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If you Google “What is a hipster?” the very first result you'll probably find, is this short definition:

    •   How about HIPSTER? A Noun for a person who follows the latest trends and fashions!

I have respect for the internet for showing the least biased definition first, but according to experience and pretty much every other definition one can find online, this is also rather inaccurate.

A hipster is the exact opposite. A hipster makes a point of going against the mainstream, priding themselves on a more esoteric, anti-label counterculture. Its members refuse to be referred to as “hipsters” and prefer the description of “eclectic” for its unique-and-artsy connotation. If a hipster cares about culture at all, it is strictly for knowledge that is useful in conversation and never for conformity.

There are over 300 definitions for “hipster” on UrbanDictionary.com, and I read about 100 of them to get a better sense of what a hipster is, what they wear, what they say, what they think, and how they act. Here’s how you spot a possible hipster just by looks:

    •    A hipster will only be seen with a “hipster box” (a.k.a. an Apple computer) and/or any of the latest Apple products

    •    Lots of accessories, including scarves even in summer, hats such as fedoras and toques, sometimes ear gauges, and of course, the signature thick-rimmed hipster glasses, which are usually about 2-3 times larger than one’s eyes. If they don’t take up half your face, you’re not doing it right.

    •    Music you have never heard, by bands you’ve never heard of, all compiled on a mixtape or Apple gadget

    •    Tight clothes, skinny jeans, and v-neck shirts or graphic tees, usually with indie bands, b-movies, or clever phrases emblazoned thereon

    •    Flannel

    •    Floral print and granny sweaters for the girls

    •    Choppy or unkempt hair style, usually in colors brown, white-blond, black, or neon

    •    Smoking Parliament or self-rolled cigarettes and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon

    •    Fixed-gear bikes

    •    Pumas, Vans, or Converse for footwear

    •    Satchels & messenger bags

    •    Strange retro moustaches / either super-thin or super-thick hobo beards

If you identify with at least seven of these, you just might be a hipster yourself. But let’s move on to outlining what a hipster actually is, along with some interesting tidbits about hipsters and their hipsterism.
Hipster Illustration by Lauren Oldham
Taken from Definition # 81 from UrbanDictionary:
A relatively new subculture (late 90's-present). A hipster can generally be identified as a skinny, effeminate looking male or an unkempt, annoyed-looking female in her 20's wearing tight jeans and thrift store/vintage clothing and accessories.

Some might say that hipsterism or hipsterosity is a subculture without a cause, with no ideals or values. They can be seen riding bikes, smoking expensive cigarettes, drinking independent coffee and cheap alcohol, and eating organic and vegan food. They say they do such things so as to not conform to mainstream/consumer society, but they value unique appearance and desire to be interesting and different. Overall, hipsters are the embodiment of apathy and irony because by not conforming, they're conforming.

But this definition isn’t entirely accurate either. It better describes the trend followers rather than the trend setters. Some hipsters may not have a cause and are content to simply follow the hipster trend (which is a paradox), but true hipsters, the ones who deny the label because they may not be strictly anti-mainstream everything, do sometimes believe in certain non-conformities.

The Hipster lifestyle is based on good intentions, with an emphasis on what they choose to purchase or actively avoid. Such decisions include choosing not to eat meat, buying things only from local or small chain stores rather than market giants, riding bikes because they’re better for the environment, and shunning meaningless music that doesn’t speak to the human condition (because there’s so much more to life than dancefloors and parties).

Hipsters are intellectual types who like to read and make art and listen to / play music. They tend to view their world through critical (oversized and thick-rimmed) lenses and are experts in following Gandhi’s advice that one should “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Hipsters are all about “irony.” Even though they abuse the word and use it in place of “clever” or “witty,” a hipster’s being actually is rather ironic. They are progressive and liberal but conservative at the same time, and they demand progress in areas that matter, especially politics, and regression in others, such as culture.
Hipster Illustration by Lauren Oldham
Where They Get Their Threads
Real hipsters shop at thrift stores, Salvation Army, Goodwill, or anywhere that sells unique and affordable styles, except for huge chains like Wal-Mart. When a hipster walks into a store, the goal is to find clothing and accessories that fit the odd-ball interests and personal taste of that person. Hipsters are essentially fashion pioneers. See “The Lingo” for a prime example.

