Do you wear over-sized glasses? Enjoy flannel and beards? Have you recently started buying records? Have a typewriter?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be a hip-ster (n.): a person who follows the latest trends of fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.
That is the nice definition of hip-ster. I read that and I think of a fashionable twenty-something who enjoys a glass of wine–most likely from some small vineyard no one has ever heard of but she visited on her last trip–after a 10 hour work day. Someone who is “fashionable” doesn’t automatically scream hip-ster.
Hip-ster is not a new word. It derives from hepcat–a term used in the 1940s. In the small town I hail from in western New York, we used hip-ster as in insult.
Urban Dictionary’s sixth definition of hip-ster is more along the lines of how I define hip-ster : Referring to young people of around 18-30 years of age, who drink cheap beer (most often Pabst Blue Ribbon, on occasion Budwiser), smoke Parliaments, Lucky Strikes or hard to obtain foreign cigarettes (such as Gauloises) and take recreational drugs, coke being the most popular. Use a great deal of sarcasm, claim to be ironic. Are usually less than 5% body fat, drink copious amounts of coffee and eat children’s cereal. Listen to Indie Rock, rely heavily on Pitchfork Media to tell them what’s cool. Don’t dance at concerts. Wear a mixture of thrifted clothing and items bought at American Apparel (commonly Tri-blend v-necks) and Urban Outfitters. Extremely tight jeans worn by both sexes, pairing these with either a band or b-movie t shirt and a plaid shirt/v-neck and a cardigan along with Nike hi-tops/Vans/Keds. Females often wear retro style dresses and racerback tank tops without bras. Eschew public transport and instead choose to ride fixed-break bikes. Often claim to know about literature and film – will have Googled a good deal of Vonnegut and French New Wave cinema.
I bet you can all picture at least one person you know who fits this description.
I answered “yes” to three out of the four questions I posed at the beginning of this post.
If you’re sitting there cursing at me because you genuinely like PBR, or Vonnegut really is your favorite author, I will tell you to read “Everyone hates hipsters–but do they really exist?” by Chris Mandle. He believes calling someone a hip-ster is identifying what we find obnoxious about a person and calling them out on it, and that hip-ster isn’t really a social subgroup.
We’re all a hip-ster in one way or another.
People associate hip-ster with apparel. From now on, I shall define hip-ster as just the latest fashion trend.