The nostalgic looks from the ‘90s have influenced many trendsetters to wear iconic pieces with a modern twist. One of the most renowned ‘90s looks is the effortlessly edgy style known as grunge. These outfits include dark hues, flannels, ripped jeans, Converse sneakers, combat boots, and chokers. If you are looking for something nostalgic and eccentric, grunge fashion is the way to go. To inspire your style, we’ve compiled the best grunge outfits to wear right now. From modern versions of the aesthetic to classic ‘90s styles, discover different ways to pull off the grunge look with these ideas.
The Grunge Aesthetic
The grunge aesthetic is an edgy style characterized by dark colors, plaid, leather, band tees, dark denim jeans, black boots, Converse sneakers, chokers, and unique hairstyles that went against the colorful and preppy looks of the time. Grunge fashion emerged out of underground music cultures defying mainstream sentiments. The grunge movement began in the 1980s, starting with punk and metal bands influencing rebellious styles. Furthermore, grunge style embodied nonconformity to societal expectations, essentially protesting against the flashy excess and materialistic trends of the ‘80s.
Grunge outfits are heavily influenced by the music industry of the early ‘90s. In the effort to go against societal norms, rock band members like the lead singer of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, unintentionally launched the whole low-key grunge look. It was through their own anti-fashion efforts that grunge became a statement.
Grunge clothing adopted an androgynous aesthetic and incorporated loose-fitting thrift store clothes that were durable and timeless. Women of the ‘90s brought their own unique cool style to grunge. Some popular grunge outfit ideas include slip dresses layered under plaid flannels paired with some ripped jeans, combat boots, and accessorized with a choker and dark lipstick.
Grunge fashion is coming back in its own way. Women can embrace grunge styles by finding outfits that work best for their look. From classic grunge to a mix of chic and vintage pieces, check out these grunge outfit ideas for inspiration.
You can still achieve the classic 1990s grunge look with ease in the modern-day. Remember that grunge is all about layers and making a statement with imperfect fashion. That means wearing ripped jeans, worn boots or Converse, and clothes that are baggy or thick, hiding your body’s shape in favor of comfort and attitude.
The grunge movement is most often associated with the 1990s, when it really hit its stride. However, if you want to go back to the origin, you have to embrace the 1980s grunge styles. Since the ’80s were all about high fashion, glamour, and excess, this counterculture movement adopted opposing styles like high-waisted pants or acid wash mom jeans, cut up band tees, and thick leather jackets. You’ll find a lot of crossover with the punk movement of the same era.
One of the modern elements of this fashion style is soft grunge. The soft grunge style finds a middle ground between the classic grunge movement and mainstream fashion, for a lighter approach to the look with your favorite elements. While you’ll still be able to rock ripped jeans and plaid layers, this look is a little more versatile than other forms of the aesthetic.
Another way to make modern grunge your own is to take the styles and elements of classic grunge and change the palette. While the movement usually embraces dark colors, like black and red plaid, pastel hues with ripped jeans, flannels, and crop tops will give you the grunge look you love with a softer, more approachable appearance. You also have the chance to try out other elements of ’90s fashion, like scrunchies and barrettes.
You can embrace counterculture fashion and still enjoy comfortable and cute grunge outfits. While grunge does reject form-fitting clothes and feminine styles, women can take cues from punk fashion and the cozy, oversized flannels worn in the fall and winter. Mix and match grunge patterns and colors in dresses and leather jackets, and balance them out with softer hairstyles and shoes.
Grunge music included indie, underground bands, and the influence carried over into fashion. While you can wear these looks every day, indie grunge is perfect for festivals and concerts. Chop your jeans or buy cut-off shorts for summer and find oversized leather or denim jackets for a cute look. Even add elements of vintage music fashion by including band tees, pins, patches and mini backpacks to create the ultimate indie grunge vibe.
Take inspiration from your favorite decades and styles from the past, and then combine them with unmistakable grunge pieces and accessories for a cool vintage look. This will lead to the natural, anti-fashion clashing of colors, patterns and fabrics, ultimately creating unique outfits from wardrobe pieces you already own. To pull off a retro style and add flair to your outfit, you’ll want to experiment with midi dresses, faux fur coats, and maxi skirts.
No grunge outfit is complete without the right shoes to complement the style. The main grunge shoes are chunky black combat boots, like Doc Martens, or canvas sneakers, like Vans or Converse. The shoes are often ripped, decorated, or pinned for added individuality. Other cool grunge shoes include black platform sandals with thick leather straps, creepers, and gumboots. All of these shoes work with the right style. If you’re looking to add a grunge style to your outfit, shoes are the way to go.
Grunge is all about bucking society’s expectations, which you can do with your makeup in two different ways. For one, you can wear little to no makeup and embrace your natural beauty. This makeup-free look is bold, simple and low-maintenance, and has been a strong beauty trend in recent years. The other option is you can wear bold eyeshadow, do a fierce cat eye with eyeliner, thick mascara, and apply nontraditional lipstick colors like purple, berry, chocolate or black. Grunge makeup can be striking and gorgeous at the same time, allowing you to express yourself beyond just your clothing.
Like makeup, grunge hair incorporates the messy, unique and unexpected. You can style your hair down and maintain a natural look or tie it in a loose bun. These grunge hairstyles are effortless styles that will complement your fashion. If you want to take it a step further, consider a lob (long blob), undercut, unique hair colors, or some baby bangs, which were all very popular in the 1990s. The point of grunge hair is that you won’t apologize for how you look.
There’s no better way to get into the grunge mindset than with the music of the time. Create the ultimate grunge playlist with the classics like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Or listen to your favorite modern alternative and counterculture music to get in the mood.
How To Dress Grunge
- Find a few classic grunge items at the thrift shop, like ripped jeans, denim or leather jackets, and well-worn plaid. You can then incorporate these ‘90s staple pieces into your favorite outfits.
- Clashing patterns, colors, and materials are part of the grunge look, so wear what you like and toss fashion rules out the window.
- Complete your outfit with the right boots or sneakers, such as combat boots, canvas sneakers, platform sandals, or creepers.
- When it comes to makeup, go all-out or embrace a no-makeup look. Dark lipsticks, eyeliner, and eyeshadow can create a statement, but if you’re going for cute or pastel grunge, find the right lip color (e.g. bold blue, brown, red, etc.) to suit your style.
- Get the best grunge hairstyles with messy hair, baby bangs, space buns, pixie cuts, or unique bob styles. If you want to dye your hair, experiment with Manic Panic hair dye, and pick eccentric colors.
- Grunge is all about the attitude and defying expectations, so look for clothes in unique places. Mix and match the unexpected, and bring together elements of your other favorite movements for a totally individual look.