Kinderwhore grunge fashion guide

Kat Bjelland


Our kinderwhore fashion guide details how to get the authentic grunge kinderwhore look popularised by Courtney Love and Kat Bjelland. Clothing, makeup and more.

You don’t really see much Kinderwhore fashion nowadays. Maybe it’s because of the implication that it twists the supposed style of innocent young girls  through a warped looking glass of sensuality….

The origins of kinderwhore style

Kinderwhore goes back to the mid to late 1990’s and was a style used by female grunge and punk bands. Loud grrrl bands like L7, Jack off Jill, 7 Year Bytch and Babes In Toyland were pigeonholed as “kinderwhore” bands, a media term for the babydoll dress fashion popularised by Kat Bjelland from Babes in Toyland and Courtney Love from Hole. Who actually takes credit for the kinderwhore look is up for grabs. Some believe Courtney Love started the whole thing. Others believe Kat Bjelland started it and Courtney made it popular. Whatever you choose to believe is completely up to you.

Kinderwhore fashion basics

Kinderwhore is basically just as it sounds: A sexualised twist on childlike clothing. It’s usually characterised by babydoll dresses, torn stockings, heavy makeup, mary jane shoes or heavy boots. Oftentimes the clothing is torn to give a grungy feel. This image is easy to achieve and won’t cost much. What, you thought that the female punk bands who came up with kinderwhore were going to spend what little money they had on clothing?

1. Go to your local charity shop / thrift store and search for dresses.

Babydoll dresses are usually short (above the knee is most accurate). Any style is usually okay; just do what you feel comfortable with. The key is to look childish, so be sure the dresses you choose have a kiddish feel to them. Perhaps look for a-line smocks with bows or lace or big round collars.

2. Stockings, tights and socks are easy to come by and even easier to rip and tear holes in.

Getting a friend to do it is also fun! Black is a good base colour – also consider grey, or white. White tights and stockings look great with a red babydoll dress. If you want to go with simple patterns like stripes and polka dots, knock yourself out. Layering tights, such as having torn fishnet tights over a plain base pair of tights, is also a good idea, especially in warmer weather. I’ve actually worn leggings under tights because the winter was too much. If you layer your tights, you’ll most likely get an air of street urchin about you.

3. Mary Jane shoes have a classic childlike feel, with a chunky badass edge. Or… biker boots.

Basically any shoe with a T-bar strap is acceptable. Heels are usually non-existent or are very low and chunky. Heavy leather boots in a biker style are also common. Any colour you choose is up to you, black goes with anything, so does pink and white. If you’re more daring you can do bright red or other rainbow colours.

Kinderwhore makeup tips

As far as makeup is concerned you should be a bit careful how far you take things. If you know anything about little girls playing in makeup you’ll discover their tendency to muck things up. Even though your goal is to be childish, this is where the maturity comes into play.

  • Dark eyeliner is a must. I don’t know any girl who doesn’t have a stick in her collection. Be sure to wear it thickly. If you want to, go for other colours like blue or violet – or any colour for that matter
  • Rosy cheeks are a typical characteristic of the little ones, so use that blush!
  • Mascara and eyeliner go hand-in-hand; use at your discretion
  • Leaving the lips untouched is just fine. Light shades of pink or peach are good ideas for starters. If you want to go bold red like Courtney Love, do it! Smudged and smeared lipstick with little care in application is a huge part of the kinderwhore look.

Kinderwhore hairstyles

  • The Classic Two Ponytails- usually worn high on the head. Think of Bubbles from the Powder Puff Girls
  • A head full of curls – think of Shirley Temple or Annie
  • The classic All Pulled back with a Headband and Bow
  • Two Low Ponytails
  • Curls of any sort are welcome!

Kinderwhore hair accessories

  • barrettes
  • headbands
  • ribbons (usually undone)
  • clips of all kinds

I have to restate that fashion is all about what YOU want to do with YOUR clothes. These simple instructions are just guidelines to follow in case you get stuck. Don’t worry about what other people say and just do what works best with the look you want to achieve.

So put on those tights and get the hell out there.

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Main photo: Kat Bjelland