From Grunge to Go-Go

From Grunge to Go-Go

ginny tonic

It may come as a surprise to many of you that despite my love of elaborate and revealing costumes, I am actually not very well versed in the womanly arts. If you had met me at aged 16 you would never have believed that the girl in the combat pants and baggy band shirt would one day be the Ginny Tonic you see before you know. Hell if you run into me at the grocery store you probably would have the same level of shock. On the other hand however, if you had met me at aged six I think you would not be at all surprised to see that I have grown into a woman who spends an inordinate amount of time in fringe hot pants.

That’s me in the middle. Every picture of my childhood involves me posing like this.

As a little girl I LOVED playing dress up, demanded party dresses for my everyday wear, and worshiped the movie princesses who wore beautiful gowns and married the prince. One of my earliest and happiest memories was being the flower girl in a friend’s wedding when I was three. I wore the most beautiful dress in the world and got to walk down the aisle with everyone watching me. The poor ring bearer was about eight and was less than thrilled when I decided that he was my date for the night. I asked him to dance with me repeatedly at the reception and his mom thought it was so cute she kept making him do it. I can still remember the feeling of that night; I was sure of myself and of my charm in way that I don’t think I’ve approached since.

Believe it or not, this was from my cool years in high school.

Of course as it usually does, age and maturity came along and ruined all the fun. By the time I was in junior high I had retreated in the opposite direction. Like a lot of quiet, bookish girls I decided that since there was no way that I would be able to achieve popular-girl status I would preemptively reject conventional standards of beauty and social status. High school got better each year and by the time I was a sophomore I discovered that I could hang out with the “skater” kids, wear baggy flannel shirts with no make-up, and still be considered cool. I grew my hair long before cutting it all off, listened to a lot of classic rock and girls with guitars style music, and starting buying all my clothes from the thrift store. The confident little princess of my youth was long gone.

This brand of alternative non-fashion worked well for me throughout most of my twenties. Almost imperceptibly, time passed and gradually I went from purple hair and combat boots to mousey brown and loafers. I settled down, got a job that didn’t involve putting books on selves and steadily gained weight over the next several years after college. During the lowest point of this dark period I was wearing my mom’s hand me downs. But like an alcoholic, sometimes in the world of fashion you have to hit rock bottom before you admit you have a problem. For me that moment was walking in front of a shop window, catching myself in the reflection and realizing that, at 28, I dressed, looked and acted like a 40 year old. My twenties were nearly over and I had wasted them.

So I did what I had to do. I started running and obsessively watched what I ate for a summer. I lost about forty pounds and that resulted in my having to buy a whole new wardrobe. My style was, and still is, more focused on comfort and ease of use than frills and sexiness. But at least I was starting to dress my age, not twenty years above it. Then I was introduced to the world of Steampunk and suddenly I had a legitimate excuse for wearing the kind of outfits that would have made my six-year-old-self swoon. As I explained in a previous post, after so many years of assuming that my body and my personality would not be appealing to people, I was thrilled to start discovering that I might have been wrong on both counts. Once I got into Steampunk everything else just kind of fell into place. One thing led to another and the next thing you know I’m in Go-Go boots or a corset at least one night out of the week.

ginny tonic

Clearly I got over my fear of eye-makeup.

This is not to say that the transition as been completely smooth. I frankly hate the process of getting all dressed up. I love the results but when it comes right down to it I am lazy. I have re-embraced my love of dresses and skirts but the truth of it is that these articles of clothing are easier and more comfortable to wear than jeans, in addition to looking much better. One of the biggest problems is that because I spent my formative years adhering to a grunge/hippy aesthetic I am now completely at a loss when it comes to doing hair and make-up. I have had to teach myself what little I know about these subjects but it’s like learning a second language as an adult. I don’t think I will ever be completely fluent. I wouldn’t trade my years of grunge for anything though. If I had gone the path of girly-girl in high school there is a good chance that I would not have become a critical thinker. I am much more confident and grounded because I spent years without giving my appearance a second thought. And confidence, as I learned when I was three and have had to slowly relearn as an adult, is the thing that makes you truly beautiful.

7 Responsesto “From Grunge to Go-Go”

  1. Lola says:


    It’s wonderful to finally become confident and love yourself “in your own skin”, isn’t it?

    I for one admire you more than you will ever know, my beautiful steampunk, corseted, smart & bookish, brilliant go-go sister. You have more brains, wit and sexiness than the average girl could ever hope of achieving. It only comes with age and experience.

    I should forward this to all the young girls… there are some important lessons here that only come with experience, age and confidence.

    Much love, hugs and admiration,

    • Ginny says:

      Thank you Lola! You are absolutely one of my role models when it comes to smarty, sexy, confident women. Plus you are super creative to boot which is an area I would love to develop more in myself.

  2. Sir Ernest says:


    It was a delight to read how you became such an amazing woman of style. I think many of us who didn’t quite fit in throughout our teen years found solace by dressing and hanging with the outcasts, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I myself was heavy into the whole grunge look and still hold onto parts of it. However, it is great to wear your best and look wonderful. I think everybody should have the chance to look wonderful and be appreciated.

    I also agree with Lola about that this should be shared with young girls who lack the confidence.

  3. Kara says:

    Having known you since first grade (right?) I’ve loved seeing your style transformations. And for what it’s worth, I’ve always considered you one of the most confident women I know (especially in high school)—and have looked up to you for that—whether you actually felt that way or not. :)

    • Ginny says:

      Aww thank you Kara. I belong to the fake it until you make it school of confidence but I have to say that it has gotten much easier in my thirties. And might I say, I am honored that a nationally published blogger is reading my writing :)

  4. Momma Mollie says:

    I LOVE reading your blog and seeing how you are continuing to grow as a woman. I gasped at the picture with your sibs…totally forgot that one…but that pose….oh yeah…that’s my girl!

    Sorry you wore my hand me downs (forgot about that one too) but glad you finally got it together to run and lose the weight, and, in return, pass your hand me downs on to me!

    You are still my shining star, in full make up and go-go boots, or wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Keep on reaching and growing….and sharing your journey with the world. 😀

    • Ginny says:

      Double aww! Thank you so much mom. I learned so much about how to be a fun, caring and amazing woman from you. You are the most loving person I know.