Fairy grunge, the aesthetic that took TikTok by storm last year, is making a triumphant comeback in 2023, but with a fresh twist.
This year’s fairy grunge iteration comes with a whimsical yet edgy mix of fairy-tale-inspired motifs and ’90s punk vibes.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the captivating world of fairy grunge; what it is, the best styles and outfits, and where to shop.
What is Fairy Grunge Aesthetic?
As the name suggests, fairy grunge is a modern aesthetic that mixes Fairycore and Grunge aesthetics.
Just like cottagecore and dark academia aesthetic, fairy grunge has become very popular on TikTok and Instagram over the past couple of years.
The aesthetic also had a few major moments on the big stage, particularly when Paris Jackson walked into People’s Choice Awards ceremony in her “Grunge Fairy Core” outfit in 2021.
Fairycore – also called Fairy Core, Faecore, or Fairywave – is an aesthetic exploring the natural theme of butterflies, soft fluffy animals, flowers, and a bit of magic.
Having fairy and elf mythology at its center, Fairycore has the vibe of springtime.
Grunge – also known as the Seattle sound – is an alternative rock genre and subculture that emerged during the mid-80s in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Grunge aesthetics fuse punk rock and heavy metal elements such as visuals of vinyl records, cigarettes, black color, and neon lights, and were very popular in the mid-90s.
The style – thrift clothing worn in a loose, androgynous style aimed to de-emphasize one’s silhouette – was popularized by music bands Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains.
Kinderwhore vs. Fairy Grunge
Initially, fashion critics described the fairy grunge aesthetic as a natural evolution of the Kinderwhore aesthetics but with an ethereal twist.
Kinderwhore was a clothing style inspired by 90s fashion and popularized by a few US-based female grunge bands.
Coined by music journalist Everett True in a 1993 interview with Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, the term ‘Kinderwhore’ was used mainly by the media and musicians of those times.
”When I started Kinder-whore it was more of a ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ kind of thing, But with an ironic angle. Now, I think, I’m TOUCHING some psychosexual aspects of rock music,”
said Courtney Love in a 1994 interview about her fashion choices.
However, compared to fairy grunge, Kinderwhore has a profound sexual vibe.
The Kinderwhore look consists of torn or ripped tights, low-cut babydoll dresses, slip dresses, Peter Pan collars, chokers, chains, barrettes, knee-socks, and chunky combat boots, or t-bar ”Mary Jane” shoes.
The look is completed by overdone makeup, red lipstick, bleached blonde messy hair, and heavy dark eyeliners.
Tones and Themes
As an aesthetic so close (at least visually) to Fairycore, fairy grunge borrows many nature-inspired elements, from textures to colors and even styles.
The most predominant colors in the fairy grunge aesthetic are dark, earthy tones, hence the mistake with the “Fairy Goth” aesthetic.
The choice of neutral natural colors can best position the fairy grunge aesthetic as the ‘darker version’ of Fairycore.
It would also mean that the grunge side of this aesthetic is ignored, and that’s not right – not to mention the difference in patterns, styles, and cuts.
Given that the fairy grunge aesthetic is based on nature’s elements, the primary visual themes incorporate, as expected, natural colors, styles, and textures.
Some of the essential fairy grunge aesthetic visuals in 2023 are:
- Rocks, stones
- Forests, woods
- Earthy highlands tones
- Night skies
- Walking paths
- Autumn leaves and similar pastels
- Abandoned houses
How to Dress Fairy Grunge? Best Aesthetic Outfits
Most common garments, accessories, and pieces of apparel you’ll need to construct your fairy grunge aesthetic include:
- Oversized T-shirts and hoodies
- Layered or plaid skirts (either long or mini)
- High knee socks
- Fingerless gloves and leg warmers
- Corset belts
- Fishnets or mesh tights
- Platform shoes (Demonia or Mary Jane styles)
- Mittens gloves
- Large stone jewelry
- Fairy wings and elf ears accessories (not always)
Right now, the most popular fairy grunge sets are oversized shirts under lace cardigans, black skater dresses in chunky boots, and midi skirts with ripped tights.
The colors must be a mix of fairycore (pastel pink and green) and grunge, l(grey, black, beige, purple, and ivory)
In this section, I’ll detail each of these fairy grunge aesthetics and guide you on where to find and order yours.
Skirts and Tops
To achieve a fairy grunge look, you can mix and match skirts, tops, and sweaters that embody the whimsical elements of fairycore with the edgy, rebellious vibe of grunge.
Go for a layered tulle midi skirt in pastel colors like lavender, baby blue, or soft pink to create a romantic fairy-like feel.
