I'm Not Emo Anymore I'm Grunge

Artfully disheveled looks are making a comeback, reminiscent of the grunge trend of the 1990s. Both men and women find that grunge is a fun trend that is easy to wear. Stylists are going back to this concept in photo shoots and music videos. Even artists and actors on their days on and off the clock are rocking this trend on set and on the street. Most of the candid street style shots posted to social media lately are grunge inspired.

2015 Grunge Fashion Revival

Some simple fashion principles and key pieces can make this look underdone and effortless without looking a mess. Unless you do want to do a messy look, then you are still styled within this trend. Sometimes we follow trends without even knowing it. It might border on hipster style, but grunge has a less structured and more playful look. There are many retailers offering dresses and tops in this style. Not quite a hippie ethereal goddess, not quite hardcore punk, but those ideas come into play with modern grunge. From natural textiles and warm hues to stark graphic patterns and metallic accessories, a variety of elements make up what we call grunge.

What is “Modern Grunge” Anyway?

Grunge first emerged in the early 1990s as an amalgamation of all the things that came before it. Bohemian, hippie, punk, emo and goth elements came together in the perfect storm during the creation of the Seattle sound. If clothing that was inspired by a gloomy rainy day and a lush campsite vacation came together, that’s what grunge style is.

Grunge style borrows from five key styles. Bohemian style mixed with punk and goth elements encompasses multiple trends that are currently in at the moment. You can take the trend to the extreme or make a minimalist statement. This is not your early 1990s dirty hair and plaid flannels. The mode is more thoughtful. Pieces strike a balance between polished separates and distressed accessories. The Grunge trend is leeching into many popular designer fashions. Plaid, layering, wide brim hats, cut off shorts, leather, lace, bright hues and earth tones all work within the trend. Grunge mashes up all our favorite summer trends and can easily carry over into the fall season. You can shop your closet and put together a look in a few minutes. Or if you’re feeling like a shopping spree, you could find pieces that are consistent with this look in department stores. But consider making a trip to your local thrift shops for some trend staples.

How to Style this Trend for Everyone

Grunge is a versatile style anyone can pull off. It can be hard and edgy, or subtle and feminine. Think about mixing prints. For example, a short lace-up boots with floral lace tights and cut off shorts with a loose fitting tee and a plaid button-down shirt left open is a full look that is easy to accomplish. You can wear this look for a day out at the flea market or to go hang out with your girls.

joan!ta via flickr Sarah Zucca via flickr

Or think about making a more subdued statement. Wear a black crop top with a black skirt and pull on an over-sized button down sweater. Accessorize with an over-sized slouchy cross body bag and tennis shoes for a casual date or a busy day of classes.

You may be more reserved. For a simple look that keeps with this trend, try a black top and shoe with a bold plaid skirt. This idea works in many ways. Pick a single piece as the focal point. Wear ripped jeans with lace leggings underneath but wear a simple top and a comfortable sneaker to balance out that look.

Modern grunge outfits are not that hard to piece together. You may find all these elements in your closet already. These looks can range from light and feminine hippie to heavy gothic punk. It all depends on your existing personal style and what you are comfortable with trying. Use bold or neon colors together or go for a head to toe black outfit. If you do bright colors in your clothing, go minimal with the jewelry and accessories. If you do a neutral color in your clothing, go ahead and layer all your jewelry. Modern grunge is about contrast and balance. You can make a big bold statement with color and pattern or you can style this in more subdued hues. The look can range from a vintage punk look to  90s teen casual.

One of the benefits of this trend is that you don’t have to set a high budget to get these looks put together. But high-end designers are also following this trend. So if you are a devotee of certain designers you can find a few pieces in recent collections that will work within modern grunge. Some big-name designers use plaid like a signature staple within their branding. They fit right in with the duality of the modern grunge look. Styling high and low-end piece together is very much in keeping with the trend.

Key Staples to Have Right Now

Here are a few wardrobe staples that you should consider. Grunge elements like Dip dyed dresses in lightweight fabrics, Baby doll or empire waist cocktail dresses in solids or prints, Lightweight flannel plaid button down shirts, Close fitting distressed jeans (either skinny or wide leg and nothing in between) and Lace-up work boots or a flat ankle boot lay down a solid groundwork to build on. Everyone has that collection of old faded cotton tees. Don’t just wear them to bed and the gym. Pull on your favorite worn out band tee with distressed cut off shorts and an ankle boot. It’s the perfect summer look. Tie a plaid flannel around your waist and pull on a beanie and you are ready for running errands around town to hanging with friends at a beach bonfire.University of Salford Press via flickr

You might already have what we used to call a ‘grandpa’ sweater and a pair of Doc Marten’s in your closet from days gone by. Mary Jane shoes with chunky heels and scalloped hemmed dresses also fit in with the modernization of the grunge look. We all have tee shirts we can't throw away. Bleach spattered jeans or tops with small holes from wear can be worn out with some creative styling. You might have a tee with a worn out pattern. Pull it over a collared top. This layered look is perfect with a pair with dark wash skinny jeans and pumps for a polished but fun office casual look.

Basics are important for everyone’s closet. Staples like black tops and skirts and leggings are very useful. Get at least one short skirt and one long skirt, one crop top, and one full coverage top, and two pairs of leggings. Stick to warm natural hues like mushroom, taupe and black. Have a classic base so you can style yourself in any trend. Throw another layer on and pair with different styles of shoe. It’s easy to follow trends when you have a selection of basics in solid colors.

