Longhorn Lookbook: Neil Dhiman

Junior+Neil+Dhiman+strikes+a+pose+by+shifting+his+weight+to+his+right+leg+and+looking+down+at+his+left+heel.+The+words+Longhorn+Lookbook+are+displayed+against+a+blue+background.

Anna Claywell

Junior Neil Dhiman strikes a pose in an all-black outfit. Dhiman has long been interested in fashion, a passion that has only grown over time. “I am into fashion due to it being a component of my overall aesthetic pleasure. I render myself a Wünderkind in the sense of fashion, I bear a refined gentleman’s taste in fashion. I am not ‘in’ fashion; fashion is ‘in’ me,” Dhiman said.

Donning a long, draping, vampire-esque coat, junior Neil Dhiman walks through a crowded school hallway. Dhiman’s gloomy appearance, made complete by an ornate silver pendant, certainly stands out against the crowd.

From a young age, Dhiman has had a penchant for fashion.

“Fashion appeals to my creative side to a great extent; when I dress in a certain manner, it brings me great pleasure. Many children had a phase where they ‘played dress-up or arranged a playroom as one of their daily activities, I have never left this phase. I have always been pleased by aesthetics,” Dhiman said.

With this interest in dressing up, Dhiman formulated aesthetic creations and a collection of styles.

“While my parents shopped, I would look at clothes and other items and form a small aesthetic in my brain with all of the items. Occasionally, I would assemble a small exhibit with many items in those certain stores. When I formed those ‘aesthetics,’ I would utilize many clothes, bring candles, paintings, chairs and many other items,” Dhiman said.

In recent years, Dhiman has defined three main aesthetic creations — Mid-Southern Gothic, Aristocore and Desertcore.

Mid-Southern Gothic

Four examples of Mid-Southern Gothic outfits.
Neil Dhiman

The Goth subculture we know and love today largely came from the post-punk music scene that emerged around 1982, characterized by dark and dramatic fashion. However, the subculture draws inspiration from ancient Germanic tribes and has been used to describe the architecture of medieval cathedrals and horror literature such as Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

“As a literary mind, the style of Gothic is one that greatly intrigues me. It is essentially a dark force that calls my name. At night, I could constantly contemplate dark aesthetics of organized chaos but great tranquility. A barren field in a gloomy but aromatic sky, grand cathedrals bestrewn with beguiling shadows, rolling hills of trees that sang songs to the mind, a delicate chair by the fireplace in an exquisite maroon library,” Dhiman said. 

While Dhiman loves Gothic style, appreciating its punk-esque music, arcane fashion and dark aesthetics, it can be difficult to find Gothic clothes locally. This lack of nearby Gothic clothes has led Dhiman to forge a unique style tailored to the Mid-South region — including parts of Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky — while incorporating elements from mainstream Gothic culture. 

“My largest aesthetic creation is Mid-Southern Gothic, my rendition of Gothic style. Mid-Southern Gothic clothes closely resemble Gothic clothes of the 1980s, featuring a great amount of large, elegant or draping clothing, typically in nearly full black color. My aesthetic and fashion draw from ancient Gothic to Victorian periods,” Dhiman said. “In the aesthetic sense, Mid-Southern Gothic consists of typical scenes from the region but ‘creepier,’ typically in grayscale color, and ancient Gothic aesthetic items. Bats, black flowers, ‘fancy’ mirrors, coffin-shaped items and black candles complement the aesthetic very well.”

Aristocore

Three examples of Aristocore outfits.
Neil Dhiman

After forming the Mid-Southern Gothic aesthetic, Dhiman also explored more regal styles inspired by characters from books and movies.

“My second aesthetic creation is Aristocore. Alongside Gothic, I greatly enjoy the typical aesthetics of the aristocracy. I grew up listening to fairy tales during my childhood and was quite interested in the wealthy characters. I would fantasize of their exaltedness and bold nature to the extent that I would emulate it, eventually giving rise to my aesthetic of Aristocore,” Dhiman said.

Aristocore often includes suits, overcoats, tweed coats, scarf-like clothing, hats and pants in neutral colors. It is inspired by Dhiman’s perceptions of European, particularly British, fashion.

“One would typically witness this fashion worn by royalty and aristocrats during the medieval and modern eras, approximately 500 to 1500 AD. The aesthetic of Aristocore would consist of castles, English country houses, paintings, gardens of vibrant plants, a cloudy sky, statues, tall trees, classical music and other aesthetic items associated with these eras,” Dhiman said.

Desertcore

Four examples of Desertcore outfits.
Neil Dhiman

Dhiman’s third aesthetic creation is Desertcore. This aesthetic features cowboy and rural West American-esque style. 

“Elements of this aesthetic were commonplace in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s due to the ubiquitous popularity of the ‘Western’ genre during this time period. As well as Gothic and Aristocore, I have developed a love for Western genre aesthetics since I watched ‘Toy Story’ many years ago,” Dhiman said.

As with Mid-Southern Gothic and Aristocore, Desertcore evokes specific scenes and images for Dhiman. While dressing in Desertcore, Dhiman dons belts, country-style shirts, Western-style motifs or jackets and cowboy hats when available. 

“The aesthetic consists of a typical Western scene: a town, succulent plants, a river, a canyon and an ‘intricately’ beautiful night sky. I associate the design with warm colors, such as red, orange, brown and beige,” Dhiman said. “The fashion and aesthetics commonly overlap with Mid-Southern Gothic and I label the crossing as ‘Gothic Desertcore,’ consisting of black color.”