Undercover Goth Invades Local High School

Click photos for larger view.

This is an outfit I photographed early in my blog days, but never got around to posting. You’ll recognize my old, boring photo format, no doubt… 🙂 But I thought the outfit still had value (in fact, I quite like it!), so here it is!

Corporate Goth

I should probably warn my readers that when I wear this gray herringbone pencil skirt, I’m seriously going undercover.  This corporate goth outfit was a quick-change after work the day I wore the rule-breaking sparkle a few months ago.  My husband and I, both graphic designers by trade, were asked to sit in on an advisory panel for the local high school district’s graphic design program that evening.  I was afraid the sparkle would distract the school board from my professionalism.

I had a feeling that the only exposure to Goth most of these people have had was in the form of rebellious high school kids, which would surely be reflected in their first impression of me.  In most cases, I let enough Gothiness creep in to help change people’s perceptions, but since these people would be complete strangers to me I thought I’d be most comfortable fitting in a bit more.  I was nervous enough about sounding intelligent speaking in front of a crowd…  And I felt it was important to be taken as seriously as possible, as I really do want to be a positive role model in the development of teens in the community.

Corporate Goth

So this is me, undercover and a little boring.  I still have a sparkly flower in my hair, nice tall heels with an abundance of straps, and a couple of artsy accessories.  I like to think that taking a short break from my “true” style was for the greater good.  It was worth it, because I had by far the most professional appearance of anyone in the room.  And the cutest shoes.  🙂

Do you have occasions where you feel that it’s worth it to dress a bit more “normal” in order to be taken seriously?


  1. Short answer; no. I never "tone it down", to be honest – and I have never had anything bad happen because of it. If I was doing something like you did, I would have "goth'd up".Actually, from time to time, I do visit my 5/6th grade teacher and her current class (haven't met the new class…will have to call her on the weekend!) and I make SURE to goth it up. Rainbow TUK shoes, by the way? Huuuge hit with primary school kids.I find it better to change people's perceptions of gothity through beauty and, most of all, acting polite and friendly, than by changing myself to suit others. I find that, actually, more people talk to and enjoy it when they see me dressed to the nines! (at least, that's what happened on my holiday!)

  2. I "tone it down" almost every day for work. Sure, I get to wear full black all the time (not always as grand as it seems), but our corporate office dictates exactly how we wear our hair, our jewelry, our shoes, even our makeup to an extent. I'm a makeup artist by title, but I work for an internationally recognizable fashion house that would probably throw themselves the fit of the century if they knew they were harboring a red-eyeshadow-loving, formerly-blue-haired, bat-tattooed goth in their midst!But outside of work, you get what you get. I'm not going to ditch my Docs for a family function, I'm not going to downplay my makeup because I'm on vacation with my boyfriend and his family. It's not like I have a fondness for obscene words or sacrilegious images, so I don't think my sense of style offends anyone on a personal level. And preconceived notions can be dispelled simply by talking to me–and if you're too close-minded to even do that, chances are we wouldn't get along anyway. The only time I change my outward appearance for someone else is to make sure my income remains steady.

  3. I really like the outfit. It is sort of "stern headmistress", but the shoes make it a bit more fun/edgy.I generally tone down a bit for work, and have been doing moreso since I found out a full-time faculty position is opening up in my department right when I graduate, making me behave somewhat like I am on a long-term job interview. I usually keep some element of gothiness, usually either elaborate makeup, goth-y jewelry, or fancy clothes (and I always carry a a parasol). I want to have some self-expression, but don't want to damage my career because of the ms-perceptions of others. Once I have a real job I plan to be less toned-down.

  4. I would agree that I feel I should tone it down to be taken seriously, but I am surprised that you have to, since you are in a somewhat artsy field. I only have to tone it down because I usually wear tiny and/or poofy skirts with fishnet and big boots during warmer weather. My winter wardrobe is pretty work appropriate.

