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A Hipster in Faux-Sheep Clothing

October 27, 2009


I was at an event a while back and one of the main topics of discussion was the definition of a hipster. Folks, these are not brain surgery conversations. No one is splayed out across an operating table.

The word actually originated in the 1940s, used to describe those on the fringe of society (first used to define the Jazz subculture). But, for argument’s sake, here are a few things that I’ve come up with; all based on my own observations as to what truly defines the modern day hipster (which, by the way, isn’t considered outskirts any longer). Any combination of these items matter and not a whole lot changes the scope with gender (except for noted facial hair).

1.    Occupation
2.    Attire
3.    Overall Appearance
4.    Hobbies
5.    Ride
6.    Family


You have to do something creative. A job in the arts, graphic design–essentially anything that’s got you working on a Mac. Preferably something you can set your own schedule to which allows you to take your office on the road of sorts–a.k.a. the local coffee house. Beware, the corporate chains will try to woo you with their strong blends and gimmicks, but, fight it, man, fight it. I’m talking to you Starbucks. When you do work from home, you prefer to do it on furniture that matches your own spectacular taste in design aesthetics.

The skinnier the jeans the better. Dark rinse only. American Apparel is your second home. You like scarves, and accessories, but refuse to wear or use anything made out of something that’s walked on four legs, on principle alone.
You rock a few tats, and by a few I mean entire sleeves of them. Your hair color changes with the season. You may or may not need glasses, no matter; you wear thick Buddy Holly-esque frames. There’s a strong possibility you rock a ‘stache (this is one rare case where gender matters).
You live for live music. The more indie the better.  Your latest obsession is a band from LA that recorded their album at a Tibetan monastery while trekking through Nepal. You’re the first in line of a Wes Anderson film. You love a good tall boy of PBR, but Miller High Life is a close second. That said, you do take good care of yourself–you eat organic foods from your local co-op. You may even have a little plot in your backyard that you till and work. If not, you certainly are involved in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, for you non hipsters). But, you still like the smokey treats–and if you’ve got em’ they are American Spirits. To counter that, you also are a jogger, and when you jog, you do so in really old shorts that look like Paulie Bleeker, and athletic socks pulled up to your knees. You like roller derby and may even be on a team. Your favorite way to wind down (besides said live music and PBR) is with a game of Bananagrams or crafting.

Your ride varies. You walk, ride your scooter, and carpool with friends. Your friends usually roll up in a smart car or Prius, which ideally, if all goes okay, will be your next major purchase.


If you’ve got kiddos you haul them around in a sling with funky prints or one made out of hemp and they have cool names of places you’ve been like Oslo or obscure characters in books you read in English Lit. If you don’t have kids, it’s because we live in a society that re-forms our lives around our children (not the other way around) and you don’t want to be tied down like that, man. Either way,  you likely have a dog rescued from a local shelter or one that picked you by showing up on your doorstep.

Is what we think as cool and hip now going to be the 1950s suburbia? Where the fringe subcultures become mainstream? If we’re looking to the hipster haven of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, then all signs point to yes.