I started going to to shows and seeing live music when I was twelve. Back then I was really into emo, so a typical outfit was a T-shirt, hoodie, bootcut jeans, and chucks. And it pretty much stayed that way through high school.
Toward the end of college I discovered the Riot Grrrl movement of the ‘90s and the second wave of it happening in Seattle. So I started going to a lot of shows again. I tapped into my inner Andrea Marr from Girl and wore lots of mini skirts and dresses with thigh high socks and chunky black oxfords.
There was a few years after college where I didn’t really go to shows at all. I’d just kind of fallen out of the Seattle music scene. But for the past couple years my boyfriend has been playing in this incredible band that’s a little Bikini Kill a little Le Tigre. And they play shows at least once a week, so I’ve been reinitiated into the Seattle DIY music scene. But so much has changed since those college and post-grad year when I was going to a lot of shows. I felt more authentic in the scene then. I’d just come off of working on a book about the history of the legendary K records, I was writing about music at Seattle Weekly, I was listening to a ton of underground music, I was being creatively courageous. And maybe most importantly, I wasn’t make a lot of money.
It’s weird re-entering the scene because in a way the scene feels exactly the same. Like the scene hasn’t changed but I have. I’m a lot less awkward, I dress a lot better, I haven’t stayed on top of discovering new music, I work a relatively conventional job now and make decent money. And up until recently, I wasn’t doing anything creative in my own time. It made me feel like a huge square or a narc being around all these cool starving artist types.
And I struggled with figuring out what to wear since I’ve gone through a few phases since graduating from college of wanting to look more “grown up” and like a “young professional” and purging my closet of all my fun and “immature” clothes. Once, toward the end of college while I was working an internship at Seattle Weekly, I was walking in my neighborhood on my way home, wearing a orange floral polo shirt, a navy blue mini tennis skirt, black tights and flats and this homeless lady yelled at me and told me to “grow up” and “stop dressing like a fucking child.” Sometimes I think about that and it still stings. But then I remember this quote Kathleen Hanna gave in a profile The New York Times Style Magazine:
The release of “Revolution Girl Style Now” has provided occasion for Hanna and her bandmates to revisit their movement-defining early-’90s performance wardrobes, as well. “I love fashion, and I don’t see anything unfeminist about that,” she says…In the early days of riot grrrl, the “grrrl” was of the utmost importance, she explains; second-wave feminism had successfully reclaimed the word “woman” but had left girls out, and many of her onstage style choices sprang from a desire to salvage a specific kind of girlhood. “I had a very dysfunctional family, and I felt very numbed-out for much of my childhood, and I felt like I missed a lot,” she says. “I always wanted to be a girl scout, and I didn’t get to be a girl scout! So I went to the thrift store, and luckily, I’m 5-foot-4, so I could still fit into a large Girl Scout outfit. And I wanted to be a cheerleader, so I got a cheerleader skirt, and I mixed it with a punk rock shirt.”
I, like Kathleen Hanna had missed out on a lot of my childhood. And I’ve been having fun incorporating a bit of girlhood style into my outfits for shows, parties, and going out. So this past year, I’ve been accumulating a lot of fun ‘90s/’00s pieces from Depop, Poshmark, ThredUp and eBay. Like a BCBG pink faux snakeskin mini skirt, a Victoria’s Secret bright purple and teal mini chemise slip, and a Free People periwinkle glittery mesh top.
And I’ve been mining 90s Riot Grrrl style, Tavi Gevinson’s style during the height of Rookie, and Hayley Williams for inspiration.
Babes in Toyland
Thora Birch as Enid in Ghost World
My boyfriend’s band is playing a show tomorrow night and it’s loosely Halloween themed, so here’s what I’m planning to wear:
Auditioning for the role of Prota Zoa’s girlfriend in Zenon
I’ve always found dressing for shows and concerts so hard. To balance cute, girly, fun, and at least a little bit practical. Sometimes I do feel overdressed and worry that other people, but mostly other girls will judge me, but I love when I see other girls having just as much fun with their style at shows, so I just try to channel my inner riot grrl and just do my thang. Hopefully this helps gives you some inspo for your upcoming shows.
Go reclaim your girlhood.