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Stylish Men: Fashion Inspired by Kurt Cobain

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Fashion inspired by Kurt Cobain

There’s probably no other music figure in history that established an entire subculture the way that Kurt Cobain did. Kurt Cobain was the oh-so-talented frontman of Nirvana, who hit the airwaves in 1991 with their hit record “Nevermind” and notorious single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” among many others.  Kurt is often hailed as the spokesman of Generation X, and Nirvana is credited with launching the Seattle grunge movement. Kurt tragically died in 1994, but is survived by his daughter Francis Bean Cobain, who is quite the fashionista herself!

Granted, I realize the idea of this post might sound a little crazy — after all, the LAST thing on Kurt’s mind during his rise to fame was starting any kind of fashion trend — but looking back at the mindset and look of the era, it’s hard not to feel inspired.

Most of us are probably too young to have fully experienced the grunge era, but thanks to the recent resurgence of ’90s fashion trends, we can still channel a bit of the grunge look today. Think there’s no room for baggy flannels, ripped jeans, or corduroy in your wardrobe? I’ll show you how to rock it look like a pro!

(For more on Stylish Men, check out our posts on Mick Jagger, Andre 3000, and Freddie Mercury.)

Kurt Cobain

Elements of Kurt Cobain’s Style

  • Flannel. This is a no-brainer, but there’s nothing more cozy in the wintertime than a worn-in flannel shirt. Kurt wore his unbuttoned and untucked, but you can update the look by layering one under a sweater or pairing it with a crisp pair of skinny jeans.
  • Practical pieces. Kurt was a fan of corduroy pants and jackets, knit cardigans, worn-in jeans, and utility coats. When he got dressed in the morning, he was far more concerned with being comfortable and warm than he was with being stylish — which ironically became the most defining style movement of the era!
  • ’90s shoes. Grunge fashion is heavily associated with combat boots like Dr. Martens, brands like Hushpuppies, and Converse All Stars. Converse All Stars will always be a classic closet staple, but don’t be afraid to try out a bolder shoe from the ’90s if it fits your taste!
  • Unexpected extras. Kurt was known for wearing quirky accessories, like Lolita sunglasses or brightly colored scarves, probably just to throw his fans off!
  • A “devil may care” attitude. Kurt Cobain wasn’t concerned with looking cool or stylish — he simply did what felt right to him. So take a cue from Mr. Cobain and don’t be afraid to wear daring outfits, things that don’t “go,” or items you normally wouldn’t try.

Outfit Inspiration

All Apologies

Kurt Cobain outfit 1: Black jeans, red converse, logo tee, gloves, military green jacket
Jacket, Jeans, T-Shirt, Shoes, Gloves, Necklace

An outfit like this is perfect if you just want a touch of grunge style. Start with your trusty black skinny jeans, and add a funny graphic t-shirt. Stay warm with a utility jacket and fingerless gloves. Finish the look with red Converse All-Stars and a dog tag necklace.

About A Girl

Kurt Cobain outfit 2: Mustard yellow pants, denim and shearling jacket, boots, flannel shirt
Flannel, Pants, Jacket, Boots, Necklace

Pull out your warmest flannel and pair it with corduroy pants for this next look. Add your favorite denim jacket (bonus points if it’s one you loved during high school) and lace up your favorite combat boots. Finish with a guitar necklace!

Lithium

Kurt Cobain outfit 3: Striped shirt, white sunglasses, red shoes, cardigan, grungy jeans
Jeans, Shirt, Cardigan, Sunglasses, Belt, Shoes

Distressed boyfriend jeans will give your look a grungy feel without the added sloppiness of a torn, baggy pair. Add a striped shirt (one of Kurt’s signatures) and layer a Grandpa cardigan on top. Finish the look with a belt, white wayfarers, and a comfy and practical pair of shoes.

Now, tell us what you think!

Do you listen to Nirvana? What are your favorite songs? What do you think about ’90s grunge style? Would you consider revisiting some aspects of it? What other stylish men would you like to see CF cover? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Posted on on December 8, 2011 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , ,

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27 Responses to “Stylish Men: Fashion Inspired by Kurt Cobain”

  1. 1
    December 8th, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Kurt was a trailblazing inspiration, not just musically but of course fashion-wise. Great post.

