What is grunge style in fashion and casual clothing

The grunge style is heterogeneous, eclectic, its task is to combine the most incompatible textures, colors, patterns, lines. In this article, we will analyze the main signs of the grunge style in clothes, its philosophy, and how to harmoniously include elements in your wardrobe.

Garry Williams, fashion designer over 10 years of experience

What is grunge style

The grunge is a trend in fashion, which implies a denial of generally accepted norms of appearance. The phenomenon was originated in America. Rock music has appeared in the fashion world. Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and they created a new outlook on reality, resulted in a whole subculture.

This style is heterogeneous, eclectic. Also its purpose is to combine the most incompatible facts, colors, drawings, lines. All at once — this is the meaning of this style. Representatives of this trend in fashion at the same time resemble punks and hippies. Long matted hair, old second-hand clothes, ripped jeans, faded t-shirts, mint jackets, ripped dresses and stretched sweaters, as well as ethnic details, sneakers and army boots attract attention. These people were indifferent to how other people perceive them.

The youth who created this style are the children of world crises. They perceive society as an enemy. They wanted to destroy his foundations and his stereotypes. This is a protest in the form of the greatest hatred in the world of weapons, glamor and classics.

What does grunge mean in fashion?

Grunge in clothing is a relatively new trend. As a style, he appeared in the mid-80s. It was then that the legendary group Nirvana gathered crowds of fans at their rock concerts. The musicians played rebellious songs, absolutely did not worry about their appearance, and went in casual clothes. Fans quickly picked up this wave, and so the strict outfits were replaced by comfortable clothes. 

The main turning point in the history of style occurred in the early 90s. It was then that American fashion designer Marc Jacobs released his first street-style collection with grunge notes. He looked for inspiration directly on the streets of the city. Moreover, he did not observe the elite, but the lower strata of society, including vagabonds and street children. This collection caused not only a flurry of endless criticism, but also a real breakthrough in the world of high fashion. The designer created completely unexpected images, combining tight boots with a delicate dress. And while critics were skeptical of this daring step, the designer found a response from the public. Today, grunge is a fashionable trend. This is bold, youthful, rebellious and bewitching.

Grunge style in clothes cannot be confused with any other style. It has clear, pronounced characteristic features: Layering. When dressing in grunge style, you can wear two sweaters at the same time, and on top of them also a vest. It doesn’t matter why this is done, for comfort, for creating a certain shape or just to make it warmer. The more grunge aesthetic clothes, the better. Comfort in any weather. Clothing in grunge style features convenience. In it, you can sleep peacefully even on the street, without fear of falling into the rain. 

Grunge is a clothing that is not suitable in size, creating the feeling that a person is wearing someone else’s clothes. Her combination with a short top, leggings or shorts will allow the image to become baggy and shapeless. You can safely wear a wool vest over a gentle light chiffon, jeans with organza. Bright prints in a grunge image are very rare, there is no neon at all. The colors are mostly natural, dark and not flashy. Holes, jagged edges, protruding seams, patches, faded fabric, spools, scuffs are key parts of grunge.

What is 80s grunge fashion

Any fashionable era has its own features, by which it is easily recognized. 80s style is no exception. It is distinguished by its characteristic features: 

  • bright, “acidic” colors, which instantly attract attention, stand out from the crowd; 
  • the presence of a variety of sparkling details (rhinestone, artificial pebbles, sequins); 
  • wide sleeves such as «bat», «flashlight»; 
  • thick shoulder pads (which turned out to be uncomfortable to wear);
  • the image was complemented by tight leggings (shiny, with animal prints); 
  • women preferred to wear short mini-skirts, sexy bodysuit, striped knee-highs; 
  • wide forehead bandages were put on his head, well fixing magnificent curls.

