I knew I’d succeeded in life when someone at the Union pointed at me, unprompted, and screamed, “Wednesday Addams!”. For those who don’t know, Wednesday Addams is the sadistic, macabre-obsessed daughter in the fictional Addams family, known for her gothic appearance and emotionless disposition. She sports iconic dark pigtails and ghostly pale skin and is best known for her morbid hobbies and interests. And as a wannabe “emo”, to be compared to Wednesday Addams (I was also once referred to as a “bisexual Wednesday”) was an incredibly flattering experience. Now, I have no idea who this girl at the Union was, and I haven’t seen her since, but she (amongst many other people who have commented on my fashion) has inspired me to talk about the way I try to dress and how I go about doing it.
So, here are a handful of pieces of advice for dressing almost like a wannabe Wednesday Addams (but gayer!), written roughly in order of how doable they are and how easy they are to carry out for those who might just be starting to experiment with their style. Feel free to take whatever resonates with you and leave the rest - after all, your style is unique to you, and you should only wear what you feel good wearing! :)
Black And White
As said in the 2022 Netflix series, Wednesday is “allergic to colour”. Her most iconic outfit is, easily, the white-collared black dress, but don’t assume that is all that can be achieved with black and white. Black and white are incredibly easy to work with when creating an outfit –since they are chromatically neutral, they will match every skin tone, every hair colour and (most importantly) every other piece in your wardrobe. When I first began properly experimenting with my style upon arriving at St Andrews, I paired a white shirt underneath a V-neck black sweater and often paired that combination with either blue jeans or a green denim skirt. These outfits helped me to gradually ease into the style I was aiming for. This is why starting to incorporate black and white into your wardrobe deliberately is the best place to start - since black and white matches everything, you don’t need to throw out your entire current wardrobe to begin switching up your style. But remember: black should be the main colour and white the accent. This is wannabe Wednesday, after all!
Dresses and Skirts
Dresses and skirts are the way to go for those who prefer to present more feminine. They are perfect for highlighting an hourglass or pear-shaped figure and achieving a daintier look. And if you're quite tall, dresses and skirts are the best way to avoid the gruelling hunt for trousers that fit - plus, the best excuse for embracing those legs instead of trying to disguise them. You can often pair dresses with tights, patterned or plain, for a more modest look (and to survive in these brutal Scottish Winters).
Channelling the Wednesday Gown
For less casual situations, like a social event, I like to channel the Wednesday gown by wearing dresses with millions of layers of translucent material. Think tulle, mesh, chiffon. You can usually find dresses like this on alternative fashion websites (Disturbia being an incredibly reliable one). These sorts of materials aren't exclusive to dresses. I like to pair black crop tops underneath patterned mesh tops or even wear long mesh gloves.
Academia Style and Dramatic Collars
The academia style is something I have always admired, even before I started experimenting with alternative styles. Wednesday is like the perfect combination of the two. For this, I tend to gravitate towards collared shirts, academic patterns like plaid and pinstripe, and buying pieces like a long black overcoat that can match anything. But the aspect of the academia style that I focus on the most is collars.
As mentioned above, the black and white dress is Wednesday’s most iconic outfit. But what exactly is it that makes it so identifiable? The white collar, of course. Collars come naturally if you're aiming for the academic style, but I keep an eye out for pieces that sport deliberately large and dramatic collars. And have fun with it - it doesn't just have to be solid colours with no added details! I have a shirt with a huge white collar with black crescent moons. A check dress with a black collar that has silver rings piercing it. A mesh dress with a completely translucent torso save for a bold black collar and black ruffles. Collars also provide the best opportunity to layer necklaces and chains; just be careful that they aren't fighting for dominance in the outfit. I tend to pair simpler necklaces with bolder collars and bolder necklaces with simpler collars.
"Making it Gay": Eyeliner, Fishnets and Jewellery
Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes because they're true. And a fashion stereotype about a good portion of queer people is that we know how to make unique eyeliner work, we wear too much jewellery, and every outfit just has to include fishnets. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules.
One of my favourite makeup looks to do is relatively simple – big, bold eyeliner and some sort of red-pink lip. (I made the very intelligent decision to do a STEM degree, so it helps to have a short makeup routine when I'm rushing in the morning for a 9 am lecture.)
However, many people fear attempting to do an eyeliner, especially the bolder styles, because of how easy it is to mess up. And the bolder the vision, the more obvious the mistakes will be. I regret to admit it is a real possibility that the first twenty times you try eyeliner, it will be messy and asymmetrical. You will stare at the mirror in horror, wondering why you ever bothered. And if, like me, you have very hooded eyelids, this will be even more frequent.
When I first began experimenting with eyeliner, it genuinely looked like I'd scribbled across my eyelids with a black crayon. But if it's any consolation, it took me the better part of two years to “perfect” my current style. My biggest piece of advice to give is to tune into your own eye shape and to try and steer clear of tutorials online. Of course, tutorials are helpful when you're just starting out, but there's a limit to how helpful they are because the people who give these tutorials work with their own eye shape. So unless you miraculously find an alternative-style influencer with your exact eye shape, try to depend less on video tutorials after some time.
Another piece of advice would be to use tape and ensure that your eyeliner pen isn't drying out. Perfecting the shape is hard enough without a temperamental pen dying constantly. Tape is a wonderful tool to use to not only ensure your lines are straight but that the shape is symmetrical from the start. And again, tune into your eye shape. For us hooded-eyelid people, it can be quite difficult to place tape correctly above your eyes– I struggled with this and eventually just settled with placing tape below where the liner would be and freestyling for the rest. This, of course, took practice. But it's true what people say: practice genuinely does make perfect.
I have had people comment on the “bat-wing shape” of my eyeliner, and that shape came about unintentionally because my eyes are hooded. It used to bug me (because it would never look like the tutorials I watched– again, another reason to take video tutorials with a pinch of salt), but gradually, I learnt to accept it, embrace it and use it to my advantage. Now, I do the shape deliberately, which has accidentally become my defining look.
Okay. So you have the eyeliner. Now, we add fishnets and jewellery wherever and whenever we can. Layer necklaces, combine a million different rings, cut up fishnet tights and wear them on your arms, and combine fishnet patterns (I sometimes like to combine white with black, as per the Wednesday formula). And don't be afraid to experiment! I have regularly chosen to wear belt chains as a necklace, or attach smaller chains to the laces in my Docs, or thread cheap adjustable rings through the holes in my belts. Fashion should be fun, and you should do what you feel like doing first and foremost.
I am by no means a fashion expert, so feel free to take all, some or none of these tips on board. Everyone has a unique style, and I encourage you to embrace what makes you feel comfortable and happy. That said, I hope that you find something useful out of my advice if ever you feel compelled to dress like a wannabe Wednesday Addams if she were a queer student at St Andrews.
And to that wonderful girl who screamed “Wednesday Addams” at me in the Union: I hope you're having an amazing time continuing to make people feel good about themselves.
Freya (she/they) <3