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June 28, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 1

Is Geek the New Chic?

By Mellissa More Blogs by This Author

American culture is a fascinating beast. I've lived here all my life, and sometimes I'm as flabbergasted as my friends who have emigrated here. All that being said, you've probably taken notice of a new group emerging, known simply as...the hipster.

The Definition

The word “hipster” was derived from Cab Calloway's “hepster” in his Hepster Dictionary. It was first meant to describe a young person hip to jive. The meaning of the word went through various changes over time, once defining the beatniks of the 50s, and on to the “hippies” of the 70s. The hipster lifestyle is loosely based upon  bohemian lifestyle and ideals. The difference, now, is that there is more emphasis on making a statement through fashion, rather than a personal creed. Even stronger similarities can be noted in the hipster look, back to the upper-class dandies of the 19th century, who were equally concerned with personal style and against mainstream culture. Some define men's hipster style the “post-modern dandy.”

The word fits into the Baudrillardian theory of simulation. An easy way to understand this theory is to think of the game telephone. Baudrillard broke down simulation into four stages: the copy, the counterfeit, the absence of reality, and finally total simulation. What we see in today's hipster is the final stage, simulation, because the original context of the word no longer serves as a realistic definition. It's a confusing emulation of the bohemians as well as the dandies, which is one of the reasons hipsters are ridiculed by the public. A growing number of names are being made for self professed hipsters, and fauxhemianis one of the top slurs. But, even with pockets of negativity against the subculture itself, there is a growing trend toward “hipster style.”

So, what defines the “look?” Hipster style is somewhat of a broad spectrum, ranging from very polished and neat, to laid-back and free. Like other contemporary trends, there is an emphasis on vintage style. The “vintage” pieces aren't targeted to a specific time in fashion; they are acceptable as long as they aren't being mass produced in mainstream fashion. The style doesn't rely upon the clothing being produced now, it instead recycles pieces from the past. One of the many beliefs of hipsters is to stay clear of the tides of fashion trends, and wear what you, the individual, are comfortable in.

The Philosophy

Dressing like a hipster, and actually identifying as one are two entirely different things. It's arguable whether or not the “hipster lifestyle” in fact exists. I've managed to pull out seven basics of the hipster lifestyle from various “how to” guides from the internet. These are the most frequently occurring statements from the lists:

  • Eat vegan and drink coffee (or tea) daily.

  • Buy locally produced products (food, clothes, ect).

  • Do not conform to mainstream culture, music, or fashion. Listen to obscure bands, preferably independent artists.

  • Stay up to date on global events.

  • Be an activist.

  • Be a lover and supporter of the arts.

  • Be environmentally conscious.

It's easy to see how that list can make a person appear to be somewhat pretentious. None of us like the idea that someone else is somehow “better” than us, and unfortunately, many hipsters are perceived as vain. However, there are plenty of healthy attitudes that exist within the lifestyle choices of self professed hipsters. Clean eating, going green, and being well read are things we should all be doing already. Branching out and listening to new music is exciting and fun.The top choice, accepting oneself as-is, is an important, and I think overlooked, part of a hipster's philosophy. The stress to “fit in” plagues our society heavily, especially when it comes to how someone presents themselves, which is why there is emphasis on a person creating their own unique look.

Wardrobe Essentials

As with any style, there are pieces that you shouldn't go without to complete the hipster wardrobe. Layering tops and accessories is one of the ways to pull off this look, so you won't want to be without plenty of cardigans and chunky knits. Solids are always nice to have, but mixing patterns that don't match is even better. The best thing about all of these pieces is that they can be located at any consignment shop. An hour in a Goodwill or Salvation Army can turn into quite the treasure hunt.

Recycling old clothes is one of the coolest aspects of the style, and it doesn't end with re-wearing hand-me-downs. There are plenty of “new” outfits that can be made from the legs of cut-off shorts, modified t-shirts, and re-hemmed dresses. If you're not into scouring the consignment shop, compiles pieces for every hipster's closet from different retailers, along with the option to buy.

High waisted trousers, jeans, and shorts should be part of a female hipster's wardrobe, as well as classic black leggings. Tight fitting trousers, as well as skinny jeans, have been showing up in the hipster style trend for both men and women too. As for dresses and skirts, floral print is desirable, and the older, the better. The fit should be loose and comfortable and, of course, the opposite of current trends. Old lace blouses are also a welcome addition to this wardrobe.

Accessories & Shoes

Scarves and ponchos are must haves for this style as well. Scarves are a go to accessory for male hipsters, and can be used as a belt for ladies. One of the most iconic accessories in a hipster's wardrobe is thick rimmed glasses. Don't need glasses? No problem, just pop out the lenses! Beanies, bowlers, and fedoras are also great accessories to add to your hipster wardrobe.

Any kind of footwear that isn't worn universally (such as sneakers or flip flops) is acceptable in this style. Combat boots, utility shoes, and penny loafers are some of the picks for shoes. Once again, consignment shopping is your friend when looking for a pair of well worn, unique shoes.

Hairstyles & Beauty

Don't forget that your hair is part of your look as well! Hipster hairstyles can range from shoulder length freedom, to edgy, asymmetrical cuts. Undercuts are popular choices for male hipsters, and facial hair styling is also taken into account. These hairstyles appear to be largely inspired by the dandies mentioned before, but also by fashion icons such as James Dean. For women, simplicity is key. Classic braided ponytails, updos, and free flowing locks are a few of the styles worn.

For beauty routines, stick with naturally derived hair care products and cosmetics. The fresh faced look is in with this style, so go with make up that enhances your natural beauty, such as Almay and Neutrogena. For skin care, I've recently discovered virgin coconut oil myself, and it is amazing! It moisturizes skin without clogging pores, and it's an awesome conditioner for hair (you can even cook with it!).

Overall, the hipster look is laid back and carefree. Mix it up to your heart's content!


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