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What are the Different Types of Emo Styles?

By Lumara Lee
Updated May 21, 2024
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Emo is short for emotional, and refers mostly to teens going through an emotional phase of their lives. The styles that have evolved for emo give individuals an outlet where it is acceptable to express more angst than they otherwise might. These emo styles are commonly seen in music, clothing, makeup, and hair. Some people also sport body piercings and tattoos as part of their emo fashion, and it is sometimes difficult to discern whether a person is emo or punk.

The black hoody is one of the most popular emo styles. T-shirts which feature emo bands are frequently worn. Dark colors such as black, brown, and navy blue are common fashion colors, and many are drawn to vintage t-shirts and polo shirts. Emos tend to portray the look of fashion outcasts by dressing in clothing that doesn’t fit current trends. Corduroy pants and castoff clothing found at thrift stores are typical emo styles.

There is no specifc emo hairstyle since the people attracted to emo strive for a unique look. In general, emo hairstyles are asymmetrical and choppy. One person may have his or her head shaved on one side and have hair styled into spikes on the other. Another look may have long hair on one side and short hair on the other. People often cut their own hair, since symmetry and perfection aren’t the goal of emo hair styles.

Many people following emo fashion trends dye their hair. The most popular hair color is jet black, and bleached blond or bright red hair is also common. Many choose to color their tresses in unnatural dark shades such as purple, burgundy, and navy blue. Adding streaks of bright colors to dark hair is also popular.

Nails and makeup play an important role in the emo styles of both genders. Black nail polish is commonly seen on both. A pale foundation makeup to hide flaws is used by both boys and girls. Heavy black eyeliner accents the eyes, and it is often smudged to give a smoky look. Dark eye shadows such as charcoal, navy, and deep purple complete the emo look for eyes.

There are various nuances and subgenres of emo. Scene is a subgroup of people who like to dress in emo styles and pretend to be emo, but don't share in the deep emotional angst of the true emo. Goth emo is another popular subgenre, consisting of a hybrid of both the goth and emo cultures.

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Discussion Comments
By anon299671 — On Oct 25, 2012

Oh, and "scene" is all about being fashion-forward. It is not a sub-group! It is the scene kids who listen to techno, and anything you might consider "club music". So what I mean is, they listen to futuristic sounding music that can have either a hyper-happy theme or a hyper-solemn theme. The key to this is "hyper".

Scene kids (they can also be adults, and most are anyway) focus on appearance and lifestyle (most people don't know this).

The style is like a Japanese cartoon character (Manga), and it is completed with tattoos and piercings. The point of this style is not to rebel against anything. The point is beauty and music and (guess what?) the whole scene.

Tattoos and piercings are considered very attractive in many sub-cultures in Western society, so the scene kids are kind of like the fashion models.

By anon299669 — On Oct 25, 2012

Emo people tend to look like a mixture of punk and gothic. Emo branches from the original punk movement, where the punk rockers created music that was more focused on deep emotions caused by lost love. Punk was originally focused on anger toward society, political/social issues (The Clash is a great example).

When I was growing up, we called emo kids "punk-goth" or just "goth", which is different than Gothic, as Gothic focuses simply on the "dark-and-bright" visuals, where "Goth" focuses on punk apparel/music and some Gothic visuals as a way of showing emotional depth.

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