Summer. The sun is shining, the bugs are sexually active, and everyone is marginally more damp than usual. Summer can be a challenging time for fashion– signature jackets must be cast aside and layering is practically impossible under the sweltering heat.

For goths, it can be especially challenging and you may feel tempted to limit your outfits to submit to the sun’s heat. Well, don’t! Never let the death ball in the sky prevent you from dressing like the undead angel you are.

Here are some tips to dress goth for the summer. In this article we’re going to cover:

  • Maxi-length skirts
  • Fishnet accessories
  • Parasols
  • Hats and headwear
  • Waistcoats, vests, and corsets
Model posing in Thekla dress with waist chain from Disturbia.
Maxi skirts and dresses improve air flow, making it easier for you to keep cool in the summer. The Thekla dress with charm belt adds another layer of breathability with a leg slit. Image courtesy of Disturbia.

Long, Drapey Skirts are the Ideal Sun Protection

Your first instinct in the summer heat may be to wear as few clothes as possible. I don’t blame you, but wearing long, flowy fabrics are actually better at keeping you cool. Not only are maxi skirts good for a vampiric look, the extra coverage helps protect your skin and keep you looking pale and sickly as possible.

Midi and maxi skirts are great for covering your legs and bonus: you feel like a princess while wearing them. The tiered maxi skirt is great for a regal, puffier silhouette, but it also allows for more air flow between your legs, keeping you cool.

They can be worn with tank tops, oversized band tees, or any other top of your choosing. I think they’d look excellent with some lace gloves leftover from your Misa Amane cosplay. All in all, maxi skirts are a perfect summer staple.

Composite image. Left: Pandora Maxi Skirt from Altar’d State. Right: Romantic Goth Style Maxi Skirt from Simple Modern Me.
A tiered maxi skirt like the Pandora maxi from Altar’d State adds a princess charm to your summer wardrobe. On the other hand, a lace detail can protect you from the sun, while maintaining the aesthetic vision. The romantic goth style maxi skirt from SimpleModernMe is an excellent example.
Model wearing Gothic Fishnet Tights C0028 from Cutie Kill Shop beneath a mini skirt.
Fishnets can add another level to your outfit game without another layer of heat absorption. They can be worn beneath skirts, dresses, shorts, and even over the arms. Image courtesy of Cutie Kill Shop.

Fishnets can Complete Any Summer Alternative Outfit

As someone under the alternative umbrella, I am certain you know the value of fishnets and how they can change the emotion of an entire outfit. Fishnets are a great way to add an alternative charm to your outfit with minimal extra heat to your body. Opt for a pair with wider gaps between the netting for an even lighter layer.

Fishnets can be paired with absolutely anything, anywhere on your body. A common hack is to cut a hole by the crotch and toe areas to make an undershirt, a perfect layering piece for a goth or ‘alternative summer look.’

Woman wearing a tank top with fishnet sleeves beneath it.
Wearing fishnets as a top or undershirt is a creative way to express your personality. Rookiemag has a tutorial on how to cut the tights into a shirt and many other DIY projects for an alternative wardrobe.

Parasols are a Must to Keep the Sun Away

Now, this section more closely aligns with Romantic or Victorian goths, but a parasol is great for sun protection and ~aesthetics~.

Add a parasol (or umbrella) to take inspiration from our Lolita friends. A parasol makes every outfit more intentional and makes you look like the kooky neighbor from a kids’ movie. What more to life is there?

Composite image. Left: Dark in Love Black Gothic Lolita Umbrella with Rings of Lace and star patterns from Metro Alternative. Right: WS549 Gothic lolita embroidered lace parasol from PunkRave.
Parasols add a layer of drama to any outfit, gothic or not. Plus, it creates shade so you’re protected from sunburn and from overheating. Image courtesy of MetroAlternative and PunkRave.

Head Accessories to Keep Cool and Aesthetic

If a parasol is too loud of a statement for you, head accessories like sun hats can provide a similar effect. A wide-brim sun hat can shield your face from the sun, while making you look like a mysterious lady who may or may not have murdered her senile husband for the money.

