What Is Corporate Grunge? A Guide For Millennial Men

Corporate Grunge Outfits
Milennial man with laptop against yellow and blue hand drawn office
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Last Updated on March 7, 2023

The 90s were a totally hectic time. The internet was quickly becoming a big thing, with small companies like eBay and Amazon emerging into the market – now look at the behemoths they are. Dial-up internet was the only connection possible, and if your parents took a phone call, they’d sever your network connection entirely.

One particularly significant cultural scene that emerged in the 90s was grunge. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden took the charts by storm with moody music and angsty lead singers. Kurt Cobain is still a household name, and the music he made will endure into the future.

Grunge is making a significant resurgence but in a different place from where it first emerged. Instead of Seattle, grunge fashion is emerging into corporate offices worldwide. But what exactly is corporate grunge? This millennial man’s guide will explain the latest workplace fashion trend. So get ready to earn Qantas Points by shopping at THE ICONIC through Qantas Shopping as you prepare your new wardrobe for work.

What Is Corporate Grunge?

Corporate grunge is a fashion trend that allows you to express grungy sensibilities without being inappropriate for work. As significant firms worldwide relax their dress codes, corporate millennials are arriving at work in this new style. It is essentially a way of dressing appropriately for the office while allowing you to express your individuality and style. After all, humans work roles, and humans have preferred ways of expressing themselves and their personalities. 

Let’s get tucked into some corporate grunge wardrobe tips.

Plaid Shirts

A signifier of both soft grunge and classic 90s grunge, a plaid button-up shirt should be a staple for any savvy millennial corporate grunge outfits. You can pick the colours you prefer for your plaid shirt collection, although a black and red plaid pattern is a classic grunge look. You could even wear it unbuttoned with a plain grey or white tee underneath for an excellent grunge vibe. 

The casual yet still structured look of a plaid shirt is also perfect to be paired with equally crisp and neutral-toned jeans, which just so happens to be our next fashion tip.

Jeans are In – Distressed Jeans are Even Better

Distressed clothing, which has intentional holes and rips in choice locations, is the pinnacle of corporate grunge fashion. You probably wouldn’t have gotten away with distressed clothing even a few years ago. Still, as corporate firms relax their dress codes to attract and retain top millennial talent, you can actually get away with dressing like yourself at work.

In some instances, your employers may even encourage it! Even if your employer is still living in the past with their dress code, they might have a Casual Friday policy, which is the perfect day to bust out the distressed jeans. 

Blue denim is authentic grunge if we think back to the 90s, but these days you can get away with other colours. Black jeans are always a hit if you don’t like blue. If jeans aren’t your thing, chinos will do in a pinch – but you should aim for some distress in your corporate grunge chinos. 

And if you’d prefer to play around with your perspectives and be a little subversive with your donning of denim, then why not opt for a timeless denim jacket instead? Just like a pair of sturdy blue jeans, a good denim jacket is an evergreen wardrobe item that will be sure to last you for years to come. 

Check Out: Undeniable Proof that Men’s 90s Jeans are Here to Stay


Now let’s discuss the best corporate grunge footwear. Pure grunge fashion means that boots are the way to go. Doc Martens are a staple of counterculture rock movements, including punk, heavy metal and grunge. Ideally, your Docs should be a touch worn out, with some scuffing and scratches, to get that authentic grunge vibe. 

If you’re going with sneakers, you can’t beat Chuck Taylor High Tops – black and white if you’re going for a pure 90s grunge aesthetic. However, there is a wide range of colourful Chucks on the market if you want to introduce a splash of colour to your grunge footwear. Feel free to mix the old and the new by pairing some 90s revival items with a few vintage pieces that you may already have in your wardrobe, whether it be a pair of well-preserved Chucks or even just a new pair of kicks with some vintage clothing to complete your look. 

Oversized Sweaters

What does the corporate grunge millennial man wear in the winter? Why, an oversized grey sweater or cardigan, of course! Extra points for a cable knit or fisherman’s sweater

Inspired straight from Kurt Cobain’s personal wardrobe, an oversized sweater or cardigan will keep you warm and stylish during the colder months. You can opt for distressed vibes for your sweater, too, if you want, but keep it small and simple. Holes for your thumbs to poke out of are a signature grunge look.

Check Out: 90s Men’s Sweaters: Back to Winter Past

Warm Weather?

If your workplace allows shorts, then cargo shorts are a great corporate grunge look. Denim shorts too, or if you want to be truly authentic, you could cut off some old jeans to make a perfect pair of cut-off shorts. If it’s hot, you can ditch the plaid shirt and go with a band tee – bonus points for grunge band shirts. 

Make a splash in the office with your Corporate Grunge outfit

There you have it, everything you need to know about corporate grunge outfits if you’re a millennial man. Use this article to inform your new wardrobe choices, and you’ll definitely make a splash in the office with these clothing hacks.