Nikki’s Inbox: Mixing Gothic and Preppy

Hello! I am currently a senior high school student who will graduate soon. During my final year, I’ve been studying a lot, and so my style has regressed to just sweatpants, various hoodies and anything else that I find comfortable. What I recently discovered is that I actually really like gothic/dark clothing and vampy makeup. When I was less busy and put more effort into my outfits, I just liked to look neat and tidy. In combination, I would describe it as preppy goth maybe? I am about 5’2, 120 lbs., have dark skin and I have an average-sized bust. I don’t want to hide anything per se, but I do like clothing that emphasizes my neck/collarbone and waist, like turtlenecks. I just want suggestions for clothing that is comfortable but suits my style a little better. I’m tired of looking like a potato sack! Thank you for reading this!

Areli, 17/ Canada

Congratulations in advance, dear Areli, on finishing high school! Here’s to getting through those final days and looking forward to the future!

I’m all for finding one’s personal style and wearing it proudly. While Goth fashion primarily consists of black head-to-toe ensembles, the preppy look has some very opposite elements. The overall vibe is geared towards looking clean-cut, crisp and classic. Can these two be combined and wearable? Definitely yes!

Color Play

The great thing about blending these two styles is that you can play with two very basic and opposite colors — black and white — and everything in between. Goth is primarily black, while the preppy style’s clean-cut aesthetic uses lighter colors, including white. Using black and white makes a very bold statement, and you still have all the other shades at your disposal such as all versions of gray, and other dark colors like midnight blue. You can also use jewel tones like purple, magenta, crimson or emerald green — which complement your skin tone — as accents for the rest of your outfit.

Cut and Detail

Since you wish to show off your shoulders, neck and clavicles, look for scoop and square necklines. Square necklines are big for summer and are quite a refreshing change from the off-shoulder trend. They’ll definitely suit your preferences. Another option is choker-neck tops. Chokers are an essential part of the Goth style, but the versions that come with these types of tops will be in a matching fabric, and therefore look more elegant and feel more comfortable for summer.

To emphasize the waist, I always recommend wearing blouses and dresses with princess seams and darts at the bodice. These are natural shapers for the bust and waist. Smocked crop tops are also a great way to emphasize your upper half. You can layer them over thinner tops like camisoles and slim-fit sweaters, or under see-through lace blouses for stunning textural contrast.

Rated-A Dresses

Any longtime Ask Nikki reader knows that A-lines are my number one recommendation, because nothing beats the A-line when it comes to making any figure look good. And since you want to emphasize your waistline, this silhouette should definitely hold a special place in your closet. You can choose to wear A-line jumper dresses, spaghetti strap or strapless styles, or shirtdresses in mini or maxi lengths.

Try a little Wednesday Addams look in a grown-up style mini shirtdress with a nice contrast collar and lace shell. It may not have your preferred neckline, but with sheer black tights or socks, plus ankle or lace-up boots or patent brogues, you’ll be cutting a fine figure.

Balanced at the Bottom

Your choker-neck tops, square-neck blouses and smocked tops work with shorts, skinny or slim-fit pants, and skirts of all sorts. There’s no reason why you should neglect your bottom half simply because you want to emphasize your neckline and waist, right?

Try lace-up skirts or shorts, or even those with eye-catching hardware like contrast zippers, oversized pulltabs, or other interesting visual details like cutouts, asymmetric hemlines, playful textures and insets. A fitted blouse with big puff sleeves looks absolutely bewitching with a turned-up collar, and sleek leather shorts with a studded patent belt or boyish suspenders. You can also layer a smocked crop top over a slim-fit scoopneck tee and team with a pleated plaid mini skirt and a long open-front vest.

Lastly, don’t forget your accessories. Just like with your clothes, mix a little of the classics like a faux pearl necklace or cameo brooch for a nice Victorian vibe, and some avant-garde pieces like a studded belt or hoop-accented beret to add depth to your preppy Goth style.

Here’s to the new you, Areli!

P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body type or shape, your tastes or personality. You can include a selfie (link only please) or a photo of your clothes (which I will never publish without pre-approval). Thank you!

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