Tips For Dressing Alternatively at School

As a full time Goth that has been as such throughout school this is something I have LOTS of experience with, especially since in Australian schools (obviously not exclusively) it’s almost always uniform only. Considering my uniform, until this year of being a senior, was yellow and brown, may I repeat yellow and brown, you could consider me an expert.

Just as a warning, I went to a public school. Most private school’s would have more strict rules, which means some of this might not apply to you.

You have no idea how long it took me to find the name of this film
after forgetting it. FYI it’s A Haunting Hour – Source
  • If you’re as unlucky as me with your school colours being terrible to start with I would focus on black and silver everything. You wont want to clash with red or blue but if you do add colour, take a look at the colour wheel first so you don’t end up clashing. For instance if your uniform is part purple, adding black and purple stockings wouldn’t be terrible.
  • Learn your school rules and stick to them. Then bend them slowly and slowly. My teachers would always be on my case while I wore striped stockings, until they gave up but that’s not what we’re aiming for! Teachers almost always can’t say anything about ripped plain stockings as long as they aren’t overboard but to start try sticking to plain black stockings or socks. If you have a rule about wearing only white socks, it’s not the end of the world. They can be delightfully gothy if you work in enough ghostly style.
  • Bracelets, studs and accessories. Of course you’ll want to save those spiked collars for the weekend, most of the time. My school has rules that all spiked objects must be confiscated so beware! Ear studs are generally great as most schools don’t allow elaborate piercing jewellery. Try to stick to simple jewellery though and nothing too over the top. You wouldn’t want to have your dangly earring’s dripping with Hydrochloric Acid, would you?
  • It’s almost never appropriate to wear a corset to school. I would NEVER trust such an expensive piece of clothing with a bunch of teenagers that probably wont understand the amount of money it can cost nor care. Don’t risk it, unless you have money to just throw away. Besides this it’s generally not practical. As an art student I spend a lot of time drilling and sawing, which would be dangerous in a corset.
  • Take this time to experiment with your hair. What’s a better time than when you don’t have to worry about discrimination in the work place (or other such place). The rules tend to be reasonably slack and you have your own school full of critics. Not to mention it’s an easy and fun and easy way to add something dark or personal to your style.
  • Cosmetics can be a touchy subject. It’s good to remember that something styles as simple as retro winged eye-liner can be just as good as a dark, smokey eye with tons of eye-liner. This is also something you might want to experiment with at school. I’ve only had one moment when my school has told me to wash my make up off and that was when an ex-friend had done it into the messiest, sluttiest horribly done thing you could ever imagine. Trust me, I wanted to wash that shit off my face. Try and stick to something simple and/or classic. Don’t go overboard and as long as it’s well done no one would probably care – so that means lots of practice!
  • Personally, when I first started dressing eccentrically at school I was tormented for a while. But after a while a few things happened:
    • I became better at dressing eccentrically.
    • I learnt my boundaries.
    • I was used to the abuse.
    • People eventually became used to me. Or became bored.

Best wishes,



  1. Shannon Rutherford
    August 26, 2012 / 10:20 am

    Omg! I can't believe how strict your school rules are. You really must be creative in order to keep some spookiness in your outfit (which I believe must be incredibly difficult with a yellow and brown uniform… ew!).
    This post reminded me of a very funny movie I saw years ago, St. Trinian's; it's about a girls-only school in which students wear any sort of style; there was even a gothic kid, Andrea, who managed to stay goth while wearing the school uniform… here's a few pictures: l_27a0ec81ec6075a4fbe90d5c788decf2.jpg (on the right) (on the left). Well she's more of an emo/perky goth, but I think she's a good example of still being herself while respecting the rules 🙂

  2. August 26, 2012 / 12:19 pm

    Hehe, I always thought my school rules were pretty loose! I love that film. Their uniform itself is pretty kickass. :3

  3. August 26, 2012 / 2:18 pm

    I would never have gotten away with any of that at a British State School 🙁

  4. Aristocratic Elegance
    August 26, 2012 / 2:33 pm

    These are good ideas! I didn't have much personal style for much of high school, but towards the end I started painting my nails black. Our uniform was really ugly (same for girls and guys- blue polo shirts and khaki or black pants) but they were really lax about accessories so anyone who wanted to look a bit alternative always did.

  5. dani-archer
    August 26, 2012 / 3:32 pm

    It's always weird for me to watch movies (especially American movies) with people wearing whatever the fuck they want at school.. in every movie.

    I went to a primary school that had the colours yellow and brown – don't worry, I feel your pain.

    ~ Dani DeathBiscuit

  6. August 26, 2012 / 4:47 pm

    I'm lucky that we didn't have wear uniforms in high school. I went to a public school in the states and as long as you're underwear wasn't showing and you didn't wear something with drug references…anything went. Lots of goth and metal heads at my school

  7. Vulcan_Butterfly
    August 26, 2012 / 7:22 pm

    Interesting post! When I was in both high school and my undergrad in University, I dressed in a heavily goth/alternative manner. I stayed within the bounds of the dress code at my school but could bend it a bit as I was at the top of many of my classes and was polite and well behaved so my teachers did not care. In university it worked to my advantage as I did well in school and my professors remembered me as a combination of having good grades and a unique appearance. When you are still in school it is an excellent time to experiment with your appearance as you may not have job restrictions at this time. Do it while you can, because when you are a "grown up", depending where you end up working, you may be very restricted in what you can and cannot do with your appearance.

  8. Kaitlyn Brandt
    August 26, 2012 / 10:07 pm

    Wow, when I was in high school, I never had to stick to certain colors, or wash my makeup off! Although they didn't allow any unnatural hair colors(or undercuts, mohawks, ect). My beauty school didn't care about hair or makeup, but we were only allowed to wear scrubs
    (which were actually required to be baggy…wtf?)
    I agree with what you were saying though, work with what you've got 🙂

  9. August 27, 2012 / 4:38 am

    That's so true. Do what you can while you can. The being remembered is great as well. :3

  10. August 27, 2012 / 4:39 am

    Jealous! But dressing up every day seem pretty annoying. That sounds really strange but I don't mean it in that way. Haha!

  11. Shannon Rutherford
    August 27, 2012 / 9:52 am

    You know, the only things my school didn't allow (and it was a private school) was wearing too short skirts – well, they didn't "forbid" it, they just sometimes gave speeches to the students about how inappropriate they were in the school context, which I agree with – and dying your hair weird colours, a kid was once called to the principal's office and told to dying them their natural colour again. But that was it.
    I wouldn't imagine there were still schools that forbad heavy make-up or spiked objects! 🙂

  12. August 27, 2012 / 10:08 am

    I think that spikey things mostly weren't allowed because my school isn't in the best area. Meaning that they would probably be used as weapons. :/

  13. Angelica
    August 28, 2012 / 1:10 pm

    I'm so glad Swedish schools have no dress codes. In high school I had (still do) facial piercings, wore a plastic tiara and glued silver stars under my eyes. That's what I looked like both during my free time and in school. I majored in art and my class was full of goths, punks and metalheads, all eccentric in our own way and we got to be just as eccentric as we wanted to in school.

    //Angelica –

  14. PonPon
    August 29, 2012 / 12:35 am

    I live in America and the high school I went to in Arizona pretty much didn't care about making students follow the dress code. I wish I had been more goth in high school, there weren't really any goths. I'm going to college now though and I dress pretty fancy & gothy most of the time. I've found wigs are really great for people who can't dye their hair. I'm going to be a kindergarten teacher so I can't have unnatural hair colors, so I got some wigs and they're fantastic~

Leave a Reply

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