*This content contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through one of them, we may make a small commission.*
Also known as Cowboy Goth or Y’allternative, Western Goth is the macabre blend of the haunting elegance of gothic fashion with the rugged spirit of the American frontier. Think black, spider-adorned cowboy boots, flares and cowboy hats, and the dark undertones of the artists like Johnny Cash or The Civil Wars.
So saddle up for a journey into a fashion landscape where we will unravel the key elements that define Western Goth fashion and help you cultivate a look that seamlessly merges darkness with the untamed spirit of the cowboy (or cowgirl!).
Essential Elements of Western Goth Fashion
When you think of the Wild West, you think of gruff, anti-hero cowboys and Victorian ladies doing their best to stay prim and proper on the American frontier way back when. There’s already crossover for goth and Victoriana, with a wealth of goth corsets, high collars and flowing skirts available. When it comes to cowboy style though, it’s all flares, pointed boots, shirts, cowboy boots and a good hat – same goes for cowgirls.
Today the aesthetic that a cowgirl/southerner brings to mind is more Daisy Duke, with short denim shorts, cowboy boots (of course), shirts (tied up to show a bit of belly) and a cowboy hat. Make it black and you’ve got the perfect western goth look. There’s already a few different vibes to explore!
So how do you create the look?
- No style inspired by the gothic is right without a dark colour palette. We’re talking black, predominantly, of course, but you can also include deep and muted colours like dark green, burgundy and deep reds.
- Blend those victoriana goth vibes with elements of the cowboy, whether that’s a bolo tie and a pair of pointed boots with your button up dress or a fringed shirt with your floor length skirt.
- Add gothic or mystical elements to accentuate your outfit. Think occult tarot reader preying on the simple folk of the town. Wide-brimmed hats, gloves and silver jewellery.
- Combine the edginess of leather with the delicacy of lace. Tops, dresses and even flares with lace details paired with a leather jacket, corset or trousers fuse those western and goth aesthetics perfectly.
- When it comes to footwear, it has to be the cowboy boot. But if you’re not 100% a fan of them, go for pointed boots with metal embellishments for a western vibe without it screaming rodeo.
- A sure fire way to add a pop of americana to your outfit is with a western style belt. Usually highly decorative with a big, intricately-designed buckle and a metal tip, it makes any look instantly a little bit more goth cowboy.
- Another way to create that western gothic vibe is through a wide-brimmed hat. Both witchy and wild west, pair a cowboy hat or a wide-brimmed hat with plaits for a definite nod to both.
- When it comes to makeup and hair, the darker the better. If you’re going down the Victorian route, a messy bat’s nest up-do is always elegant, whereas undone plaits and pigtails feel a little more modern.
Western Gothic Influences and Inspirations
The western gothic is not a new concept – though it might be trending right now, it has been around for a long time. The idea of darkness in the wild west has always been there, if not always obvious in aesthetics. Think spaghetti western with a side of occult thrown in.
In cinema and TV we can see it in the likes of The English, Penny Dreadful, Westworld, Jonah Hex and Near Dark. When it comes to games, we’re talking Darkwatch and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Each combine elements of horror or the gothic with typical western tropes or settings.
Even on the runway, we can see western gothic fashion influences that date back to the 2010s in particular. Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent in 2013 presented wide-brimmed hats, fringed leather, harnesses and pointed boots, and Chanel sent models down the catwalk in black stetsons and lip piercings in 2022.
Pinterest has predicted that western gothic will be a trend for home interiors this year with “sultry touches, such as dark fringes and even darker paints”. I’ve even got a board dedicated to goth cowboy fashion!
In music, dark themes have always had a place in the Country genre. We all know the southern states of America have an obsession with the Bible and being good Christians, and so it follows that there is also an obsession with The Devil and all that brings. Playlists like Gothic Western Horror and Southern Gothic on Spotify have an array of western gothic artists to help you get in the mood as you’re putting together your goth cowboy looks. For artists and albums, take a look at this list from the Swedish Embassy of Gothic Country.
Shop the Western Gothic Style
While there aren’t any brands or stores dedicated to Western Goth fashion as far as I know – bit niche – there are plenty of collections from your favourite goth fashion brands that fit the aesthetic perfectly. Here are a few!
- KataKomb’s Western Gothic collection features classic western style shirts and dresses in red or black for that quintessential goth cowboy vibe.
- Killstar’s Western Goth collection includes a range of flares, denim vests, corset tops and pointy boots to help you put together a personalised look.
- Lively Ghosts’ Goth Western Baddies collection is a curated range of t-shirts, pins, hats and even candles that blend the goth and the cowboy to perfection.
- OTHER UK’s whole collection features pieces inspired by american counter culture.
Bound in Bone’s Western Goth picks:
Goth cowboy boots by LidiaSophia
Handmade with vegan leather, these embroidered goth cowboy boots feature a skeleton reading a book surrounded by gorgeous flourishes. What’s not to love? Shop here.
Two-headed skeleton bolo tie by AmericanMagic
This gorgeous twin-headed skeleton bolo tie is the perfect accessory for any goth cowboy look. Available with both real leather and faux leather, you can even pair with a matching belt buckle. Shop here.
Howdy Pumpkin Mug by LucieMakesMugs
How cute is this mug?? A jack o’lantern with a cowboy hat?? I can’t even. An ideal gift for that goth cowboy in your life (or you, you might be the only goth cowboy/girl in your life, and that’s okay). Shop here.
Sabina’s sacrifice flares by Killstar
No western goth outfit is complete with a pair of flares, and these faux leather ones with a mesh panel tick all the boxes. Shop here.
Gambler cowboy hat by Cotswold Country Hats
Say hello to your new favourite cowboy hat. Made from felt, it features a faux leather band adorned with decorative buckles and studs. Shop here.
The Outlaw II biker jacket by OTHER
With a relaxed fit and a fringe detail that spans the arms and the back of the jacket, this definitely screams goth cowboy. Shop here.
Voodoo Chile fringed biker jacket by Little Lies
For a more affordable (and vegan!) fringed leather jacket, this is the one. The gold and silver studs across the back, arms, collar and front of the jacket, along with the western style embroidery makes it a complete showstopper. Shop here.