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What is a Hipster? Hipster Fashion Explained to the Mainstream

read about hipster style

Hipster Fashion Details

You are on page 2. This is a Mensa test if you want to get to page 1.

(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.

read about hipsters

Can Be Worn by Men or Women

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

Old T-Shirts:

  • 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?

read about hipster style

Trendy New Clothes in Hipster Style

Granddad Clothing:

  • 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

Outgrown Clothing:

  • 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.)
  • punk sunglasses

    Fake Wayfarers

  • 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.)

Real Vintage Clothing

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.

read about hipsters

Subtle Hipster

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
  • Suspenders
  • 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?

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Hipster Beard

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:

How to Wear Printed Shoes: 8 Styles of Patterned Footwear

How to Thrift Shop Like a Plus-Size Pro: 8 Tips for Consignment & Vintage Stores

Tartan Plaid Clothing: Is it Hip to Be Square?

17 Groovy Floral Patterns for Fall & Winter: Seasonless Clothing


what is a hipster?

Main Photo - Hipster Fashion

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.


Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

Follow Me on Pinterest Follow My Boomer Lifestyle Blog on facebook

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  1. Ray AKA Mr Boomerina

    Yes love I am a hipster glad to see you finally realized how cool I really am. The rest of the world will follow me.

    • Tina-Boomerina

      Ray, I think you need more accessories (and layers) to qualify, but if you come over here, I'll pierce your nose with a pair of scissors and help you on your merry hipster path. If that's not enough, I'll tattoo your neck with ink and a razor blade. What are some tribal symbols of New Hampshire?


  2. troutay

    I am not a hipster. I am just me. sometimes I find something good at the thrift store like a yellow man's sweater.
    or sometimes I just add something odd to my wardrobe because it amuses me. While I do not dress quite like my
    mother or grandmother did at my age, there are some benefits to second hand clothing. If it has lasted this long and looks rather well, then it works.

    • Tina-Boomerina


      You sound like an indie... are you sure you're not a hipster? hahaha You may be a hipster posing as a mainstream chick. I may make you buy some Wayfarers and move to London.


      • Tina-Boomerina

        Hey, if you don't know my sense of humour, you may not know that I'm kidding. However, the part about moving to London sounds like something you would like. I know I would.


  3. troutay

    I would visit, but I don't like damp weather. Besides, we are cousins, remember? Your last name is my grandmother's last name.

    and I think you have a great sense of humor

  4. troutay

    Tried to respond but it didn't go through.
    You have a great sense of humour. Although I don't like damper climates, it would be fun to visit.
    Besides, I think I told you before that you have the same last name as my grandmother, so we must be

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I've had it up to here with damper climates. I'm okay with Seattle if I can spend the winters in Hawaii, but I think I need a new climate. I just can't find a place that my husband and I both like. He likes Phoenix. It reminds me too much of Los Angeles. We're still looking.

      I remember you now. I tried to find a relative with the last name and my husband didn't know any. I can make a guess but I can't remember the first name of your Gregoire. I've only been a Gregoire for 10 years as this is my third husband... so I wouldn't know any Gregoire's that I haven't met.


  5. troutay

    I would settle for Arizona in the winter any time. there is so much to see and do. We usually go out to visit
    family there and it is such a nice change from our Minnesota winters. However, the heat in the summer is awful
    but never as bad as the steamy heat in Florida. But, we have the best of two worlds as we built a small summer
    cabin near lakes north of the Mpls/St paul area. So in summer we can stay cool and in winter, we can visit

    Gregoire. Her first name was Florida or as we called her "Flora". She grew up some place outside of

  6. troutay

    I think she was an illegal immigrant to the U.S from Canada. From the stories I have heard she actually had two birth certificates. The local priest in Wisconsin wanted to marry her to someone in the U.S. So a few things were fudged. This is just family history mind you, I don't really know for sure.

  7. Cherie

    Hipster look l ike hippies

  8. judi

    I think I was hipster before there were hipsters, but I was just trying to be unique... wearing a Navy officer dress coat, Army fatigues, my mom's Pendleton wool and my dad's zip up cardigan in the 80s. Fast approaching 50, I still wear the pieces that fit, my dad's sweater is older than me but made of Orlon it is still going strong.
    The saddest thing is that it has to be tagged and copied, sometimes it is just personal style or wearing something that reminds you of some one you love. I know I was always trying for a connection to my family, and then it became - I just gotta be me!

  9. krispiemae

    I'm not quite a boomer, I'm more of a gen-xer, but I feel you on living in the 'burbs and not fitting in. I married late, to a younger man, and started my family late. People with kids my kids age are so much younger and people my age are starting to be grandparents. I have always been "interesting" and have led a non-traditional life, so I really don't have a lot in common with...anyone. Honestly, I'm lonely. Sometimes I even wish I was more conventional, but that just isn't possible for me, and I can't seem to just "pretend". Any advice?

    • Tina-Boomerina


      I hear ya, babe. How did we end up here?

      I'm not sure what kind of advice I can give you and some of it depends on where you live.


      Most advice-givers just say you have to "thrive where you're planted" as if you're a freaking geranium or tomato, but I know better. You need the right mix of water, nutrients, and fertilizer to thrive.


