Anyone who ever doubts that fashion is a cycle only need look at each season’s runway recaps to see that something is always making a comeback – a style or an article of clothing, if not an entire decade enjoying a resurgence. We’ve known for a while now that the nineties are back, and if that’s the case there’s no way you can talk about it and not mention the heyday of grunge fashion. The grunge movement may have begun years earlier in the Northwest, but by the early nineties it was a full-blown fashion genre as well, and a lasting one at that, surely to the surprise of some. Now, we can’t purport to know more about its musical origins, but we also can’t help but appreciate the comfortably nonchalant, perfectly imperfect dress style that came along with the aloof and sometimes angst-ridden attitudes of the time. Here are some of our favorite features of grunge-chic fashion along with a few girly-grunge looks…
7 Ways To Grunge Up Your Look
1. The Layers Club – Perhaps a nod to the crisp Seattle weather, layering is a major distinction of grungy dressing. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a thermal under a graphic tee under a flannel under a dumpster peacoat. (And that’s just on top!) Even if nothing is neatly tucked in, a layered outfit just tends to look put-together. Effortlessly so. Choose less substantial materials of varied lengths if you’re worried about too much bulk, and don’t forget you can always peel those layers off as the day goes on.
2. Sweet-Tartan – Let’s face it, one of those layers should probably be plaid. The classic flannel is almost synonymous with this style of dress, and simply tying one around your waist is enough. But the checkered print is so signature that you could even get away with a flirtier, more fitted silhouette, so long as you pair it with some other genre-characteristic pieces. When matched with a slouchy sweater, heavy work boots, and maybe some faux leather jewelry, even a sweet skater dress can evoke the grunge vibe.
3. Aged Before Beauty – It’s also okay if you’ve scuffed up those boots or wore a hole through that graphic tee. And no problem if you’ve snagged your sweater or washed the color out of your jeans. Again, you’re not going for pretty and picture perfect here. Faded, worn-in clothing is a total do when you’re rocking the thrift store look; it gives you that edge. We’re talkin’ vintage T-shirts, secondhand jackets, ripped denim, even holey tights. Disheveled was never this desirable, busted never this beautiful.
4. Hair-Don’t-Do – No need to go in for that Brazilian blowout this week, because the last thing you want here is a not-a-hair-out-of-place ‘do. As seen on the NYFW runways, bedhead and hat hair are totally in right now and exactly what you need as a finishing touch for your greasy grunge look. So tousle up that perfect mane of yours, and skip the dry shampoo and comb-through. Top it all off with a knit beanie if you can’t stand to look at it. But for once, limp, tangled tresses are gonna work for ya.
5. Boyfriend Tag – There’s something a little androgynous about the grunge look. Kurt Cobain famously wore a leopard print fur coat and floral shirt dresses. For us girls, we can forget about what our mothers taught us, ’cause it’s totally okay to slouch a little…in oversized clothes, that is. Which makes it only natural that our boyfriend jeans and boyfriend sweaters fit into the equation here. Got a big cardigan that droops a little in the front or some relaxed-fit denim that sags a little in the back? Perfect.
6. Floral History – At the same time, don’t think you have to forgo all things girly to don grunge fashion. Allover floral prints are totally indicative of the decade, and you can’t go wrong with a dark-grounded motif with a small repeating pattern. Try a floral slip dress paired with a flannel and boots for a cute but carefree look. You know, a la Claire Danes during her My So-Called Life years, uh, year. Or floral combat boots, which seem to remain both classic and modern no matter what decade we are in.
7. Cool Combat – And speaking of combat boots, how did we go this long without mentioning them? A casual pair of loosely-laced work boots can transform an entire outfit, taking a flat- or heel-paired dress from cute and pretty to cool and edgy. Don’t have a pair yet? You can substitute with some buckled moto boots. Or almost anything in faux leather with a chunky heel or rugged sole. For a great modern update, try the exaggerated platform lug sole we’re seeing on shoes today. It would fit right in.