The Ultimate Guide to Grunge Aesthetic + Coolest Outfit Ideas

The Ultimate Guide to Grunge Aesthetic + Coolest Outfit Ideas

Posted by Magnificent Medusa on Jun 01, 2022


Hey fellas! If you are looking for an extraordinary, smashing Grunge Aesthetic guide, and do not know where to begin, you are at the right place as we will have a journey into the Grunge world together. This guide will satisfy you with the realm of Grunge Aesthetic and its antique origins including "Grunge as a music genre", "Movies with Grunge elements", -and most importantly- "Grunge fashion".

grunge aesthetic in main three topics, including music, movie, and fashion

First Things First, Let's Begin With the Basics: What is Grunge Aesthetic? What's its Story? Where did it Emerge? Who Started Grunge Era and Make it a Movement?

Originally, Grunge is being seen as “untidy” and effortless, but besides, it’s American slang for “dirt” or “someone or something revolting”. This movement is concerned with minimizing, looking down upon “conformity”, and de-emphasizing the silhouette of one’s body. So, as a “matter”, your body needs to be in the background. In the fields of music, fashion, -sometimes- behavior; Grunge does not care how others think, that is the main point of Grunge to emerge. Let’s start with this first: Do not care about what others think, get as dirty as you want. It will take time, I know by experience, but trust me, you will feel free day by day.

Needless to say, if you are searching for a Grunge Aesthetic, you might have encountered the Grunge band Nirvana, and its vocalist Kurt Cobain, who largely defined the Grunge movement with his Gen X anthem: Smells Like Teen Spirit. Yup, it was the peak era of the Grunge Movement, even though it newly emerged back then. It was so liberating that Grunge grasped too much attention in the 80s Grunge by people of all ages.

kurt cobain as a grunge pioneer with 90s grunge elements

Historically speaking, Grunge has its roots in the late 80s hard rock scene of Seattle, Washington which is the reason why it gained popularity among American youth in the very beginning. Grunge created a link between punk rock, and heavy metal in the company of murky guitar sounds as well as paving the way for 70s Indie rock bands. The purpose of Grunge pioneers was to be against consumerism, which aimed to increase the consumption of goods and make people believe that they needed material possessions to be happy. As opposed to consumerism, bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, which is my fave, increased the ideal of being untidy, seeming effortless, and not giving a f***!

What is Grunge as a Music Genre?

Give the devil his due; Grunge’s development is based on musical evolution by the musicians I have mentioned above. But what was their motivation to create such a revolting genre?

The answer is hidden behind recording a clean sound, which was expensive and time-consuming back then. Hence, creating musical work was hard to accomplish. So, for those Northwestern bands just taking a clean record was a cold day in hell, that’s why they came up with the cheaper idea, which is leaving the sound dirty. A total mess. But you know, Grunge is all about messing things up, right? Its beauty is in the effortless effort.

grunge as a music genre including seattle grunge, kurt cobain, and pearl jam supported with musical elements

The idea of despising the current culture gave birth to Grunge music’s elements: Violent, often obscene -as criticized-, rough, harsh, hot-tempered… Even though it seems as effortless, it actually makes an effort to give political messages to society. (You can also check out 5 Protest Songs of Nirvana.) Grunge lyrics contain questioning about society and how it might be changed, aiming to destroy societal norms. Grunge mainly draws inspiration from themes like neglect, betrayal, social alienation, self-doubt, desire for freedom, and psychological traumas, leading to violent actions on the stage. All those actions call for change, thus, Grunge music style must not be presented as “Meaningless noise or violence”: A complete prejudice.

Comparison With Other Genres: Is Grunge the Same With Punk, Heavy Metal, or Rock?

Sometimes, as they parallel, people confuse Grunge with other genres, however, the purposes of emergence differ from each other. I know, with time, all the dark elements mingled with each other, nevertheless, as an experienced musician, I can assure you that there are HUGE differences.

