Alternative Aesthetic: Standing Outside the Mainstream

Alternative Aesthetic: Standing Outside the Mainstream


Words that best describe the alternative aesthetic are eclectic, challenging, and original. The aesthetic or subculture stands for everything that is not mainstream. Some of the aesthetics popular under the umbrella of alternative aesthetic are Emo, Goth, Punk, Hipsters, etc. Today, these aesthetics have become a part of our lives with alternative aesthetic outfits, and accessories. So, it’s time you break the shackle of normalcy and flaunt your uniqueness.


What is an alternative aesthetic? Well, it is difficult to define this subculture in one line, considering the spectrum of aesthetics associated with it. If you want a one-liner, we can say that this aesthetic covers everything that is not mainstream. Aesthetics like Hipsters, Punk, Emo, Goth, etc., are included in the alternative subculture. Besides, an alternative subculture often rises out of popular culture. For example, we know how alternative rock rose from mainstream rock music and garnered immense popularity from 1991 to 1996.

Further, considering alternative aesthetic as an umbrella term, we can associate it with most unconventional aesthetics. Also, today, the line between alternative and mainstream is getting blurred. Especially, if we talk about alternative aesthetic outfits, you will see them today in mainstream movies, runways, and where not!

Origin of Alt Style Aesthetic:

Merriam-Webster dictionary says that alternative originally came into being as a music genre. It used to stand for music created outside popular streams like pop, country, or conventional rock. This alternative music was often distributed by independent record labels. It is said that alternative or alt music was introduced in the 1960s. Then, rock music was huge, and alternative rock emerged as a separate sub-genre out of the mainstream.

Further, alternative hip-hop and rap music became a rage in the 1980s. In the 1990s, alternative rap became more popular. However, today, the alternative aesthetic is largely associated with alt clothes labels. These labels promote alt clothes that do not follow mainstream fashion ideas.

Some Popular Alternative Aesthetic Trends:

As mentioned before, the alternative aesthetic is an umbrella term for many aesthetics like Goth, Punk, Emo, etc. However, even each of these aesthetics has sub-genres. It’s time we take a look at them.


Goth is one of the most popular aesthetics or subcultures in alternative aesthetic. Pinterest predict it’s going to be 2022 trend. You can read more about it by clicking here. Believers in this alt style aesthetic mostly wear black clothes with dark eye makeup and dark lipstick. Men and women who believe in this aesthetic will always wear dark eyeliner and nail polish. Goth fashion itself has various sub-trends. Let’s know about them.



The fans of electronic Goth started this trend in the 1990s. In this trend, people wear regular Goth alternative aesthetic outfits. They accentuate their look with neon accessories, gas masks, colored lenses, UV jewelry pieces, platform boots, cyber locks, etc.  

Gothic Lolita

Gothic Lolita is a wonderful fusion of Japanese Lolita and Western Gothic aesthetics. The outfits in this alternative aesthetic are massively influenced by the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The followers of this aesthetic wear black bloomers or petticoats under a skirt or dress in bell shape. Besides, they wear a frilled blouse over a corset. You will see prints like coffins, bats, crosses, etc., in abundance in these outfits. Popular accessories in this aesthetic are headbands, top hats, rosaries, etc. Do not forget to wear a pair of Lolita boots to step out in style.

Pastel Goth:

This aesthetic gives a soft edge to the conventional Goth style. Pastel Goth clothes come in black with prints of inverted crosses, occult images, and quotes written in dripping pink or lavender color. This aesthetic is incomplete without hair dyed in pastel colors like lavender, mint, light pink, gray, ombre, blonde, etc. Flower crowns, hair clips, chokers, studs are some popular accessories in this fashion trend.

Witch House:

This trend emerged in the 2010s. Hoodies, baggy sweatshirts, V-Neck tees, silver chokers, occult tattoos are some common elements in this fashion aesthetic.

Health Goth:

It is a futuristic take on Cyber Goth. Transparent materials, mesh, and clean lines are the main characteristics of Health Goth outfits. You can team the outfit with combat gears, chains, and sports shoes.