Photo by Iqra Shahbaz

Hairstyles and Color

Probably my favorite thing about this trend returning is the fact that messy hair is in. For someone with curls in the humid summer heat, this is a style I can accomplish without any effort. Headbands and bandanas are easy ways to tame your hair and follow this trend at once. Disheveled side braided styles and classic bun styles are a part of this trend. If you want to take a bold stance, think about dying your hair for one season. You can go subtle with an at-home highlighting kit or make an appointment at your salon to get a jewel tone color. If you’ve been blond for a while, let your roots grow out. The brassy colors in your outgrown dye job are a part of the grunge look.

Celebrities like Taraji P. Henson and Katy Perry are embracing the trend. Both men and women are taking risks with bold jewel-tone hues. If you’ve ever tried a bold boxed highlighting kit from a drugstore brand, that color grew up. Professional colorists are offering Aveda or Pravana. These intensely saturated hues go beyond traditional color. Mermaid hair in light dusty hues like blue-green and pink oranges are very popular. If you just want to dip a toe in the water, do a few streaks that peek out from behind one ear. You can braid these streaks and put a bead at the end for a subtle hint of hippie grunge chic.


Wicker Paradise via flickr

allnightavenue via flickr



On Trend Accessories

Accessories like jewelry, bags and shoes can be mixed and matched. You probably have many of these items in your jewelry box. Loud and large rings and thin delicate rings, same goes for necklaces and bangles, chunky watches or dainty lockets. It’s really hard to strike a balance between heavy and light, so either go extreme or go minimal. Make one thing the statement piece like a bold metal ring or layer necklaces and bracelets. It’s easy to get carried away with layering, but with this trend, you can't be overdone. Pile on layers of rings, necklaces from chokers to long tassels, or just wear one big solid cuff bracelet. Use your best judgment. If your outfit is simple, go simple with the jewelry. If you have a messy layered look, do the same for your jewelry selections.

Some things to look for are plastic or lace chokers, spiked collars, hemp bracelets, crystal pendants, long chains and bold ring styles. Wanted tokens within this craze are the evil eye, yin-yang, ankh and other symbols associated with superstitions and eastern religious practices. This plays into the gothic punk part to the modern grunge trend.

Sunglasses are an easy way to accessorize the look. Keep an eye out for round frames, keyhole frames and aviators. From dark lenses to mirrored lenses, there are a number of sunglass styles that fall into this trend. Some shapes are timeless, but opt for a fun pair just for those days you are feeling a bit daring. You can find a range of unique styles on sites like Etsy.

Handbags are easy with this fashion. Go with a big hobo or a small wristlet. Even a small cross body bag would be fine. Just think about balancing out your outfit. If you are doing a heavy black bordering on gothic grunge look, consider a pop of color with your handbag. If you are doing a slouchy but comfortable look, bring a clutch. Grunge is all about contrast and extremes, so be playful and daring. Mixing and matching different styles is what modern grunge is all about. Even if your colors clash, it’s still on trend.

 Celebrities On Trend

Many people are following this trend without even trying. Bands like Paramore, Fall Out Boy and 21 Pilots rock the look with bleach blond hair and plaid shirts tied at the waist. Beanies, fedoras, and wide brim hats are prominent in their wardrobe. Actors are also fans of this style. It’s easy and unstructured. If a bra strap is showing or hair is messy it’s no big deal. Loose fitting shirts with leggings or worn out tees with distressed jeans are comfortable and casual. On and off screen, actors like Jennifer Morrison and Colin O'Donoghue from Once Upon A Time favor this trend. Think about character looks from the show American Horror Story too. Popular television shows like Pretty Little Liars and Supernatural also feature characters who sport this trend. Even celebs who pioneered the look like Madonna, Drew Barrymore, and Courtney Love keep grunge modern by making it go beyond the trend and embrace it as their own personal style.

Josh Jensen via flickr georgia via flickr

Is this Trend Too Young for Me?

Never! It can be playful and youthful, but if you keep it simple it’s a trend that everyone can look age appropriate in. It is a popular search on sites like Tumblr and Pinterest. Look to your favorite social media sites like Instagram and Twitter to get inspiration. Search common tags like #grunge #modern #punk to get even more ideas for outfits. When you have a few pieces that are solid colors and basic silhouettes, it’s easy to add one vogue element. You’ll look polished without trying too hard.

Grunge isn’t a fading trend, but it recurs every few years. A combination of the 80's and 90's adolescent fashion, currently people are returning to this uncomplicated style. Musicians and celebrities have embraced the style and made it unique on their own. For younger fashionistas who are struggling to find their signature style, grunge is a great way to try out various looks under the umbrella of a single trend. This is a good reminder for those of us who are more seasoned to save things from decades past. Looks inspired by Madonna, The Violent Femmes and Robert Smith in the 1980s carried over into the 1990s with other artists like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Today’s performers are also embracing the trend. It’s a real celebration of individuality since no combination is considered ‘wrong’. Have fun with modern grunge and make it all your own. You can be covered up or show some skin, either way this trend can still look sexy without being trashy. From minimal to messy, there is a look for every personality and mood.

For ideas on how to style the look, visit Laura on Pinterest and view our assortment of casual dresses.

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