Follow College Fashion on Twitter!

College Fashion Trend: ’90s Grunge Style Revival


1990s grunge style
Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

Many of us may not have been a part of this trend the first time around (I know my ’90s elementary self wore only rainbow leggings and jelly shoes), but the iconic grunge style of the 1990s is back with a vengeance! Whether you are a fan of this look or not, trendsetters everywhere have been rocking everything from Doc Martens to acid wash denim to bowler hats recently.

If you want to add a little 90s rock ‘n’ roll edge to your spring wardrobe, look no further than the outfits below!

1. The Little Grunge Dress

vintage grunge dresses
Photo Credits: 1, 2

The easiest way to add a touch of grunge to your look is with an essential LGD. Not just a term from your econ textbook (snore), in this case it stands for a little grunge dress. Many retailers have been bringing the style back this season, characterized by its babydoll-style fitted top and flared skirt. Try one in a floral print or even a romper style (which is also making a big comeback).

Of course, one of the best places to find a perfect (and authentic) LGD is a vintage or thrift store. Both of the dresses above are vintage, and many others I’ve found have the cutest details like button fronts, corset backs, and and lace fabric. If you don’t live near any vintage shops, however, don’t fret! Places like Etsy and eBay always have quality vintage items for sale. Try pairing your LGD with some Doc Martens, a bowler hat, and ripped tights for a truly retro look. Or keep it charming like the first look and just wear the socks.

How to wear 90s distressed florals

Product Information: Dress- Miss Selfridge, Over-the-knee socks- Modcloth, Hat- Village Hats, Earrings- Forever 21, Bracelet- Forever 21, Boots- Zappos, Socks- Miss Selfridge.

2. Faded Denim Pieces

faded denim
Both photos from

Denim and chambray are everywhere this spring, so this is one of the easier ’90s trends to find. Look for pieces in light or acid washes, like cropped vests, high-waisted cuffed shorts, and the ever-versatile jeans jacket. Wearing shorts over tights can be tricky to execute, however, so stick to tights in a neutral color like black for maximum impact. Keep the rest of your outfit simple and try to pick shoes in a neutral color as well to look effortlessly cool instead of a trend disaster.

A cropped vest looks great thrown over a romper with floral-printed sunglasses and gladiator sandals. The modern pieces enliven the outfit and keep it from looking costume-y.

How to wear faded denim

Product Information: Vest- Shopbop, Sandals- Urban Outfitters, Romper- Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses- Modcloth, Purse- Modcloth.

3. The Plaid Shirt

plaid shirts
Both photos from

What grunge look would be complete without a plaid shirt, popularized by Mr. Kurt Cobain himself? Look for one in classic red tones with a relaxed or slouchy fit. Then throw it on over a tee, dress, or under a jacket as shown above. However you choose to wear it, let your inner punk shine through with devil-may-care accessories and twists on classics like these sequined houndstooth sneakers.

How to wear plaid

Product Information: T-Shirt- Target, Shorts- Forever 21, Sneakers- Zappos, Plaid Shirt- Buckle, Tights- Hue, Both Necklaces- Rachel Roy.

What do you think?

Are you loving the grunge flashback trend, or do you think it should stay in the ’90s? Do you think shorts can be worn with tights? Would you ever wear a bowler hat on campus? Let us know your opinions!

Posted on on April 18, 2010 / Filed Under: Trends / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

44 Responses to “College Fashion Trend: ’90s Grunge Style Revival”

  1. 1
    April 18th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Great post! The distressed florals are absolutely my favorite. It’s so hip and fun. I love the 90’s grunge throw back.

    I really wish I had caught onto the Doc Marten trend before they got so hot again, they’re expensive even on ebay now a days! Does anyone know where I can get some for cheap?

  2. 2
    April 18th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    YES! I love 90s grunge, and I’m so glad it’s coming back! It’s always been a minor bit of my own personal style.

  3. 3
    April 18th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Love it! One of the best posts I’ve read lately!

  4. 4
    April 18th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    great news grunge is back
    that means plaid shirts are hot again…love plaid

  5. 5
    April 18th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    oh my god, this post is literally my style in 3 easy steps!!
    i wrote a post today here ( on plaid shirts, and this week I have outfit posts sporting little grungey dresses with lace up boots and denim waistcoats and jackets.
    absolutely adore this post- one of my favourite ever!!



  6. 6
    April 18th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    also- i’m wearing shorts and tights right now!!
    i wear them all the time!!
    It’s a huge thing over here in the UK- it’s way too cold to wear shorts without tights in the winter. everyone wears shorts with tights over here!!



  7. 7
    April 18th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I love how you used two of Meggstatus’ outfits in this post, she really does bring back the 90s style in the modern sense! She’s an awesome blogger and I like how you’re bringing my childhood era back. :D

  8. 8
    April 18th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I love the 90s grunge look! I really am so glad it’s back. The girl wearing the flannel buttoned in the middle with a nude dress (or slip) underneath it is so cute!

    An idea for another post…can you show us how to do socks with oxfords, flats, and heels? I love it but am terrified to try it!

  9. 9
    April 18th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I am not a fan of grunge but I do like some of its elements. I love the interpretation of the distressed denim because it’s not so literal. Just because I like my denim clean, I will probably substitute chambray pieces to get the look.

    The plaid is pretty!!! I love how it toughens an otherwise very girly dress. As for the first look… I am still on the fence about it.

  10. 10
    April 18th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Yay I love this!! I’ve been trying to sneak 90’s pieces into my outfits lately, but living in Oklahoma makes it a little tough to be adventurous and not get crazy looks lol!

