Fashion, Finding your style, Outfit Ideas

Back To The 90s: How To Dress In A Grunge Autumn Look


This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Celeste MacMurray. Find her on Instagram at @clsmsanchezx. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at

If you’ve been looking for some ways to spice up your wardrobe, we’re going to help you just that. But first, we have to take it back to the 90s. Once I start to feel a chill in the air and the leaves start changing colors, I immediately start dressing in grunge fashion again. It’s comfy, my jackets and flannels keep me warm and grunge music just suits the changing of the seasons perfectly with its heavy and dreary tone. That’s because the history of grunge music and grunge fashion go hand-in-hand with one another.

Grunge music first began in the late-80s and took influence from punk-rock and metal music, but the genre didn’t really gain traction until the 90s. The sound really took off with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Grunge music had its own sound as it stood out for its aggressive, rebellious and distorted sound heavily associated with the decade. Most importantly, the grunge music scene was heavily associated with bands from Seattle—something that not all bands appreciated. It’s true that the grunge genre did emerge from Seattle bands, but it got to the point that any band from the city was being labeled grunge even if that wasn’t their style at all. Some used the term “grunge” while others didn’t like it because its meaning became watered down over time.

Developing alongside the genre and its subsequent movement, grunge fashion became a huge part of the scene for those a part of it. It had its own distinct style that utilized a messy and uncoordinated look. One of the most prominent figures in grunge fashion was none other than Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. He often wore oversized sweaters, baggy jeans and Converse to a lot of his performances. Grunge fashion introduced an androgynous, comfy and anti-consumerism take to the scene. The whole point of grunge fashion was to be messy without worrying about your presentation while doing so in an affordable and DIY-way. Sometimes when you search “grunge fashion” the results you get are very cohesive and polished outfits that look expensive, when that isn’t what grunge is at all. Grunge fashion encourages its wearers to thrift, experiment and create their own look, like these examples below.

Now with an understanding of the music and fashion style, we can begin to create a guide on how to dress in grunge fashion.

Tops & Sweaters

Keeping in mind that baggy clothes are a recognizable aspect of grunge fashion, oversize clothing of any kind will work no matter what. Grunge fashion intends to obscure the figure and is known for its androgynous look as it doesn’t adhere to any gender binary. An oversized sweater can be worn and styled by anyone, which is really the magic of grunge fashion. Not to mention how perfect a sweater is for combatting the mild and chilly weather of autumn. You can also never go wrong with a flannel as it can be worn over t-shirts, dresses and even around your waist. When it comes to the color palette of grunge fashion, the colors used the most are either neutral, muted dark tones.

You’ll see in one of the examples I included that the neckline of the top the girl is wearing has been cut. I think this is a great example to show the creative nature when it comes to grunge fashion. Your options are just as broad as your imagination.

Bottoms, Skirts & Slips

Baggy jeans are an essential within grunge autumn as they can easily be used to create any outfit. Your jeans can be baggy, ripped or decorated according to your taste as they’re pretty versatile and can be molded to fit your style. However, if you don’t want to be limited to just jeans, there are still ways you can take part in grunge fashion. Dresses and skirts can be used to create the grunge look you want as long as they’re styled right and you accessorize. In the photo included of Taylor Momsen, singer of The Pretty Reckless, you’ll see she has styled her white, slip dress with rosaries and garter belts to give it an edgier look. Seeing as this is a guide for grunge fashion in autumn, you can wear tights or fishnets underneath either your dress or skirt to keep warm and add an extra flair to your look. Lacy and patterned tights are also an option. If you want to wear a skirt, whether short or long, a good way to style it is by asking yourself if you could see a 90’s grunge, female rockstar wearing it. If the answer is yes, then you’re well on your way to recreating the perfect grunge autumn look.

I will say that while researching and finding pieces good for grunge fashion, I found a lot of options online to be quite expensive. Because of this I think it’s perfectly reasonable to stick to the roots of the grunge movement which involved thrifting and DIY-ing your pieces. Not only is it more affordable that way, but it’s better for the environment and you get to exercise your creativity. A key part of alternative fashion has always been creativity as many different scenes from mall goths to punks and goths all started out by DIY-ing their own clothes.

Did we miss anything you think is important to mention about grunge fashion and having a grunge autumn? Tell us who some of your favorite grunge fashion icons are and your favorite ways to find grunge fashion pieces!

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