With spooky season nearly upon us, it is time to talk about the witchy aesthetic taking over the wardrobes and homes of millennials and Gen Z alike.
Whimsigothic is a spellbinding culmination of light and dark aesthetics, resulting in the ultimate style inspiration for those who relate to magic and mysticism. Think gothic opulence with thick velvet and lace textures, combined with bohemian crystals, light chiffon and celestial iconography.
Coined by Evan Collins, co-founder of the Consumer Aesthetics Research Institute, the term “whimsigothic“ was initially described as “existing primarily from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s – contemporaneous with the peak popularity of gothic-inspired pop/rock music, Tim Burton, and the graphic design work of Margo Chase”.
While this description still rings true, it is certain whimsigoth is back and thriving in 2022.
Currently, #whimsigothic has attracted 52.3 million viewers on TikTok, while #whimsigoth has 33 million. User @ostara_shoppe has created a series of videos reintroducing and defining the term to TikTok’s younger audience. Where the whimsigothic trend screams nostalgic throwback for some, it is an exciting new option for those who missed out the first time.
@ostara_shoppe this aesthetic is so comforting 🌜🌞✨ #whimsigoth #whimsigothical #whimsigothic #duvet #ostarashoppe ♬ Duvet – bôa
The Magician Chic Style Icons of Whimsigothic Aesthetic
When looking for whimsigoth style inspiration, Stevie Nicks‘ wardrobe will always be the blueprint.
Floaty sheer fabrics combined with bell sleeves, shawls and lots of layered jewellery – Stevie Nicks has pioneered this ‘magician chic’ look since the ’70s.
This era was without a doubt both whimsical and gothic. It was all about black lace corsets, paisley maxi skirts and top hats, extra whimsy was added with effortless layering of kaftans and beaded scarves.
Not forgetting icons such as Kate Bush and Lisa Bonet, it is clear that ’70s bohemia and ’80s goth fashion (both of which were influenced by Renaissance Revival) played a vital role in forming the whimsigoth aesthetic as we know it.
Witchcraft and Whimsigoth in Pop Culture
Fast forward to the ’90s and pop culture is simply brimming with whimsigothic influence.
Witchcraft-inspired movies such as the 1998 film Practical Magic and The Craft were released. Plus a multitude of TV series celebrating rebellious women owning the whimsigothic style – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed and Phoebe Buffay just to name a few.
Of course, this is not just limited to movies and television, musicians have always led the way when putting together a whimsigothic outfit. The ’90s brought D’arcy Wretzky of The Smashing Pumpkins and Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star. Both women rocked some iconic looks while providing the moody teen soundtrack of young witches across the globe.
The introduction of iconic ’90s fashion trend pieces such as the satin slip dress, velvet chokers and chunky footwear brought the movement much closer to the quintessential whimsigothic look popular today.
A Modern Gothic Fairytale, why the Resurgence?
The ’90s were a time when third-wave feminism was thriving, it is no wonder a stylistic movement inspired by witches was so prominent across all forms of media.
With such a politicly engaged youth and a constant focus on feminism in societal discourse, it is to be expected the cycle is repeating itself now. This can be seen with cinematic rereleases such as The Craft: Legacy and Hocus Pocus 2. Plus an array of famous actors and musicians showing off their interpretation of the whimsigothical aesthetic, modern examples include Florence Welch, FKA Twigs and Helena Bonham Carter.
“Witches adopted their style of dress because it’s empowering and sexy. We are not afraid of you, patriarchy. We express ourselves freely and enjoy our bodies and our sexuality.”Christine “Ammo” O’Day – Occult practitioner
Following the global pandemic and other major events, such as Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement, it has been suggested these uncertain times have caused a shift in current fashion, with consumers defining their style in a more conscious and spiritual way.
“I really feel like it’s a rebellion … people are looking to spirituality or astrology or intuition to have comfort and explore new ways of being. It’s owning the female identity, the divine feminine.”Andrea Diodati – Assistant professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Inclusivity and intersectionalism should be at the forefront of any witchcraft-based movement, perhaps this resurgence is an opportunity to revisit whimsigoth with a new lens, addressing issues from the ’90s such as cultural appropriation and lack of representation. Fashion is political and with such a vast online following these issues are ready to be tackled.
Currently, #witchtok has 31.6 billion viewers on TikTok, this is an incredible amount of people seeking community in anything from spells, tarot and horoscopes, to fashion and interior design.
Adorn your Wardrobe with Moons and Suns…
How do you achieve whimsigothic style in the modern day?
There are so many ways to incorporate this aesthetic into an everyday wardrobe. Thrifting and charity shopping are certainly the way forward to create an eclectic witchy vibe. There are also many reputable small brands offering unique and ethical options!
When searching for colours think black and jewel tones; dark reds, deep greens, blues and purples. Contrasting fabrics are also important; while satin, velvet, crochet and lace are key staples, it is also important to have plenty of layering pieces! This can include cosy cropped cardigans that tie at the front or long Afghan coats with fur trim.
Brands such as Tunnel Vision have a wide selection of whimsigothic-inspired pieces.
Items with a sun and moon motif, lace detail or witch theme are always worth picking up. Likewise, with accessories such as necklaces, chokers and rings, it is ideal to be dripping in carefully selected jewels – hallmarks include crystals, black cat imagery and celestial pieces.
Check out independent business Adorned Duo for an array of vintage and handmade pieces.
Feeling lost? Check out this styling video from @fffigs
@fffigs i’ve been really inspired by @Ostara Shoppe whimsigothic videos so here is my take on the style!🌞🌙 #whimsigothic #90sfashion #outfitinspo ♬ Linger – The Cranberries
Decorate your Interior with Dramatic Wallpaper and Velvet Throws…
The key to achieving a whimsigothic home is to create a gothic look with a mystical, fairytale twist.
Think OG Sabrina’s bedroom in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, this room was the epitome of whimsigothic decor. Filled with trinkets, rustic furniture and witchy vibes, this is the perfect inspiration to make your space a whimsigoth dreamland.
Velvet curtains and luxurious throws, combined with stained glass details and houseplants everywhere. Hang a vine or two to bring the outside in.
Incense and lots of candles are a must; pillar candles, candelabras and tea light holders, anything to add a touch of mysticism. This design style is verging on cluttercore so don’t be afraid to go maximalist with your home decor.
As for the kitchen, herbs and spices can be stored in apothecary jars, with a mortar and pestle laid out ready for the next spell!
Need inspiration? Have a look at these witchcore offerings from homeware brand Sass and Belle.
Live your Whimsigoth Fantasy…
There is something so special about a movement based upon magic and feminism, added to by each generation with their need to express discontent through fashion.
This year alone has seen fairycore, whimsigoth and the imminent return of Tumblr grunge. It is admirable that any trend is able to combine escapism and rebellion in such a unifying way.
While all fashion phases are cyclical, we truly hope this one is here to stay.