We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Alternative Fashion?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At BeautyAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The phrase “alternative fashion” is often associated with styles that differ from mainstream trends. The phrase itself depicts fashion choices that are not only unique but constantly altered. Alternative fashion is typically linked to teenagers and young adults, although people of any age may participate in this style of dress. In the first decade of the 21st century, gothic and emo fashion are the most popular forms of alternative fashion, though grunge and rockabilly are also modes of alternative fashion. In fact, most any type of style can be considered alternative fashion to other people.

Emo fashion has its roots in a style of rock music. Lyrically emotional and melodically catchy, the songs have been capturing a certain kind of audience since roughly the mid-1980s. While the emo movement enjoyed moderate underground popularity until the 21st century, it has since become more mainstream. Fashion critics often contend that since more and more clothing designers have manufactured styles directed toward this crowd, it’s not as “alternative” as it once was.

“Emo kids” — as they are often called — are generally depicted as wearing tight jeans or pants, band t-shirts, neon colors contrasted with shades of black, and shoes manufactured by skateboard brands. Studded belts, thick-rimmed glasses and shaggy haircuts are also associated with emo fashion. Many emo fashionistas also dye chunks of their hair in various bright, unusual colors. Despite the loud outfit choices, those who dress with an emo flair are often stereotyped as shy, angst-ridden boys and girls.

Goth or gothic fashion is another style of alternative fashion. Considered a type of subculture, people who have “gone goth” are often seen wearing all black, with occasional splashes of white or gray. Black hair is also common, worn in wild or long, straight manners. Heavy black makeup — including black lips — are also associated with this type of alternative fashion. Style choices are often reminiscent of the Victorian ages, as well as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) and punk movements.

Considered androgynous in many ways, goth clothing is worn by both men and women. Like other forms of alternative fashion, there is no age or geographic restrictions associated with the goth subculture. Both men and women in this scene may wear tulle or velvet skirts, black boots and fishnet accessories. Gothic people are also generally pale, as Goths are stereotyped as disliking the sun. Macabre, erotic and morbid accessories are also parts of this fashion trend.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By yumdelish — On Sep 30, 2011

I am trying to keep up with my granddaughters generation, and this article has helped shed some light on eclectic fashion alternatives!

While I know I'm way too old to dress this way I do like to have some idea of what they are talking about. Some of these styles are way beyond runway fashion - though I suppose that's the point really.

By irontoenail — On Sep 29, 2011

@pleonasm - You have to be careful not to annoy the people who really identify as goth, or punk if you are going to just show up at a festival. Usually if you are cool about it, everyone else will be too, but there are always people who try too hard to fit in, and they can be irritating.

It also kind of annoys me, with punk in particular, when people buy "punk" clothes from expensive stores. The whole point in my mind is to make something unique and personal, not to spend a lot of money trying to look like someone else's concept of the style.

But, you know, people can do what they like. I just won't consider it to be a genuine part of the scene, until it gets a little bit dirty.

Oh yeah and I don't think there is an established kind of steampunk music. I've heard people suggest progressive rock though.

By pleonasm — On Sep 29, 2011

@croydon - I feel like steampunk evolved from goth to some extent and the two can still be blended. That's one of the reasons I like it as well. It's weird, and awesome looking, but it doesn't have the negative connotations of goth and you can mix up colors rather than just wearing black.

There are places where you can go out wearing alternate fashion choices though, even if you aren't part of the "scene". They often have gigs or festivals catering to steampunk or goth people and you can always go to these, particularly if you enjoy the music associated with them.

I actually don't know exactly what kind of music would be associated with steampunk though. Maybe ska?

By croydon — On Sep 28, 2011

My favorite kind of alternative fashion at the moment is steampunk. I just love the aesthetic of matching up faux Victorian styles with science and mechanical elements, like clockwork.

People seem to use all kinds of different materials for it as well, such as lace and feathers and metal and so forth. And I guess I've always had a soft spot for corsets which seem to be the most common thing for women to wear.

I think I might have to create a steampunk themed costume for Halloween this year.

Unfortunately, I don't think I could get away with wearing this kind of alternative clothing at any other time of the year!

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.