Thursday, 9 February 2012

Styles of Goth fashion: grunge Goth

(As requested by a reader on Twitter.)

At first glance, grunge and Goth may not always seem the likeliest of bedfellows, particularly if your only previous exposure to this brand of alternative rock has been bedraggled mallgoths in Nirvana T-shirts. The low-maintenance, typically-unkempt appearance of grunge bands and performers does not automatically sit alongside the image hyper-groomed, swirly-eyelinered Victorian and romantic Goths with every inch of spare skin decorated in lace and make-up.

But those of you who have seen younger Goths clad in Nirvana merchandise may well understand how newbies often make the connection between Goth and grunge - grunge music incorporates influences from both punk and metal, and typically features lyrics riddled with angst, alienation and disillusionment. On music forums, more than a few Goths have noted that they enjoy listening to 'classic' grunge bands, such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden (who were, notably, inspired by British post-punk bands such as, you guessed it, Bauhaus), Alice In Chains and Mudhoney.

Source: We Heart It via DeadlyArt
The fashion crossover between Goth and grunge is most often seen amongst younger Goths, although some Goth females continue to be inspired by the likes of Courtney Love into their twenties and beyond. Grunge fashion for all genders primarily consisted of durable fabrics and thrift store clothing combined with a general attitude of throwing on the nearest thing that smelt clean and didn't have too many holes in - that is, function over form. Not an attitude taken by many in the Goth scene, but for those of a practical bent who prefer to jump up and down at sweaty punk and deathrock gigs rather than ponce about taking artsy photos in graveyards. In many ways reminiscent of punk ethics and an emphasis on music over fashion.

Some elements of grunge fashion adopted by grunge Goths include:
  • layers of clothing, often baggy, and in the case of Goths with a (very) strong tendency towards black. Goths are more likely to add deliberate rips and accessories like fishnets and safety-pins as an indicator of their musical roots.
  • ripped denim, again usually black for the Gothically-inclined, possibly with added patches.
  • vintage-y tea dresses, possibly floral, often torn and usually worn with shredded tights and combat boots.
  • baggy cardigans, probably with holes in.
  • Doc Martens, army surplus boots or steel-toed work boots.
Men's style usually ranges more towards the casual, with layers of baggy, worn clothing and untidy long hair, possibly accessorised with a couple of badges, patches or pins. Ladies are more likely to up the ante on glamour with smudged black eye make-up and perhaps a slash of red lipstick.
Courtney Love
Source: Google
Music associated with this style includes grunge (obviously), punk, trad-goth and post-punk; Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Scarehead, Lydia Lunch, The Stranglers, Iggy Pop, Nico, Patchwork Grace, Hole.


Abigail said...

Oh, I love Bauhaus, Siouxsie and Joy Division! :)

SaryWalrus said...

I love Grunge, with it's cross over into Riot Grrrl. Hole is such an amazing band in my opinion!

Maggie said...

I used to be very inclined towards grunge in my early teens, so that may explain why I still tend to go for ripped, distressed clothes and Doc Martens rather than velvet, lace and Victorian boots.

Anonymous said...

I like to include some grungy influnces in my outfits especially in winter- when I'm wearing my Doc MArtins so that I don't slip on the ice!

I like to include outsized stipy jumpers (dark grey and black) or dishevelled looking knit items and keep the feminiity with a touch of lace, pretty jewelry and/or a petticoat.

I'm 21 now, but I did love grunge bands when i was a teenager and I'm still a huge fan of post-punk and early goth.

Dani DeathBiscuit said...

Oh wow, this just explains me.

I was very, VERY heavily into Nirvana when I was discovering Goth for the first time!
I owned a lot of tartan skirts and flannel overshirts ><

Only recently did I buy Docs...
But wow, I love Courtney, she's bloody amazing! - that is not a good photo of her, hahha :D
Was looking forward to seeing Hole in concert butttt they cancelled. POOP.

I'm a sucker for a babydoll dress!
Riot Grrl all the way x

Minakitty (Mary) said...

Another item of clothing I often see with the grunge tag is black lace dresses, which I've worn forever and will to my grave.

I do get a kick out of the old Courtney photo when she was a young goth in the 80s! ;)

akumaxkami said...

Interesting, but I would have liked more photo reference. I'm curious as to how this would actually be pulled off!

Nightwind said...

I used to like Pearl Jam and I suppose that I still do. At least, I liked some of their older stuff. I can't say that grunge has ever influenced my style of dress though. I just considered it good rock music.

ultimategothguide said...

akumaxkami - you and me both, I'm so wary of copyright nowadays! Off the top of my head, the best I can do is present to you Sary's take on kinderwhore (as popularised by Courtney Love).

Amaranth L Rayne said...

I'm a grunge goth! I usually add long skirts into the mix, though. I also dress in gothic Kinderwhore from time to time, too.

Katherine :) said...

I'm more into elegant Victorian styles but this sounds nice :)

Cupcake.on.Crack said...

I love kinderwhore, i have a dress In my closet I am already eye balling.... It has potential!

The poor thing is scooting away from me :)

Anonymous said...

I experimented with a Grunge/RiotGrrl Goth look a bit in high school. I basically wore dark color flannel over black clothes, or a black babydoll dress over ripped blue jeans with a ton of those little plastic kids barrettes in my hair. Good times.

Schadenfreude said...

I'm a little late to this party...

Thank you for writing about grunge-goth! We're a pretty underrepresented group in the gothic panoply.

I would tend to disagree with the observation that it's mostly younger goths, however. In my experience, it's the babybats (a word I use with affection) who tend towards meticulously put-together Victorian inspired outfits and sleek modern gothic rock and the older goths, those of us who grew up with punk and grunge who fall more on that side of things. Perhaps this is a difference between British and American goths? (I'm from Boston.)

I'd also say those bands that straddle the murky line between punk and goth are also definitely favored-- the Damned (I saw them in concert, best night ever), early Christian Death, and Alien Sex Fiend, for example.

Again, thanks for including us! Sometimes I sit in my ripped tights and my mohair and read about all these pretty lacy things and feel left out. Haha. <3

Anonymous said...

Schadwnfreude your just fashionably late.

That was a pretty good observation. Los Angeles is the same way. :) Although there seems to be a bigger psychobilly and rockabilly scene than goth here.... Maybe it's just where I'm at.

I love psychobilly and rockabilly.

Lunar Blue said...

i always called myself grungy goth or feral goth. i was never, ever, ever into corsets, perfectly applied makeup (actually none at all), lacy whatever. I was always the pick up what is close to me, wearing clothes until they actually wore out. besides being super poor most of my life, I never had the desire to have a bunch of clothes. I'm gonna be 30 this year and my style hasn't changed in like 18 years.. wow.

Anonymous said...

Is grunge goth like what you would classify the style of goth that's popular on tumblr right now (which I've also seen dubbed nu-goth)?

Amy Asphodel said...

Very similar; I did do an article on that style a while back:

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