Aesthetics Wiki

Grunge is a darker, edgier style that is usually depicted these days with glitches, vinyl records, cigarettes, neon lights, and the color black (which is only loosely related to the original grunge). Historically, the original grunge movement has its roots in the 1990s hard rock scene of Seattle, Washington. It was a countercultural, anti-consumerism youth movement and musical genre that defined Generation X. Grunge fashion was made popular by bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, and was meant to be timeless and quite casual.


Grunge started in 1985 with Green River's album Come on Down, but it did not become mainstream until the 1990s with Nirvana's Nevermind. Grunge was most popular from roughly 1991 to 1997 and eventually lost its anti-consumerist philosophy. It can be argued that grunge began to decline in 1994, after the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, though the genre maintained popularity until about 1997 when Soundgarden broke up.

After the original grunge went out of fashion, it started to trail off into post-grunge, a type of commercialized radio rock that contained grunge influences, and overlapped with the Minivan Rock style. This included bands like Creed, Nickelback, Staind, Matchbox 20, Fuel, Puddle of Mudd, and the Foo Fighters (fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl). Due to its perceived low quality, post-grunge has sometimes been nicknamed "butt rock", an alleged play on the radio slogan "Nothing but rock".

Grunge started coming back into fashion in the 2010s and 2020s as '90s nostalgia began (an argument could be made that this led to the rise in prominence of Vaporwave as well). Grunge songs were featured on games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero which introduced them to a new generation of fans. This revival saw old staples of the original grunge scene making a return to popularity, such as Soundgarden with King Animal and Alice in Chains with Black Gives Way to Blue, and also led to some new grunge bands rising up the ranks, such as The Jins, Sun Puddle, and Wolf Alice. In addition to the music, grunge fashion also made a comeback, i.e. Pastel Grunge and Soft Grunge. The philosophical elements of the original Grunge movement were largely dropped in this revival, where people merely achieved the visual aesthetic of looking Grunge, often paying far more exorbitant amounts of money compared to the original Grunge style icons, who almost exclusively shopped at Thrift Stores.


A majority of Grunge's visuals involve a large amount of dirty, grimy imagery. These show a sort of hopelessness and disenchantment with modern society. A lot of earth tones and pale colors are used to convey this sort of cultural depression often associated with Grunge.


Grunge fashion of the late 1980s and early-mid 1990s was often purchased out of thrift stores at the time. Some will argue it was done out of a rejection of the fashions of the time. It's generally agreed that it's because it was cheaper as, at the time, most grunge artists were dirt poor. As the fashion became more mainstream, editor of men's magazine Details James Truman was quoted in 1993, "To me the thing about grunge is it's not anti-fashion, it's unfashion. Punk was anti-fashion. It made a statement. Grunge is about not making a statement, which is why it's crazy for it to become a fashion statement."

Men often wore oversized t-shirts, flannel shirts (that would be tied off around the waist when it got too hot), ripped jeans, and combat boots. These were considered timeless looks and were generally durable and reliable clothing to wear. Women tended to favor slip dresses, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, chokers, and the bell-bottoms/babydoll t-shirt was a popular combination as well. For more feminine, edgy fashion, however, there was also the Kinderwhore aesthetic, popularized by Courtney Love, who was Kurt Cobain's wife.



Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Official Music Video)

The music video that started a revolution (and ended a LOT of careers.)

The music of grunge was a blend of heavy metal sound and punk rock ethos.

Aesthetic Subgenres[]

Pastel Grunge[]

Pastel Grunge is an aesthetic that rose to prominence on Tumblr under the tags 'pastel grunge', '2014 tumblr', 'Lana del Rey aesthetic', and others. It's closely related to 2014 Tumblr. This aesthetic takes the edgier, more rough side of Grunge and other more hardcore aesthetics, and combines them with the softer, more romantic, and feminine aspects of styles such as Pastel Goth. It's also influenced by the Heroin Chic style of the 1990s, and, as the name states, Grunge.

Soft Grunge[]

Soft Grunge or Pale Grunge is an aesthetic based on simple photos with a color palette primarily consisting of white, grey, black, green, and blue. The aesthetic is believed to have appeared on Tumblr between 2013 and 2015. Some photos are intended to be sad-looking, often of someone suffering for love or with a '90s vibe, for example.


External links to help get a better understanding of this aesthetic.





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