolita simply because they aren't covered in pastel pink ponies? Maybe it's just because popular opinion says so, or maybe it's because not everyone is entirely familiar with Gothic styles outside of the Jfashion world, because, as any Goth worth their eyeliner will tell you "Just because it's black, doesn't mean it's Goth, but Goths don't only wear black." So in this post, which is a bit more personal opinion than Lolita law, I'll hopefully be giving some tips on how to make Gothic Lolita coordinates actually a bit Gothic.

What makes a Gothic Lolita outfit? If not simply the color black?
A lot of things make an outfit Gothic Lolita, and some of these things are very hard to pin point, as Gothic Lolita tends to be one of the more fluid and varied Lolita sub-styles, at times blending with Classic, Punk, or other non-Lolita Jfashions. If I were to try to describe exactly what makes it different, I would say the mood of the outfit. Good Gothic Lolita can manage to look gloomy, elegant, mysterious, and even a bit macabre all at the same time. If you want a bit more details, well, here's a handy bullet list!
  • Motifs- Crosses are the most common motif in Gothic Lolita, but chandeliers, crowns, spider webs, coffins, bats, flowers, and just about anything that is typically goth are used in Gothic Lolita coordinates, only a bit more elegantly than they are used in other fashions. You really wouldn't have a flaming neon pink skull or a naked woman riding a crucifix in a Gothic Lolita coordinate, but things like this are often printed on Jpunk clothes. On the other hand, you aren't going to be seeing any Egyptian motifs like you so often seen in Western Goth. So, sorry, were all going to have to leave our ankh necklaces behind :(
  • Fabric- An all black Gothic Lolita outfit will tend to rely on texture to make it stand out from other styles of Lolita. You will often see jacquard, brocade, tulle or lace overlays, good quality satins, and velvets much more in Gothic Lolita than you would in any other style of Lolita.
  • Details- Gothic Lolita dresses don't use prints or rows of lace as details as much as other styles. You will often see metal findings such as grommets, busks, or eye-hook closures used as functional decoration. Distressed details such as raw hems, artfully crafted rips and holes, overlapping prints, and other such things, are to be found in Gothic Lolita. Look to brands like Alice Auaa or h.NAOTO for distressed gothic pieces. Necklines in Gothic Lolita are also a bit lower than in other styles, the square neck being a very popular gothic style. And by lower necklines, I don't mean you're allowed to have half your boobs hanging out, that's still unacceptable.
  • Accessories- Accessorizing can sometimes be the key difference between Kuro Lolita and Gothic Lolita. Gothic Lolita headdresses are pretty much never bows, corsages being a popular choice, as well as Victorian styled bonnets. Mini top hats are also seen fairly often (worn correctly, and not straight out of the 50 cents bin at a craft store) but are really not all that popular a head choice because they tend to look very silly if you do it wrong. Victorian styled jewelery is a great addition as well, beaded chokers combined with a low neckline being one of the most elegant Gothic Lolita styles. Gloves, either short or opera length, lacy or otherwise are also seen more often. Purses are rarely ever shaped like adorable animals or cutesy shapes, but instead are often plain and black, or are sometimes bat or coffin shaped.
  • Shoes and socks- Below the knee socks are rarely ever seen with Gothic Lolita, as they make the outfit look much too childish. Instead, over-the-knees are seen most, if not simply opaque tights. Lacy black tights are also often seen, as well as funkier tights, such as diamond print, stripes, or sometimes even ripped up stockings. The old-school platform heeled mary jane, often with many buckles going up to the mid-calf, is a common Gothic Lolita shoe, but boots or a heel with a more pointed toe are also seen. The only kind of Lolita shoe that tends to look odd with Gothic Lolita are the more cutesy shoes with a sensible heel, such as Tea Party shoes.
  • Hair and makeup- Hair and makeup for Gothic Lolita is often very similar to other styles of Lolita. Makeup is still kept to a minimum, with maybe a little bit of a smokey eye and some tinted lips. Hair is pretty much the same as in other styles, except it is often found down more often. Pigtails, either braided or super hairsprayed, are not often worn because, like socks that fall below the knee, the look is usually too childish for Gothic Lolita.
I've dug around my Gothic & Lolita Bibles and other Lolita magazines and scrounged up some Gothic Lolita pictures (the best place to find them are in the street snaps!). These, in my personal opinion, are all pretty great examples of Gothic Lolita.

Other colors in Gothic Lolita
In the above examples, you'll notice that most of the coordinates are completely black, or black and white. While these are the most common colors in Gothic Lolita, there are many other colors to choose from. Deep jewel tones are a favorite, with blue possibly being the most common color, but burgundy, gold, and even greens and purples are seen as well. When using color with Gothic Lolita, you do have to be careful that the coordinate doesn't start slipping into Classic Lolita territory, as color can sometimes make it do.

