Come As You Are: Moments of Grunge


Time: 1991

“You’re wearing…that?”

“It’s cool, Mom. You just don’t get it.”

“You look homeless…”

Pfff, whatever.”

And it was just like that that American kids first confused their parents with their style choices. Well, maybe not exactly the first time, but the typical early-to-mid-'90s teen certainly did not seek their parents’ approval. It was the era of grunge! Who cares what you looked like?! It was about just throwing on whatever you could find. The more washed-out, ripped, or darkly hued, the better. With each additional unfinished edge and tear, the item actually got cooler. But it was not about style choice, but rather, the decision not to choose. Or, at least, that’s what the kids liked you to think. You’d be surprised how much effort it takes to look like you just don’t care.* But there was one person, at least, who really did live and breathe the “I Don’t Give A Shit” attitude...

Kurt Cobain and his Seattle grunge compatriots made looking like you smell awful seem awesome. Who would have thought? Today, we search for the perfect pomade, serum, or spray combo to make our freshly washed hair achieve the same “I haven’t been washed in a month” look, which Cobain maintained effortlessly in his perfect blond (though sometimes pink or brown) chin-length cut. His sense of style influenced a country and even made it’s way into fashion, causing quite a stir when a young Perry Ellis designer by the name of Marc Jacobs sent a squad of plaid- and floral-clad, combat-boot-wearing models down the runway for his Spring 1993 collection [26]. Even Vogue couldn’t resist, and in December 1992, ran an entire grunge story inspired by Jacobs' line, styled by Grace Coddington and shot by Steven Meisel [3, 5, 27]. Though this aesthetic moved a bit more towards the shiny and sexy (thank boy bands and Britney) in the late '90s, there certainly was, and hopefully still is, something to be said for dressing like you’re giving fashion a giant middle finger.

So, in honor of the late, great, and stylish Mr. Kurt Cobain (whose birthday was February 20th), and also because grunge is so in right now, take a look at some of the biggest grunge icons of yesterday. Happy birthday, Kurt. Your smell and spirit have been missed, but we’re doing our best to keep your style alive.

*Just head to Williamsburg. No energy is spent dressing there. It’s all effortless!

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nomadic D.

    This collection of photos just made my day! I think I literally grinned when I got to Claire Danes from back in the day. Ah yes, my wonder years. And I wonder why I'm still drawn to oversized ripped things and flannel and big bad boots. For my generation, this defined us when we were just starting to define ourselves. Thanks for the flashbacks!

  • Andrea

    this style is just totally amazing! love the pictures from kurt <3

  • Lana

    Rest in Peace sweet beautiful Kurt! God I love him. I love grunge. And though I am quite posh and cannot shake my love of beauty and fashion, I subconsciously still incorporate grunge into my style, every day. It is the little things. Kurt would be proud!!!!!! Yay ITG, you made me sooo happy with this story!

  • khubyar

    Johnny's leather jacket got around!

  • Maria

    Ack! Claire Forlani and Jeremy Piven in Mallrats!!

  • Maria

    Ok, Jeremy London, not Piven.

  • Maria

    The 90's were cool man...

  • Isabel

    And I'm just in the moment watching the whole series of "My So-Called Life", coincidence?

    • MySimpleBeauty

      I just finished watching it myself. Still heartbreaking the show never went on. Jordan Catalano forever!

      • ITGAlessandra

        He leans great. xx

  • MySimpleBeauty

    Great post! Makes me want to purposely chip my polish!

    • Helen Vong

      haha me too! Great story.

  • The Fashion Informer

    Wow, did this make me nostalgic. Great pics, great post, great video. I'm so happy I was able to live through this (get it? get it?). Oy.

  • the lovelace club

    I feel so blessed to have experienced this! We were the hipsters of the 90s ;)

  • Carol

    I've always been a hudge Kurt Cobain fan and have been reading and enjoying this blog a lot lately, but this post just seemed to me somehow offensive and an "innapropriate" use of this era's and specially Kurt's point of view. Not saying that all that should not be used as a current reference but to focus only on the style and not going deeper on the culture is just the complete opposite of all that was done by this generation and what they used to stand for.

  • jen

    God were we cool! Thank you for this trip back. And, his music still feels so NEW.


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