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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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
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
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 sneakers—very '90s.
Black On Black
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 is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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