Black x White Lolita vs. Gothic Lolita
Spot the differences!
Black and white seems to be the "traditional" Gothic Lolita color scheme, even more so than all black sometimes! But any old black and white coordinate really shouldn't be called Gothic Lolita. Take the two coordinates above for example, they really aren't similar at all, other than color scheme. The dress on the left wouldn't exactly pass the "pastel pink strawberry" test at all, because then it would merge perfectly with Sweet Lolita. The one on the right would look very strange if it was covered in strawberries. If you still can't spot the differences, here's a rundown of these two particular coordinates.
  • Material- The sweeter dress on the left is made out of plain cotton, while the more gothic dress is a textured jacquard or brocade like fabric.
  • Details- The sweeter dress is definitely much more decorated than the gothic one. It has rows and rows of lace, while the gothic one has a simple line of lace on the hem. And while the two dresses look similar at first glance, the sweeter one is actually a JSK with the chest covered in white lace ruffles, while the gothic one is either an underbust JSK or even a high-waisted skirt. They give the same appearance, a white area on the chest, but go about it in completely different ways.
  • Sleeves- The sweeter outfit has short puffy sleeves, while the more gothic one has long sleeves. While, obviously, both sleeve lengths are found in either style, short sleeves tend to make an outfit look much sweeter than long sleeves.
  • Headdress- The sweeter outfit uses a square headdress, and the gothic outfit uses a corsage headpiece with some sort of veil-ish netting on it.
  • Hair and makeup- The sweeter outfit has very natural makeup, or even none at all, and a pair of sweet braids, while the gothic outfit has slightly darker makeup, a smokey eye and a stained lip, while the hair is kept very long and straight.
  • Tights/socks- The sweeter outfit uses a pair of white socks with a cute lace-up design on them, making her look very childish, while the gothic outfit is wearing sold black tights, which make her look much more mature.
  • Shoes- At first, their shoes look very similar to each other, they're both platforms! But on a second glance, the sweeter outfit is wearing a simple pair of flat chunky platforms, while the gothic outfit is wearing heeled platforms that appear to have quite a few buckles on them and are even tied with a ribbon.
So does that mean to be a Gothic Lolita I can only wear wear Moitie, Atlier Pierrot, or Antique Beast? That stuff is nearly impossible to find and cost about a million dollars anyways!
Of course not! While many Gothic Lolita dresses are designed specifically for the style, just as many Sweet Lolita dresses can hardly ever be anything other than Sweet Lolita, you can make a great Gothic Lolita coordinate out of a plain black cotton JSK. It's sometimes just a matter of how you accessorize the dress.

Kuro Lolita vs. Gothic Lolita
On the left is a Kuro Lolita coordinate, and on the right is a Gothic Lolita using the exact same dress. With different accessories and an interesting blouse, it can easily turn into something very Gothic. The Kuro Lolita coordinate on the left is also a good example of a dress being black, but not necessarily Gothic Lolita.


  1. Those stiletto heels in the last picture, you have to tell me where they are from because they are TO DIE FOR. *_*

  2. great post

    thanks the scans aswell ^^

    I lvoe antique beast (drool)

  3. I love this post, you make a really good point, a sweet lolita outfit in black is not gothic lolita. =\

    Might i point out though, that you mentioned once or twice that gothic lolita is supposed to be more mature than sweet lolita. I agree although, lolita, no matter what the sub style, should still look like little girls' clothing. Some of the example you showed are border line aristocrat. Imo, a solution to this would be maybe...poofier skirts? Maybe even poofy enough like a sweet lolita? Perhaps, a bow now and then? But, these are my opinions and sorry if I came off a bit offensive, I did not mean it to be offensive, i just wanted to share my opinion :)

  4. Great post, I agree so much with your points here! There is much more to Gothic Lolita than painting regular Lolita black. :D

    The example pics you chose are to die for! *_*

  5. @Maria- They're from!

    Naka- Thanks :D I love Antique Beast as well!

    LolitaOtaku- Thank you! In your opinion which ones would you consider Aristocrat? In my own opinion, I think that to be Aristocrat it would have to be a much longer skirt. Don't worry about being offensive XD I like hearing other people's opinions. Lolita is pretty much ruled by majority vote, and no one person's opinions are the absolute truth on the matter, so it's always nice to see other people's ideas on the fashion!

    @Juli- Thank you! I, obviously, agree XD

  6. Nice post. I've been wanting to get into gothic lolita more, but it was kind of hard to find gothic lolita pieces when sweet lolita is so popular right now. It's good to have some pointers of what to look for in potential gothic lolita coordinate pieces. And where is the black bag with ruffles form? It's so pretty! <3

  7. Hello! I've been reading your blog backwards - you have a lot of excellent articles! Everything is so well written and thoughtful. :) Anyways, I really love the OP on the girl in the left in the 2nd row, middle picture. (Link here: I was wondering if you could give me any information on it - maker, name of dress. Thanks! :)

  8. Thank you :D I am pretty sure the dress is Mille Fleurs

  9. Totally agreed! To one of the commenters who says that some pictures look borderline aristocrat? I disagree! They're perfectly gothic lolita with the right subdued silhouette (not cupcakey sweet like AP)

    Though, Moitie has made bows before. :) I owned one, and then it was too sweet for me even *laugh* so I sold it off. I think it's really in the way one coordinates and has an eye for the style!

  10. i would like to try a burgundy sleeve-less dress, black blouse and black accessory's.

  11. wauw, het ziet er heel goed uit. Heb je de volgende link bezocht ..? zo niet, open dan de link en geniet van 25% korting en gratis en snelle verzending.


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