The year Kurt Cobain died I quit my job in advertising and became a nanny.
His death had nothing to do with my leaving advertising for nannying. They just happened to occur in the same year.
It may come as no surprise to regular readers, but the King of Grunge didn’t impact my life much back then. It feels a little blasphemous to admit that as someone who became an adult in the 90s, but it’s true. I had my own depression and demons to wrestle with at the time. I didn’t need his too.
My playlist–a sample of which is below–was a mix of all kinds of music, old and new at the time.
My style was also somewhat eclectic, though I was influenced a lot by my Texas roots.
Wearing Grunge in the 90s and a Move to the Mainstream
Grunge style was a look marked by flannel shirts, distressed jeans, and Doc Marten boots. The more beat-up and second-hand something looked, the better.
Marc Jacobs took the style of grunge mainstream when he created a whole collection of it for Perry Ellis in 1993. It was a bit of a shock to the fashion world. Bernadine Morris from The New York Times wrote, “A typical outfit looks as if it were put together with the eyes closed in a very dark room.”
He was promptly dismissed from the design label after that.
Looking at his designs today, I really like them. I guess that’s how it goes, right? It seems weird when it hits the runways but 20 years later, it looks cool.
Going Grunge Over 40
When Diane of Fashion on the Fourth Floor asked me to join the Fab 40s as a guest blogger covering the theme of grunge, I sought out Marc Jacobs’ infamous collection as inspriation.
The outfit I chose doesn’t follow any of the rules of modern style, but it does follow the spirit of grunge in a big way, especially that part about looking as if it were put together with eyes closed in a very dark room.
::insert wicked grin emoji here::
If this outfit causes you to want to scratch your eyes out, know that it pushes boundaries for me as well. It combines patterns and textures I would usually never mix together. But I still somehow like it.
Besides being incredibly comfortable and warm for the wet chill that has settled over Seattle recently, I like the weird combination of colors and layers.
The sweater, although new, has an oversized look to it. That bulk fits with the idea that grunge had of being somewhat practical for life in the Pacific Northwest. My sweater was a purchase from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale earlier this year. You can find a similar one on sale here at Nordstrom Rack.
The dress is vintage and bought second-hand from Suzanne Carillo’s Etsy store. I’ve purchased several pieces from her shop–many of which will be featured in future posts. They are all in pristine condition. Her pieces are thoughtfully curated for quality and style and the prices are hard to beat. I can’t recommend her shop enough.
The cut of the dress is very 1990s, although as Suzanne pointed out, the pattern is very 1920s Art Deco. I love it when two decades come together in fashion.
The shirt also fits into the spirit of grunge because it was designed and handmade right here in the Pacific Northwest by Candace Jermaigne of Portland. This one has special little details, like a contrasting pattern sewn into the cuffs. It also tapers in slightly along the torso to create a hint of shape. I bought it at Sassafrass, my favorite Seattle boutique filled with locally designed and handmade fashion.
The boots are Eileen Fisher. I’ve had them for at least a couple of years. They’re pretty beat-up because I walk around the city in them all winter.
The “choker necklace” is actually a necktie I bought from another Etsy shop called SmithLab. This long, narrow piece of silk is incredibly versatile. I usually wear it as a bow, but in this case, I wrapped it around a couple of times and tied it in the back to create a choker. Sarah the designer, has a wide variety of colors, widths, and lengths.
My Sisters in Grunge
Below are all the ladies from the Fab 40s in their interpretations of grunge. Before I was invited to join the group as a guest blogger, I was already a big fan of Diane, Samantha, and Sheela. Having read up on the rest of the ladies and seen what they put together for this month, I’m diehard for all of them now. Together, they create a rich resource for style inspiration. They also set a great example of what it looks like when women support each other.
Diane – Fashion on the 4th Floor
Diane’s style is what I call Playful Chic. She has a knack for pairing sequined skirts with sneakers and making it look like they should have been together all along.
One other point about Diane is that she is stunning from the inside out. She is warm, full-hearted, and generous to all creatures, great and small. She’s always been a great cheerleader for me and others in the over-40 blogging community and, if that weren’t enough, she fosters rescue dogs until they’re ready to go to their new adopted homes.