Tuxedos, creatively rethought by fashion designers in the style of the coming era, entered the men’s fashion. Athletic shoes (sneakers) were often complemented the look. This was due to the fact that the style of the 80s in male and female clothes was formed under the cult of a healthy lifestyle, a physically strong and beautiful body. Then, aerobics, athletics, and gymnastics classes broadcast on television became especially popular. People trained even at home, following the instructions of sports programs. Styling and haircuts in the described style are high comb and highlighting. Be sure to complement the image — sunglasses, preferably with large glasses. 

Women used defiant makeup: dark shadows, greasy eyeliner, bright lipsticks. This continued until the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s. Such an aggressive fashion was formed under the influence of rock that broke into life, other youth subcultures, and active dance styles. All this practically did not limit the imagination and required excessiveness. That is why the images of that time were characterized by causing redundancy, brightness. With the advent of the 90s, the style begins to gradually soften.

What is 90s grunge fashion

Pop and rock music had a huge influence on fashion. Bands and singers, as creative people, put on what the soul desired, and young people began to copy their style. These tendency were picked up by famous designers, turning them into fashion trends. So grunge was born, as a reflection of rock, as well as a rave style with its neon colors and catchy make-up. 

Fashion of the nineties of the twentieth century is characterized by several areas: minimalism; grunge rave and neon; sport chic. The fashion of the early 90s was not much different from the style of the late eighties. On the catwalk, and in everyday life, voluminous silhouettes of clothing were relevant — what is now called the fashionable word «oversize.» By the mid-nineties, the volume begins to go away, the shoulders cease to be hypertrophied, the silhouettes become more feminine. Grunge style is not widely spread among fashionistas, but has become very popular among the youth party. Much later, ripped jeans, voluminous denim jackets, black jackets, leather jackets, plaid shirts, casual sweaters and rude boots became full members of fashion design collections.

How to dress grunge today

Today, the grunge style in clothes is more democratic, because it may contain elements of ethnicity, punk, hippies. Comfort and convenience come to the fore, hiding brand labels under the collars of shirts, jackets, sweatshirts. The style allows washed and worn clothes, but it is not at all identified with the homeless style. Especially this style of dress is like for:

  • convenience and freedom of movement
  • unexpected combinations of fabrics, textures, styles
  • Cool Wedge or Wide Heel Ankle Boots
  • the feeling that clothes are taken off someone else’s shoulder (trend oversize)
  • favorite in the wardrobe long coat, knitted stole, clothes from several layers of fabric
  • a stylish motley fur coat made of faux fur, like Courtney Love, and much more.

Feminine and masculine grunge style in clothing is suitable for walks, parties, festivals and other events. He attracts the attention of others and camera lenses, makes you discuss your person and admire the courage of choice.

How to wear grunge style: the minimum starter kit

Grunge is based on layering. For example, put a sundress, on top — a textured sweater on one shoulder, a leather jacket in combination with a voluminous scarf on it. Shoes are deliberately coarse, laced and with thick embossed soles, such as «grinders», «camelot», «Doctor Martins.» The typical color scheme does not accept bright, rich colors. We need muffled, gloomy, as if faded tones: dark gray, brown, blue, swamp shade of green (in other words, olive or camouflage), and, of course, black.

How to change your grunge style for men

Now grunge is no longer a hallmark of youth subcultures, as those who simply reject glamor appeal to it. Now people use quality things with different textures to create a truly stylish look.

But, as before, the coarse seams, the raw edges of the fabric, the patches and the holes on the pants remain the same attributes. This is a universal style that suits men and women equally well.


Chaos on the head, disheveledness — all this is grunge style. Awakening in the morning, ruffling the hair and done — the trendy hairstyle of today.

This style is suitable for every hair length and absolutely everything, regardless of age. The main thing is that anyone who chooses this style is not afraid of different experiments in haircuts in clothes in makeup and in general in his image.

After all, everyone has long known that fashion does not stand still, it comes back after years and centuries.

