How to Get the Grunge Fashion Look

Plaid and flannel are staples of the grunge look.
Plaid and flannel are staples of the grunge look. (Image: Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

The grunge look was born as recently as the 1990s, but the look has already become iconic. Grunge hails from Seattle, Washington. Musicians such as Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love promoted the look. Grunge fashion is all about fighting against expensive fashion trends. For a '90s-themed party, Halloween or any time you feel like standing out from the crowd, pulling off the grunge fashion look yourself is an easy way to evoke the nineties.

Tousle your hair. Both men and women usually wore longer hair, shoulder-length or below. Instead of taking hours to style, leave your hair clean and natural and avoid brushing except to remove tangles. Help your wavy "bedhead" look along by using tousling spray or hair wax. Alternatively, wear your hair long and straight.

Shop at thrift stores. The grunge look relies on a casual, tossed-together style. Thrift stores offer an inexpensive and mismatched look. Look for clothes with a nineties style, anything plaid or flannel and clothes with a baggier fit.

Thrift stores often provide grunge clothes at a low price.
Thrift stores often provide grunge clothes at a low price. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Layer. To get the baggy, casual look of grunge, layer your clothes instead of wearing polished or streamlined outfits. For instance, wear fishnet tights, a miniskirt and a tank top, but tie an extra shirt around your waist or wear a bulky jacket or cardigan over your ensemble.

Rip your jeans. Wear well-worn, ripped and faded jeans instead of newly purchased ones. If you have a pair of old jeans with natural holes and rips, this is ideal. To give a grunge look to your favorite pair of jeans, rub a scrub brush against the denim to give it a worn-out look and use scissors to slash strategic rips and holes, usually in the knees or below.

Frayed, ripped and light-wash denim spells grunge.
Frayed, ripped and light-wash denim spells grunge. (Image: Images)

Use accessories. Beanie hats are popular grunge accessories for both men and women, especially dark or neutral shades. Wear a loose fit and push the beanie high on the crown of your head rather than wearing it low. Layer bracelets on your wrists, such as simple leather thong bracelets. Show off any piercings and tattoos. Shoes should be heavy, chunky and scuffed. Combat boots or sneakers are ideal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many original grunge followers bleached or dyed their hair. Use bleached blonde, bright red or other unconventional dye colors. At-home dye kits provide a more authentic look than expensive salon highlights.
  • In addition to lots of plaid and flannel, some grunge women wore loose, casual and flowery cotton dresses or fishnet tights, preferably with a few rips and tears. Both men and women favored comfortable cardigans, sweaters or hoodies, especially in colder weather. Gloves with the fingers cut off are also grunge. Cargo pants provide an alternative to ripped jeans.

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