How To Recreate Kurt Cobain’s Iconic Grunge Look

Published on October 30, 2013 by Guest Author

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Last modified March 20, 2014

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The sadly departed Kurt Cobain was more than just an iconic rock star who was part of one of the most influential bands of all time – he was an inspiration to young people all over the world. His lifestyle and music touched the hearts of millions, but he was also an unwilling fashion icon. His style epitomised grunge fashion in the early 90’s and teenagers, even now in contemporary fashion styles, are mesmerised by his slacker look.

Kurt Cobain

The grunge style which Kurt subscribed to, perhaps not even consciously, has inspired the clothing choices for many youngsters all over the world, even long after his sad passing. Looking back at iconic photographs of the tortured soul reveal that Kurt always looked effortlessly cool, no matter what he wore. That same cool look still feels refreshing today in a culture where retro style is highly valued.

So, here’s a little breakdown of the kind of grungy clothes Kurt wore that will allow you to create your own grunge revival style.

Second Hand Clothes

Part of the grunge aesthetic was in getting clothes that looked tatty, worn and barely cost anything to get. Many teens who loved grunge and alternative rock bought clothes second hand from thrift stores, not just out of necessity but because it boosted their anti-fashion credentials of not caring about what they looked like. Kurt had this same view, and many of his clothes were bought simply because he liked them, not to make any kind of statement or follow a trend. This same care, or lack of, is needed when emulating Cobain’s look, so get looking through charity stores for unloved clothes that need a new home.

Baggy Sweaters and Cardigans

Kurt is usually pictured wearing some sort of baggy sweater or cardigan in many of his pictures, including his iconic MTV Unplugged performance, again for the same reasons as listed above. They’re relaxed, comfortable and easy to get a hold of second hand. Cardigans and sweaters always go in and out of fashion, but to get really authentic grungy clothes it needs to be old and second hand. Even if they look like they would be worn by your grandparents, that’s exactly the kind you should be going for.

Stripy Tees

Kurt was a big fan of stripy tees and often wore them, sometimes over long sleeved tees. He wore them both long and short sleeved, and it’s not hard to pick up your own. Just about any high street clothing store will sell striped shirts, but you don’t need to go overboard in getting one that’s too fancy or expensive, because Kurt sure as hell wouldn’t care.

Plaid Shirts

Plaid or lumberjack shirts were commonly worn by grunge kids, as the origins of the scene lay in Seattle where it can get pretty cold during winter time, so the shirts were worn more out of practicality than as any kind of fashion statement. Kurt of course followed suit, his band being at the forefront of grunge music. Plaid shirts like his can be found almost everywhere, since it’s been a well-received retro look, but if you really want to be authentic, go for the nattiest and cheapest looking shirts only the burliest of lumberjacks would be seen wearing.

Obscure Band T-Shirts

Music was of course Kurt’s greatest passion in life, and he made a point of letting everyone know his exclusive taste in unfashionable bands. One of the most iconic images of him features his wearing of a t shirt from singer songwriter Daniel Johnston, who at the time was a cult act. The simple act of Kurt bringing the world’s attention to him gave Johnston a huge boost in credibility. Obscure band T-shirts should also be a part of your ensemble, so make sure to brush up your knowledge of indie bands.

Torn Jeans

Most of the jeans Kurt was ever pictured in were all battered, distressed, faded and torn. Whether this was a deliberate fashion choice or not, it didn’t matter, because it always made him look cool and boosted his slacker rockstar credentials. You can already buy pre-torn or distressed jeans, but it’s less faked to either allow your jeans to deteriorate naturally into that state or rip them purposefully for a natural look.

Battered Converse Shoes

Although there was a slightly tasteless ad campaign featuring Kurt Cobain wearing the iconic shoes, it’s no secret that he often wore Converse sneakers for real. Converse were very much a part of the grunge makeup of slacker clothes because of their affordability, casual style and hardiness. The brand is still cool today, so it’s not hard to find a decent pair, but you can add a grungy layer of authenticity by getting them a little dirty and allowing them to fray.

Kurt Cobain’s fashion, or anti-fashion as it was more likely to be, is remarkably easy to emulate and even today still stands as one of the coolest and most iconic looks to ever be conceived. So revamp your wardrobe with grungy clothes for an effortlessly cool style and perhaps you could become a cult anti-fashion icon yourself with all your friends.

Ian Rafferty is a keen music blogger and big fan of grunge fashion.

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