Preppy-Goth Is Doomed Fashion

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, are.

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 me.

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 fugatron 5000.

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 harring@fas.harvard.edu.