  11. 11
    April 19th, 2010 at 12:38 am

    as usual great post! i love Jill’s idea above for a post about wearing socks! I’m sorta curious as to what u guys will come up with :)

  12. 12
    April 19th, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I love grunge. Thank god there is something better than nautical out there. Long live ripped jeans, messy hair, and dirty converse!

  13. 13
    April 19th, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I’m not a fan of the grunge, especially in spring…it seems like more of a fall/winter look.

    I’m going to go for more of the beachy and preppy look :P

  14. 14
    April 19th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    OMG I loved this post!!

    I totally love the grunge style especially it looks great on blondes!
    Love it !

  15. 15
    April 20th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    i love this style. it’s definitely one of my favourite things, florals. and i love the look of 90’s florals. i recently bought a chambray shirt and i’m so looking forward to wearing it for the rest of spring, and then ditching the boots and wearing my florals with sandals for summer.

  16. 16
    April 21st, 2010 at 2:46 am

    I have always loved the essence of this style, and it’s nice to see some pieces making a comeback–although, acid wash denim is not one of them… I do love floral dresses, though!

    As much as I love some of the trends of the past, I wish that this generation could come up with more original trends. At a certain point, all of these comeback trends just feel like I’m playing dress-up, and that’s not what I want fashion to be, even though it can be fun at times.

  17. 17
    April 21st, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I take some things from this look and leave others. I like the floral dressed and feminine jean jackets. I do not like the ripped leggings, acid washed jeans, and plaid shirts though. But I didn’t like that stuff the first time around either. Sorry but I think it just looks trashy… and I’ve never been into the “I’m trying so hard to look like I shopped from a dumpster while not actually shopping from a dumpster because it makes me cool… type of look.

    My bad.

  18. 18
    April 22nd, 2010 at 8:56 am

    So cute! I love the tights with the shorts. And the houndstooth sneakers and the chambray were awesome ;) .

  19. 19
    April 22nd, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I am soooo loving the ’90s grunge style revival!! It’s become a big part of my look right now and it’s making the ’90s my favorite decade fashionwise even more than the ’60s!!

  20. 20
    April 24th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Ha! These are awesome picks! I’m actually old enough to have worn this stuff the first time around in jr high and HS (should I admit that??)… It reminds me a lot of Blossom :) I don’t think it’s necessarily a great idea for me to go full on for the trend again (whole ‘if you were old enough to wear it the first time around, you’re too old to wear it again’ rule?), but I love these pieces you’ve picked and I think adding one to a modern outfit is a great option for us out-of-college gals! :)

  21. 21
    May 6th, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I’m a bit late on this (only discovered it now), but thanks for the mention! x

  22. 22
    May 11th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Having worn all this stuff in college, then taken it to the city streets in a half-baked office look that always involved the floral dresses, big blazers and clunky Fluevogs, I find this revival so funny! I got rid of the dozen or so rayon floral dresses ages ago, but I do still have the ‘vogs. Maybe I’ll try to dust a pair off for causal Friday. Don’t forget to visit the army surplus store for anything baggy w/pockets, and peg your pale blue jeans!

  23. 23
    May 12th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    i like this fashion
    is good!

  24. 24
    June 20th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    originally, i was not digging the grunge revival. before doing some intense research, it seemed that the 90s didnt really have much character. it seemed sloppy and disgusting, and frankly, not something i was looking forward to wearing. however, now i see that the revival differs a little from the original grunge. it seems a little more feminine and a little less…hobo-like, i guess. im not a huge fan of shorts worn with tights, but im willing to give it a shot. as for the bowler hats, im not too sure…i desperately need some doc marten-like boots! it would be amazing if you could suggest some cheaper versions of docs that i could buy. great post!

  25. 25
    July 20th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Muito adorooo os anos 90 e seus modelitos!!

  26. 26
  27. 27
    August 10th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I was in high school at the height of grunge and I didn’t have a lot of money back then. Doc Martins were not in my budget so I ended up getting black combat boots for cheap at thrift stores along with my flannel shirts, old jeans, worn in t-shirts, and 70’s vintage crochet vests. I borrowed some jewelry from my mom that she had kept from the 70s and everyone always complimented my style! The whole appeal of grunge was that it was eclectic, fun, funky and affordable!

  28. 28
    August 21st, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    I love this article! I was hoping to find the name of those sandals that I loved back then….mid to late 90s, black leather, chunky sole with a buckle. I want to say that they were by MIA but I just cant remember. They were sooo comfy and I wore them with everything!!! Glad I kept my docs!!!!

  29. 29
    November 14th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    OMG I love the grunge trend especially the floral dress!!! I need a plaid shirt ASAP!

  30. 30
    March 17th, 2011 at 8:56 am

    …the red and black lumber jacks- with the hat to match.’

  31. 31
    March 22nd, 2011 at 6:47 am

    i love vintage grunge…..lov dem lov dem lov dem

  32. 32
    September 26th, 2011 at 4:08 am

    I remember grunge, there are some elements who are not in the right style, the bags or the too much feminine details, the hats are definetely not grunge but 80’s, total denim is 80’s. shorts are not grunge

  33. 33
    May 6th, 2013 at 3:08 am

    YES! I love 90s grunge! I clicked on the link and saw how much you paid for your dr Martens. That’s a lot of money. I got mine for £50. Also I have searched in charity shops and vintage shops but can still not find an oversized denim jacket. I have seen the ones online but they cost to much. Please help!

Links to This Article

Leave a Reply


* Comment Rules: CF is a positive place and our comments section is no different. Constructive criticism is fine, but if you're rude, we'll delete your comment. Please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name and do not put your website in the comment text, as both come off like spam. For more info, see our Comment Policy. Have fun & thanks for adding to the conversation!


* Want a custom avatar to show up next to your comments? Sign up for a free Gravatar.