Gothic fashion doesn't have the best reputation. Long the province of angsty suburban high schoolers and internet subcultures, most people associate gothic fashion with ripped fishnets, badly dyed hair, and vampire makeup. However, as the fall runways have shown, Gothic can be beautiful and modern - these clothes are a far cry from Hot Topic.
Olivier Theyskens and Nicolas Ghesquiere are the leaders of this new look - a darkly romantic style that uses historical motifs in a completely new way. At Rochas, Olivier has created a new vision of Victorian that is feminine, modern, and not all fussy or prim, and at Balenciaga, Nicolas has updated archival Balenciaga, adding both Baroque touches and a rock'n'roll edge, resulting in a seamless blend of eras that has fashionistas around the world coveting his clothes.
But how do you wear these styles without looking you're wearing a costume (or like a rebellious teenager)? It's all in the mix. Wear your ruffled blouses with jeans and a leather jacket, or floaty, feminine dresses with chunky platforms. Or just keep it to the accessories - try a skull or heavy cross necklace with a sleek suit. Makeup is also one of the easiest ways to go neo-Goth: just wear a little more dark eyeliner or lipstick than usual (and remember to keep the lips neutral). Inky nail polish is another fun way to try this look; OPI's "Lincoln Park after Dark" is a purple so dark it appears black.
You don't have to wait for fall to go for the Goth, either. A little darkness can be the perfect antidote to spring's sweetness. Throw a heavy, ornate leather belt over your breezy summer dresses, or wear a pair of studded platforms with your summer shorts. Just remember not to interpret this trend to literally - head to toe Gothic can be more frightening than fabulous.