From 1991 to 1998, the VMAs awarded Moonmen for Best Alternative Video — but that doesn’t mean the #alt #vibes stopped flowing after the ’90s. During America’s most flannel-loving decade and beyond, our favorite alternative artists have operated on the outskirts of the mainstream not just in music, but in fashion, too.
Because what better stage to prove your alt-ness than at the VMAs, in front of millions of viewers, while all those pop stars parade around in sparkly dresses and frosted tips? These artists have always known that the Video Music Awards were the perfect opportunity to flaunt their ties and leather wristbands, and our lives are so much better for it.
Kurt Cobain — 1993 VMAsGetty Images
Beck and Dave Grohl — 1996 VMAsGetty Images
When you and your bro roll up to the gig in coordinating prints. Alt AF.
Korn — 1999 VMAsGetty Images
Just being in Korn means you're already more alt than most other people, but it doesn't hurt to accessorize with an oversize white top hat just to be safe. It also helps if you're missing facial hair in areas where there should still be facial hair. So fucking alt!
Avril Lavigne and Kelly Osbourne — 2003 VMAsGetty Images
Nothing says "ALT" like a corset and sneakers (unless it's a belt on a pleated miniskirt). Nothing says "FUCK YOU" like flipping the bird.
IMPT. NOTE: Kelly's shirt reads "Young, Willing, and Eager." Same!
Jimmy Eat World — 2002 VMAsGetty Images
Jimmy Eat World were normcore before normcore, and that's extremely alt.
Green Day — 2012 VMAsGetty Images
How does one remain #alt while approaching middle age? Simply pair leather with animal print, and everyone will get that you're totally still with it. Just like Billie Joe did in 2012. Nice move, Billie Joe.
PSA: Holding your drumsticks is a good way to remind people that you're the drummer! #ALT
Weezer — 1995 VMAsGetty Images
Here's Weezer in 1995 without Rivers Cuomo, who was probably in the bathroom writing a letter to a Japanese girl or something. Brian Bell's blue polo is just alt enough without being too alt, while Matt Sharp's and Pat Wilson's suits are just dad enough without being too dad. #Alt #Dad
My Chemical Romance — 2005 VMAsGetty Images
Like Weezer before them, MCR knew that SUITS = ALT, although their look was on the sleeker side.
PRO TIP: When your on the red carpet and you're trying to be ALT, DON'T smile. Don't frown. Just don't.
Pearl Jam — 1993 VMAsGetty Images
What's more alt than alt? GRUNGE. Exhibit A: Pearl Jam in 1993. Eddie Vedder isn't just holding TWO beer bottles with his Moonman — he's also wearing clothes two sizes too big for his body. Literally nothing more alt.
Garbage — 1998 VMAsGetty Images
1998 was a really, really bad time for fashion. This picture of Garbage should be much worse, but it's actually OK when you consider the time period (in fact, Shirley Manson's black patent leather boots are more than OK). Fluorescent orange isn't the most flattering color for fur, but hey — when you're alt, you're ALT.
Blink-182 — 2000 VMAsGetty Images
These three SoCal sk8er boiz just rolled up to the show straight from the Hurley store. Which I'm pretty sure sells skateboards but I'm not positive, because I'm less than alt.
SIDE NOTE: ILY Mark Hoppus.