The History Of Grunge

Grunge is one of those trends that experiences frequent resurgences, and every time it comes back around we like to give it a new twist to make it fresh and exciting.  This season we love giving grunge an unexpected girly element by mixing florals with plaids, whether it is in the form of a boldly printed maxi dress or a sweater.  The core elements of the grunge trend, however, will always remain the same. So what exactly is grunge, and where did it come from? It’s history helps shed some light on the heart of this trend, which really comes down to one thing – attitude.

grunge fashion trend

Grunge refers to a genre of rock music that emerged out of the Seattle area in the mid 1980s.  There is some dispute over who originally coined the term, but it is generally attributed to Mark Arm of the band Mudhoney.  The genre is characterized by its distorted guitar with heavy feedback effects, a fusion of punk and metal sounds, and angst-ridden lyrics.  Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains were some of the most successful of the grunge movement, which also carried over into mainstream popular culture in films like “Singles” and “Reality Bites.”  Those who exemplified the grunge movement shared a general feeling of disenchantment with society, and a “who gives a f*ck” attitude that was carried over in their music and also how they dressed.  When you think of grunge style, Kurt Cobain is easily one of the first who comes to mind.  Without even trying, he pioneered a style of oddball dressing that was so against the norm that it became its own fashion trend, characterized by ripped denim, baggy flannels, mis-matched prints and colors, old oversized sweaters, beanies, and dirty sneakers. Yet somehow it works, and the statement – of being a complete individual who can’t be bothered by what is trendy or considered ‘normal’ – became a trend in and of itself.

kurt cobain

Steven Meisel Grunge and Glory 1992



kurt and courtney

kurt cobain quote

Maybe it’s because I was a child of the 90s, but every time this trend comes around again I feel so nostalgic for that era, the attitude, and the music. Listen to a playlist of some of my favorite grunge music below – and tell us in the comments, do you love grunge as much as we do?

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10 years ago

This makes me so excited for the colder months. I love, love, love grunge. Prints and military boots? Please!

10 years ago

I have the same, it makes me feel nostalgic in a good way. Nirvana was my number one band when I was 16 years old, although Kurt Cobain had already past away then. Still love the way of dressing too!

10 years ago

I love the who gives a F attitude that I’m seeing in fashion lately. Pink/purple/blue hair, unique makeup, mix match feminine and tomboy. Be yourself and don’t bat an eye. Self expression isn’t a matter of the ego, it’s your way of saying thank you for this life! XO
<3 Annejelina

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10 years ago

I LOVE this era and style! I’m very “Lou” in the way that I dress, and I also channel my inner grunge when I wear the tomboy look! I don’t mind wearing a cute dress with dirty converse and an oversized flannel. Combat boots and distressed boyfriend jeans? YES PLEASE! I also love listening to these bands when I’m feeling a particular wave of teenage angst… <3

10 years ago

Love this piece!

what font is that on the photos? is it handwritten? love it!

10 years ago

Nirvana was my first concert when I was 16 years old & I was heartbroken when Kurt Cobain died. I love seeing styles come back around with a modern twist. I have always loved babydoll dresses worn with army boots & oversized sweaters & jean jackets. Timeless comfort, let it rock ladies.

10 years ago

I live in the grunge style. Everything from checkered shirts to leather jackets and baggy tees are my favourite. my favourite combo is a pair of vintage levis with tights paired with a band tee and my leather jacket. I am a huge music fan and listen to alot of rock/alternative music which i think is what influenced me to dress the way i do and also my interests. Most of my clothes are dark in colour. Black, denim and maroon and grey is basically my wardrobe. It really helps show individuality in a person i think because every season it comes around something new is added to it! glam grunge is something im loving at the moment the tartan dresses and cut out boots are my must have for this fall! :)

10 years ago

One name comes to mind…. Chris Cornell! Im writing grunge lyrics. Learning grunge guitar riffs, and my hair is almost there. “Trying to be someone you’re not is a waste of the person you are” – Kurt Cobain
I believe that Attitude and angst make a survivor out of the humiliation.