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GRUNGE IS BACK: Top Outfit Ideas and Styling Tips ⛓️

Written by Helen Boogzel


Posted on January 27 2024

Fashion influences culture and culture influences fashion – it all goes hand in hand. Grunge fashion is just one of the many perfect examples of this.

Kurt Cobain Grunge Outfit
Kurt Cobain Red And Black Stripe Sweater

The Origins of Grunge Fashion

Throw it back to Seattle, Washington in the late 1980s. The underground music scene was quickly making its way into the mainstream. 

Grunge music was escaping the underground, growing in popularity and saturating the airwaves. The sound could be described as an amalgamation of punk, rock ‘n’ roll, and heavy metal.

 Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden were topping the charts and taking their places on magazine covers and television screens. 

Throw it back to Seattle 1980s
Photos From Nirvana
Photos From Pearl Jam
Photos From Soundgarden

As Grunge music became the sound of the late 80s and early 90s, the grunge aesthetic naturally followed suit and quickly became the fashion of the era. It was all about the disheveled, could not care less, just rolled out of bed and woke up like this style. It seemed like the whole point of grunge fashion was to look like you didn’t care about fashion at all. 

Androgynous, ill-fitting, and oversized garments were just the right style and the right size. If you had stepped out the door looking like you didn’t brush your hair and had haphazardly thrown on your clothes, then you were entirely in fashion.

Grunge Fashion Inspiration

In contradiction to the opulence that the 80’s is also known for; grunge fashion was all about clothes that looked as if they came from a thrift store or were hand-me-downs, while actually coming from some of the trendiest stores or designed by the It designers of the era. 

By the time the 90s rolled around, grunge style was at the peak of its popularity. Marc Jacobs leaned into the grunge aesthetic while designing for Perry Ellis, along with designers Calvin Klein and Anna Sui, who infused it with her quintessential hippie vibe. Even high fashion houses like Versace and avant-garde designers, including Ann Demeulemeester and Comme des Garçons, indulged in the grunge style for their own collections.

Grunge Fashion Catwalk
Grunge Dashion Kate Moss

Celebrity Influencers of Early 90s and Modern Grunge Fashion

Of course, you can’t talk about grunge fashion without talking about the icons of the aesthetic. 

Among the leading proponents of the grunge style were none other than the Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain and his partner Courtney Love

Whether on stage or off stage, the couple rocked the style like no other.

Kurt Cobain  and Courtney Love - grunge aesthetic
Courtney Love - grunge outfit

Model Kate Moss is another 90’s icon that embodied the grunge style on numerous catwalks, as well as on sidewalks, donning the style for her model off duty look. Together with her then boyfriend Johnny Depp, the in-style duo could be considered the faces of the early 90s. 

Among the other celebrities who made grunge style part of the 90s zeitgeist were Brad Pitt, Drew Barrymore, and Winona Ryder. Decades before social media, these superstars were the ones who dictated the style of the day. 

Johnny Depp e Kate Moss - grunge style (1)
Johnny Depp e Kate Moss - grunge style (1)
brad pitt long hair grunge style
brad pitt long hair grunge style
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits

As with many 90’s trends, the old is once again new and grunge fashion is back with popular demand. These days, while many are interpreting grunge their own way, few have been doing grunge fashion better than Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Baldwin Bieber.

You yourself can readily adopt the modern version of the grunge aesthetic into your own wardrobe and all you have to do is to come to us at Boogzel Clothing for everything you’ll need. There are a few key elements to consider when choosing grunge clothes and styling your own grunge outfits.

Celebrities wearing grunge outfits - Boogzel Clothing Blog
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits - Boogzel Clothing Blog
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits - Boogzel Clothing Blog
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits inspiration  - Boogzel Clothing Blog
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits - Boogzel Clothing Blog
Celebrities wearing grunge outfits - Boogzel Clothing Blog

How to Create a Grunge Aesthetic Outfit: Step-by-Step Guide

Grunge Aesthetic Outfits

Grunge Outfit Inspo - Boogzel Clothing
Grunge Outfit Inspo - Boogzel Clothing
Grunge Outfit Inspo - Boogzel Clothing

1. Large and Loose

First and foremost, regardless of the specific style of garment, when it comes to grunge outfit, you’ll want to remember two words: large and loose

Think baggy jeans, loose shirts, extra-large sweaters, and oversized outerwear. Look as disheveled and grunge as can be in ill-fitting clothes that look too large to be your own. Take it a step even further by pairing your men’s fitting t-shirt with baggy trousers and layer on an oversized sweater.