For instance, let’s begin with metal, which is a direct genre, while Gunge is a subgenre of alternative rock. As well as being a subculture, Grunge’s alternative title is “Seattle sound”. Metal has different subgenres such as black metal, gothic metal, metalcore, death metal, etc... But we cannot say the same for the Grunge genre, as its roots already come from alternative rock.

On the other hand, the most important comparison with Grunge should be punk, I think. Many people confuse these genres in the fields of music, culture, and most importantly fashion. I know there are many parallels, but some elements separate punk from Grunge style. Let’s go back to the Stone Age, to the very beginning of the Punk Rock Movement, bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and The Banshees, and Bauhaus… aiming to use aggressive tones in their music created in the mid-1970s in the UK rejecting the mainstream 1970s rock. The motif was similar to Grunge as they revolt against what is popular, mainstreamed, and fast-consumed, however, the key difference is Punk songs are fast-paced, short in lyrics, and opposing the prevailing societal norms, while Grunge consists of heavy drums, being slow-paced, and subjecting self-hatred in the lyrics. First one isolates himself from society, and the other tries to escape from himself, that’s the difference!

Punk Fashion Versus Grunge Fashion: What is the Difference?

As I mentioned before, many other genres are parallel with Grunge, especially in the field of fashion. Let me clear out the confusion for you, fellas, by beginning with the history of Grunge style: Grunge moda never dies! 

comparison between girls representing punk and grunge fashion styles

During the ‘ 90s Grunge, “less was more”, and the effort to dress of high quality decreased. Wearing baggy jeans, and denim oversize jackets, Doc Martens gained popularity, especially among the younger generation. Women typically wore slip dresses with flannel and plaid pattern as well as ripped jeans. They combined their clothes with simple jewelry such as chokers; hoop earrings; and dark, rich-colored lipstick. However, this mentality evolved into rich uses of chains, intense smoky make-up, and piercings. Besides, Grunge is divided into some sub-genres such as Fairy Grunge, and a Pink Grunge Aesthetic, it evolved as Soft Grunge in terms.

On the other hand, punk has always used tight clothes with many layers, and spectacular, protesting colors as well as distinguished combinations for different occasions, while Grunge aimed to wear mundane daily clothing, which is baggy and slipshod, everywhere because of its anti-fashion protest ideals.

For an instance, Kurt Cobain would simply wear an oversized striped sweater with ripped jeans, and a pair of Converse: totally reckless!

How to Dress Grunge Aesthetic

If you want to get Grunge; use dark, washed colors, many layers, chains, protesting make-up, leathers, baggy and messed up clothes. Main pieces must include ripped denim jeans, lumberjack shirts, or plaid skirts. Support them with black eye make-up, and fishnet stockings, then complete your look with Doc Martens, platform boots, or Converse.

Welcome to the golden shot, fella! I hope you did not forget the Grunge Aesthetic meaning: Be as dirty and reckless as you want and do not ever give e f***! If you have prepared your mindset, let’s continue with how to get you dressed!

  • Makeup: Black eyeshadow, bold eyeliner, dark red lipstick, heavy mascara.
  • Accessories: Leather corset, metal chains, leather chokers, huge hoop earrings, fishnet stockings, black nail polish.
  • Key Motifs: Baggy jeans, plaid skirts, lumberjack shirts, platform boots, converse.
  • Values: Being reckless and against social norms, protesting capitalism.
  • Colors: Black, red, burgundy, navy blue, grey.

With the help of these Grunge keywords, you can also search for  Pinterest Grunge outfits, I left a photo as an example below!

grunge girl standing on fire escape wearing animal print tulle blouse and black satin mini skirt completed with fishnet stockings, black leather corset and black leather choker

Tops: Tees, Shirts, Hoodies, Denim Jackets, Plaid, and Flannel Patterns

Mate, go find your dad’s old shirts and jackets! The best Grunge tops are always the vintage, washed, baggy ones. I have an old lumberjack shirt that can be combined with various clothes. I preferred the basic shirt+pants combination below; basic but comfortable!