Sweater Cardigan: Nasty Gal
Lace Dress: Forever 21
Studded Boots: Steve Madden
Charm Necklace: Red Pineapple
Sunglasses: Forever 21
Ann – Kremb De La Kremb
I am a new diehard fan of Ann from Kremb De La Kremb. She spent a chunk of her youth in Seattle, where I live now, but these days she and her hubby teach overseas. Her style is rich in colors and patterns and, similar to Diane, she has a playful side that comes through in all her outfit ideas. As I read through her blog, I find myself taking mental notes for styles I want to try. She really is the coolest!
From what I’ve read so far, Ann is open, honest, and confident in the best way. I read her blog and I find myself wishing I could hang out with her in person.
Earrings: Forever 21
Denim Jacket: thrift shop
Backpack: Urban Outfitters
Knee Highs: Forever 21
Jennie – A Pocketful of Polkadots
I am just dying over Jennie’s hair! Her style is just as beautiful and stylish. Like me, Jennie was an addict to wearing black and neutrals all the time before she had an aha moment and discovered how great color looks on her.
And doesn’t it just look amazing on her???
I’m having a little heart attack over her stunning hair.
Jennie’s style tends to be feminine and glamorous–but she does it on a budget! When I read her blog, I think of Hollywood starlets from back in the day who captured the world’s attention with great posture, red lipstick, and sparkle.
Jacket: Bisou Bisou, JCPenney
Dress: Glamorous, Shopbop
Boots: Life Stride
Earrings: Chelsea NYC, Steinmart
Mary – Curlybirdie Chirps
Mary had me hooked when I read her blog philosophy:
This 40 something mama believes that no matter your age, the size of your butt or bank account that we all deserve to feel fabulous when we walk out that door.
Mary creates swoon-worthy looks on a budget. Like all the ladies in this group, she is not afraid to use colors and patterns in her wardrobe. She is a lady of class and glamour. I follow her blog for ideas on creating sleek, feminine looks that don’t break the bank.
Skirt: Forever 21
Bag: Vera Bradley
Samantha – Fake Fabulous
I’m convinced Samantha has some great fashion spirit guiding her eyes and hands as she chooses different items to put together. I started following her blog almost a year ago and I never cease to be impressed and inspired by her ability to put together patterns, colors, and textures.
One of my big obsessions these days is combining styles from completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Samantha does this in her sleep. Just take a look at her cool grunge look — lace gloves paired up with a dino necklace and a top given new life from an old dress. This is why I continue to be a big fan of Samantha’s. She takes styling to an art form.
Hat: River Island
Coat: River Island (VERY old)
Shirt: Old charity shop find.
Boots: Caterpillar (older than the hills)
Lace Gloves: vintage
Leatherette Top: DIY from a dress.
Sheela – Sheela Writes
When I think about Sheela’s style, the word “fearless” comes to mind. And “rock star.” And “don’t mess with Texas.” Apart from the ability to swagger in 4-inch heels, this fabulous fashion blogger from Houston kicks it in edgy, fierce styles that set my imagination on fire.
Sheela says she hasn’t always been a queen of pattern-and-texture-mixing, but I’m not sure I believe it. Even when she wasn’t living out her full fashion potential, there had to have been signs that she was kissed by the angels of rock and roll style. For evidence, just take a look at her combo of black and blinged-out grunge.
Embellished Tee & Rhinestone Slave Bracelet: Courtney Love X Nasty Gal
Skirt: Free People
Embroidered Leather Jacket: Blank NYC
Heeled Combat Boots: Bakers
Choker: courtesy of Manic Panic NYC
Ring: House of Harlow
Tiara: indie store in Borneo
Lipstick: Opium Noir courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury
Veronica – Cid Style File
Veronica’s blog and style are fed by this warm and rebellious flame that draws me in like a moth to a…well…flame. She has that rare ability to create styles that reflect edge and softness at the same time. Just take a look at her grunge outfit below. She has this “don’t mess with me” vibe in the black-on-black-on-black and then she tops it with this teddy bear hug cardigan.
Veronica specializes in Plus-Size Fabulous on a Budget and her style is rich in color, patterns, great accessories, and lipstick to die for.
Fuzzy Sweater: Kensie
Slip Dress: City Chic
Boots: So Old forgot brand and its rubbed off! LOL
Purse: Rebecca Minkoff
Hoop Earrings: Avenue
Sunglasses: c/o Zero UV
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