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Unraveling the Whimsigoth Aesthetic: Embracing the Enigmatic

The whimsigoth aesthetic has been around for years, collecting inspiration from many different places. Here is everything you need to know about it!

Shutterstock/CREATISTA

From clean girl to mob wife, TikTok has finally become a place to label the aesthetic you’ve been trying to achieve. A somewhat new trend comes from the Whimsigoth aesthetic, which is just another aesthetic we can thank TikTok for naming. However, the name does not exactly imply what it is. So, what exactly does whimsigoth mean?

What sets Whimsigoth apart from other aesthetics is its unique blend of gothic allure with the whimsical charm of fairy tales and folklore. Like many TikTok aesthetics, it exists outside of the app and was around for years before it. TikTok’s recognition of this aesthetic coined it as “whimsigoth” or “fairy grunge.”

In fashion, this manifests as a fusion of flowy silhouettes similar to those of Stevie Nicks’ unforgettable style from the ’80s, with elements of surrealism and a touch of ’90s and Y2K flair. Nicks’s use of flowy bottoms, bell sleeves, and so many layers have all become staples in this aesthetic. Like any trend from the 90s and 2000s, the 2020s have brought it back in an unforgettable way as we remember the distant past.

Moreover, fashion designer Anna Sui’s eclectic designs and actress Lisa Bonet’s bohemian elegance serve as muses for Whimsigoth enthusiasts. From these well-known figures, fans of this aesthetic draw inspiration to create full looks that are at once gloomy yet warm. Often, these looks are adorned with patterned tops and rich, deep hues of purple, emerald, and maroon.

Whimsigoth aesthetic – Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks - Whimsigoth Aesthetic
Still from Dion the Taurus Style Spotlight: Stevie Nicks 🔮✨🖤/YouTube

Lisa Bonet’s embrace of more feminine aspects of her own style has come into play often throughout the aesthetic as well. Most describe Lisa Bonet’s style, especially in the 90s, as Boho chic as she often wore flowing fabrics, eclectic jewelry, and accessories. This pairs well with her preferred darker color pallet, pulling together the laidback style.

In design and decor, there seems to be an element of maximalism that includes many of the same elements within living spaces. Often noted is the inclusion of velvet furniture, encapsulating a comfort within the homes of those who take on the aesthetic. Adding to the mood, low lighting, typically from a lamp, provides a calm nature.

Of course, since there is still a root in gothic culture, darker elements tend to crop their end throughout the aesthetic. Often, that lowlight look that adds to the whimsical atmosphere might be better done, and safely, with candles! Moreover, it is common to find many decorations, including skull heads and plants, especially those with vines. In addition, other prevalent motifs include vintage books, velvet curtains, celestial motifs, and glass jars or bottles displaying various items. One can also find metal accents, which also account for clothing and jewelry.

Cultural appropriation

To some, whimsigoth is said to be an homage to Romani culture. Sometimes, it’s said to be celebrating its ethos of inclusivity and artistic expression. However, within this celebration lies a challenge: the delicate balance between embracing diversity and avoiding cultural appropriation. As a Reddit user keenly observed, “Modern Boho styles are a mix of Romani and Bohemian. Definitely cultural appropriation and incorrect name.”

The Whimsigoth aesthetic does share similar aspects with the “Boho style.” Long flowy cardigans, romanticizing a sort of carefree lifestyle, and a feminine flare all overlap within these two cultures. Whimsigoth enthusiasts and enjoyers must tread carefully, ensuring their appreciation for cultural elements is accompanied by respect and awareness of their origins.

While “Modern Boho” often takes from Romani culture, Whimsigoth has its own spiritual elements. Tarot readings, crystal gazing, and other mystical practices often find a place within the Whimsigoth aesthetic.