2. Knit Sweaters or Cardigans

Nothing says grunge quite like a knitted oversized sweater or cardigan. After all, it was a staple in no less than Kurt Cobain’s very own wardrobe. With its extended neckline, dropped shoulders, overlong sleeves, and loose fit, it easily screams cozy, comfortable, and without a care. Slip your own oversized knitwear over a t-shirt or any other top to channel your own grunge style.

3. Black and White

While there is no hard and fast rule to the colors of grunge, considering the grit and grim associated with the aesthetic, it should come as no surprise that black and white are the most dominant colors of grunge fashion. You can’t go wrong wearing grunge clothes with graphic designs, stripes, abstract or tie-dyed prints in black and white.

4. Graphic T-Shirts

Make a statement with your grunge style by wearing a graphic t-shirt. In terms of the grunge aesthetic, your graphic t-shirt can come in any design, whether it be a single word, a simple slogan, or a visually captivating print. The key characteristic of the graphic t-shirt is that it should either fit very loose or very tight – nothing in between. Remember, grunge style is about carelessly putting something on, even if it doesn’t seem like it fits you and appears more like you borrowed someone else’s clothes.

5. Plaid and Stripes

While stripes and plaid patterns may immediately conjure up images of preppy, school uniforms, they’re also key elements of the grunge aesthetic. Look no further than Anna Sui’s own original grunge collection from the 90’s, which was streaked with grunge clothes in all sorts of colored stripes. The key is to combine plaid and stripped clothes with garments that fit the other characteristics of grunge fashion. Remember the 90’s cult classic film Clueless? Just think of how Dionne in her plaid skirt suit and Murray in his baggy jeans and t-shirt made just the perfect match.

Grunge Outfit with a plaid shirt
Grunge Outfit with a plaid shirt

6. Ripped, Distressed

Grunge style just isn’t complete without at least a single rip, tear, or distress. Consider that grunge clothes take inspiration from old, thrift store finds and you’ll surely realize that distressed styles and ripped garments are part and parcel of the grunge look. Step into a pair of heavily distressed jeans, put on a shirt riddled with holes along with a ripped sweater and you’ve got the grunge style down.

7. Chains and Buckles

Inject flair into your grunge style with an array of chains and buckles. This is where the punk and heavy metal influences of grunge music and therefore grunge style make their appearance. Think chain belts or belts with lots of studs and grommets, jeans with hanging chains, as well as tops and skirts with prominent buckle closures and chained designs.

8. Grunge Style Leather Jackets and Skirts

Essential to any grunge wardrobe is the leather jacket, a piece that’s as iconic as it is versatile. Whether it’s the classic black, radiating that untamed rock vibe, or a bold red that’s breaking the mold, these jackets are more than just attire; they're a nod to the rebellious spirit of the rock scene. Go for a tight cropped fit or an oversized bomber – each style screams grunge in its own way. And let’s not forget about leather skirts and pants. These aren’t just fashion statements; they're tributes to the grunge ethos, seamlessly blending with the raw, unfiltered essence of rock. In the world of grunge, leather isn't just a material; it’s a symbol of defiance and individuality.

Leather Jacket Grunge Outfit Inspo
Leather Jacket Grunge Outfit Inspo
Leather Jacket Soft  Grunge Outfit Inspo
Leather Jacket Soft  Grunge Outfit Inspo

Grunge Style Shoes

When it comes to grunge style shoes, it's all about striking the right balance between comfort and edgy aesthetics. Classic sneakers, like Converse, are a staple – effortless and unmistakably grunge. For those who prefer a bit more support, comfy sneakers are the go-to, blending practicality with the grunge vibe. But it's not just about laid-back kicks; leather boots add a touch of ruggedness, perfect for nailing that grunge look. And for a twist of femininity without losing the grunge essence, consider buckled sandals or chunky high-platform shoes. These options infuse a bit of elegance while keeping the rebellious spirit alive, proving that grunge can be both bold and versatile

Combat and Platform Boots

Before you step out in grunge style, make sure you have a pair of combat boots, platform boots or a combination of both on your feet to perfectly complete your grunge outfit. Think Doc Martens or any other pair of chunky, clunky, heavy duty looking combat boots. Feel free to go with your preferred style of lace ups, zippered or buckled boots or even a style with dual closures for added drama. While you can’t go wrong with a pair of black boots, there is also no limit in terms of color. Red, white, orange, blue or green – any color will take your grunge style to the next level. 