Model wearing bikini and Gothetica Sunhat from Killstar.
Sunhats are excellent for any outdoor excursion in the summer sun. Image courtesy of Killstar.

Other accessories like veils, headbands, and hair clips are also great ways to add gothic, interesting elements to your looks. I love the look of Lolita headbands. Their ruffles and bows add a lovely feminine touch and I guarantee no one will have the same look. Especially if you make your own. However, puffy headbands are also fun. They make your hair look more voluminous and aren’t painful like those plastic ones we wore as kids.

Composite Image. Left: Cute Bowknots Lace Lolita Hair Hoop from LolitaBB. Right: Black deeply padded puffy velvet headband faux pearl embellishment women's hairband matador style statement crown fascinator tiara halo from Etsy.
Headbands and headpieces are a cute and feminine accessory to bring interest all the way up to your hair. Image courtesy of LolitaBB and Etsy seller MareeAlexanderDesign.

For an even more dramatic look, try a veil to fully commit to the Frankenstein’s bride energy. Or the ‘going to your very rich husband’s funeral after he died of mysterious circumstances’ aesthetic I mentioned earlier.

Composite image. Left: Black lace imperial crown veil half face gothic lolita mask from Lolitain. Right: Ayliss women mesh veils bridal birdcage veil short wedding face veil with clip tulle gothic bride halloween costume veil from Amazon.
Birdcage face veils are the optimal headpiece for late nights pretending to cast spells in the cemetery. Or walking around the city, silently letting people know that you’re cooler than them. Image courtesy of Lolitain and Amazon,.

Waistcoats and Vests to Work in the Office, or Attend Alternative Events

Vests are excellent pieces that add minimal heat to a shirt, or can be worn on their own. Because there’s no sleeves, your arms won’t overheat, but you can still add some extra flair to your outfits.

Waistcoats can be worn in Victorian goth or even the steampunk style. It can also be worn in a more corporate setting, if fishnet undershirts will get you in hot water with HR.

Composite image. Left: Black double breasted girls vest from Hot Topic. Right: Black and Red Gothic retro gorgeous Jacquard wedding party waistcoat for men from DevilNight.
Waistcoats can be dressed up or down for any occasion. Image courtesy of Hot Topic and DevilNight.

A double breasted vest can be styled up or down depending on the occasion. For a more casual styling, layer it over a sheer top and pair with a miniskirt. For those with corporate jobs, go full corpgoth with the vest. Add a flouncy blouse, tie or neck ruffle, and a brooch to the vest for a work-appropriate, yet gothic look.

You could also take inspiration from the punk subculture and go for a patch or crust-vest. This could also be a fun summer activity. Grab a denim vest (or cut the sleeves off an old denim jacket) and cover it with patches, embroidery, and pins that fit your interests.

Boots standing beside a battle vest. The vest is black denim and covered in band patches and studs.
Battle vests are a staple in the punk subculture. Instead of punk bands like the Misfits, try patches of goth groups like The Sisters of Mercy. Use your creativity to make a beautiful piece of wearable art. Image courtesy of the Subreddit: r/BattleJacket.

Corsets can Subtly add Goth Flair to a Summer Outfit

Like vests and waistcoats, a corset is a more feminine interpretation. A corset is a lightweight, breathable, and fashionable accessory that anyone can pull off. It adds a vintage feel to any top or dress but can also be worn alone (as long as it covers everything that needs to be covered).

An underbust corset is a cute way to spruce up an outfit while keeping things subtle. Also, don’t feel embarrassed about looking in lingerie departments or sections for a corset or bustier. You’re more likely to find corsets in those sections than the casual top department.

Composite image. Left: goth corset and top from Wuve. Right: Anaselma gothic overbust fashion corset with cups from Corset Queen.
Corsets can be worn beneath a tank top or tee for a casual look or on their own for a romantic and sexy occasion. Image courtesy of Wuuve and Corset Queen.

Those are our tips for surviving Summer in Goth fashion!

As a reminder, there is no wrong way to be goth. So long as you listen to the music and aren’t a scumbag, the community will welcome you. Enjoy your summer of fashionable looks but remember to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, and avoid the sun at all costs.