The Ultimate Guide To Achieving A Trendy Grunge Aesthetic

A lot of '90s trends are coming back in style, so if you missed out on the grunge wave at the height of its popularity, you've got another chance to give it a try. Thirty years on from its original wave, grunge is still as strong a fashion statement as ever. You've got plenty of options if you want to incorporate grunge aesthetics into your look, or even if you want to change your style and go full grunge. You could go right back to the roots of grunge, or look at a more contemporary incarnation of the look. You might want to change up everything, or just make your shoes or hair a little different — there are no hard and fast rules, which is what makes the grunge aesthetic so great. 

You may decide to follow some of the biggest grunge icons out there like Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, and Layne Staley, as noted by Loudwire, or mosh to the beat of your own drum; it's up to you. There are various sub-genres of grunge — both music and fashion — and so many possibilities, so how will you achieve your grunge aesthetic? Just check out our guide to grunge, right here.

Take it back to the '90s

We'll start off by looking at classic '90s grunge. The original. The classic. The era brought us some incredible grunge bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains (via Rolling Stone) and their style influenced fans and fashion alike. The style revolves around baggy clothes — particularly oversized jerseys and ripped jeans — and flannel shirts, along with designs that clash a little, and plenty of layering too.

To really nail the look, you should look as if you're not trying too hard to make an effort. The style is deliberately quite laid back and relaxed, an edgy, rebellious look that goes against conventions. Per The Trend Spotter, it's kind of anti-fashion fashion.

You could even go back a few years to when grunge first started to emerge. When we think of the '80s, we normally imagine big clothes and even bigger hair, but grunge fashion grew out of punk to offer an alternative, edgy look that was at odds with the mainstream during the era. Band tees, flannel, and mom jeans were all popular stylistic choices.

Don't forget makeup and shoes to complete your grunge aesthetic

No outfit is complete without a killer pair of shoes and some accessories too, and our favorite grunge fits are no different.

Per The Trend Spotter, you can't go wrong with Dr. Martens. The iconic brand is a staple of numerous alternative subcultures, grunge included, and these kicks are a great way to round off your look. As an alternative (as Docs can feel a little heavy on your feet all day) canvas sneakers like Converse and Vans are a safe bet, while in the summer you could try out some flatform sandals. Combat boots, gumboots, and creepers are also great grunge shoes, so you might want to look around and see what you like.

Let's not forget about makeup, either. A makeup-free face is authentically grunge, but you could also make a real grung statement with some dark and bold lipstick, a lot of mascara, and some smudged eyeliner.

Top off your look with a grunge cut

What about grunge hair? 

Simply put, you don't have to do an awful lot to your hair if you're going for the grunge look. You can let your hair grow, and it's fine — maybe even better — if your hair's a little messy or greasy. Whether you're a seasoned pro at mastering the "just got out of bed" look or you're used to putting more effort into your locks, you'll be able to save a bit of time in the morning. 

If you'd still like to put in at least some effort, The Trend Spotter recommends considering messy double buns, baby bangs or an undercut. You could always shake things up by going a different color too; you've got the freedom to explore. And per The Right Hairstyles, some grunge styles are coming back into fashion — from space buns to braids to short, asymmetrical styles, you can take inspiration from the hair you see around you each day.

Variations on grunge

If you don't want to go full grunge, you could tweak your style so that it falls under what's known as "soft" or "pastel" grunge. Similar aesthetics but with slight differences, these grunge variations give off the grunge vibe, but with a lighter look (via Rebels Market).

Soft grunge is a mixture of classic grunge and contemporary styles, incorporating elements of grunge fashion like plaid shirts and ripped jeans but alongside some of the more mainstream trends. It's a great way to shake up your look without breaking the bank to get an entirely new wardrobe. Pastel grunge, in comparison, is a style that combines grunge with pastel colors like yellow, blue, and pink. Have a look for vintage '90s-era clothes, and you could even dye your hair a pastel shade too (via The Trend Spotter).

These are very much more recent styles of grunge, first appearing in the 2000s and popularized by Tumblr and musicians like Sky Ferreira (via AltPress), but are still a great option if going for the whole grunge look isn't your goal.