Grunge Outfits That Grown-Ups Can Wear

I never outgrew flannel.

girl wearing plaid red dress and leather dress
(Image credit: Future)

I don't know about you, but I never really outgrew (most of) the music I listened to in high school. That means that I still, without an ounce of irony or shame, have moods during which I exclusively blast Nirvana, Hole, the Stone Temple Pilots, Hüsker Dü, and so many of the other grunge bands that took over the alternative rock scene during the '80s and '90s. And while grunge no longer dominates the charts, its sound and the laid-back, irreverent fashion that it ushered in remain timeless.

So, if you want to get in touch with the style you once wore at the height of your teen angst—but you're also trying to avoid looking like a 14-year-old—I have you covered. Take a look at some grunge outfit inspiration for grown ups, so that you can pay your tribute to Kurt Cobain without seeming like you just rolled out of bed.

Plaid with Leather Accents

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girl wearing long plaid black and white shirt

(Image credit: Future)

Flannel is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about grunge style, but you also probably associate it with that perpetually disheveled-looking, guitar playing kid with long hair that you once sat next to in homeroom (just me...?).

Now that we're adults, we're a little more focused on looking put-together than we are on looking cool—but there's no reason to have to choose! Pair your plaid with a form-fitting top or leggings to contrast its loose fit, or opt for a short plaid dress that you can pair with thigh-high boots. And for a contrast in fabrics, pair your flannel with a leather jacket, bag, or shoes. The overall effect will have you feeling like a rock star all day long. 

A Baggy Band Tee

girl wearing band tee shirt and plaid jacket

(Image credit: Future)

A band tee is the most straightforward way to show your love for a band, and with the current resurgence of Nirvana and Ramones tees, these outfits are right on trend. Throw on a t-shirt that reps your favorite band, and pair it with a loose skirt for the baggy silhouette that defined the grunge fashion era. As for your jacket, throw on loose-fitting denim, leather, or flannel for a classic look, or simply drape it over your shoulders so you show a little more skin. 

To top off the 'fit, throw on a pair of sneakers (like Vans or Converse), and you're good to go.

Baggy Denim on Baggy Denim 

girl wearing layered denim

(Image credit: Future)

Grunge is all about the oversized pieces and nondescript silhouette, and its denim outfits are no exception. Grab a pair of baggy jeans, match with a flannel or loose button-down, and throw a denim jacket over it all to match. Bonus points if you tack on a pair of dad sneakersvery '90s.

Black On Black

Courtney Love

(Image credit: Future)

Who better to take grunge fashion advice from than lead singer of Hole and former Mrs. Cobain, Courtney Love? Love was known for pairing feminine elements like skirts, tulle, and her signature red lip with edgier features like leather, ripped clothing, and graphic tees. Take a note from her playbook and spice up an all-black ensemble with mixed fabrics and bright accents. 

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at