3 Essentials For Rocking The Emo Look In 2023 (Because It Never Was Just A Phase)

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Being emo as we know it — it's not just a phase! — might be one of the most enduring trends. This is likely because it is so much more than an aesthetic. Emo is first and foremost a music genre harkening back to the 1980s, but it is also a means of moving through the world that is unapologetically expressive and angsty. While social media continues to churn out new aesthetic micro-trends, something about the resurgence of the emo look has a nostalgic, but authentic, quality to it in 2023. 


Should you feel emo deep in your soul, and want your dress to reflect it, try pairing the key emo items with today's trends and must-have items. This combo can make for a modern emo look that is both informed, stylish, and undeniably your own. And should you ever feel unsure about the aesthetic, just turn to the patron saint of the Y2K emo era for inspiration, Avril Lavigne, whose signature was wearing a men's tie. Or, look to Hayley Williams, a once emo teen whose look has evolved into serious fashion goals today — just check out the evolution of her hair

Skate-inspired shoes and combat boots

When it comes to dressing emo, your shoes say a lot. Are they polished and pretty? Or have they been dragged through the mud, almost shredded apart, just like your heart? For this look, choose skate-inspired shoes and combat boots that are worth screaming over. Slip-on Vans, for example, are essential emo — the checkerboard pair is everything — while a pair of platform Dr. Marten boots make a statement. 


We love how Instagram user @denk.noir wears these platform Dr. Marten oxfords with a pair of black, fishnet tights, and black ankle socks over top. (Extra points for the pink flower petals scattered around them, too; could there be a more emo photo of a pair of Docs?) There are plenty of styles to choose from on the Dr. Marten website, both with a platform and without, so you can express your feelings to the fullest. 

Belts, studs, and gloves

Layering with accessories is also critical to achieving an emo look. A widely recognized symbol of alternative fashion, belts with studs or grommets might even be the must-have item in your wardrobe when it comes to the emo aesthetic. Chain necklaces, mesh gloves, and delicate pieces of clothing, such as the lace cape that Instagram user Kayla Hadlington (@greebogirl) wears, are also on-trend accessories. It also heightens the contrast between cute and combat, which is a mainstay theme in emo fashion. 


Garage sells a double-grommet belt in both black and white for under $20, and this punk-pink grommet belt from Forever 21 is available for under $15. One of the best parts about grommet belts is that you can adorn them with metal accessories. This chain (with adorable, emo hearts!) from Amazon is the perfect touch for under $10. And of course, more metal is better. Complete your look with this layered, chain choker necklace, available on Amazon for under $15. 

Should you feel that your look is lacking a little color, gloves can also bring some brightness to an often muted color palette. These sheer, mesh, lilac arm warmers are available on Amazon for under $10. Or, go with a quintessential emo-style red and black stripe like this pair from Hot Topic, complete with metal studs!


A band tee

And of course, nothing is more emo than repping the merch of your favorite band — you know, the one that just gets you in a way that nobody else does? We love the idea of harkening back to the peak emo era of the aughts like the Slipknot band tee @marinablaup wears on Instagram with a pair of red-and-black arm warmers, mesh tights, and a tiered, white skirt. 


But there is also something special and nostalgic about wearing a shirt from your favorite band right now, as you show the world the resilience of your music-loving soul. But, if band tees are simply not for you, you could also try wearing a graphic tee with text that is also of a similar era. This "FERAL" tee from Praying on SSENSE still has an emo feel, but features a word that is undoubtedly part of the present zeitgeist.