Grunge Accessories

Finish off your grunge outfit with just the right accessories. When it comes to grunge, it’s all about the silver hardware. Show your personality with your choice of accessories. Opt for more effeminate styles like metal bows, flowers, and hearts on rings, necklaces, bracelets, and hairclips. On the contrary, you can also choose a design with a bit more edge and a rebellious vibe with barbwire-style necklaces, padlocked bracelets, double rings, and dangling ear cuffs. For those who prefer something entirely unique, we at Boogzel have got unorthodox styles that will surely be conversation starters. Oversized safety pin and kitchen knife shaped hairclips, dripping water earrings, band-aid shaped nose rings, and a unicorn skeleton pendant are just a few of the eye-catching accessories that you can choose from.

Grunge Sunglasses

To truly complete a grunge outfit, a pair of statement sunglasses is key. Whether it’s the iconic Kurt Cobain-style white frames, exuding a blend of nostalgia and edgy cool, or sunglasses with metallic accents for an extra punch of attitude. Even classic round, black sunglasses can add that final touch of grunge chic, seamlessly tying together the outfit with a nod to the rebellious and unconventional spirit of the style. These aren't just accessories; they're the defining stamp on your grunge statement.

Grunge Sub Aesthetics: Exploring Fairy Grunge, Grunge Sleaze, Sexy Grunge

Fairy Grunge

Fairy Grunge Aesthetic Outfit
Fairy Grunge Aesthetic Outfit
Fairy Grunge Aesthetic Outfit
Fairy Grunge Aesthetic Outfit

In addition to the general characteristics of grunge clothes that we’ve now broken down for you, another aspect you may want to consider is the subculture of fairy grunge style.

This aesthetic combines the androgynous style of grunge clothes with more feminine and whimsical design elements. Think skeletal fairies, studded stars, distressed and cutout butterfly designs, tulle combined with denim, patchworked hearts, and tissue paper style miniskirts, just to name a few.

fairy grunge aesthetic clothes

Sexy Grunge

Today’s modern iteration of grunge style also features a sexier side. Take inspiration from Bella Hadid and Olivia Rodrigo. Instead of going full on oversized or androgynous, consider pairing your baggy jeans with a plaid cropped top or a bralette with buckles and other metal hardware. Conversely, can also wear a pleated mini skirt with your oversized sweater. Another option is to style your distressed bottoms and combat boots with a sexy cutout top or a tight-fitting mesh top. 

Don’t think that just because you’re going for a grunge look that it means you can’t look sexy as well. After all, grunge is all about looking like you just rolled out of bed and what can be sexier than that?

Grunge Sleaze (Indie Sleaze)

Grunge sleaze (Indie Sleaze) , a distinctive fashion phenomenon, merges the raw, edgy elements of 90s grunge with glitzy, glam rock influences, creating an eclectic and bold aesthetic. 

Emerging as a prominent style in the late 2000s, it reflects a blend of grunge's gritty textures and the flamboyant aspects of fashion glam. This style is characterized by a mix of rough grunge staples like leather, distressed denim, and oversized clothing, with the glimmer of fashion - think sequined skirts, shiny dresses, and glittering accessories.

Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira's iconic outfits
Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira's iconic outfits

Key influencers and representatives of grunge sleaze include artists like Sky Ferreira and Pete Doherty. 

Sky Ferreira, with her edgy yet glamorous style, embodies the essence of grunge sleaze. Her fashion choices often include elements like leather jackets paired with glittery attire, striking a balance between grunge's ruggedness and glam's sparkle. Pete Doherty, known for his music as well as his distinct style, also represents this trend. His look often combines classic grunge elements like tattered shirts and leather boots with more polished, fashion-forward pieces.

Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira's iconic outfits - grunge sleaze style
Sky Ferreira
Sky Ferreira's iconic outfits - grunge sleaze style
Pete Doherty - Indie Sleaze Outfits
Pete Doherty - Indie Sleaze Outfits

Grunge sleaze as a style statement is not just about the clothing but also about the attitude. It represents a carefree, bold approach to fashion, where mixing and matching seemingly contrasting elements is encouraged. This style is about breaking the norms, combining the unconventional, and creating a look that is both rebellious and chic. It's a nod to the past, yet it's thoroughly modern, appealing to those who want to make a statement with their wardrobe choices, blending the unpolished with the refined.

Grunge Sleaze Outfit
Grunge Sleaze Outfit

While there may be a number of style elements that you have to consider to put together the perfect grunge outfit, there’s no need for you to feel overwhelmed. You need not look any further than Boogzel Clothing because we’ve got all you need to get ready and take the grunge (pun intended.)

Keywords: grunge clothing, grunge outfits, grunge style, grunge aesthetic



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