Add the grunge element through distressed details (make a few tears in the skirt) or by edgier tops and accessories.
Or go for a maxi skirt in darker shades like dark brown, navy, or dark green and pair it with a lace top or an oversized fairycore T-shirt.
Gloves and Leg Warmers
Gloves and legwarmers are must-have complementary items for any fairy grunge outfits.
Distressed, torn, or fishnet fingerless gloves bring in the grunge vibe while maintaining the fairy element with their intricate patterns.
The best fairy grunge legwarmers are made of wool with lace detailing.
Combine them with chunky platform boots or combat boots to achieve the grunge vibe.
The aesthetic primes chunky style shoes.
Go for combat boots in black or dark colors, a classic grunge staple.
To add the fairy element, look for boots with embroidered floral patterns, lace-up details, or heart buckles.
You can also add sheer lace or tulle socks to soften the look.
Also, you can wear Mary Jane shoes with chunky platform heels with details in pastel shades like baby pink, lavender, or mint green.
To add a more grunge vibe to it, you can match them with fishnet or lace tights.
In a fairy grunge look, you can ”over-accessorize” as much as possible.
Go for handmade necklaces and earrings made from glass beads, pearls, clear quartz, and charms in fairycore style.
Combine delicate fairy-inspired necklaces, like those featuring moon, star, or crystal pendants, with edgier, chunkier chains or chokers to add a bit of Grunge to the look.
The best fairy grunge bags are mini backpacks, messenger bags, or crossbody.
Go for a messenger bag in dark or earthy tones like black, deep green, or burgundy with distressed details, frayed edges, or grunge prints.
For crossbody bags, go for a combination of pastel and dark colors with fairy elements like lace and embroidery in floral or wing patterns.
Best Fairy Grunge Clothing Stores
Now that you know how to nail the fairy grunge aesthetic, let’s discover the best online clothing stores which you can buy fairy grunge clothes and accessories from.
These are the best 11 online stores in 2023 for affordable yet stylish fairy grunge clothing (thrift included ;). Shopping time!
Shein is one of the largest online stores to stock fairy grunge clothing in several categories.
Expect t-shirts, bottom-down shirts, blouses, sports shirts, and skirts – lots of skirts.
There are many fairy-Esque, woodsy, dark, and classic grunge clothes in green, brown, grey, black, and beige.
Also, this is the place to shop if you are looking for fine dark art or goth clothing.
A leading online store for a wide range of aesthetic clothing, YesStyle is quickly becoming an excellent source of high-quality fairy grunge, cottagecore, vintage, and goblincore apparel at affordable prices.
EMMIOL is a sustainable and stylish women’s fashion brand renowned for timeless, trendy, and ethically produced collections.
From vintage-inspired dresses to modern blouses, EMMIOL creations cater to fashion-forward women who value quality, comfort, and a unique style.
Depop is an online marketplace for second-hand fashion through which you can discover unique and quality Fairy Grunge items.
The online app operates within a global community of celebrities, sellers, and buyers, making buying and selling fashionable second-hand apparel more diverse, inclusive, and less wasteful.
Etsy is an American e-commerce company focused on handmade or vintage clothing items and craft supplies.
These items fall under various categories: jewelry, bags, clothing, home décor and furniture, toys, art and craft supplies, and tools.
As such, given the construct and the aim of the marketplace, you can find some of the best Fairy Grunge aesthetic clothes here.
And, if you can’t find anything to match your style, there are thousands of sellers waiting for your indications to start a custom-made order.
6. FREE PEOPLE
While Free People specializes in women’s clothing and vintage collections, the brand’s latest trends for women are focused on fashion, travel, and art.
As such, the company has a lot of fresh Fairy Grunge aesthetic clothes you can choose from.
You can enjoy various products such as jackets, crop tops, jeans, and maxi skirts, among many other similar styles.
To top it up, Free People has free standard shipping for orders above $100 if you live in the United States.
ASOS has a great offering of modern Fairy Grunge clothing.
As one of the few fashion online stores, ASOS recognizes the importance of freedom of expression and being adventurous through fashion experimentation.
The online store is also committed to sustainable fashion by supporting independent and local designers.
Moreover, the company’s support team is always ready to help you regarding the style you want to put together, your fit, or the different sizes of the brands they stock.
UNIF is a great Fairy Grunge online store known for offering a wide range of clothing for men and women at low prices.
The ordering process is transparent, the customer service is excellent, and you’ll find lots of attractive discounts for placing your first order if you search online.
