In our previous blog, we sought to introduce the concept of gothic western fashion (in particular, with regards to womenswear, to read click HERE). However, we could not consider our delve into this intriguing aesthetic complete until we offered a counterpart for men who are interested in cultivating their own gothic cowboy style.
And so, with this in mind, we turn to Doc Holliday and the Earps as well as Yul Brynner’s positively villainous character in Westworld to provide a plethora of initial inspiration. Complete with a consumptive pallor coveted by goths worldwide, Val Kilmer’s take on Holliday serves as an excellent merging of both gothic and western aesthetics, with both subcultures admiring his equally elegant and rakish ensembles. Double-breasted vests are a wise investment for grounding this look (be it in black leather, brushed twill, brocade or even flat satin) and will serve to dress up even the most basic black button-down shirt. Wild rags are a must, either in dark solid hues or Doc’s polka dots. Another excellent staple for this silhouette is a classic frock coat (as donned by all of the Earps in Tombstone), with a black velvet lapel offering a touch of Victorian elegance. Or, for more of a gothic turn, a western duster provides an excellent alternative. Shirts and pants can either be more utilitarian or dressy depending on the material and clothing cut, so let the occasion help dictate your choices and use the vest and coat to frame the look accordingly.
For those seeking out an evening ensemble, look no further than the legendary Alexander McQueen’s AW2009 collection for cues. High buttoning vests in an understated monochrome plaid paired with slim leather or suit pants (with properly buttoning – never clip-on! – suspenders a plus) and boxy animal hide (or vegan leather) coat make for a menacing and yet refined addition to the gothic western silhouette. Or, by taking a bold cue from Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of Bill the Butcher and adding a skullcap underneath a bespoke cowboy hat, you will serve to add a crowning layer of macabre to complete your look.
As we discussed with women’s gothic westernwear, accessories are key to completing a gothic western ensemble. In fact, in the case of menswear, we could consider accessories to be downright crucial to adding an individual touch (particularly since for centuries, men’s clothing has almost entirely avoided any sort of radical experimentations outside of the avant garde realm.) A vintage western holster or masculine leather harness are equally at home in this look (with bonus points if it subtly peeks out from beneath a dramatic black duster coat, for a bit of that quick-draw drama.) If neither of these can be procured, a intricately tooled leather belt serves as an excellent alternative. As was also in the case of the women’s silhouette, a quality pair of leather gloves or gauntlets proves equally practical and fashionable. But of course, do not forget to cultivate a varied collection of heavy silver rings, bolo ties, chains, and perhaps a watch fob or two (as these can all dress up a gentleman’s attire considerably). Lastly, if you’re feeling extra confident and showy, a pair of silver spurs will announce your arrival with gusto.
Finally, much like a good pair of bookends, hats and shoes are to be carefully considered for this look for both sexes. Perfectly worn-in cowboy boots are ideal here (with tasteful embroidery favored and nary a trace of Nashville rhinestones), with Old Gringo and Lucchese both being excellent brands to seek out. However, winklepickers and Victorian boots are also equally at home in this look. Since there are a myriad of hat silhouettes available, take the opportunity to find a style that suits your face and invest in a well-made bespoke hat that will last a lifetime- Stetson and Bronco Sue are both universally respected brands that will help you avoid the dreaded “costume” look.
In the end, the key is experimentation, as this is what leads to developing your own personal sense of style, no matter your gender. So, have fun and enjoy the theater of gothic western fashion!
by Mather Louth
(Mather is the lead vocalist for Gothic Americana band the Heathen Apostles. Learn more about them HERE.)