Fashion is one of many outlets for personal expression. The term alternative fashion is associated with subcultures like grunge, goth, street, steampunk, punk, and hipster. Although alt fashion encompasses many different genres; each style, at least for a time, stood apart from the mainstream and the mass appeal of commercial fashion. Members of these subcultures have been related to a disinterest in common moral order; a revolt against structure, social class, and attitudes towards mass production and behavior restrictions.
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These days there are many alternative choices, and even these are being reinvented every day. As with any new style, what began as a revolt against mainstream can catch the eye of the masses and become a popular trend. Many of those who utilize modern alternative fashion may not actually identify with any of the concepts that originally inspired the style.
From the extremely shocking to the just slightly askew; there are hundreds of styles and cultures to pick from. Alternative fashion is all about expressing who you are, not fitting into a category. Whether your reasons are politically based or simply comfort preferences, alternative fashion allows you to decide what you wear instead of being force fed a new style by mainstream media.
Here are just a few of those alternative fashion styles to select from.
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1970’s England is to thank for the origination of the Goth movement. It was there an early goth culture rose from the British rock scene, and steadily made its way over to the United States. From there the goth culture continued to branch out into various subcultures of gothic. It is now making a steady appearance in the mainstream fashion industry internationally.
The more widely known gothic clothing consists of corsets, handkerchief hems, pale makeup and dark colors, specifically black. A large number of gothic dresses have a corset-inspired bodice with a full, lacey handkerchief-hem skirt. Anyone can feel like a real gothic beauty cloaked in this mysterious and exotic style.
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Urban fashion identifies a certain look that sways to Hip-Hop and R&B music. It puts an interesting twist on ready-to-wear items by mixing high-end and low-end effortlessly. Also called urban-chic or streetwear fashion, urban fashion is often multi-cultural with a largely African American influence.
These days, the sportswear look jazzed up with jewelry is still a popular fashion statement. There are many more street items to choose from, some more mainstream than others. What urban style is really about, however, is sporting everyday items any urban kid might find accessible and throw on. It’s fashion suited to city life with a little extra bling.
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Hipsters are people who enjoy riding bicycles outside, picnics in the park, long coffee chats, and listening to music. Their clothing is a reflection of their inner eclectic personalities and their unspoken vow to live outside the mainstream. Embracing this lifestyle means embracing vintage finds, artisan coffee, and independent films. Skinny jeans make up a pivotal wardrobe piece for both men and women hipsters. Male hipsters are actually more apt to wear these leg-hugging pants, while women opt for leggings and high-waist shorts. Other classic hipster pieces include oversized framed glasses (even if they have perfect vision); shirts with images of animals, forests, or childhood characters; and a fitted well-warn hoodie. Plaid, floral, and checkers are welcome in any hipster wardrobe.
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Steampunk fashion is not one defined look but an expression of what the style means to the individual wearing the clothing. It is a mash up of Victorian style and futuristic elements with some steam-inspired reinvention. Steampunk fashion is all about Victorian corsets, gears, top hats, bustle skirts, and leather. But it is about exploring new ways to invent oneself through imagination and engineering. This is why most of the clothing and accessories have a few unique enhancements such as secret compartments, hidden weapons, and complicated contraptions.
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The staple pieces of a punk rock wardrobe typically resembles greasers from the 1950’s. Jeans, fitted tees and motorcycle jackets create the base and then creativity is layered into the accessories. It’s a carefree style that says, “Don’t mess with me.” Show off your “take no bull shit” attitude with metal, metal, and more metal—bronze skulls, silver spikes, and gold snakes. Add checkers and bright colors too. Wear them separate or layer them all together. There are no rules with punk except to express yourself as you truly are and hold nothing back.
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Grunge fashion takes a cue from 90's fashion in Seattle. It allows the wearer to channel their inner Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, or rock the angsty teen spirit with layers of plaid button downs, floral dresses, oversized skirts, and of course Dr. Martens. Grunge influenced clothing is all about comfort, sometimes an excess of such. With boyfriend sweaters a size too big, half clasped art-stained overalls, and other signature 90’s influenced fashion you can transport yourself to a time before smart phones and apps, back when mix tapes were a sign of affection.
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What society considers alternative is constantly changing because pop culture is constantly changing. These subcultures have all been considered alternative at some point, but many have also all spent time within mainstream popularity. They have been seen on high fashion runways, as well as department stores. Even after they lose their mainstream steam, they are still readily available. The most appealing feature of alternative fashion is that, unlike mainstream fashion, the root influences never change. If you are into the fashion because you appreciate the lifestyle, you can dress in those styles long after the trend fades.
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