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The Ultimate Guide to Grunge Street Style

Updated on August 27, 2018
Ian Barron profile image

Avid sneakerhead and streetwear enthusiast, Ian has been experimenting with style so you don't have to.

A Preface

Personally, I don't believe that grunge should be a chic movement, yet my opinion seems somewhat unpopular when speaking about this type of fashion. You can't get the legitimate grunge aesthetic from name brands, or from large fast fashion and/or designer brands imitating the movement. due to it being an extension of punk culture and politics in America, grunge is an anti-establishment progressive mindset that reflects itself in the style. If you're looking for the "cute" way to do grunge, go look for another blog to look like a Forever21 model, but this article will take a more legitimate look into the mindset and fashion of the grunge subculture.

Attitude is everything with grunge fashion

Everyone in fashion is always trying too hard to dress to impress and imitate their favorite pop culture icon. Well in grunge, this is completely different. The grunge movement is a no care anti-society view of politics and fashion. Just because you bought a pair of Fear Of God jeans and you're wearing a Metallica tee despite the fact that you've never listened to any of their songs doesn't mean you're suddenly a grunge style icon. To actually capture the grunge aesthetic, you need to take on a philosophy that is far more punk than it is chic. Wear what you want and what you think is cool, not what some dude who you don't even know (or really even care about) thinks is cool. Again, it's a middle finger to the world of mainstream fashion and whatnot. Wearing what others around you think is grunge makes you a poser, not an actual person.

Probably not vintage vintage looking band tee? Check. Overpriced designer jeans? check. Basic white girl accessories and overpriced bags? Check. You got one good poser outfit
Probably not vintage vintage looking band tee? Check. Overpriced designer jeans? check. Basic white girl accessories and overpriced bags? Check. You got one good poser outfit | Source

Thrifting

Remember when this was cool back in, like, 2015? Surprise, it's still popular with kids who don't form their fashion out of whatever A$AP Rocky and Kanye and whatever mall trend is cool. You can't find that actualb vintage aesthetic in Pacsun or Forever21, but you can find some cool old vintage pieces at your local Salvation Army or vintage shop (I suggest these over Goodwill because Goodwill is largely unethical and pretty terrible when it comes to business practices) without giving your hard earned paycheck to some old sleezebag who uses your money to buy his third yacht to show his fat dog buddies back on his beach estate. Trust me, you can live without your name brand clothing if you want to go grunge. If you absolutely must find some name brand, however, find a brand that tries to convey some message you may agree with beyond trend riding. Our fashion expresses who we are, and our clothes are one major way to show what we may believe in and who we are. So finding more "statementy" or "edgy" clothing is always a good way to go. If you want, you can also look into getting some band tees from Ebay, Poshmark, or Mercari from bands you actually listen to and enjoy. Even I'm guilty of wearing tees from bands I don't personally listen to (actually I only have my Lynyrd Skynyrd one but I wear it for different reasons), but regardless with legitimate grunge you have to strive to be authentic to yourself and jump out of the mentality that namebrands make fashion. Experiment, find what you like, and rock it.

He may be cliche to bring up, but Kurt epitomizes the idea of individuality and rocking whatever you like personally. He wasn't considered a fashion icon, but he paved a way for the amazing world of grunge fashion that's so often been bastardized
He may be cliche to bring up, but Kurt epitomizes the idea of individuality and rocking whatever you like personally. He wasn't considered a fashion icon, but he paved a way for the amazing world of grunge fashion that's so often been bastardized | Source
Another example is River Phoenix, who also adopted this attitude toward grunge style and such. Though he was often seen in more formal attire, he often liked to rock more simple "grunge" styles
Another example is River Phoenix, who also adopted this attitude toward grunge style and such. Though he was often seen in more formal attire, he often liked to rock more simple "grunge" styles | Source
And of course bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam help show what legitimate 90s grunge looks like. These dudes spearheaded the movement
And of course bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam help show what legitimate 90s grunge looks like. These dudes spearheaded the movement | Source

Learn some DIY

Getting tired of this article yet? I hope so. Anyway, finally we reach another major pillar in grunge fashion. This is learning some DIY stuff to make what you want. Learn to sew on patches, or even make some yourself. Distress jeans yourself, mess up your clothes by yourself, and make stuff on your own. Don't run to your local mall to buy whatever you think looks grunge, work with what you have and what you can find at the thrift. A major staple in grunge fashion is distressed jeans. You can do this yourself, believe it or not. What you need is actual effort and dedication to the style. Same with any other distressed clothes you may what. Experiment. If you mess up, try again. That's part of the beauty of a thrifted wardobe, you can just try again with low risk pieces to actually get what you want. It even makes you stand out from all the kids who spent 40 bucks on that shirt with some holes in it and a metallica graphic. And since the pieces are already old, it won't look weird to have a few holes and stuff in a perfectly new looking shirt. DIY is the key to fully achieving that grunge look, and with some practice and patience you can actually look like what grunge actually is, not some mall store window poser view of the culture and its style.

Conclusion

Grunge is supposed to be a giant middle finger to the consumerist and exploitative practices of most fashion designers and brands. I'm a bit of a hypocrite, since I own a pretty fair amount of namebrand clothes, like Adidas and such. So you can take whatever I say with a grain of salt, yet these choices were brought on more by personal preference over the brand name. If you don't want to fully immerse yourself in the fashion, that's alright too, just don't contribute to the overwhelming chic assimilation of grunge culture.

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