  5. Kitty, I do totally agree with you in 99% of cases but in this instance, there wouldn't be time to change anyone's perceptions. Also, once in a great while I do find a situation where I am more concerned about doing the right thing for the community than representing the Goth cause. 🙂 Not too often, though.Luna, until I first saw your previous comment about your workplace I never would have thought that was possible in the fashion industry! I think it's kinda fun that you have this hidden dark side and they are none the wiser… ;-D And if you enjoy your job, it's really a small sacrifice to make. And I totally agree regarding "off" time – I've had some questionable comments from distant relatives because I won't conform when attending events with extended family. Oh well! Props to you for staying true to yourself on your time.Sabayon, I love that description. 🙂 Sounds like you are approaching your future career in a responsible way. Tone it down just enough until you impress them, then let the "real" you shine. When it comes to your career, it's much easier to gain the respect FIRST and then break down the negative stereotypes later (especially since they will be paying you). :)MissGracie, it is an artsy field but this is a small town, so what is artsy to them is pretty mild… I don't have to tone it down nearly this much for my job, but the school board is very conservative so I thought I would play it safe. You make a good point; I think it is a bit easier to be work-appropriate in the colder months! Dark blazers with long skirts, for instance, would be very work-appropriate yet allow for a pretty decent amount of Gothy expression.

  6. You did the right thing, and you look very professional in this outfit. I beleive a nice cut, black jacket is always something to put on when the occasion is a bit serious. Working as an engineer I sometimes have meetings with customers or suppliers, those occasions demands another dresscode than the normal whimsy me.

  7. Stunning. Now I know what to do with that gray skirt I own.

  8. Sometimes it's to be taken seriously, sometimes it's to avoid being a distraction.I work for a federally funded science organization. When the organization was in the project design phase, i.e., not yet funded, there were several occasions when experts came in to review the progress. As meeting coordinator, I was in and out of the meeting rooms a lot. I chose to wear simple outfits so as not to divert attention from the presenters. It's not professional to be a distraction when your co-workers are under fire, trying to convince skeptical reviewers and Feds that yes, you are capable of spending millions of dollars appropriately.I don't mind toning it down a bit on those occasions; in fact, the scientists have to make a far bigger change. Normally, they're schlepping around in flip-flops and t-shirts; even the CEO wears shorts. They practically have to go through a pupa stage to end up in long pants and real shoes, with shaved face and combed hair. 😉 I do little more than switch my fishnets and New Rocks for tights and mary janes.When I was first appointed secretary to the Board of Directors, I wore outfits that were less conspicuously goth. But at the third meeting, the Chairman praised my work and jokingly suggested that all the Board members should "wear all black next time," and I knew I'd been accepted. I now wear whatever I want to Board meetings. :)I've been in meetings where I looked the most professional. Isn't it a great feeling?! I love it when the most professional person in the room is the goth. 😀

  9. I know that I have to tone down a little bit sometimes (especially for weddings!) and I understand just what you mean. Plus, some people just refuse to change their idea of what "Goth" is. The narrow minded people…P.S. I absolutely LOVE the shoes! I've always wanted a pair sort of like that… 🙂

  10. How cool that you were involved with a program for students! I really like this outfit – very pretty and professional. The shoes are especially fabulous.One of the things I love about your blog is I feel inspired to try new things — you are anything but boring, which is fantastic!

  11. I tone it down for job interviews, some family get togethers, and if I'm meeting someone important that I am unsure of their opinion (like a friend's family, my mom's boss or my step-dad's colleagues). I feel its ok since I'm usually doing to put others at comfort, not so that I can hide.

  12. Love this post (and the outfit — I would wear that to the office on just about any day). I guess I tone it down a lot for work-related stuff, but I still feel pretty goth in black suit or black dress. So I don't really mind. And I'd like to echo the comment above "I love it when the most professional person in the room is the goth." YES! I think that is what I strive for.

  13. My biggest "under cover" get-up is my black wig (it's cut in a short bob) that I wear to (some)job interviews and sometimes for the first few weeks of a job (over my pink, or purple or what-ever color hair). Once I prove my worth I then appear miraculously with vibrant "new" hair to work and have never had any negative feedback as I introduce MY STYLE into the office. I sometimes miss my days in retail where the more bright and over dressed I was – the better. But I guess I entertain all the accounting types around here and keep them guessing!

  14. linnea-maria, thank you! I can imagine as an engineer there would definitely be times when a more conservative look would be more appropriate. And sometimes that makes it even more fun to go all-out when the opportunity arises! :)Sunduri Das, awesome! I love fashion blogging because of that whole give and take of inspiration. :)Bane, very well said! And you are right; everyone sometimes has to make style compromises for their job: not just Goths. Props to you for winning the approval of the Chairman. I think that's exactly the right way to do it, too. Yes, I LOVE to hear that Goths can be the most professional person in the room! Show them that we not only are creative, but we have good taste and judgement.Silver Snow, excellent point about weddings. That's another example of a time when it's VERY inappropriate to be a distraction (unless it's a Goth wedding, where you would blend in anyway). The bride should *always* be the one to shine and get the most attention on that day.Joy, thanks! I really enjoy opportunities like that. I'm so glad my blog inspires you in some way. It's an extra delight to me when I hear that from a non-Goth. :)EcoGoth, that's probably a good policy. And good point, about doing it for the comfort of others! Family should accept you for who you are, but that doesn't mean that colleagues of family should be expected to!SiouxsieL, Thanks! I agree, black business attire can still feel Goth, especially when everyone around you is probably wearing bright or light colors. You still get to have contrast! 🙂