Tarot Card reading - Whimsigoth aesthetic
Shutterstock/vimolsiri.s

In addition, the idea of Whimsigoth often connects with paganism. While this comes from the fact that so many people within this aesthetic seem to practice it, there are other reasons these feel so closely tied. Stevie Nicks’ claims of witchyness aren’t secret, and many pop culture references that are tied to whimsigoth tend to deal with the occult or have supernatural elements. However, it isn’t necessary to enjoy the aesthetic, but similar to “Modern Boho” enjoyers, one should tread carefully when exploring these aspects.

These activities not only serve as tools for divination but also as pathways for self-discovery and spiritual exploration. For many who immerse themselves in the Whimsigoth aesthetic, spirituality is not merely a facet but a guiding force that infuses every aspect of their journey.

Whimsigoth’s Pop Culture influence

That being said, this spiritual element of Whimsigoth is unnecessary when trying to recreate the aesthetic in your own life. While many pagans are often part of the whimisgoth aesthetic, inspiration is also found throughout many pop culture moments.

The influence of pop culture is palpable within Whimsigoth, with nods to iconic films such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch from the ’90s and the whimsical worlds of Tim Burton from the 2000s. These cultural benchmarks infuse the aesthetic with a sense of nostalgia and intrigue, further enriching its tapestry of influences. The Craft and other movies focused on witchcraft are often put in the center of whimsigoth. These pop culture pieces compare the aesthetic’s darker nature, tapping into gothic elements. Tim Burton, in particular, brings together whimsical and gothic elements in many of his films.

Whimsigoth aesthetic – Tim Burton

Corpse Bride - Moon Dance Scene - Whimsigoth Aesthetic
Still from Warner Bros. Entertainment Corpse Bride: Moon Dance Scene (HD) | The Land of the Living | Warner Bros. Entertainment/Youtube

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, in particular, seems to be a good place to look. While the darkness of the gothic is obvious within Burton’s looks, the use of dainty limbs adds to the whimsiness of it all. These sorts of dainty long silhouettes are important throughout the aesthetic. Emily’s wedding dress embraces the flowy look similar to what whimsigoth mimics. Still, the element of her being in a wedding dress helps to embrace the femininity within whimsigoth.

Other aspects

Patterns are also important aspect of the whimsigoth aesthetic. Often, these patterns include stars, moons, lace, and bugs like moths and beetles. Additionally, surrealism comes in when pertaining to the patterns, including moths and beetles. On the other hand, shapes like star and moon patterns tend to be more cartoonish. These patterns are seen mostly throughout the fashion of whimsigothic.

Whimsigoth may seem a little overwhelming, but sometimes, this can be the point of the aesthetic. It’s not something that is traditional and follows societal expectations when it comes to clothing, fashion, and living. Moreover, layering can also create the eclectic, “witchyness” that people want to embrace.

Where it is now?

TikTok has given us names for many of the styles we see so often. Stevie Nick has been giving us “witchy 90s girl” for decades, and Tim Burton movies have remained beloved by many. Whimsigoth will always be within our subcultures, and TikTok’s label makes it easier to find yourself within the aesthetic if you choose to do so!

Whimsigoth had found a way to stay alive today. Tiktok’s love of artists like Mazzy Star, TV Girl, and The Cranberries is a reflection of the way Whimsigoth is here to stay. Beyond that, Whimsigoth has helped to influence other popular styles. Cottage Core has adopted pieces of the whimsigoth aesthetic, such as the flowy nature and laying within the cottage core.

Whimsigoth is for anyone to enjoy, and it invites creativity within it. While a lot of the elements discussed can seem a little abstract, it’s like that for good reason. Whimsigoth inspires the person to explore their own whimsical nature and romanticizes the playful elements of fashion.

As Whimsigoth continues to captivate and inspire, it serves as a testament to the power of creativity to transcend boundaries and evoke emotion. Whimsigoth invites us to embark on a journey into the unknown. Where every shadow holds a secret and every tale whispers of magic.

Written By

24 year old writer. Denver based but always found with my nose in a book.

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