    ~J

  2. 2
    December 8th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I love Nirvana! I love almost all their songs. My favorites are Lithium, Rape Me, and Smells Like Teen Spirit. :)

  3. 3
    December 8th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE– when I was a kid my older sister was obsessed with Nirvana, which of course made me love them, too (because who doesn’t want to be like their big sis ;)

    Ever since, I’ve always had a more alt-tinged aesthetic, and Chelsea you nailed these outfits! The perfect balance of grunge and modern elements. I’ll be wearing something like outfit 1 today, in fact!

    I love this series in general btw–so fresh!!

  4. 4
    December 8th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I love this! You guys always surprise me with really diverse inspirations. Awesome job!

  5. 5
    December 8th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Grunge is great, I love both Courtney and Kurt, both their styles are incredible.

  6. 6
    December 8th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    My fave was Lithium and it’s also one of my fave songs :)

  7. 7
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Ha! This post is so pefect for me because I was listening to Nevermind for the first time in about 5 years. The music is still incredible!

  8. 8
    December 8th, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you for writing this post – one of the most beautiful men ever!

  9. 9
    December 8th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    brings me back to freshman year of high school! so cute, so great! love it :)

  10. 10
    December 8th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Wow I seriously love Outfits #2 and #3. I’m really enjoying the Stylish Men series. :)

  11. 11
    December 8th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I am loving this new series! You are picking some of the best men!

  12. 12
    December 8th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Very cool post Idea!
    But I don’t think the shoes in outfit two should count as combat boots.
    And also it would have been cool if there was one outfit that was more daring.

  13. 13
    December 8th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Violet and Tate are good examples for this look right now (from American Horror Story). In fact, wouldn’t mind a inspiration post about Violet (Harmon)’s style, eh? (wink, nudge)

  14. 14
    December 8th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Kurt is such an inspiration. Don’t forget that a big part of grunge style is DIY! Rip up jeans yourself and write on T-shirts to get a more authentic look. Ripped tights are great too, don’t just throw out those opaque black tights with a run in them, rock them! Anything can be great fashion if you wear it with confidence and charisma.

  15. 15
    December 8th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I love you for this.
    And I agree with Maya.
    I wouldn’t mind a post about Violet’s style.
    Amazing.

  16. 16
    December 8th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I love Kurt Cobain, Nirvana and grunge style, so I think this is a great post. You definitely made the outfits more wearable for someone who doesn’t want to look too 90s and grungey, and as someone who is trying to go all out in the look, I can use some of the pieces suggested here.

  17. 17
    December 8th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    First of all THANK YOU for fibally including Kurt Cobain. I love Nirvana to bits and might I say you have gotten everything about his clothibg style.
    I am excited about the return of grungr and I hope the music will too. My favourite songs are: About A Girl, Lithium, Heart Shaped Box and Rape Me.
    Kurt is a legend!!!

  18. 18
    December 9th, 2011 at 1:29 am

    KUUUURT :DDDD

    ah In Bloom and Lithium will always be my favorites

  19. 19
    December 9th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I have loved this man since before I was born. And, I fully intend to make a silver button-down shirt like the one he wore in the Heart-Shaped Box video. Ridiculous cool…and so wild to think a huge part of a whole generation styled themselves after the guy who was dressing like he had been to keep warm in Seattle.

  20. 20
    December 11th, 2011 at 3:34 am

    i loooove this post. it speaks more to my style & fashion sense than any other post you’ve done! thank you!!!

  21. 21
    December 11th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Love this post! Kurt is a big style icon of mine and I listen to Nirvana excessively. I agree with Maya too….a Violet and Tate post would be lovely :)

  22. 22
    December 12th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I appreciate this series of stylish men, but I’m not too keen on this particular edition…
    As others have mentioned, the DIY element of grunge was really prevalent in Kurt’s life, and I would say thrift store finds would better fit the aura of Kurt and the 90′s in general rather than say, the Toms pictured in the third outfit. To be perfectly honest, none of the outfits really exemplified grunge in my opinion. Maybe the second one a little bit, though.
    I’d like to see what comes of a Bowie edition, or maybe James Franco.

  23. 23
    December 25th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    kurt has always been my fashion icon

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