In the grunge style, things look muted shades of gray, swamp, khaki, red, navy blue, bottle, black. In addition to the color scheme, you must observe the following conditions:

  • T-shirts with a straight cut, with a stretched bottom. Choose dark shades of burgundy, deep blue or black;
  • Plain or large plaid shirts. The product shows spots, scuffs, holes, patches. Sleeves can be twisted or left free. Be sure to see a stretched T-shirt or t-shirt from under the shirt;
  • Small patterns on fabric or embroidery are allowed.
Shirts and T-shirts

It is indisputable that ripped jeans in grunge style have taken the American streets to the global level, having fallen in love with their unusual rebellious youth. In the trend:

  • long and shortened models;
  • holes and patches;
  • light and dark shades;
  • lapels and fringe on the bottom;
  • chains and thin leather straps.

A distinctive feature in various stylized shoes is “aged” leather boots in grunge style with laces and zippers (camelots, grinders), stable boots and military boots, “men’s” shoes with low speed and massive sole.

Diverse summer and winter sneakers are comfortable, moreover, not necessarily dark and oppressive shades.


How to change your style to grunge for women

Now grunge is the same as it was in the nineties (when it really was rockers’ clothes, and not a fashionable style) you probably can’t meet. But the style has gone down in history, so variations on its theme will be played out in fashion for a long time to come. Now more relevant are combinations, dilution of “grunge” with other styles, softening or vice versa — strengthening of some elements. 

Everyday casual grunge or plaid burgundy, with shirts or mesh tights, leather jackets, tattered jeans or plain woolen sweaters; softer, calmer, vanilla — «sweet» or shocking — with large jewelry, glasses, a shaved temple or a strand that has been pulled out of the hair-dress — all this can be interesting and fashionable if you choose the right things and put emphasis.


The main thing that combines haircuts is the convenience and practicality of hairstyles. Everyone wants to spend a minimum of time laying, while looking feminine, attractive.

Grunge does not have a specific technique, it is not a haircut, but a styling characterized by carelessness, volume and textured strands.

It is carried out at any length — from ultrashort to maximum waist-high. It is combined with various bunches, weaving, dreadlocks, tails.

The key features of such a make-up plan are too pale skin and dark eyes. In rare cases, it is permissible to emphasize the image with bright lips.

Most often, it is customary to combine light matte lipsticks with bright or dark tones of shadows.

Shirts and T-shirts

Grunge formed its own cultural space. The new youth subculture was very different from its predecessors. A t-shirt with the logo of your favorite grunge band is the main attribute of the style.

You can choose a T-shirt with the recognizable emoticon Nirvana, which has long turned into a symbol of generation. Another must-have item is T-shirts with retro prints.

An overseas checked shirt is the next important element of style that no grunge girl can do without. Try not to make the shirt look too bright.

In this case, short knitted dresses are best suited. The style can be straight, trapezoidal.

The product is made of textile or knitted fabric in one color, and the cut is as concise and simple as possible.

The style of the dress can be with or without sleeves. In the knitted version, it is permissible to twist the sleeves.

Skirts / jeans / overalls

Shabby and ripped jeans are a hallmark of grunge as a style in fashion. Women’s grunge clothing apply in almost all of their combinations.

In addition, this includes denim mini skirts, denim overalls, creating the image of a brutal worker, an auto mechanic, a kind of Tom Sawyer, a tomboy of that time.

A distinctive feature of this style are panty hoses with arrows or holes.

In this case, a typical grunge bow may consist of a straight-cut denim jacket worn over a black print top, a short plaid sun skirt with a swamp hue, black tights and a matching tone skirt.

The set’s finishing touch is a black knit cap and black sunglasses.


In this style, shoes have a functional role — they must keep their feet dry. Since the upper part of the body is voluminous due to the layering of clothing, it must be balanced.

Therefore, choose tall and massive boots or boots that cover the ankle and have a flat sole. It can be high sneakers, army boots — berets or tennis shoes in red, blue, dark green and black.

At the same time, they are worn with both jeans and dresses. There is no place for shiny shoes, it should be old and shabby.

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