Ghetto Goth:

For a perfect Ghetto Goth look, a woman can wear long Goth gowns with black lipstick and dark eye makeup. Bomber and racer jackets are also quite popular among Ghetto Goth lovers.

Nu Goth:

Nu Goth is the latest version of the Goth style. It is minimalistic, and the form is characterized by clean lines. For the perfect Nu Goth look, you can wear long dresses or shirts with occult prints, crop tops, and skater tops. Dark makeup, occult jewelry pieces, thigh-high socks, chunky heels, and creeper heels go well with Nu Goth outfits.

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Like other forms of alternative aesthetic, Punk also promotes anti-establishment. Punk fashion is characterized by T-Shirts with satirical prints/taglines, leather jackets, spiked or brightly colored hair, tattoos, etc. However, this aesthetic has many sub-forms like:

  • Steam Punk
  • Skate Punk or Sneakerheads
  • Seapunk, etc.

The Punk subculture arose in the mid-1970s in the United Kingdom, and it came to the USA in the early and the mid-1990s. Over the decades, this subculture has gone through many evolutions, but it has stuck to its core value of being alternative in music, art, visuals, and fashion.


Emo emerged as another version of the Goth subculture. The most popular Emo outfits are skinny jeans, black clothes, or band T-Shirts. Studded belts are widely worn by Punk lovers. However, it is the unique hairstyle that sets the Punk lovers apart. They usually have choppy hair. Some even go for more adventurous long side-swept bangs that cover their one eye. Punk lovers also dye their hair in black, platinum blonde, or some unique colors.


Hipsters fashion is kind of a fusion for us. The very concept came after individuals who, despite being Indie music lovers, followed the latest trends for appearing fashionable. You can easily identify a Hipsters lover from tattoos, long beards, buns, or combed back hair. The most popular Hipsters outfits are skinny jeans, graphic T-Shirts/shirts, hoodies, flannel lumberjack shirts, etc. Wayfarers, messenger bags, scarves, thick-framed glasses are popular accessories among Hipsters lovers.

Other Popular Alternative Aesthetic Subcultures:

Along with these four, they are many other alternative aesthetic forms. Those are:

  • Soft Grunge
  • Scene
  • Normcore
  • Memecore
  • Vaporwave
  • Cutesters
  • Yuccie, etc.

Wrapping Up:

As a subculture, the alternative aesthetic is a collaborative form of many other subcultures that aim to deviate from the mainstream. Each of these aesthetics has its unique characteristics, visuals, forms, and features. However, as a fashion aesthete, you do not need to follow the styles blindly. You can create your own statement by blending the forms and letting your fashion be an expression of your individuality. So, be alternative and be unique

Where did alternative fashion come from?

Alternative fashion has been around for quite some time, but it really took off in the 1980s and 1990s when punk and hardcore bands started wearing more nontraditional clothing. However, alternative fashion goes beyond just clothing. It can also include hairstyles, makeup, accessories, and even home decor.
Today’s Alternative Fashion is influenced by a variety of sources including pop culture (e.g., Stranger Things), Social Media (e.g., Instagram), and street style trends. So while there is no one right way to dress or look stylish, there are definitely many popular styles that you can explore if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd!

What does alternative style mean?

Alternative style typically refers to a type of fashion that falls outside the mainstream. This can include anything from grunge and punk styles to contemporary streetwear and athleisure. It is important to remember that alternative style is not limited to any one genre or era, so you are free to experiment with different looks and trends at any time.
Additionally, it’s important to be aware of your own personal brand when adopting an alternatestyle. What does this look like for you? How do you want others view you? Are there specific clothes or accessories that represent your Style? Remember, everyone has their own unique expression of Alternative Style!

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About Author

Mantas, DRIPCRIME Designer

Mantas is a professional merch graphic designer with years of expierence in alternative, y2k, goth grunge, punk industry. The passion for the industry has lead Mantas to become one of main designers and writers at DRIPCRIME store.