by Beth Hammarlund
Last week, I was driving around, listening to The Current, and Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans” came on as their No Apologies track. And it’s true, no one should ever apologize for loving Neil Diamond (or his Kansas City-based black impersonator, The Black Diamond). And as Neil crooned through my car speakers, I was reminded of another great musical moment. In the ’90s classic Clueless, the protagonist, Cher, laments the current stylings of America’s male youth. As she shares her disappointment over the state of young men’s fashion, a tribe of skaters in over-sized jeans, backwards baseball caps and flannel shirts walk in slow motion as World Party’s cover of David Bowie’s “All the Young Dudes” plays.
And though Cher had many wise words beyond the years of the average 16 year old (“That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.”), I could never get on the same page as her when it came to all the young dudes. And I still feel the same way today. As much as I appreciate fashion, tailoring, and creative expression through dress, there is nothing sexier than a great pair of jeans and a t-shirt. So in honor of anti-fashion fashion icons, I’ve compiled a list of some of the sexiest jeans-wearing rockers in dirty denim history.
Kurt Cobain: As one of the last Gen Xers, I couldn’t make this list and not lead with Kurt Cobain. Even when Britpop exploded in the early to mid-’90s and planning my wedding to Jarvis Cocker became a priority, I still crushed hardest on the late King of Grunge. It’s true that Cobain’s jeans and flannels were the epitomization of his don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, and he would probably roll over in his grave if he ever heard that he was considered a style icon. But, tough. His music and attitude influenced a generation, and his style was inextricably linked to his impact.
Iggy Pop: Typically I would recommend pairing your favorite jeans with a solid gray or black t-shirt, or maybe a worn out tee championing your favorite band. But if you’re made of sterner stuff, particularly the snakelike sinew and manic stage presence of Iggy Pop, you should probably eschew a shirt altogether. My first Iggy Pop concert was in 10th grade, and I remember being unable to decide if I was in love with him or terrified of him. It was my first real life encounter with sexyugly.
Patti Smith: Another member of sexyugly royalty, punk rock legend Patti Smith made jutting hipbones, gawky limbs and a long nose unapologetically alluring. She stumbled around in unbuttoned cigarette-burned jeans and holey tees, posing for photos on fire escapes and next to urinals, constantly exuding a confidence that could make both men and women weak in the knees.
The Runaways: Though we could speculate for hours on just how manufactured their sound and style were, there’s no doubt that The Runaways’ high-waisted flares and baseball tees perfectly fit the image of the rock and roll bad girls you’d find smoking up behind the bleachers. Nothing goes with a pair of jeans quite like some badass feathered hair.
The Ramones: Straight legs, ripped knees, black tees, floppy hair, leather jackets, black socks and white sneakers. Though they railed against conformity, The Ramones certainly seemed to have a uniform. Of everyone on this list, these guys probably cared the least about their appearance, which might just automatically make them the awesomest. Next time you’re over-thinking your wardrobe choices, take a note from these guys.