Fashion, Finding your style, Outfit Ideas

What Is Soft Goth? How To Achieve The Soft Goth Aesthetic

pastel goth clothing

This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Raven Minyard. Find her on Instagram at @raven.minyard. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

One of the best things about the fall season is seeing the rise of new fashion and makeup trends each year. This year, all signs are pointing to the soft goth aesthetic, a trend that began in 2022 with the release of Wednesday on Netflix. If you like the gothic aesthetic but don’t want to commit to the full style, soft goth may be the look for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to achieve the soft goth aesthetic, as well as provide suggestions for other “soft” gothic-inspired looks, such as pastel goth clothing. Keep reading to find the best low-maintenance goth aesthetic for you.

What Is Soft Goth?

Depending on who you ask, soft goth is either its own aesthetic or an umbrella term for a number of “softer” styles inspired by the gothic style. For this article, we’ll start by addressing soft goth as its own look, and then we’ll check out some other substyles that could be considered soft goth.

Any traditional goth will tell you that the gothic lifestyle is about the music rather than fashion, so soft goth may not be gothic in that sense. Rather, it’s for people who enjoy the look of the gothic subculture but either can’t or don’t want to commit to the full aesthetic. Soft goth (sometimes interpreted as soft grunge) incorporates some aspects of the goth look, like black clothing, lace and chains, into a more casual, everyday look. Soft goth also adds color and other feminine touches to the aesthetic.


Since there are so many ways to interpret what soft goth means, there isn’t a “wrong” way to do it, but we’ve gathered some options to help you figure out where to begin. To achieve the soft goth aesthetic, you’ll of course want to start with black clothing. Since soft goth is an everyday look, you don’t need to buy corsets or big platform boots. In fact, most of the pieces you’ll need are pretty basic and can be used to mix and match different outfits. Some sheer tights will go a long way in helping you achieve this look, as will a pair of Mary Janes or Doc Martens. Lace is another important staple of this aesthetic, so grab a black dress like this and pair it with a pendant choker. You can also wear a black skirt and throw on a band T-shirt or a striped sweater, or try a 90s-inspired bell-sleeve top with some black pants. Add some chain necklaces to complete the look.



Such a powerful look 🖤✨ what trends have you seen? #LFW #makeup #softgoth (Product list: Eyeshadow pallet: @Sigma Beauty ‘An Knook’ Lipliner: @maccosmetics ‘Feline’ Lipstick: @Fenty Beauty ‘Fenty Icon’ Mascara: @Clinique UK ‘High impact Volume’)

♬ Glory Box – Portishead

Vogue describes soft goth makeup as “an amalgamation of distinct musical subcultures (think grunge, punk and emo), the visceral make-up of the nineties (aka bleached brows) and current-day beauty trends.” Unlike traditional gothic makeup, soft goth isn’t focused on a pale foundation. Instead, smokey eyes and lined lips play a key role in achieving this makeup look. Start with some primer and concealer for your base, and that’s all the face makeup you need. Then, blend some black and gray shades of eyeshadow for a soft, smokey look, and apply a small winged eyeliner. Alternatively, you can apply the eyeliner to your lid and blend it out to get the smokey effect and then add just a bit of shimmer eyeshadow for some dimension. Finish off the eye makeup with some mascara. For the lips, choose a deep red matte lipstick and use a liner a shade or two darker to get the “vampy” look, or keep it simple with just a gloss.

Soft Goth Substyles

Sometimes people use the term soft goth in reference to several different alternative styles. ForestBeings calls soft goth a “toned down” version of grunge, goth, nu goth, forestcore and witchcore styles. If you’re looking for a more niche side of soft goth, try one of these substyles:

Pastel Goth

Pastel goth clothing really took off with the 2014 Tumblr era and is still a popular aesthetic today. While many critique this style for not really being goth, this look is great for those who love both dark and pastel colors and love mixing creepy and cute.

Soft Grunge

While some consider soft grunge and soft goth the same, there are some differences between the two. Soft grunge does often incorporate black and other dark colors, but you’ll also find more denim and plaid than you would with soft goth.


Whimsigoth is the perfect aesthetic for those who love the witchy aspect of alternative clothing. As another 90s-inspired look, whimsigoth incorporates a lot of long skirts, velvet, lace and deep maroons and purples to make you feel like you just stepped out of Practical Magic.

And if you want to learn even more about goth fashion and subculture, check out our article on how to release your inner hot goth or our intro guide to mall goth fashion.

We hope this article helped you learn about the soft goth aesthetic, as well as its substyles like pastel goth clothing! What’s your favorite goth-inspired look? Let us know in the comments!

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