Emo Fashion

Girl wearing emo clothing while listening to music

Emo fashion is a popular choice among teens who like to dress outside of the mainstream.

Emo Basics

Emo is, first and foremost, a genre of music. With roots in punk, it also has elements of indie rock. The name comes from the emotional nature of the songs. Whereas punk songs are likely to rail against authority, an emo song would typically talk about breaking up with a girlfriend or not fitting in. This has led to the perception among some outsiders that fans of the genre are depressed and angst-filled. Scene is a related style, named because its followers are into the "music scene", and the lines between emo and scene often blur.

Elements of Emo Fashion

The hair, the hoodie, and the glasses are classic emo elements.

If you're wondering how to dress emo, there are a few common elements you should incorporate into your look.


Hair should be straight, and it may be dyed black. Bright colors, such as blue or pink, are typically only used as accents. For both guys and girls, the bangs often droop down and cover one eye.


T-shirts are an essential piece of any wardrobe. Preferred designs are vintage tees and band shirts. They should be worn tight. There is no room for baggy clothing in emo fashion. Button-up shirts and polo shirts are also a possibility, but they should look like they come straight out of a photo from the 70's rather than something you picked up at Old Navy. Don't be afraid to layer - add a hoodie or a v-neck sweater, or wear a long-sleeved t-shirt under a short-sleeved button-up shirt.


Skinny jeans are a mainstay of emo fashion. Guys may even wear girls' jeans to get the right level of snugness. Dickies and similar style work pants are another option. In general, you won't find any shorts or khakis in an emo clothes closet.

Skirts and Dresses

Skirts and dresses tend to be retro in style, with a classic fit. Don't let a skirt or dress get too fancy, though. Add fishnet stockings or ripped pantyhose or tights to counteract the cuteness.


Chucks, canvas high-top Converse sneakers, are a common footwear choice among both genders. In general, they should look worn-in and well-used. Some teens like to add individual style to their Chucks by writing or drawing on them. Ballet flats are popular among girls.


Emo style doesn't have to be drab.

Add one of the following accents to complete your look:

  • A studded, dark-colored belt is a common complement, although it's purely for looks given the tightness of most pants.
  • If you have poor eyesight, choose black, thick-rimmed glasses. In fact, some teens purchase the frames even if they don't need a prescription.
  • The messenger bag is the preferred carry-all among emo kids. Add patches and pins featuring your favorite bands.
  • Make-up is dark without being overly caked on. Both boys and girls wear black eyeliner.
  • Stripes are popular in small doses, such as striped knee-high socks.

Where to Buy

  • Thrift stores are a great source for emo-worthy clothing. Why spend big bucks on a shirt that's designed to look vintage when you can find the real thing for a few dollars at Goodwill?
  • loungefly sells cute clothing and accessories for girls.
  • Subcitizen offers a large selection of t-shirts with unique designs and logos.

Remember to get your parent's permission before shopping online.

Just for Fun

Try out emo fashion with Dress Up Emo Boy and Dress Up Emo Girl. They're paper dolls for the digital age.

Emo Fashion