grunge girl on a tile wall wearing vintage blue lumberjack shirt, green baggy plaid pants, converse, completed with weed socks and bandana

Also, you need to use leather, denim, and biker jackets -ASAP- to enrich your protesting, smashing Grunge look. Here is one of my fave sleeveless biker jackets. I preferred combining it basically with a plaid red dress. But if you think it seems dull or simple, just wear an old plaid shirt under the jacket.

grunge girl under the fire escape wearing black leather sleeveless biker jacket combined with heavy make up

Then we are gonna need some striped, long sleeves to pair the old t-shirt with! There are many other options if you want to glorify your Grunge ancestors, as well: Band Shirts! Every one of us has “that” one Nirvana tee, right? What are you waiting for? Wear that! Even though many people find wearing band tees cliché, Grunge does not die, and so do band tees. It is not compulsory to wear Grunge band tees, by the way, I have t-shirts of Iron Maiden, Architects, Pink Floyd, Joy Division, etc. All types of protests are welcome to Grunge fashion.

grunge girl in front of a wall wearing nirvana t-shirt combined with black fedora hat, gold rings, and sunglasses

Recently, I started to use long sleeve tulle tees under oversize t-shirts to add layers to my look! Those black, red, or animal print tulles give baddie vibez. I don’t suggest wearing them in summer anyways.

Another key thing is wearing long striped sleeves under your plain, one-colored t-shirts. The contrast must be maintained, as well, by wearing opposite colors like a red striped sleeve under your black band tee or a purple one under the grey. 

gif of a grunge girl on fire escape wearing joy division band t-shirt over animal print tulle blouse combined with black leather choker

Last but not least, use dark colors to give a reckless image to your environment. As mentioned a few times; colors such as red, black, grey, pale, and dark green perfectly suit the Grunge look.

Bottoms: Pants, Skirts, Shorts

Grunge occurred with un-ironed baggy pants, however, over time, it blended with edgy styles, hence, you can wear skinny pants if you want -I prefer the original style, tho-. Bottoms can include low waist ripped jeans or denim, cargo pants as they appear careless enough! I have a suggestion for you, complete your Grunge look with these Edgy Black Hole Denim Pants!

grunge girl outfit in front of a tile wall wearing pink floyd band t-shirt, plaid baggy pants combined with black bandana, weed socks, purple leather converse and sunglasses

I prefer plaid mini skirts and combine them with ripped stockings. Or sometimes I wear long slip skirts with boots. However, pleated monochromatic skirts are also perfect to get Grunge! Wear your fave chain belt with it, and it is complete! You can find as many types of skirts as you want on Cosmique Studio such as an irregular midi skirt or egirl pleated mini skirt, make your choice. grunge girl in front of bars, wearing black satin midi skirt under animal print tulle blouse combined with black leather corset, fishnet stockings, black fedora hat and a pair of black leather heels

Yeah, I know, the Sun burns our skins, and the heat makes us wear less and less. So, you can try shorts, too. They can be baggy, skinny, washed, dark-colored… However you want it. Use long socks with your combine as you wish.

Dresses

I want to separate my fave piece from others. Since the 90s, Grunge Aesthetic girls have preferred slip dresses, which fit well! I mean… How wouldn’t?!

There are lace ones, tulle ones, plaid ones, and mesh ones to use as key pieces in your wardrobe. For instance, a sleeveless dress would be harmonious with a long-sleeved tulle tee. And even better with a tied-up tee on that! Like, three layers...

Don't think it's easy to combine dresses. Our aim here is to make a dress fit the grunge style as much as possible. Since a layered outfit is also indispensable for the grunge aesthetic, we must be able to add a piece of over or under the dress. 

If you prefer a strapless dress, your job is quite easy, pals. Because, any t-shirt with long sleeves, short sleeves, tulle or cotton can be preferred to wear under a sleeveless dress. Even more oversized t-shirts can easily be worn over a sleeveless dress, so even a plain dress can be turned into a grunge one. 

