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Getting the '90s Fashion Grunge Look for Men

CEO Tinh Phung
Last Updated on April 8, 2023 The original word "grunge" was used as slang to describe dirt, grime, or sludge. But language is flexible, and over time, the meaning of words can change. This is...

Last Updated on April 8, 2023

The original word "grunge" was used as slang to describe dirt, grime, or sludge. But language is flexible, and over time, the meaning of words can change. This is exactly what happened to grunge. In this article, we'll take a brief journey through the history of the grunge scene and explore tips on how men can reproduce this iconic look.

Where did "grunge" come from?

The first noted usage of the word "grunge" in the sense we know today seems to come from a 1981 letter written by Mark Arm, the vocalist of Mudhoney. He referred to his band at the time, Mr. Epp & the Calculations, as "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure s***!" Later on, record label founder Jonathan Poneman used the word to describe the Seattle music scene, not just the sound but also the fashion associated with it.

Mark Arm - Mudhoney Mark Arm - Mudhoney

Grunge & Fashion

Grunge made its way into mainstream culture with the release of Marc Jacobs' designed collection for Perry Ellis. This collection included iconic grunge clothing pieces like plaid shirts, army boots, and graphic tees. Although met with criticism due to the high price tags, Jacobs undeniably influenced the world of fashion by elevating the alternative look to a new level of luxury.

Though trends come and go, grunge never completely disappeared. You can still find "grunge" clothing pieces in thrift stores and charity shops - old jeans, band tees, cardigans, and heavy boots. Students and musicians continue to embrace the grunge aesthetic, blending it with their own unique style.

Grunge Fashion

The Outfit

If you're inspired by the look of the late '80s and early '90s, take notes from some of the best-known celebrities of that time. Kurt Cobain, Johnny Depp, River Phoenix, and Will Smith are just a few names associated with the grunge fashion of the '90s.

Celebrities rocking the grunge look

To achieve the grunge look, consider incorporating these essential clothing pieces:

Graphic shirts

Band tees and skater-inspired prints are a staple of the grunge style. Look for faded or "faded" shirts for a retro touch.


Simple and versatile, Kurt Cobain popularized the look of Breton shirts. Their neutral colors make them easy to pair with any outfit.


Lumberjack shirts add a rugged charm to the grunge aesthetic. Look for slightly worn-out or faded options in second-hand stores.


Oversized and carelessly worn cardigans are reminiscent of Kurt Cobain's iconic style. Opt for larger sizes for that loose, laid-back look.

Army Jackets

Affordable, warm, and cool, military-inspired jackets are a must-have for complete grunge attire. Consider patching them up for a personalized touch.

Denim Jackets

Pale, ripped denim jackets are another classic choice for the grunge look. Experiment with denim-on-denim or mix them with other shades and colors.

Biker Jackets

High-quality leather jackets add an edgy and timeless touch to the grunge style. A good investment that will last for years.


Though not typical grunge items, windbreakers were hugely popular in the '90s. Their unique look and lightweight feel can give your outfit a retro edge.

Cargo pants

Slim-fit cargo pants offer a modern take on the '90s grunge style. Ditch the baggy oversized ones and choose a more tapered fit.

Ripped Jeans

Ripped jeans are an essential part of any grunge wardrobe. They add a rebellious touch to any outfit, and you can find them easily in stores today.

Baggy Jeans

Embrace the '90s oversized vibe with baggy jeans. Opt for a more tapered fit to maintain a modern look.

Heavy-duty boots

Combat boots like Dr. Martens, along with Vans and All-Stars, perfectly complement the grunge aesthetic. They add a touch of coolness to the overall outfit.

Trapper hat

For winter weather, a trapper hat not only keeps you warm but also adds to the grunge aesthetic. This lumberjack-inspired hat is a favorite of Jared Leto.

Clout goggles

Made famous by Kurt Cobain, clout goggles have remained stylish since the '90s. They come in various color shades and can be personalized to match your style.

Kurt wearing clout goggles

Additional Tips for Fashion Enthusiasts

For those looking to personalize their grunge look, here are a few extra tips:

Make the look your own

While it's natural to seek inspiration from grunge icons, it's important to stay true to yourself. Emulate the vibe rather than copying the specifics. Experiment and mix up outfits to create your own unique style.

Have a DIY project

Personalize your clothing with patches, doodles, or custom elements. Let your creativity shine and add a personal touch to your grunge outfits.

Experiment with the fit

Grunge fashion allowed for experimentation with gender norms and fashion boundaries. Feel free to play with the fit of your clothes and incorporate traditionally female pieces into your wardrobe.

Final Words

Grunge fashion is about simplicity, comfort, and self-expression. Base your look on your own preferences and don't let others dictate your style. Embrace the grunge aesthetic with confidence and remember, life is too short to wear boring clothes.

Featured image source: MrJamesAckerley / Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)