How do you update your alternative style (goth/punk/scene/emo/whatever) to look more grown up?

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Toirneach 1 week, 3 days ago.

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    I’m 27. I didn’t have the clothes I wanted in high school when I changed my style to express my interest in art and music. I loved checkered pants, studded belts, converse, you get the idea.

    I have so many band t-shirts now, along with sneakers and black jeans. I love things with skulls and flowers on them, and I still love getting inspiration from goth and punk styles. I have so many clothes now that make me happy.

    (I’m also going through a weird phase where I want to break more fashion rules/trends. Like wearing more vests, mens clothes, mixing my “alternative” style with different fabrics and vintage pieces like burgundy loafers and vintage jewelry. I know I’m odd, maybe this is just a phase.)

    How does one update this sort of style so they don’t look 21 years old?



    Look at the goddess that is Tilda Swinton. Or Helena Bonham Carter if you skew more boho.

    What about rocking a band tee under a super sharp suit (or suit coat)? Add in awesome burgundy loafers and a great vintage brooch? I can see that working.



    I was a teen during the 90s and was heavily influenced by punk, grunge and goth fashions. Back then, I shopped at thrift stores to achieve my look – I was really into grandpa sweaters, band shirts, torn-up oversized jeans, polyester slacks and carpet jackets from the 70s. As I’ve gotten older (I am 36 now) and had a career, I have found ways to feminize and professionalize my style. I wear leather moto jackets over simple, fresh v-necks with the blackest skinny jeans and beautiful boots. Lush textiles such as brocade and metallics paired with basics. Statement jewelry in bold, geometric shapes. Bright accessories like yellow pointy Rothy’s with my mostly black and gray staples. Bold eye makeup with professional garb. I find the biggest thing to refine my style has been to buy high-quality items that will look polished for a long time. I also have been using Rent the Runway, which has been a fun way to supplement my wardrobe with luxe items I never have to keep.



    Former scene kid here! I’m 29, I work in a corporate law environment, and still manage to wear a lot of black (mostly tbh), plaid and leather/studded items but now I buy them in a better quality and in more modern/grown up silhouettes and then add some more “adult” pieces into the mix.

    1. Court day: Black dress pants, black suit jacket, dressy plaid shirt, bright red leather tote, beige heels, chunky silver link bracelet.
    2. Office day: plaid dress pants, thin cashmere sweater, black leather jacket, beige loafers and the same bright red leather tote.
    3. day off: high waisted jean mini skirt, band tshirt tucked in, black blazer and black loafers with studs on the heel, and a snake skin patten purse.

    I like to hope that I come off as a professional adult on week days. Not having neon hair and a more modern hair style/colour also helps I think. Although I miss it so bad!! I just want to tease my hair real big, dye it black and have giant pink and blonde streaks in it😭

    Edit: I also usually have dark nail polish and always wear winged liner – so I’m still easily identifiable lol



    I was kind of similar, I was hugely into games so all my clothes were printed t-shirts with geek humour on them, skinny jeans and combat boots and sneakers. Tomboy/gamer girl stuff.

    I guess eventually I just slowly realised that my clothes don’t have to be walking billboards shouting out what I’m about. They don’t have to define me. Once I accepted that, I started approaching clothing within the context of fashion. I started choosing colours that are pleasing to my eye but still go together well, and cuts and fabrics that look beautiful to me. I also like practicality, so I try to incorporate that in my outfits. I follow general trends and pay attention to fit to make sure my outfits look intentional and current. That alone changed my wardrobe to read a lot more stylish and by extension more grown up.

    My current wardrobe is lots of neutrals and loose shapes but I still feel like I’m expressing myself, it’s just more refined and within the context of fashion instead of my other hobbies. I still look like someone who probably plays games or is into tech, but it’s not as blatant as plastering “FOR THE HORDE!” on my tops.



    Choose your use of patterns carefully. They’re excellent, but can easily over power a look.

    My grown up goth style is mostly the modern trends in all black. Long cotton black dresses are super comfy especially for the climate I’m in. I have a full moon/pumpkin tattoo that sort of keeps me looking goth no matter how “hip” the style I’m wearing is. (Coupled with black hair and polish, so it’s a few things.)

    The thing I love about band t-shirts is that they’re sort of the same base as jeans. They don’t really throw off anything you pair them with unlike most graphic tees.



