The Best of Women's Grunge Fashion and Its Must-Haves

Modern fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even outfits that seem to belong entirely to this decade have ancestors in the past. At thoroughly modern fashion label emmer & oat, one of the past trends we take inspiration from is 90s women’s grunge fashion.

We can’t thank the fiercely original grunge musicians of the 90s enough for creating this highly affordable, easily attainable, non-fashion fashion look. Grunge may have a reputation for being individualistic and just plain cool, but the trend actually got its roots in the idea of NOT trying. That’s something we can get on board with. A well-coordinated grunge outfit can also look just plain sexy. What more could an on-the-go modern gal ask for?

With just a few grunge items in your closet, you’ll always be ready to throw together a super cool daily power outfit or comfy concert-going look. In this post, we’ll talk about how to dress grunge by incorporating some basic, versatile women’s grunge fashion pieces into your closet.

velvet top and distressed jeans

1. Distressed Denim Jeans Or Shorts

Casual distressed pants—whether baggy or skinny, barely ripped or barely intact—are a staple of grunge fashion. Though distressed jeans are often associated with teens and celebrities, we maintain that everyone, of any age, can pull them off. You just need to find a pair that is as bold or subtle as you are. Go for giant cutouts or put practicality first: even a tiny rip at the knee conveys lots of energy and defiance.

Pro tip: to embody the classic women’s grunge fashion look, pair destroyed jeans with a baggy band tee, flannel shirt, and Converse sneakers. If you go for destroyed denim shorts, try layering them over fishnet stockings!

fur-lined flannel shirt

2. Plaid Flannel Button-Down Shirt

Flannel is the perfect piece of outerwear for transitional weather. It’s extremely versatile—you can wear it buttoned up (preppy), unbuttoned (to expose the top you’re wearing underneath), or tied at the waist (in true grunge fashion). We love that there are so many plaid styles available, from muted to eye-catching, cute to edgy. There’s a flannel out there for almost everyone. Find a plaid flannel shirt that works for you, and you’re halfway to perfecting the art of grunge.

Pro tip: pair your flannel top with bottoms and shoes in simple patterns to keep your outfit low-key.

3. Slip Dress

Grunge fashion isn’t always slouchy and form-concealing. Slip dresses, which made their ascent to the fashion stage in the 90s thanks to lady grunge influencers such as Courtney Love, are a sexy dress style that you can and should try mixing into your repertoire. Though often modeled on women with slight frames, slip dresses can actually look great on women of any shape or size. You just need to find the right style for you. Slip dresses are definitely a must-try mainstay of women’s grunge fashion because of their easy-breezy vibe.

Pro tip: wear a slip dress on its own for an elegant look or layer it over a t-shirt for a more street-ready appearance.

black moto jacket for women

4. Leather Moto Jacket

Yes, casual sweaters for women are the classic grunge top, but we definitely wouldn’t want you to underestimate the style power of a motorcycle-ready leather jacket. Whether you’re typically an edgy dresser or not, this kind of jacket can add lots of power to your look. There’s something about the hard lines and boyish design. It introduces an interesting texture to juxtapose with softer textures, whether they be denim, cotton, or otherwise. It also adds instant style to any women’s grunge fashion look, even when paired with items that are laid-back or preppy.

Pro tip: want to wear this look without breaking the bank? Want to stay away from animal hide? Vegan leather now looks more realistic than ever. You can find some such styles in our jackets collection.

5. Combat Boots

It would be impossible to talk about how to dress grunge without bringing up the combat boot. Sturdy and versatile, this shoe works with a variety of styles, from free-spirited bohemian to full-on punk. Choose a black or brown pair for classic grunge style. If you plan to do lots of walking in your boots, then definitely splurge on a high-quality pair.

Pro tip: women’s grunge combat boots aren’t just for winter fashion! Wear them in warmer weather with shorts and optional fishnet stockings.

Shop Modern Grunge Looks

Just as the grunge music of the 90s continues to inspire our lives and dance moves, women’s grunge fashion is also 100% here to stay. Every generation figures out how to dress grunge by adapting the easygoing, wallet-friendly look to their needs. If you’ve got grunge style tips of your own to offer, we’d love to hear them from you in the comments below!

Grunge style is always trending at emmer & oat, where we offer fashion-forward looks in very wearable casual styles. Shop our newest finds now to inject your closet with a boost of effortless cool!

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