  15. GothBarbie, that's a great way to handle brightly-colored hair on the job! Great attitude, too. You are right; we "odd" ones do give the normal co-workers something to think/talk about. 🙂

  16. I know it's toned-down for you, but I really love that outfit! I have a more casual style than some, but I never tone it down. My students are fascinated by my wardrobe, especially the jewelry and the makeup. One day I did a tiny spiderweb in the corner of one eye with eyeliner. They really loved that!

  17. I sometimes prefer to look professional,especially when it has to do with business.It is better to leave the goth at home for a few hours,than having to explain your appearance.I mean the way somebody looks doesn't change the fact that they are a goth.That skirt of yours reminds me of my dear Mentor <3 She always wore those kind of skirts to teach her classes.

  18. Big hugs for you for being a positive role model for high school kids!!! Since I get them afterwards any and all help is greatly appreciated. I agree, high schoolers (no offense to all of you teenagers who are reading this) can get fixated on what you're wearing instead of what you're telling them. I usually keep my tattoo covered for the first few weeks with sweaters, jackets and longer sleeves to avoid the thousand questions that usually results in seeing the tats for the first time. I rather gain their trust and set the rules before anything else. As you'll see in the coming weeks, I tone down a bit when I'm teaching or when I'm at a conference. Again, I want people to hear what I'm saying first and foremost … and I want to gain the respect that I deserve. Most people see me as "artsy," which is fine because I teach art history. Thank you for this post and thank you for taking time out for high schoolers. Hugs and more hugs from NYC!

  19. Love this outfit! I work in an office and they have a business casual dress code but it seems no matter what I wear I am always too casual (i just look bad in a suit…) so have now turned to what seems to be the obligatory cardigan and even colours. I do find that people take me more seriously (I hope they do anyway!) and think it is quite sad that clothes can have such an impact on professionalism. I was actually told once at another job that they would prefer someone who works less efficiently as long as they look professional than the other way around. How stupid is that! Thanx for sharing btw 🙂

  20. In my previous job I was assistant manageress of clothes shop, which unfortunately closed down because the rent on the building was upped, but while I was there, I'd tone down my usual attire, but I'd still be in all black, but most of the time it would be black work trousers and a black turtle neck, or a red or purple top under a black (usually velvet, as that's my favourite one) blazer. I was on my feet most of the time, so definitely flat shoes and trousers. I was on the shop floor once, observing an older teenager or younger student looking through clothes that were really quite different from what she was wearing. Her outfit didn't scream goth, but she was certainly some kind of dark alternative. Anyway, when she came to pay she confessed to me that she was trying to "grow out" of being a goth and didn't seem very happy with the idea, but she said that she had to in order to be taken seriously and have a proper job. I told her that I was management, and that I might look a bit plain at work, but when I get home I have corsets and platform boots and put all my piercings in, and she doesn't have to give up being herself to land a job and progress. One of the ladies who usually works at the till was nodding along going "she really does, she does…" about me. Everybody there knew I was a bit gothy outside of work, but nobody said anything against it, because I gradually explained it to them, and never wore anything inappropriate at work. Yesterday I was in town for non-working purposes (I was craft supplies shopping and gleeing at all the Halloween stuff) when I bumped into my old boss at the bus station who didn't recognise me at all in my goth gear… My goth gear meaning black skinny jeans with 8-buckle PVC platforms, a belt with chains, slinky top that laces up at the neck, fishnet gloves, spiked cuffs and a trench-coat, and one of the wigs I wear when I'm not at work, this one being black, silver and purple micro-braids and one of my DIY projects. She said "You've… changed" and I went "Yep, new hair!" and grinned. I have wigs as a solution to crazy hair too, except the other way around from Goth Barbie – my sensible bob hair-cut is my natural hair, and the bright colours are wigs that I wear out of work. I don't like the idea of wearing a wig to work, I wouldn't want it to be seen as some kind of deception by co-workers/bosses, especially bosses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *