The New Grunge

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If you read my post last week, you might recall that I used the term grunge at one point to describe 90s fashion. After some thought and a little bit of research, I want to discuss that particular branch of style in more detail.

Technically speaking, grunge came about in the late 80s/early 90s, born out of necessity, and finding its strength in the spirit of rock. It started out as the clothing choice of musicians who were still in their garage phase, too poor to invest in anything glitzy. Instead, they embraced the highly casual look of hand-me-downs and anything else that they could find.

Basically, their style said to the world, “We don’t care how we look. It’s all about the music.”

And as I mentioned last week, the art of looking effortless essentially defined the 90s as a whole.

The elements that make up the grunge style are hard to pin down. Really, it can be just about anything as long as its worn casually. But there are definitely items that tend to be staples of the look, and that’s what I want to go into today.

The biggest and most popular element is the boyfriend shirt. Plaid and flannel are huge right now, especially since Autumn is in full swing, and this is the most common way it gets worn. The buttons left open, and with a shirt or cami underneath. And as I mentioned, this is a unisex style. It looks good on everyone.

Speaking of unisex, that is actually how grunge mostly is. The silhouette is usually quite loose, and the style as a whole leans in the direction of androgyny.

If you could do without high heels, you aren’t alone, and this is the time for flats to really shine. If you happen to have some short boots, sneakers, or even an old pair of tennis shoes, you’re good to go.

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I call these my lil’ punk boots, and I’ve been wearing them more than ever lately. (Punk isn’t the same thing as grunge, but they branch out from very similar roots). They do give me some height, but they don’t throw off my balance like actual heels do, and since they’re black, they go with everything.

We can’t overlook denim.

Jackets and jeans never went out of style in the first place, but they’re as popular nowadays as they’ve ever been. And distressed denim is back in a big way. Faded, acid washed, holes and worn patches, it’s all back.

Just please, I beg you, proceed with caution. We saw how people could overdose on denim in the 90s. Don’t get carried away with your layers.

Aesthetically speaking, when it comes to grunge, think band t-shirts. Think sweatshirts. Long-sleeved or short, it should be fairly simple. Something comfortable, with maybe some kind of print on the front or back.

A good rule of thumb might be, can you picture yourself playing guitar in a garage wearing this? Can you see yourself sitting around in a coffee shop with your friends after a show wearing this? Honestly, grunge centers around rock nine times out of ten, so follow your instincts on that.

What does your inner rockstar feel like wearing today?

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One more thing worth noting…

Hair.

Any length or style that you please is acceptable, and you should do exactly what you want with it. That being said, it’s popular to wear it simply right now, at about a short or medium length.

Fashion trends affect us on a subconscious level, which is absolutely fascinating. For several years, I kept my hair very long, and for at least two of those years, I was obsessed with braiding it.

Braids will always hold a special place in my heart, but for whatever reason, this last Spring, I just didn’t feel like having so much hair anymore.

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And I’ve pretty much worn it this way ever since. Hardly a braid to be found.

I don’t know what made me want to change. Back then, it never entered my mind that this was a 90s look, or that it would be such a popular style among my peers in the months to follow. All I knew was that I felt like chopping my hair off. So I did.

Who knows what dictates the ebb and flow of fashion? But it affects all of us, even if we don’t realize it.

I have one final point to make, and it’s a big one.

Grunge was born because there were young people out there who had music in the hearts and nothing in their wallets. If you like this style, stay true to its spirit and don’t go on an expensive shopping spree to obtain it.

Besides, thrifty is the new sexy.

I got all of the boyfriend shirts I’ve shown you at a local store called American Jane Vintage. Everything for sale there is actual vintage, from the 90s and earlier. Anything you buy in a shop like that is totally one of a kind, and it’s really the same as recycling. Reviving and reusing old clothes is a hundred times better than throwing them away.

The same effect can be achieved by raiding your mom’s closet. Or your dad’s, or your grandma’s. That way, there can be an element of nostalgia in what you wear, and things won’t go to waste. It’s better for the environment, to say the least.

And if you do feel like shopping, make an effort to buy local and support small businesses. They actually deserve your money.


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We are taking inspiration from the 90s in many ways right now, which means a lot of coziness and comfort. How perfect that this should come about right before the holiday season. That’s what I’m most excited about. My favorite thing to do this time of year is curl up with a cup of coffee, or sit around a fire with my loved ones.

The fact that fashion perfectly coincides with that this year is just too lovely for words.

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Have a beautiful week.

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