The Gothic harness trend is all the rage right now, and it's not difficult to see why. This seriously seductive accessory has been adopted by mainstream fashion recently, with harnesses gracing the runway a few times over the last couple of years – but it's important to remember that harnesses are, by and large, an item of clothing that is often associated with Gothic clothing, steampunk, fetish and post-apocalyptic fashion.
In short, harnesses are pretty badass!
If you want to style a harness, it can be a great way to add detail to a plain outfit. Leather body harnesses in particular are great for layering over t-shirts and Gothic dresses, and also worn underneath the clothes with straps peaking out to give a subtle element of detailing.
But it's safe to say that harnesses are considered a tricky item to pull off. They aren’t a belt, they aren’t a corset, and they certainly aren’t a top! So what are they?
In broad terms, harnesses are an accessory – but (to make things just that little bit more confusing), they are sometimes classified as lingerie or underwear. So, for example – if you were to search ‘cheap gothic harnesses’ then the results would more than likely be a mixture of full body harnesses, and strappy bondage-style underwear.
Since we are talking about a relatively new trend (in terms of fashion at least), you might find it difficult know how to style Gothic harness; what to wear it with and how to wear it. So, let's take a look at the Gothic harness trend in a little more detail.
Different Types of Fashion Harnesses
For the most part, we’ll be talking about body harnesses (specifically Gothic style harnesses) in this style guide. But it is worth noting that these aren’t the only types of fashion harnesses available at the moment.
It turns out that the humble harness is more versatile fashion accessory than you may have previously thought!
Thigh and Leg Harnesses
Source: Olivia Emily
Thigh harnesses are exactly what they sound like, harness or strap that is worn around the thigh, similar to a garter. These are a great option for people who want to draw attention away from their middle, and add a subtle layer of sexy detailing. Whether you wear by harness over the top of your jeans, or underneath a skirt, the result is pretty sexy.
Arm and Shoulder Harnesses
Source: Goth Fashion
Arm harnesses are normally worn around the upper part of the arm, and are generally fashioned out of chain, or hammered metal. If we are going by the rules of mainstream fashion, then arm harnesses are likely to be lumped into the category of jewellery. However, anyone who loves Steampunk or various Gothic subcultures will know that people have been rocking arm harnesses for years, often fashioned out of leather with buckles, chains, and other detailing to give a much more striking effect than a simple arm bangle ever could!
Leather Harness vs Elasticated Harness
The most popular types of Gothic harnesses available to buy right now are generally made of either leather, or elasticated material. Generally speaking, leather harnesses are looser fitting than their elasticated counterparts, often giving the appearance of a series of belts, connected together with clasps and O-rings.
Leather harnesses are great for wearing over the top of your clothing, due to the fact that they are more rigid (i.e. they keep their shape), and have the appearance of a belt. This means that they can be used to provide definition to your silhouette, similar to an underbust corset or waist belt. Use a leather harness to add shape to loose-fitting clothing like oversize t-shirts or flowing dresses.
Elasticated harnesses, however, are more suited to being worn against the skin. The fact that they are made from elasticated fabric makes them much more comfortable than leather harnesses – and also a lot less bulky! This makes them great for wearing beneath tight, form-fitting clothing such as tight tank tops.
Layering with a Body Harness
One thing to keep in mind when styling a Gothic harness is layering. A sturdy leather harness can be used to create shape and dimension, so it is a great option to layer with clothing that lacks shape - such as t-shirt dresses and other oversized clothing.
But that's not to say you can't wear a harness to accentuate your silhouette even further - and opt for a bodycon dress with a leather harness that fastens at the waist, to give an exaggerated hourglass figure.
Or, you could choose to wear a Gothic harness underneath your clothing, to give detail to the neckline, or give a totally different look to a backless dress. The point here is that a harness is an outfit enhancer - so use it to your advantage
Over The Top
Source: Kingdom Of Style
If you want your harness to be the centrepiece of your outfit, then consider layering it over the top of your clothing, and opting for something like a plain black Gothic skater dress or monochrome tank top underneath. The image above features a leather harness with a form-fitting lace skater dress, worn backwards to show off the buckle detailing - which I absolutely love!
Under Your Clothing
If you want a more subtle effect however, you can wear a Gothic harness beneath your clothing. If you choose this option, it's a great idea to pick a Gothic harness that comes up and over part of the décolletage, and wear it with a scoop neck top or dress.
These types of harnesses are sometimes called cage bras, or bralettes - and are a great example of underwear that it's totally OK to have on show! Pick a Gothic harness with an interesting aesthetic, like the gorgeous pentagram harness in the example above - and don't forget to lift the outfit with some statement Gothic jewellery to tie the whole thing together.
Which harness trend do you prefer? Over the top, or under the clothes?
Title Image: Gothic Beauty