Haute hipster: hard to handle

Being a hipster isn't about the look; it's about the lifestyle.

By Justin Whaley | Feb. 5, 2010

Tags: Fashion


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You know the type. They strut out of Starbucks looking most nonchalant. Donning the slouched beanie, thick-rimmed glasses and clothes that pose as either uber mod or slept-in, even if they weren't.

Their smug faces are captured in faded, off-kilter Polaroids. They listen to bands nobody has ever heard of, religiously attend "shows," frequent Urban Outfitters, thrift stores and any other Soho-esque shops they can walk their TOMS-covered feet into. You know these people. Maybe you are these people. describes a hipster as one who "walks among the masses in daily life but is not a part of them and shuns or reduces to kitsch anything held dear by the mainstream. A hipster ideally possesses no more than 2 percent body fat." Typical.

Does the hipster try to be different just for the hell of it? Do they want to set trends? Or are these cool cats just out to make the rest of us look like uptight yuppies?

Maybe the hipster tries to stand out to other people, but the fashion-forward hipster is self-satisfied in his or her wardrobe decisions. They look to the '60s, while keeping a modern touch. Suits and outerwear are just a tad too short. Thick cardigans might as well have come from Dad's closet (shrunken, of course).

Think to your pals George, Paul, Ringo and John. Sure, the big picture of how their clothes generally fit was key, but those guys nailed it on the small details. The herringbone prints, tieless necks and infamous swagger set them over the top and made them an inspiration for modern hipsters.

What can we consider to be the hipster wardrobe of today? Think of it in terms of a revamp of '90s grunge meets Brit pop-punk from the '60s. As we've seen, plaid and flannel have returned to closets across the globe with a vengeance. Ties are skinny as ever, hats and glasses are reminiscent of those of the great Elvis Costello. Not a detail skimped on. It's all about displaying a certain amount of androgyny mixed with a touch of class.

But the persona of a true hipster exudes through his or her wardrobe. Sure, wearing leopard-print pants and a striped shirt says you're carefree. Throw on some tortoiseshell glasses and oxford dress shoes while you're at it. If you're confident, you can pull it off. If you've any bit of common sense, you will not dare. My advice: Ditch the flashiness on the big details and keep it to the smaller ones. A plaid pocket square detailing a skinny suit beats head-to-toe plaid any day.

The hipster attempts to channel Andrew Bird or The Kooks, who look like they couldn't give a damn while looking sharp doing just that. He takes a drag of an American Spirit while rocking out to Vampire Weekend through the biggest, brightest and retro-est headphones money can buy.

Let it be known that being a hipster isn't just a style or a fad, it's a lifestyle. To be a hipster, one must immerse him or herself in a culture of indie bands, quirky blogspots and the mindset that it's "no big deal" to wear a frock, gray straight-leg jeans and pointed lace-up boots. Not everybody can be a hipster.

For those who pull off this look with ease, I envy you.

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