Embrace Indie Sleaze This Spring With Our Favorite Grunge-Inspired Outfitting Tips

Indie sleaze is back, and the grunge-inspired fashion style will be seen on and off runways this year. In case you're wondering just what on earth indie sleaze is, you're definitely not the only one. "Indie sleaze feels very vague but also super specific at the same time. It's American Apparel ads, flash photography, Urban Outfitters, Ed Banger records, Nylon magazine, and Myspace," Ilia Espialidi, a video editor from Greece who loves dressing in 2008 fashion, tells Harper's Bazaar. "I love how random and tacky it is," she adds.

Even though the original 2000s indie sleaze was inspired by the '90s, its current renaissance finds its roots in the hipster fashion of the late 2000s. "The Hipster movement had this 'I don't really try hard' mentality (but is really trying hard to achieve that look)," wardrobe stylist Brandon Nicholas H. tells InStyle. So get those plaid shirts out of the back of your closet, and get ready to be a comfortable maximalist this spring!

Stick to darker colors

Since indie sleaze has roots in '90s grunge, it makes perfect sense that the fashion style prefers darker colors. However, this doesn't mean you can't have fun pieces in brighter shades — this is just a general rule to follow. A bright piece here and there is totally fine, as long as most of your outfit is on the darker side. And if you are looking for colors that suit the indie sleaze trend, think of jewel tones: sapphire blue, amethyst purple, ruby red, and emerald green.

Plaid is everything

A plaid button-up was the staple of 2000s hipster fashion, and in the '90s, no grunge outfit was complete without tying one of these around your waist. For spring, rock an oversized plaid button-up instead of a jacket, and if you're worried about looking too casual, put on a fancy dress or top and skirt combo underneath.

Rock oversized jackets

An oversized jacket is an indie sleaze staple — you can throw it over anything, and you don't have to worry about bulkiness. We recommend going for an oversized leather jacket, something you can easily find at thrift shops. If leather isn't your thing, a denim one will emulate a similar look.

Go for maximalism

Maximalist fashion is currently having a moment, as well, and with indie sleaze, it's possible to explore both of these trends at once. This means you can add multiple accessories and layer your clothing to create a super busy look — just make sure the end result doesn't look perfectly put-together. You want your outfit to be slightly mismatched to give off that effortless vibe.

Incorporate feminine pieces

Even though this trend is primarily about boxy silhouettes and oversized clothing, you can still mix in feminine pieces. In fact, a summery floral dress will end up looking super edgy if you throw a black leather jacket over it and pair it with some classic combat boots.

Think of '80s punk

Apart from the '90s, indie sleaze also draws some inspiration from the punk era of the '80s. This means that ripped jeans are not optional — distressed denim is a must. And if you don't have any distressed denim pieces, you can also DIY them. All you need are scissors, tweezers, and a bit of patience.

Get inspired by '90s grunge

The '90s grunge style was a huge influence on the fashion industry, and while it had its comeback in the 2010s — with indie sleaze, it's coming back in an even darker and edgier edition. Think of the '90s classic "The Craft," and look for inspiration in vampy punk looks; you want to emulate a subtle witchy look.

Keep adding accessories

Accessories were a huge part of the '80s punk, '90s grunge, and 2000s hipster eras. Indie sleaze is no different, meaning you should layer your necklaces, bracelets, rings, and rock hair accessories — and if possible, add a belt. If you're concerned it's too much, it probably isn't, so add more. Once you're sure it's too much, that's when you're in the indie sleaze zone.

Mix and match patterns

An easy way to make your outfit seem busier without going overboard on accessories is to simply mix and match patterns, like plaid on plaid. While there are no rules for this, if you are intimidated by the trend, we recommend staying within the same color palette at first. Apart from that, going for one smaller and one larger pattern can give the outfit more balance.

Get inspired by school uniforms

Indie sleaze also dabbles into the '90s and 2000s school fashion — think of Britney Spears' iconic "...Baby One More Time" music video. An easy way to incorporate this into your look is to rock a classic schoolgirl skirt, but instead of pairing it with a button-up, add a turtleneck with a graphic tee over it.

Rock some denim

It's clear that denim is a big part of indie sleaze, but head-to-toe denim is reserved for the brave ones who want to take this trend to the next level. Think of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in their all-denim outfits at the 2001 American Music Awards — but in a darker blue color and with fewer rhinestones.

Boots are a staple

Indie sleaze pairs with any shoe, but the most classic choice will always be a chunky boot, preferably in black. The classic shape was a major part of both '80s punk and '90s grunge, which makes it perfect for this trend, too. If chunky boots aren't your thing, the next best option is a pair of Chuck Taylors.

Explore DIY fits

This trend thrives off of unique pieces, and often those are created at home by cutting tops and trying to figure out new ways to wear clothes you already own. Of course, the internet is filled with tutorials, and one idea we particularly like is making a sheer top out of an old pair of black tights.

Dress like you're headed to a rock concert

Music was a huge part of all punk and grunge, and in the 2000s hipster scene, artists like Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes played a huge role. Since punk and rock music are the sounds behind this fashion style, dressing like you're headed to a rock show at your local pub is the best inspiration to nail indie sleaze.

Hit up thrift shops

Since indie sleaze is all about reinventing three major fashion styles from the past, the thrift store is the best place to look for items that encapsulate it. Apart from the fact that the pieces will be unique, they will also end up costing a fraction of the price other stores might be charging. And if you're worried about these items looking worn out, we're here to tell you that is exactly what indie sleaze is about — worn-in pieces that have a story.