How to Dress Goth on a Budget

Dressing goth needn’t be expensive.

September 8, 2023
5 min read
Goth Basics

We all know that dressing in awesome labels all the time is expensive. The likes of Killstar, Disturbia, and Lip Service don’t come cheap, and if you want to look goth but you don’t have the budget for it, it can be super frustrating.

It’s all very well lusting after the wardrobes of the Instagram famous, bloggers and models, but it pays to remember that they get given stuff from the PR people of these companies.

So, regular folk with a paycheck that means that can’t afford those aforementioned labels have to look elsewhere. Let’s take a look at the basics of dressing goth on a budget.

The High Street

Even normies like to wear black – it’s a classic! So if you head into any high street shop (or choose the right filter online), there will always be options available in black.

Usually, when there are gothic influences going on the high fashion runway (i.e. most autumn-winter seasons), then this will then trickle down into high street, and you’ll be able to pick things up that have a bit of an edge to them (have you seen The Devil Wears Prada??).

Easy finds:

Leather (or pleather) jackets and trousers or leggings are often super easy to pick up from the likes of ASOS, New Look, Zara, etc.

Basics in black are always easy to find. Black jeans, t-shirts, plain dresses will always be available on the high street and will be inexpensive to pick up. In the cooler seasons you will find it easier to pick up more romantic goth styles, i.e. things in velvet and lace.

In summer, you might struggle a little more to find items in black in general, but in particular things that prevent you from heating up like a dog in a hot car will be harder to grab.

Keep an eye out for patterns, prints and designs that nod to got, like skulls, crosses, moons & stars as well as wide black and wite stripes. When it comes to embellishments, studs, hardware or embroidery work well.

2nd Hand Apps

This is where you can grab those aforementioned labels for a steal. We’re talking Vinted, Depop, eBay & more. Here you’ll find people’s unwanted clothes that are still in good enough nick to have another home. It’s more eco-friendly than buying new, and is a great way to try out a new look. If you’re not keen just sell it on again!

The key is to know what you’re after, but not be too restrictive or specific – keep an eye on your chosen app regularly and you’ll be sure to grab a bargain.


It’s part of goth fashion history to DIY clothes. Goths of the past did not have the luxury of a high street or apps that could give them everything that their heart’s desired. Instead, they made their own clothes, and it’s definitely something to consider for a unique wardrobe and style.

Got something in your head that you can’t find? Grab the black fabric dye and your scissors and you’re half way there. Whether it’s just laddering up some tights or creating an entire lewk – there’s DIY in your blood little darkling, so why not give it a go if you’re struggling for cash?

All About the Accessories

In all honesty, all you need is a few basics, and then you can ham the rest up with accessories.. Things like great jewellery, hair and shoes make ALL the difference. You can get away with not buying from the big alt brands if you know how to accessorise. If you invest in something timeless, then it will serve you well for a long time.

A good pair of tights can make a plain black dress look more goth instantly. Even just a pair of simple fishnets will do, but you can find all sorts of edgy patterns for reasonable prices, especially around Halloween season. For a cheap hack, rip up a couple of pairs of low denier, plain black tights and wear them both.

You can even use tights as a shrug under t-shirts for a layered mesh look.

Layering on jewellery is another easy way to add a gothic vibe to your outfit. Think a black choker (even just a piece of velvet ribbon works!), along with a couple of necklaces of different lengths, lots of chunky rings, and earrings. You should be able to build up a collection relatively inexpensively if you take your time and pick pieces that you really love and make an impact.

Belts – another hero piece that you need to invest in. You only need one really great belt to take an outfit from zero to hero. Whether you go old school with studs and eyelets or really make it pop with chains and accoutrements, a good belt adds an edginess you can’t deny.

Same goes for harnesses! Even a basic one elevates an outfit.

Shoes, glorious shoes. There are a number of ways that you can go for shoes. From rounded toe, platform styles to pointy, buckle laden ankle boots to big black lace up boots, it’s up to you with regards to how much you can afford, and what your style is. For high quality, goth-style shoes, then you may have to save up and spend a bit more. You may also want to invest in quality footwear so it will last longer.

The Basic Goth Wardrobe

The Tee – over sized and black. They’re the only two things that you absolutely need of a black tee. It could have anything from my little pony on it, a la pastel goth, to the artwork of your favourite band, but it needs to be oversized, and black. They can be styled with skinny jeans, flared trousers, biker shorts, big cardis, biker jackets – they’re a must have.

Collar and Cuffs – a great one for Wednesday Addams wannabes, as well as a must have for corporate goths. Whether it’s a 2in1 dress or just a white shirt and a black jumper or dress, there are loads of different options.

Jeans – a staple in any wardrobe, you want to first invest in a pair that you love. Whether that’s skinnys, flares, mom jeans – they have to be black, and they have to pair with your super goth belt.

Skirts – whatever your shape, you need a few black skirts. Long, flowy ones, or short, body con styles, skirts are a must. Find them in the basic sections of any high street shops and get buying!

Biker Jacket – adds instant edge to every outfit. This is a piece that you can find quite cheaply, but you can also see it as an investment piece and spend much more, and you’ll end up with a jacket you’ll love for a lifetime. Easy to customise, too. Add spikes, patches or paint it to up the goth factor.

Fishnet or Mesh Top – wear under layers to add a hint of something darker to your outfit.

Dresses – choose what you feel good in. You can get away with shopping in the basic section and simply adding accessories to goth it up. A simple black dress can be turned up with a spiky choker, a biker jacket and a pair of creepers or big boots.

How do you keep costs down when it comes to shopping?


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Hi, I’m Darcie.

Bound in Bone is my goth fashion and lifestyle blog. I like to write about dark outfits, spooky interiors and the goth lifestyle in general. You’ll find everything from alternative markets to what to wear to the gym, and more!

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