Despite spending most of the late 80s and early 90s in a drug-addled state of nonchalance lead by the music scene, Kurt Cobain was able to secure himself a spot in the style icon ranks. Even long after his unfortunate demise in 1994, the 90s grunge look still lives on. While his time with Nirvana curated some of the most fashion-blind teenage fans of all time, Cobain was an icon for a reason. His enviable disregard for neatness or polish soon became the new ‘cool’, and everyone was trying to imitate it. Now we’re finding modern iterations of the grunge era popping up in menswear. While we’re not encouraging you to rock up to work in a ripped, thrift-store knit and a ciggy between pursed lips, you can embrace that grungy edge in a way that’ll keep you your job and your girlfriend.
Kurt Cobain’s signature piece has got to be the baggy knit. Both jumpers and cardigans were the order of the day in world of Cobain styling. The presence of rips, stains and any evidence of a riot simply enhanced the cool points in the eyes of the grunge crowd, and the baggy fit engulfed Cobain’s slight frame in true rock-and-roll style. If you’re a vintage lover, you’ll nail this look simply by swinging past your local op shop and having a good rummage. For the squeaky clean, try bypassing the torn signs of dishevelment. Stick to the oversized, draped look in dark, rustic tones for a rugged, care-free aesthetic.
Rarely seen in outerwear, Cobain usually relied on his knits or open shirts as his layers. That said, a structured leather jacket or a Harrington coat would be your closest neighbour when keeping to a grunge style itinerary. Nothing too tailored or ‘put-together’. The more ruffled, the better.
Never one to conceal his knees, Kurt Cobain’s denim collection was almost entirely ripped – you know, the kind of thing your Grandma complains about, usually served with a poor joke about whether or not you got a discount for less fabric. Ripped denim has certainly made a comeback in recent years, and the beauty of this style is being able to choose the level of sabotage that suits your image. A light scuff would better suit the discerning gent, while those that are no stranger to the rock ‘n’ roll scene – and all it entails – can scale up and show off a little more uber-manly leg hair. Oh yeah.
For a more modern solution to the Cobain ripped jean, try a slimmer fit with a canvas leisure shoe. The baggier the fit, the more you blur back into the 90s. Err on the side of contemporary to keep your style on track.
One of the simplest ways to channel your inner Nirvana, is with Cobain’s cheeky collection of graphic t-shirts. Not one to shy away from a controversial slogan, he was often spotted pairing a boldly unassuming t-shirt and a baggy open shirt in place of outerwear. To avoid raised eyebrows at dinner with the in-laws, skip the offensive graphics and stick to a more subdued tone. A brand logo or simple graphic will suffice, paired with a slim black jean for a contemporary take on the 90s. Just throw on some old-school Smells Like Teen Spirit for ultimate ambiance.
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