You can take the goth out of the closet, but you can't take the closet out of the goth. Fortunately, it's a lot easier to dress in your own style when you're a bit older, I think, because 1) you are more likely to know what you like and what you look best in, and 2) you are more likely to care less about what other people think. It also helps if your work environment is not anal about dress.
For example, today was our quarterly "Townhall Meeting" at work, where those of us in administration get together to hear about what all the other admin departments are doing. Boring and not particularly relevant most of the time, but mandatory unless your particular department has deadlines approaching and you can either convince your supervisor to approve your absence, or somehow manage to 'forget' about the meeting. Anyway, I showed up dressed in black skinny pants and matching corset-laced jacket, a black t-shirt with a glowing white ribcage and spine on the front, flat zebra-striped Airwalks with pink dots on them, and my elegantly understated snake vertebrae earrings. This is NOT even close to what anyone else in the room was wearing, but I sat at the same table as my conservatively dressed department director, and she didn't bat an eye. Actually, she likes quite a few items in my wardrobe; my ankle-length Tripp bondage skirt is a favorite of hers!
Unfortunately, I wasted my 20s, 30s and most of my 40s in corporate jobs wearing clothes that didn't really fit who I was. Or maybe they did actually fit who I was at the time, because I had NO idea who I was! As a result, I never really felt 'put together', and I had a ton of pieces in my closet that I liked but that didn't always match anything else. Those that DID match something always got worn with the same thing, with very little variation. Fortunately, I did occasionally listen to the little voices in my head (what, you don't hear them, too??) that said yes, buy that
boring classic suit, but get it in tangerine instead of tan, and wear an awesome pin on the lapel, like that gold outline of an arching, hissing, bristle-furred cat with red eyes. And fun t-shirts were safe, because I only wore those at home, anyway. But I looked like 'everyone else', not like myself. The only outlet my REAL self had was bellydancing. I was a professional bellydancer for almost 20 years, and the costumes I made and bought were always influenced by what inspired ME, not by what I thought other people would like.
Even after moving to my current job, I was still very hesitant about changing my (non)style. I have this huge fear (no, it's genuine terror) of looking like an awful woman I saw in San Francisco in the 70s, when I was still a teen. From the neck down she looked like a 20-year-old with a decent figure, dressed in a miniskirt and black knee boots, but she had the face of a 60+ woman, complete with white hair and saggy wrinkles. Aaaccckkk!!!
Finally, after over ten years of being in my current, non-corporate job, I did a HUGE, MAJOR overhaul of my closet, and my motto became: "If it doesn't BEG you to wear it, get rid of it." I couldn't believe how much I got rid of, or how liberated I felt while doing it! And when I was done, I had ROOM in my closet for everything I kept and more. At that point, I was able to let my 'babybat' come out to play, under close supervision, of course!
I started by looking online and in stores and just finding out what I like. I discovered that I really enjoy themed tops, i.e. those featuring bats, bones, skulls, whole or partial skeletons, Grim Reapers, quotes/sayings, and of course, band logos. I also love wild shoes, especially those with patterns, platforms, buckles, and big heels, both chunky and stiletto, and patterned legwear of all kinds. I don't have a specific style of goth that I wear all the time. Some days I'm into t-shirts, pants and boots, some days I feel like tight skirts and heels, while other days I want to dress like Stevie Nicks. (Mmmmm, Stevie...) And every once in a while I just want to look like the girl next door, only better.
Today, I have a terrific assortment of pants, skirts, tops and shoes that I can mix and match, and not all of them are goth-themed or black, as there are days when I don't particularly WANT to look goth-themed or wear black. Quite a few of them have come from thrift stores or through private sales on LiveJournal, Etsy, or GothAuction.com. I am the proud owner of three pairs of vintage shoes; I don't know how I lived without my Mudd platform Maryjanes, my beat-up Anarchy buckled boots, and my Demonia 4-inch platforms! (Although I still have to practice walking a bit more in those Demonias...) One of my favorite shirts is black, with purple words on the front that say: "It's okay to be jealous, not everyone can be me."
So, how did you choose/find YOUR style? What begs you to wear it? Give me all the gory details.