What is a Hipster? Hipster Fashion Explained to the Mainstream
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(You will find the thrift store list below.)
And, to some of you, this modern fashion trend may look sloppily and absentmindedly thrown together, but in reality, a good hipster ensemble consists of layers upon layers of clothing and accessories, carefully composed to bring about a complex, intricate… dare I say fashionable… outfit that no one else can duplicate. Hey, it takes a lot of work to look like a German tourist.
Retro Secondhand Clothing:
The original hipsters wore what they found in secondhand stores... along with a few things discovered through retail therapy. (Note: Most hipster clothing and accessories are unisex, including extras like tattoos, plugs, piercings, and extreme hair colors. You might want to check out men's vintage clothing if you're a female and vice versa.)
You don't have to buy your clothes at a thrift store to embrace the hipster look. You can find similar styles (usually toned down for the real world) in stores.
However, as you read through the following list, you’ll notice that most of these hipster-approved items can be found in thrift stores that haven't been ransacked by the masses. So, if you feel like looking for the real thing, here's your list of potential thrift-swag and why an early hipster would have found these things in second-hand stores:
Old Blue Jeans:
- Shredded Jeans: Crapped-out old beater jeans that someone threw out because there were holes in the knees
- Skinny Jeans: Tight skinny jeans in small sizes that someone probably outgrew from eating too much ice cream
- Big Jeans: Mom jeans that were too hideous for mom to wear beyond the backyard
- Cartoon T-shirts: Care Bear and similarly childish T-shirts that lost their cache when some girl reached middle school (80s cartoons are highly coveted now.)
- Band Tees: Band T-shirts from decades past (Pink Floyd, The Ramones, Motley Crue) that some wife threw out when her husband wasn’t looking
- Woodland T-shirts: Souvenir tees with wildlife designs (elk, deer, fox) bought on someone’s Yellowstone vacation and thrown out the next month (Animals and mountains were ubiquitous T-shirt designs during the early 70s.)
- I'm With Stupid: T-shirts with obnoxiously insipid sayings that someone got tired of wearing (Keep on Truckin’, Have a Nice Day, The One With the Most Toys Wins, and other REAL tees from back in the day are a true find.)
Ugly Button-Up Shirts:
- Traditional Polyester Shirts: Low-end button-up shirts, usually plaid, bought by some man, thrown out by his wife as soon as he left on a business trip
- Groovy Men's Shirts: Polyester shirts in twinkly 60s and 70s florals or paisleys that went out of style during the mid 70s
- Tropical Print Shirts: Aloha shirts optimistically purchased on four-day Hawaiian vacations and never worn again once that person reached the mainland
- Grunge Plaid: Flannel shirts from the reign of Kurt Cobain (I don't know why anyone would throw those out. It must have been some kid's mother who sent those shirts to the charity store.)
I'm sure you're seeing a trend here. That's why hipster style mixes so many items from days gone by: good-girl dresses, mod flowers, hippie fringe, disco polyester, punk torn jeans, New Wave leggings, 80s floppy bows, and any kind of unique, groovy stuff from various fashion fads that a diligent shopper might discover in a vintage shop or second-hand store.
But there's more than just these things. What else is there that hipsters have recycled?
- Golf Shorts: Some old duffer’s ancient golf shorts or plaid golf pants
- Fedoras: Some old duffer’s snappy fedora or newsboy cap
- Mr. Rogers' Sweaters: Some old duffer’s musty old cardigan (Big score if you find anything with Fair Isle - aka ski sweater - patterns.)
- Suit Jackets: Some old duffer’s (or some old lady’s) polyester blazer in a dated color
- Nerdy Shoes: Some old fogey’s lightly used wingtips (brogues), worn only to weddings and funerals
- Sweatshirts: Some teenager’s old hoodie, extra points for obscure words or designs
- Teen Spirit: Some teenager’s old T-shirt with a high school mascot
- Sports Clothing: Some teenager’s old athletic wear
- Sneakers from Long Ago: Some skater's old Vans (Personally, I would expect you to buy new.)
Androgynous Accessories for Hipsters:
All of the above fashions are unisex, but the following accessories are also worn by both males and females. Here are a few examples of accoutrements often found in thrift shops… and often worn by hipsters:
- Beanies: Someone’s old toque (I would put this in a freezer bag for at least 2 weeks to make sure it doesn't come with pets, or do the right thing and buy new.)
- Chunky Scarves: Big score if knitted by someone's grandmother
- Colorful Rayon Scarves: Probably a Christmas gift for someone's great aunt
- Bandanas: Often worn as hair turbans or headbands to add color and texture to an outfit
- Hipster Glasses: Nerdy plastic eyeglasses that someone threw away because the prescription was obsolete and the style of the frame was no longer chic (Hipster glasses are similar in function to the granny glasses worn by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds.)
- Old-School Sunnies: Sunglasses from the distant past (Wayfarers... think Bob Dylan and beatniks... and good luck finding anything like that in a thrift store, shutter shades, and other groovy styles from any identifiable decade)
- Brightly colored sunglasses: With or without lenses (Feel free to punch the lenses out.)
- Work Boots: Scruffy old work boots that "plum wore out"
- Designer Cowboy Boots: A typical source of foot pain until broken in if bought in the wrong size
- Unused Leg Warmers: Acquired during someone's Flashdance phase (Can be worn as faux boot socks. Creative people will come up with other uses.)
