We’ve all seen this guy: black skinny jeans and chukkas, his hair coiffed slickly, with a mismatched caveman beard. His plaid shirt is rolled up to his elbows, revealing a tattoo sleeve. It seems he’s perched permanently at a Starbucks, Apple laptop in front of him, sipping a soy latte in a recyclable cup. According to Urban Dictionary, he’s a downright hipster. But is that really accurate nowadays?
In the past decade there’s been an undeniable renaissance of interest in menswear, and we dare say it’s in a large way due to the hipster movement. Dressing up wasn’t macho – real men shouldn’t be spending lots of time on the way they look. But the hipster look, as described above, gave men a way to indulge in the fun of dressing up without looking like they really enjoyed it.
Whether this was the plan all along is debatable, but hipsters cleverly co-opted masculine cultural symbols in their look to appear nonchalant. Denim, workman plaid, sailor tattoos, skinhead-inspired tight silhouettes, unruly facial hair – all these reek of the social ideal of masculinity, and became the perfect disguises for (straight) men who really love dolling up. Really, since when did men taking #ootd selfies become sexually attractive?
But of course, hipsters would say they really don’t care about how they look. See how they bend socially-accepted norms of dress! Who but a hipster would think of shaving the sides of his head but leave the top long?
As contradictory as the basis of being hipster is, it was ‘hip’ when it first started – like most things are. Admittedly, long before Starbucks got swamped with wannabes, the barbershop punk look was already well-formed. Except it was mostly found in tattoo parlours and nameless bars.
One man might be most responsible for outing straight “hipsters”, and most ironic of all, he’s gay. Nick Wooster, street style icon as assigned by his Wikipedia page, WoostGod by his ardent, mostly heterosexual male cabal of followers, one of Vogue’s most powerfully dressed men – need we go on?
With the help of Tumblr (do you remember the days when Tumblr was still hipster?), and more recently Instagram, Nick Wooster has propelled hipsterdom into the mainstream, perhaps irreparably. As the media fawned over his unconventional way of wearing shorts with suits and tasseled brogues, or matching colors not expected to match, Wooster became to the straight-man-who-loves-to-doll-up a striking role model. Suddenly, it was okay for an everyday guy to like dressing up, to look more than just presentable, but actually stylish.
Yet with this democratisation of hipsterhood came a self-defeating irony: hipster isn’t hipster anymore. To be fair, Wooster is a true hipster – his style is personal and highly original. He doesn’t follow trends, and in fact is quite the trendsetter, embracing full-coloured tattoo sleeves way before DSquared2 put it on the runway. Sure, he could’ve stayed more “indie” by avoiding the limelight, but who can blame him for embracing high-profile brand collaborations that pay his New York rent?
Truth be told, hipsters as we know them now hardly shy from attention. Stare at one in Starbucks long enough and you’ll see him adjusting his insouciantly rolled-up sleeves, taking a selfie for strangers to admire, or stealing glances around the café to see if anyone’s looking. It’s out there now, guys: it’s okay to like dressing up, and it’s okay to be mainstream. The hipster look is great on many guys – we even have a His Style Archetype dedicated to its hallmarks!
Embrace the attention, and even the self-promotion. Who cares, as long as you look good? If you’re truly a hipster in its original sense, you’ll be at home having a stick and poke tattoo hangout. If you’re not into that stuff, drop the act. Come out already. Don’t deny that you really want to look good, and not just for your own viewing pleasure. As you might have noticed, you’re not alone in being a “hipster”. Fine, we’ll drop the air bunnies.
Hipster is dead, long live hipster!