Some people have multifaceted gothic personalities that are colored by
extreme fluctuations of emotion. I am not one of these people. Both
Courtney Love and the protagonists in Ann Radcliffe novels, however,
Periodically, these sensitive souls wake up with positively
baroque feelings of despair, which make them scrawl in journals and pen
searing poetry about dead people. This is often coupled with wild,
opiate-induced highs that eventually culminate in someone chucking a
powder compact at Madonna. Well, maybe only in Courtney’s case.
As I have stated previously, I can’t really relate to this.
The closest I ever got to gothic was when, in 10th grade, I wore all
black on Valentine’s Day and read selections from a novel entitled
“Velvet Angel” (a stunning and eventful read about the glories of sex
in the middle ages—I highly recommend it) when anyone tried to talk to
This was awesome, yes, but unsustainable. I didn’t really have enough angst to wear Doc Martens, like for real.
That’s why I didn’t really know how I felt about the whole
“skulls” trend. Ever since last fall, when high fashion debuted a
renewed fascination with the gothic, skulls have been the print of
choice for accessories everywhere. Sienna and Nicole both wore skull
print scarves tied in variously contrived ways.
Urban Outfitters started selling skull t-shirts, and every Hot
Hot Heat listening hipster seemed to have at least one skull print
item, which apparently brought them back, with fond nostalgia, to their
doc marten wearing, livejournal writing days of yore.
But then, skulls started to get preppy. Really preppy. Girls
at finals clubs, who I had never seen outside of their teal cable knit
sweater and madras pants uniform, were sporting black bustiers with
skulls on them.
I didn’t recognize them. I would see men going into the
Delphic decked out in a pair of Nantucket red shorts, replete with
embroidered skulls on them. I was speechless.
Supposedly, skulls have some sort of history as preppy
iconography. Recently I was told that they are some how tangentially
connected with English prep schools. But this, my friends, is America.
I can deal with cheeky, sniveling hipsters wrapping their skull print
scarf over a bowler hat, in an effort to disguise an extremely
unflattering Edie Sedgwick-style haircut.
They were all once teenagers with a penchant for the gothic.
But this preppy thing is simply odd. At the very least, there is a bit
too much winking at the camera for my puritanical tastes.
Skulls are for Courtney Love. They are for Trent Reznor. They
are for pirates. The irony is a bit too rarefied for a polo shirt.
Three Tips, If You Really Must Skull It Up:
1) This trend should be used sparingly. One item! ONE ITEM! You will not regret this.
2) This trend works best in accessories. Hairbands, scarves,
and belts are the best way to try this style. Skull print pants are
3) The trend is really on its last legs. Thus you should
approach it in the way that Kevin Federline is approaching his imminent
and utter insignificance by wearing real suits and eating at Nobu: with
a sense of the transitory and capricious nature of the world.
—Staff writer Rebecca M. Harrington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.