    I too struggle with my punkish gothy desired aesthetic and what is actually practical for me professionally (and personally honestly. Sometimes I like not being gothy). I don’t want to look costumey or childish but I also like wearing things that I feel the most “me” in.

    My solution has been fishnet tights and interesting socks. My fishnets I don’t mean your typical fishnets, though I wear those too, but tights with interesting voided patterning or texture. I use monochromatic socks as a statement too. To pull together an otherwise all black, unfinished outfit. I wear doc martens and other boots a lot. Also interesting statement jewelry. I avoid make up at work (I work with precious objects so I don’t want my make up to transfer) so on weekends I might wear a fun dark lip or be a little more heavy handed with the eyeliner.

    I also love plaid and texture. If I’m wearing all black I like to play with texture. Some fits suck and don’t do what I want, others I find sometimes just by pairing the right things together I get that alt badass vibe I was looking for!

    I threw together an album of what I think are my most “adult goth” fits from the past year, if you wanna see what I’m trying to explain!

    [Gothy Fits ](

    Edit- if anyone wants you can follow my fits [here](



    There are several designers who do the luxe version of this look well. Alexander McQueen, Vivianne Westwood and Rick Owens pieces allow me to channel my inner punk rock girl in a grown up middle aged woman way.



    *Huge* fan of Annie Clark of St. Vincent (hence the username), and I adore her style. Some of her stuff is extremely outlandish, and meant strictly for the stage, but outfits like [this](, [this](, and also [this]( are all very punk rock, but also doesn’t feel like something I’d see a 15 year old at Hot Topic wear.



    Currently migrating from “gutter punk” to “business witch”. It’s an adjustment (and you can pry my band tshirts out of my cold, dead hands). One thing that definitely works for me is simple black clothing with a statement piece from my punk alter ego. So like, I have a very simple black shirt dress. I wear it with fishnets and black suede ankle boots with chunky black glitter heels. If I’m going to work, I wear a blazer and black tights under the fishnets so the texture is more subtle. I always get a lot of compliments.

    Another favorite of mine is I have a giant Wilson’s leather men’s biker jacket that makes me feel tough even as my style has gotten more feminine over time. The contrast makes the whole outfit more contemporary.

    Also learning complementary colors, and mixing patterns for the exact right level of clash, is incredibly satisfying.



    This is exactly what I’m trying to do as well. I’m pursuing an MLIS (library science masters) and prefer to look a little more ‘put together’ at work while still looking edgy (as edgy as someone in their 30s can look?). I put together [this pinterest board]( for inspiration (although it’s a bit heavy on the black + sleek silhouettes looks). Is this kind of like what you’re going for?



    I had this issue! It a bit of an identity switch, to realize I wasn’t a teenager anymore and that the stuff I loved in earlier days no longer felt right. But I didn’t want to lose myself in bland fashions either.

    My approach has been the following:

    — focus on good-quality basic garments in natural fibers (almost all in black in my case, ha)

    — statement jewelry and other accessories: bold/unusual necklaces, earrings, glasses, scarves, etc.

    — shoes: boots, weird Fluevogs, patent leather, etc.

    — keep my favorite band t-shirts but wear them on the weekends or under sweaters

    It’s funny, but I’ve found that “old goths” and “old punks” can still detect each other. A lot of the people I’ve become friends with share my subcultural background and we’ve all aged into it similarly. I think if you were a outcast punk or goth in high school, it will always be a part of you in some way.



    I’ve found that I’m gravitating towards better fits and materials than I did in my ~edgy teenage years~ and it helps keep me looking my age. I also used to wear all the statements at once (Tripp pants, studded belt, band t shirt was my high school uniform!) and now choose one piece to be the center of attention. It’s tough if you didn’t get to have your experimental phase as a kid but have confidence in what you want to wear now!



    You dont, punk never dies



    Lots of great advice here! I’m 38 and have a very corporate job, so I make it work by focusing on quality, well-fitting basics (black dress pants, dress shirts, etc) and choosing one or two “alt” pieces to wear instead of ALL the alt pieces simultaneously haha. I also look for things that are subtle, like my belt is black with lots of grommets, and I wear black shit-kickers pretty much every day. But they’re mostly hidden by shirt and pants respectively, so they’re there but not in-your-face. I’m into industrial/electronic music, so I’d describe my style as rivet-casual, I guess lol?

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