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

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

grunge fashion

Grunge fashion emerged in the mid 1980s as a combination of the baggy oversized hippie style and dark and subdued punk style. 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. 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. It was hugely popular among the youth who saw this as a representation of their rebellion and defiance against societal norms.

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


grunge fashion 8

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

grunge fashion

Dark colors in clothing and makeup

grunge fashion

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


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.


This included ankle length leather boots (Combat boots), fishnet stockings.


Grunge Outfits

Leather Jacket 

grunge fashion.

Flannel shirts

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

grunge fashion

Slogan T-shirts

grunge fashion

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

grunge fashion

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

Crop tops & mom jeans

grunge fashion.

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

Tartan skirts

These are school girl mini length pleated skirts made in checquered fabrics.

Floral printed flowy sundress 

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

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 is fashion?; Fashion vocabulary; 40+ different Fashion Styles ; Most popular Fashion subcultures; Color names in fashion.

AUTHOR : Hi, I am Sarina. I am passionate about clothes, sewing, fabrics, fashion and surface design techniques in no particular order and absolutely love writing about all of these including what I learn, what I experience, and what I have bought to do all these. You are more than welcome to stay here and learn with me.

2 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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