Long Live Gothcore: Getting Behind the Anti-Softcore Aesthetic


August 24, 2021
Read Time: 2 minutes

Extra reasons to wear black are always welcome anyway



These are dark times; would it be so terrible to dress the part? According to Gothcore, the latest “-core” aesthetic to earn our appreciation, that’s all well and good. This trend is meant to be taken with a grain of salt, of course, but there’s something oddly comforting about no longer resisting dread or darkness (maybe it’s all the black). Rather than finding an escape route, where fashion would normally suggest counterpointing the sign of the times with exuberance or vibrancy or softness, Gothcore has other plans.


Clearly, softcore has had its day. We’re here now for its feel-all-the-feelings, darker, moodier cousin.




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Goth, the music genre, and goth, the look, are obviously the defining elements of the subculture. Originating in the late ‘70s in the United Kingdom, it has since evolved, its makings splintering and diverging, only to cross paths again over the decades: music intersecting with glam rock and metal; fashion, with grunge and pop.


Evidently, the common denominator is the liberal use of black. But looking to Sora Choi’s vampiric take on power dressing (above), Justine Biticon’s Nancy Downs-turned-vixen ensembles as of late (below) or Måneskin’s smoky-eyed quartet (further ahead), Gothcore leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The overlap with other trends is where half the fun lies, too.





On to Gothcore-ready beauty: Kohl-smudged eyes with black lipstick is a goth look that’s a dime a dozen. A welcome swap is the heavy-handed use of browns and neutrals that kind of hollow out the eyes. It’s a more subdued take on the smoky eye look.


Are these dark under-eyes from losing sleep over existential dread? Are they painted on? A bit of both maybe?



And no talk of Gothcore makeup would be complete without the mention of YouTuber Bailey Sarian. For makeup ideas that are fun, unexpected yet still play within the aesthetic, Sarian is a top suggestion. Her makeup looks explore that range, but they also bring something more to the table: dark makeup looks paired with dark romanticism. Sarian’s Makeup, Murder and Dark History series is where true crime and makeup tutorials meet. (Manson Mystery & Makeup? HELLO.) If there’s anything in 2021 that captures Gothcore in a surprising, new way, this is probably it.


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Like all other trends, maybe this aesthetic will fly on by. Maybe it will stick. Either way, video essayist Trash Theory said it best: “Wherever there is darkness in music, inner torment, monster worship, or dressing all in black, goth will be there.” And since recent years seem to check all the boxes, we really don’t mind that Gothcore hangs around. Long live!



Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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