      Well, if you have kids, you have to do what's best for them and that probably means sticking it out in the burbs for a while... unless you have other options you're not mentioning.

      And, you can be "yourself" to a point, when you live in the boring burbs, but you don't want to embarrass your kids too much if they're teenagers. However... you're never going to fit in. Accept it. Deal with it as best you can.

      I finally gave up on suburbia and talked my husband into moving to a small-ish town in Oregon. ... Well, we tried to move to the actual city of Seattle... but it was way out of our price range. So, after looking around, my husband decided this whole area was just way too expensive. So, I get to move to Bend Oregon! It's a place I picked! I think Bend will be better than suburbia... anything is better than suburbia.

      The people in the suburbs are robots. They can't think for themselves. They do everything exactly the same as their neighbors do. God, just shoot me.

      So... my advice is to move to Bend, Oregon.


      I know that's not an option... My real advice is to take some artsy classes... especially any art classes that mention words like "experimental" or "unleashing your creative side". Try a class in hat-making... or clothing design, glass blowing, entrepreneurial start-up help, using the right, side of the brain, tattoo design... just avoid craft classes. Too churchy, boring.

      Art classes might not attract the people you want, but there's a slim chance you will run across a "real" artist who wants to paint something other than traditional watercolor flowers. Look at your local college's continuing education section or craigslist. Other classes where unique people might congregate are things like astrology (doesn't matter if you believe), near death experiences, psychic abilities... Just be prepared to weed out the true crazies. Don't give everyone your home phone or address until you know they're not wacked. But, most people in alternative classes are a lot like yourself. I've tried a few.


      Once your kids are grown you might be able to move someplace with more vibrancy.


      I'm starting a forum.

      Once I get settled in my new digs, I am going to be working harder to get my forum rolling. I'll set up a section for women trapped in the suburbs... I'll put a link below once I start it. A forum is not a replacement for a real life, but it's better than nothing.


      It's very difficult to find real friends once you're out of college. It just is. Stop watching Sex and the City or Friends. It's just bullshit. It will make you feel sad. Producers have to PAY those women to act like they are friends (in movies, on TV). Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

      KM, I wish I knew better answers. It sucks to have people around you who are the wrong age. Sometimes, their age doesn't matter. But.... most of the time they don't get your jokes... or your ideas.... or your point of reference. So, go to the mall and cry. Life sucks for you right now... but hang in there because it will get better.

      If you live in Central Oregon, let me know. We can go to the local mall and dance on the tables to scare the normal people. But, I'm very weird according to my husband... so you do this at your own peril. hahaha.

      Maybe other women have better suggestions. I'm sorry to hear your plight. Maybe you could write an article for me (anonymously or not) about how much you hate the suburbs. You could just list the things you hate and list what you wish you had. I know you're not alone. Your article might attract comments with suggestions for living with your sad situation.

      Consolation prize: In my opinion, people who hate the suburbs are generally more intelligent than people who love the burbs.

      Tina Boomerina

      • krispiemae

        Thank you so much for the wonderful reply. Eventually we will get out, back to the rural homestead I came from (Only child / ageing mother). Out there people just don't care how weird you are. I've come home at 6am in a crotch length, shiny silver disco dress and run barefoot down the hill screaming at the top of my lungs to chase the cows out of my garden and the neighbors still like me. I really shouldn't complain, I'm in Columbus OH, a fairly young and progressive town. I'm just older than that crowd and have toddlers, kinda puts a damper on my nightlife. Even when I do get a sitter the next day is a killer. Two-year old's don't understand hangovers.
        My husband is a drummer in not one, not two, but three bands. He works two jobs and is building a recording studio. There are bands in and out of our house all the time. You would think I would get to do cool stuff and meet cool people but it doesn't work out that way. I can barely get to the grocery store! let alone get to do anything I HATE exercising but am seriously thinking about joining the Y for the free childcare. I guess with really good music I could walk on a treadmill for a hour or two. I had lots of friends in high school and in my twenties, even most of my thirties but we all went our own direction and got caught up in our own lives. Other than Facebook I only see them a couple times a year...and we are all so busy (or in my case tired). With no life to speak of I have nothing to talk about even when I do talk to other adults. My husband thinks I should get a job but with his schedule and the cost of childcare it isn't really a possibly. I'm just in the isolating years of motherhood and without my kind/age of mothers around it is even worse. Plus my pink hair and tattoos scare away all the (much younger) suburban mothers at the park. They all care so much about what people think of them that they are all the same so they all get along, at least to each other's faces. I love my kids so much and spending their childhood with them is a priority for me it is just a lonely time. I guess it probably is for most mothers no matter what their age. Thanks for the advice, eventually I will move back where I came from and at least then I will have my family. By now they are used to my special kind of crazy. ;)

        • Tina-Boomerina


          Pink hair, tattoos and a silver disco dress. You should move to my new neighborhood in Bend, Oregon. (I'm not there. Have to wait for the current residents to move out... but we bought the house.) We need you in Bend. I need you in Bend.

          Wish this country had more people like you... and your hubster. You sound wonderful!