Office Goth: How to Wear Your Dark Heart on Your Sleeve at Work

Intentionally ripped fishnets don't really say "promotion."
Publish date:
January 28, 2015
goth style, boots, goth, tights, jessica simpson, dark lipstick, Betsey Johnson

Even though I was never a goth girl myself, a lot of my awesome artist friends were back in the day. Recently, one of them asked for fashion advice on how to pull off a goth look as an adult, since the goth looks of our youth aren’t exactly office-friendly (though they’re definitely making a comeback in the fashion world currently as the 90s is influencing a lot of trends).

So what’s a girl — sorry, woman — with a black heart to do? Try some of these dark but grown-up takes on your adolescent goth style:

Trade: Black Lips for Purple or Oxblood Shades

If you wanna and were brave enough, I think you could still rock a black lip out at night, but for most offices or places of business, it might be a little too intense. Purple shades are huge right now; or if you don’t like purple, try a deep wine red or oxblood shade. You’ll still look edgy, but not Halloween–y.

I’m partial to Rimmel's Bordeaux shade (above), and you can check out some of the more wearable purple shades here.

Trade: Heavy Smoky Eyes for a Kitten Eye

The truth is, heavy eyeliner actually makes your eyes look much smaller. That's why I love a kitten eye, little sister to the full-blown cat eye: It’s very dark and sexy, but still grown-up and wearable for daytime.

This Charlotte Tilbury tutorial is an excellent primer.

Trade: Ripped Fishnet Tights for Textured or Patterned Pantyhose

As a fan of vintage, I’m also a pretty huge fan of the fishnet. However, they may still be a little risqué for daytime. You can find great textured or patterned tights that are fun and look cool, but don’t expose as much skin (also a bonus in cold weather).

And it’s probably time to let the intentional rips go anyway. RIP Zombie Tights, you were loved into the ground.

In addition to the very pretty gothic rose print tights above, try these hole-y polka dot tights from Hue .

Trade: Chunky Knee-High Combat Boots for Sleek Lace Up Boots

There are so many varieties of cool boots out there. And while Doc Martens are a classic goth staple (and it’s likely you still own a pair … or two), consider something a little more streamlined for your wardrobe (though a chunky heel is still okay and super on-trend right now).

I love these (super on-sale!) basic black platform boots, but the burgundy velour boots above would be an amazing statement piece for your grown-up goth wardrobe.

Other Easy Upgrades

  • Black lace is timeless, but look for sleeker pieces with subtle lace details (not leather and suspenders and a corset). You can even add a pair of lacy heels (like the featured Jessica Simpson platforms) to your wardrobe for fancy events.
  • Leather pants are in style if you’re brave, but black coated jeans are a great compromise because they look like leather but they feel like you’re wearing jeans.
  • Look for tops and dresses with corset details: nipped-in waists, boning, or sweetheart necklines. Or a simple black corset top (like the one shown above) that you can wear under a blazer for day and as a basic for night.
  • A black corset belt is a goth girl staple and can add a little goth flavor to even the most basic black dress.
  • Jewelry in brushed silver, hematite, or onyx can add a dark edge to a more basic look. Betsey Johnson’s jewelry line even makes skulls look tasteful.

Now put on your sexy grown-up goth duds, blare some PJ Harvey (or if you want some new goth sounds, try Zola Jesus) at your desk (with headphones in), and groove out like no time has passed.