What is Grunge Fashion? 7 important fashion elements and 8 grunge outfits

How to Wear Grunge Fashion incorporating the main elements that made up that style and the grunge outfits you should definitely have.
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grunge fashion

Grunge fashion, an alternative style that emerged in the mid-1980s, is a fusion of the baggy and oversized elements of hippie fashion and the dark and subdued aesthetic of punk.If you were a Grunger (as you would be called if you listen to grunge music and follow Grunge fashion) you would have a lot of body piercings (nose, navel, eyebrow, and even tongue),and tattos, long uncombed hair with beanie hat on top, and wear faded, baggy, shabby, ripped clothes bought from thrift stores. 

Today, a lot of these may be unnecessary for you to follow the grunge trend. But there are some grunge elements and outfits that you need to have in your wardrobe to be a part of this cool rebel fashion style that is the epitome of self-expression.

What is Grunge Fashion?

Grunge is a fashion style that emerged in the mid-1980s as a result of the rising popularity of a subgenre of rock music called grunge music, derived from Hard rock, punk, and metal music. Fueled by a sense of angst and discontent, this music resonated with the youth, who saw it as a powerful representation of their rebellion and defiance against societal norms.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, famous music bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Sound Garden and Pearl Jam gave their own distinction to this music. Indie grunge bands were known for their raw, authentic and aggressive music.

They favored a style of fashion that went against everything ostentatious and over-the-top. It was against whatever was in fashion at that period. Though the popularity of grunge music was short-lived, the effect of grunge fashion still lingers.

Grunge Fashion elements

Tattered or ripped clothes


Ripped, torn, ragged, damaged, distressed, threadbare clothes – wearing these clothes conveyed a message to the society about the rebelliousness of this style against over-consumerism.


Layered clothing

This was a very important element in grunge fashion. Say, you have 3 favourite clothes; in this style you can wear all of them together – they need to be in subdued colors and you should also carry them all with attitude. A long sleeved t-shirt was often worn over a short sleeved one. Another popular layering style was the flannel shirt over t-shirts, tank tops and crop tops.

Oversized baggy clothes

Oversized baggy clothing and tattered jeans

Dark colors in clothing and makeup

Dark colored makeup with dark clothes

Dark doesnot necessarily mean black in grunge as it is in goth fashion. Here a lot subdued colors are used.


Tattoos on a woman who likes grunge fashion

Metallic Details

The style incorporated metallic details in clothes and accessories such as metal studs, chains and straps, and jewelry like rings. Leather chokers with metalic studs.


Footwear included ankle length leather boots (Combat boots, doc martens), fishnet stockings. Slouchy Beanies were often worn as headwear by individuals embracing the grunge style in the 1990s. Messy hair, tattoos, piercings – all added to the laid-back and effortless look.

Grunge Outfits

Leather Jacket 

Leather jacket

Flannel shirts

Flannel shirts used for layering over tank tops or tshirts in grunge style

The plaid patterned flannel shirt was part of the layered style in grunge. The flannel shirts were worn over graphic tees – both baggy. You can wear Flannel shirts tied around the waist over tshirts and tennis skirts or jeans, reminiscent of this style. 

Ripped denim jeans/leggings

ripped and distressed jeans

Ripped jeans is sort of a uniform for grunge aesthetics. The more worn out the better.

Slogan T-shirts (Band t shirts)

Slogan tshirts

In the 1990s it was the band t-shirts, swearing allegiance to a particular music band. Today you can wear t-shirts with edgy writings and graphics to be that cool.

Slouchy sweaters

Slouchy sweaters in dark color for grunge

Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain wore these slouchy sweaters to his concerts and everyone followed.

Crop tops & mom jeans

Crop tops and mom jeans

Mom jeans, boyfriend jeans – all types of baggy jeans are preferred over slim fitting jeans. Read more on the different names of jeans here.

Tartan skirts

tartan skirts

These are school girl mini length pleated or non-pleated skirts made in checquered wool fabrics.

Floral printed flowy sundress 

Soft chiffon dresses can be paired with leather jackets or flannel shirts.

All these clothing were accompanied with a scruffy look for a complete grunge look. Smudged makeup competed the look.

A seperate aesthetic called Fairycore grunge includes, lace elements, patches of flowers etc into the grunge style. If you are more into colors but still want the grunge style, you can follow the Pastel grunge with lots of pastel colored fashion elements integrated into the usual styles. 

If you are still at it, listen to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana on youtube.

Read more on grunge fashion : Marc Jacobs 1992 fashion show featuring grunge outfits ; Look out for pictures of members of Grunge Music bands Nirvana, Screaming Tree, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam during the 1990s.

Related posts :What do you mean by word fashion?; Fashion related popular terms; 40+ different Clothing Styles ; Most popular Fashion subcultures

DIY edgy fashion hacks ; Punk style clothing; Scene fashion ; Hippie clothes ; Lagenlook styleHip hop clothing styles.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

3 thoughts on “What is Grunge Fashion? 7 important fashion elements and 8 grunge outfits”

  1. As I started reading this article, “Now 90’s” on cable TV started playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”…… sometimes the Universe just knows your thoughts.

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