Retail Hipster Accessories for Men and Women:
I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that even the hardest of hardcore, thrift-mad hipsters would buy these things from retail stores:
- Messenger Bags: An important accessory for holding one's laptop
- Socks: Useful objects for tying an outfit together... with panache
- Underwear: Sorry. (I don’t even want to contemplate this, but it popped into my brain. Now I must type the word to exorcise it from my consciousness.)
Hipster Clothing Styles for Women:
Here are thrift store items for women. (A few of these things are sometimes hijacked and worn by hipster men):
- Denim Shorts: High-waisted jean shorts, usually long jeans (probably from the 70s) made into cutoffs
- Vintage Dresses: Trauma-inducing midcentury frocks that even I acknowledge as hip
- Vintage Blouses: Items worn by suburban housewives during the 60s
- Scary Women's Tops: Tasteless is the new black
Things I hope hipster chicks buy in stores:
- Colorful Tights: A wrinkle diversion method for those of us over 40
- Dark Leggings: A comfy alternative to jeans
- Over-the-Knee Boots: Interesting accessories known to increase income after midnight (These boots are acceptable for most women when worn over jeans.)
- Designer Clothing: Items that balance the beater look
*** Note: The only items I have not seen on hipster men are skirts and dresses. Let’s fight to keep it that way.
Hipster Clothing for Men:
Here are some things that hipster guys might find in thrift stores that have been incorporated into the hipster trend:
- Bow Ties
- Glen Plaid Suits (and suits in any unique pattern)
- Chuck Taylors (a type of Converse sneaker that may be so hip that no one has bought it yet)
*** Note: The only items I have not seen on hipster women are beards. Let’s hope it stays that way.
What’s Up With Those Hipster Beards?
I’m not sure why hipster men wear beards. Some say facial hair is worn to project an anti-corporate image. However, I am speculating that men wear beards to distinguish themselves from the females of the hipster species. Other possibilities:
- Hipster men might wear beards because growing is easier than shaving.
- Hipster men might wear beards because of some phenomenon related to the Hundredth Monkey Effect.
Whatever it is, I have no problem with beards because I grew up in the 60s… and I like ZZ Top.
Hipster Fashion Gone Mainstream:
A while ago, I said you might have partially morphed into a hipster without knowing it. So, don’t make fun of hipsters if you wear any of these hipster trends that have gone mainstream:
Chunky oversized scarves, mix and match patterns, layering (especially the short sweater over the long shirt thing), fedora hats, jeans with rolled hems, shredded denim, T-Shirts with owls, colorful plastic eyewear, Wayfarer sunglasses, bedhead hair, clunky boots, or plaid anything.
This is not a comprehensive list of what hipsters wear, as hipster style changes according to location and planet alignment. And, no… I’m not telling you that you must get all your new clothes in vintage stores… because quite a bit of the good vintage stuff has already been scavenged by hipsters with more time on their hands than anyone else on earth.
However, even if you end up buying your hipster fashions at Wallymart, you now understand why hipsters look a little different. So, you know more than most mainstream people on the planet… but you probably already did.
Hipster Women Over 40 or 50:
If you’re a woman over 40, I’ll give you permission to wear rolled-cuff jeans, (slightly) shredded denim, plaid flannel shirts, vintage dresses, grandpa cardigans, patterned socks, and most of the other hipster things on this list. If you’ve been on earth long enough to understand fashion, you’ll usually know where to draw the line. And, of course, the wearing of fedoras and pork pies is heartily encouraged.
(Note: After reading this article, my husband now thinks he can wear ugly shorts and a pair of suspenders over an old T-shirt. I should explain to all of you that it's not so much what hipster items you wear... but how you wear your hipster items in concert with other hip items of clothing. The overall effect need not be classically tasteful, but it should be diligently artsy and brilliantly executed.)
Oh, and by the way, I think it would be a little wacked for a grown woman to buy all her clothing at thrift stores, but coming up with a bunch of cheap vintage items to add a little spunk to your outfits... now that sounds like one hell of a lot of fun. But, if schmoozing thrift-store employees sounds like too much work, try layering what you have in crazy ways until the look pleases your eye. SOMEONE has to create new clothing trends. Why shouldn't it be you?
More Fashion Articles for Trendy Hipsters, Punk Rockers, NirvanaAddicts & Everyone Else:
Photo Credits: Most are through prshots.com.
- Main Photo: Reclaimed Vintage - Asos, Reclaimed Vintage - Asos, Boy London tank - Asos, Kimono blouse - Asos, Denim outfit - Asos.
- Mainstream Hipster Dude in Shorts: House of Fraser.
- Hipster Glasses & Fedora: Sweatshirt - New Look, Fedora - LittlewoodsEI, Dotted top - La Redoute.
- Smug Hipster: Internacionale 2013.
- Hipster Style Suit: Topman.
- Little Hipster Dude: Mira Mira.
- Hipster Fashion Details: Men's botanical suit - Topman, Blonde wearing glasses and folk dress - LaRedoute, Casual hipster outfit - Burton Menswear London, Girl in Fedora - Miss Selfridge, Artsy men's suit - Topman, Plaid hipster shirt - Asos, Yellow men's shirt - Topman, Fedora - MatalanUK.
- This Type of Style Can Be Worn by Men or Women: Topman.
- Trendy New Clothes in Hipster Style: Grunge top Asos, Athletic top MatalanUK, Chevron outfit Topman, Athletic jacket Current Elliot.
- Fake Wayfarers: Asos.
- Real Vintage Clothing: Love Miss Daisy.
- Subtle Hipster: JacamoUK.
- Hipster Beard: Suit New Look.
What do you think of this article? It will take a while to get used to some of this, but don't be surprised if you're wearing half of it next year.