What is Goth?
Goth is an alternative subculture and is both a style of music and fashion. Not all people who listen to the music dress the style and vice versa, but they usually coincide.
Where did the name come from?
The name originally came from a Germanic tribe (ie the Goths). The Romans regarded them as barbaric and uncultured, much like the Vandals. "Gothic" was later applied to a style of medieval architecture by critics who regarded it as similarly barbaric and uncultured . The term was later applied to a late 18th/early 19th century style of literature which had a fascination with death and the supernatural.
The term "Gothic" was first applied to the music which is now considered "goth" in about 1979- .
What does a Goth look like?
The early goths (early 1980's) looked similar to the punk scene, except that the predominant colours were black for hair & clothing (with the occasional outburst of white, red or purple) and silver for jewellery. They also tended to spout a lot of fishnet and had a distinctive style of makeup, with very white faces and lots of black eyeliner. Hair was usually dyed black, crimped and backcombed.
At first the hair was usually fairly short for men, but by the mid-to-late eighties long black hair became fashionable and it's now more usual to see hair long & down. Makeup remains an integral part of the look, but clothing has diversified so that some now wear clothes influenced by 18th or early 19th century styles whilst others wear PVC,velvet, leather & fishnet. And some of them wear both, though not usually at the same time. Black and white remain the predominant colours, with red or purple still making an appearance. Distinctive fabrics tend to be silk, crushed velvet, leather & PVC. Overall, the looks tend to be so diversified these days that its hard to pick one "gothic" style.