Let's say you prefer a long sleeve dress, then a short sleeve grunge band tee to wear over it would be a great choice for this look. If the t-shirt is too loose, you can save the outfit with different tying techniques. Here Sarah Therese explains in 6 minutes: 10 Ways to Tie a Basic T-Shirt.

No need to be limited to just t-shirts. A sleeveless black leather jacket can also add a tougher touch to your grunge look. I left a sample outfit photo for you below. I hope you like this grunge dress outfit inspiration

grunge girl on a tile wall, wearing plaid mini red dress combined with black platform boots, black leather jacket on her finger, and black sunglasses

Acessentialries: Chains, Chokers, Nail Polish, Stockings, Fishnets, Hair Dye, Bandanas

Even though the primary motivation for Grunge was to be basic and effortless, Gen Z Grunge prefers many accessories. More fancy but reckless, right? As Cosmique Studio, we are one of the leading Grunge Aesthetic clothing stores in accessories. And now I'm going to give you great tips with all our fashion knowledge.

First, you can start with the basics: Chains. Wrap them around your neck or your belly. Or you can just tie the chain to your denim jeans, or just put it on your pants. However you wish. 

A chain can be used as a bracelet, a necklace, or also as a belt that would dazzle others. They can be colored with spray paint into neon colors as the new Grunge generation can be seen with those little neon detailed accessories, whether you wanna try. There are many options to make your outfit look smash with a one-meter chain or less, you can find one easily on the internet or in a hardware store!

If you don’t want to wear chains, just find a leather choker! There are at least five different types of chokers: Black, goldsilver, pearl, diamond, leather, velvet, tattoo, etc. Leather or the old-school cloth chokers add layers to your fit and can be used to give a Grunge, mixed look. grunge aesthetic represented with black leather ring choker and witchy black nail polish

Afterwards, wear as many rings as you want! Combine their color with your chains, gold or silver. If you are done with your rings, go get your nails polished with dark colors, it would make them perfect. By dark colors, I mean black, pale purple, red, and BURGUNDY! You should try them on your nails, those colors complete our grunge clothing very well. And in my opinion, short nails would perfectly fit a grunge outfit, so don’t get sad if you bite your nails, I got you.

I guess your nail polish is dry already, so, let’s combine our skirts/dresses with stockings -especially fishnet ones on Cosmique Studio- as a complementary piece. 

grunge aesthetic on the fire escape thick fishnet stockings under a black midi skirt combined with black leather heels

However, if you prefer pants, those protesting I don’t give a f***, f*** off socks will be complementary pieces. If you wanna go softier, these soft thick moon socks are preferable for you.

Whether it is enough or not, you can always dye your hair pink, red, or platinum blonde, or you can just stick to black to get a marginal look, as well as getting piercings and tattoos, it’s all up to you. 

grunge girl hair ideas dyed purple, red, platinum blonde, and black

Shoes

Providing that you are ready to get a photo dump, do not forget to put on your leather black platform boots, Mary Janes, or Vans. Those all fit your outfit fully, whether they are old or not.

Those leather black platform boots will be suitable with fishnet stockings as well as high knee socks. You can always enrich your outfit with layers, it's all up to your imagination!

If you prefer a more casual appearance, try combining your outfit with sneakers and cozy long socks! Here's an idea to get inspiration. 

grunge aesthetic girl in the forest, wearing weed socks and leather purple converse under a plaid baggy green pants and a green hoodie

Now, fella, go take some photos with your new appearance! If you are interested in seeing more ideas, follow Cosmique Studio on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, and Pinterest! There are many affordable grunge clothes in our website that you should try. 

You can read more on our blog page and mail us anytime you wish about your questions, ideas, and new blogs as well! Ready to purchase for  Grunge Aesthetic clothes? Here you go.

I hope I could give you every information sufficiently about Grunge fashion, Grunge Aesthetic, or Grunge music. I have watched many movies for you guys about Grunge or including Grunge elements to recommend, here are the links below. Take care, In Grunge We Trust!

COSMIQUE BLOG

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