Some say that other hipsters may shop at American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, or even Target. These are considered “poser hipsters” and are frowned upon by “real hipsters” for selling out to mainstream consumerism. “Real hipsters” are legitimately cheap, but posers pay for overpriced clothing that big stores market to the hipster demographic. Which is, of course, “ironic” since real hipsters would never ever in a million years do that, leaving only hipster wannabes to take the big-bucks bait.

When it comes to truly one-of-a-kind finds, the only sure way to make sure you’re not going to buy stuff other people in your area can replicate is to shop online. It’s easy to go to a store down the street, but the Internet is huge, so the odds are greater that you can strike indie/hipster gold without your neighbor digging on the same island.


The Lingo
“Those distressed jeans with the fading and the holes? I was wearing those way before they were popular.”

In complete disgust: “Ugh! I can’t believe The Decemberists have a song on the radio! They are no longer a part of MY collection. I don’t care if ‘Calamity Song’ is the only one those mainstream morons are going to hear.” Hipsters can’t listen to anything anyone else is listening to. It’s hipster heresy to do so.

“Hey, can you give me a ride to the show? My janky car won’t start.”

“I think I’ll pass. This place looks sketchy.”

“This shirt is so deck!”

“Andy Warhol...saved my life.”

Also check out this video, which is both entertaining and informative: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-xgYTVS-Fg
Hipsters Illustration
Tumblr and Triangles
Hipsters have a thing for triangles, a tessellating shape that fits everywhere, and KnowsWhy.com explains the reason to those outsiders who do not get it. The triangle’s tessellation is in exact opposition to a hipster’s incongruity in society. It’s ironic, so it gets the hipster thumbs-up.

So why not a square? Surely someone thought of this, as it has the same appeal to reasoning as the triangle, and hipsters could even be described as “squares.” Ahhh, but triangles even include squares, as exemplified in the Pythagorean Theorem A squared + B squared = C squared. Three squares! And if a square has four corners, but squaring something raises it to the second power, then three is in the middle of it all, hence the triangle again. And because triangles utilize exponents and squares do not, triangles are exponential, and thereby infinite.
Get it?

Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but hipsters embrace the concept that triangles are so profound, that they have adopted it as their mascot shape. Essentially, to hipsters, triangles are the meaning of life. Birth, life, and death, three points, one life. Deep.

Hipsters love to blog, and they love Tumblr. Tumblr is basically a photo blog where members can post interesting and unusual pictures for others to appreciate. Hipsters also prefer Helvetica font, which is different from Arial, one of the few default fonts, because the tops of the t’s are not slanted upward. Why? No reason. Just to be different. Plus, it sounds like something Tim Burton should have named the “Corpse Bride”. And as the next stage of social trend evolution after the “emo” (look it up for a giggle), hipsters love Tim Burton, of course.

The Tunes
Hipsters are into music, not in a “Yeah, I like this song. It’s catchy” kind of way, but in a “Music is my life. Music speaks to the deepest reaches of my soul and expresses everything inside me” kind of way. Since music is such an integral part of a hipster’s life, and because I happen to like several indie and alternative bands myself, I thought I’d share some lesser-known bands that may (or may not) be considered acceptable listening by die-hard hipsters. Enjoy.

    •    M. Ward
    •    Ben’s Brother
    •    The Decemberists
    •    Guster
    •    The Flaming Lips
    •    American Hi-Fi
    •    The Strokes
    •    Arctic Monkeys
    •    Beck

So in conclusion, the best way to be a hipster is to not try to be a hipster. Repeat after me 100 times......I AM AN INDIVIDUAL!

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 195 - November 2017
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