While I’m not necessarily a die hard fan of grunge music, oh, give me some grunge fashion and everything that goes with it! Unbuttoned and untucked plaid flannel shirts, torn and frayed jeans, layering, tattered and oversized cardigans/coats, long shapeless tunics, black stockings with holes, beanie hats, vintage t-shirts, combat boots, worn in converse sneakers… And a “devil may care” attitude of course. Yes, your clothes looking like they are from a thrift store or borrowed from a homeless man is very much cool and cutting-edge.
Distinctive features of the style are comfort, eclecticism, layering and the rough edges. The color palette is based on dark and muted hues: black, grey, brown, dark green, blue… Color white is the exception, especially in soft grunge, in minimal amount. All the colors of depression, despair and hopelessness go hand in hand with this style.
As it was, this style is associated and originated with the grunge rock royalty Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)- absolutely indifferent to appearance and an aggressive denial of luxury and the bourgeoisie. His was the music and style of outsiders and losers, the psychology of which lay in the depression and the eternal craving for suicide. The movement was partly a dismissal of the severely tailored suits of the 80s, and also a reflection of the financial situation faced by the younger generation in the 90s.
The grunge style was quickly picked up by designers like Marc Jacobs, who released high-end fashion based on the look. Rather than just inexpensive thrift store finds, grunge was showcased on catwalks and sold in expensive boutiques. Runways also incorporated Kurt’s quirky accessories such as the Lolita sunglasses and brightly colored scarves. It adapted and repurposed into “neo grunge” and “glunge” (Grunge + Glamour). Neo-grunge became a more polished and chic version of it’s predecessor, with quality fabrics stitched with a light veil of deliberate negligence.
Soft grunge is a more dark and edgy look of grunge filled with attitude, bitter nihilism, and androgyny. It incorporates elements of gothic subculture into grunge; includes the usage of studs, spikes, black tennis shoes or platform sneakers and Jeffrey Campbell shoes, dark floral patterns, oversized jackets from worn leather, backpack, flannel and classic rock, metal or grunge band shirts paired with black ripped skinny jeans and inverted crosses on clothing.
Grunge hairstyles for both men and women is usually worn long, messy, and loose. It may look like it hasn’t been brushed or washed in several days. Bleached or dyed hair is also a common element, although, the color may be uneven or grown out as fits the unkempt style.
Free people brought back to us the smell of the 90’s, and proved that one can always make a statement by “nothing more than a way to dress when you have no money,” as said by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Grunge is now considered a symbol of the new generation of free, self-sufficient and cool people.