Whynotus is a unique online shop for Fairy Grunge fashion of all kinds of looks and international styles.
Inspired by experimental paintings and movies, the company combines various cultural trends and styles in its super-original clothing.
10. THE MOUNTAIN
The Mountain is one of the best online shops for sustainable Fairy Grunge collections.
Each piece from The Mountain tells an ethical and eco-friendly story in the form of bold designs on hand-dyed apparel.
The company’s integration of art into sustainable apparel has turned it into one of the best tools of self-expression for conscious consumers right now.
11. TUNNEL VISION
Hailing from California, Tunnel Vision’s clothes are either designed in-house or collected from vintage collections and sold on their website.
The brand’s original Fairy Grunge designs are ultimate statements that’ll make you look great and stand out from the crowd.
While the Fairy Grunge aesthetic is simple to put together, there are certain stylistic elements you have to respect and follow, giving this aesthetic unique flavor and beauty.
Above all, the Fairy Grunge aesthetic can be appended to clothes, accessories, shoes, and bedroom décor for a holistic ”fairy grunge” environment.
Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!
Now it’s your turn…
Are you a pure Fairy Grunge aesthetic lover, or do you prefer to blend your style with other aesthetics? If so, which ones?
Are you more on the Grunge or the Fairy side (look-wise)? Why?
Which one of the Fairy Grunge clothing brands (and stores) in this article or stores have you tried and would recommend?
Are there any other great Fairy Grunge aesthetic online stores you know and trust and want us to add to this article?
Do let me know in the comments box below, please!
A University of Oxford graduate in Design History, Katherine Saxon is researching arising TikTok cultures from a consumer psychology perspective while covering emerging aesthetics in fashion and beauty for TheVOU, Forbes, Business Insider, and more.
Who researched this? Grunge iconography in the ‘90s had nothing to do with neon or cigarettes. These are elements added in the last few years by bored girls on photo apps. We all smoked in the ‘90s, absolutely no-one was romanticising it or associating it with *aesthetics* because it was just a thing people did. Want an authentic’90s grunge look, try pine forests, tie-dyed long johns, and mud. Check out an album cover or two. Do a little bit more googling next time and those of us who were there will take you seriously.
I actually find the article spot on, and here’s why. I’m a 70s kid and grew up in the 80s listening to grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Melvins in my parent’s basement.
The basement was a neon lights paradise, and we smoked and banged our heads every day. We had no idea what grunge culture was, but rock music, neon lights, alcohol, and cigarettes were some of the coolest things in our lives.
We also had no idea what aesthetic meant either – not that we cared tbh; we dreamed of becoming rock stars one day, copying everything they did.
Every t-shirt, jacket, jeans that resembled that look was praised in gold. We even used to make our own clothes, based on what we saw on tapes and MTV.
And talking about tie-dyed clothes, there’s more neon color in there than in any garment I can think of. About the mud and the pine trees, yeah, maybe it is part of the fairy element, so I won’t comment on that. Overall and without sounding disrespectful, no matter how much Googling you’re going to do, you’ll never be able to understand the times we actually lived in.
So trust me when I say it, this article is pretty bang on. Hey, author, thanks for resurfacing some long-lost memories!
I’ve been trying to find a decent online store that sells fairy grunge outfits for some time now. Most clothing stores are selling either very grunge clothes or very fairy clothes, others are confusing fairy grunge with fairy core or cottage core, and so on. So, finding an online clothing store that sells genuine fairy grunge apparel has been an almost impossible task until I found this article. Excellent article with a superb curation of genuine brands and clothing stores that sell fairy grunge styles and aesthetics. One more thing – I’d really appreciate a shout-out to one of my fav fairy grunge labels right now. Minga London. I am not affiliated with the label, I just want to help with the style awareness and give them some support via your fashion magazine. The label is mingalondon.com, please check them out. Lots of love <3
Why is the fairygrunge style getting so popular right now? What’s the reason? Does it have anything with the war in Ukraine?
augh, i’ve seen this aesthetic a bunch of times but i could never find any good stores that sell the clothing (and room) stuff for fair prices, but this article helped me sm, thanks 🙂
– rain <3
Quite a strange combination this is, on paper, but in reality, the fairy grunge mix looks fantastic. Can someone recommend some dedicated stores in New Mexico, please?
I run a leather jacket business and tend to comment on all related articles, hoping to leave my business link behind or get some people to see us. But, after reading this article, I have to make a genuine comment, and that’s because I think I should create some leather jackets in the fairy grunge style, I think they’ll look amazing. I am open to any suggestions, style, aesthetic, and color wise.