So You Say You Want to Be a Hipster: Top Five Hipster Essentials

words by Rachel Carter
| Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
"Evolution of the Hipster" from Paste magazine

“Evolution of the Hipster” from Paste magazine

I know what you’re thinking. You’ve been walking around your neighborhood for a while now, going: “Who are these cool kids hanging out on their stoops wearing neon sunglasses and talking about Vice? They look so aloof and ironic! How can I become one of them?”

Well, you are in luck, my friend. I’m here to show you the way. Because aside from a general air of apathy, there are certain aesthetic elements you’ll need to invest in if you truly want to become a hipster.

Here they are, the top five hipster essentials:

#1. Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans

If you want to be a hipster, your number one investment is skinny jeans. Stat. Look, sometimes a cliché is a cliché because it’s true. And hipsters are not hipsters without skinny jeans — the skinnier the better. Plus there are lots of great places you can find them. Like American Apparel. Or Urban Outfitters. Or maybe you can just take your regular jeans and cut out about 12 inches of fabric. Extra hipster points if you find them in a crazy color. Think hot pink, or electric blue, or neon orange. Actually, just envision an acid-washed Easter egg. Now make that happen on your legs! Remember: you’re not a hipster until you’re rocking ostentatious sweaty denim.

#2. Structural Facial Hair

Structured facial hair

When it comes to facial hair you really can’t go wrong. At least as long as you don’t shave. No one likes a baby-faced hipster. But the mountain man? Hot! The Fu Manchu? Sounds great (and not at all skanky)! Seriously, even a Hitler-stache is fair game. Try taking a razor and just sort of attacking your face with it. I guarantee someone is already wearing this look in Williamsburg. Also, no more washing! A true hipster is afraid of only one thing: water. Well, that and bears.

#3. A Pointless Accessory

Pointless accessory

In order to be a true hipster, you need to carry around at least one pointless accessory. Perhaps you have a ukulele just sitting in your closet collecting dust. Pull that baby out and start walking down the street with it! Have an old fedora lying around? Why not put it on your head? Any dapper hat will do (as long as it won’t actually keep your head warm). There are endless possibilities: glasses without lenses, suspenders with tight pants, a neon fanny pack, even a monocle. Just make sure that whatever accessories you’re rocking have absolutely no discernable point.

#4. An Ironic Tattoo

Ironic tattoo

It’s a well-known fact that hipsters are always trying to out-ironic one another. Sometimes they’re even so ironic they actually become sincere again. What better way to prove that you win irony than by getting it in permanent ink on your body? Try getting a tattoo that just says “tattoo.” Or a mustache on your finger that you can hold up to your upper lip at parties. If you’re going to be a hipster it’s time to fully commit. With your skin.

#5. A Shoe/Pant Combination that Makes it Look Like You Ride on the Special Bus

Special bus

If you’ve followed steps 1 – 4, by now you’ve got the tight pants, the jaunty cap, and the ironic ink. You’re almost there! There’s just one missing element: the special bus shoe/pant combo. It’s time to go buy some white ’70s tube socks, with or without stripes. These can be paired with any type of shoe –- though FYI, every hipster loves a brightly-colored sneaker. Then, slap on your skinny jeans and make sure your socks stick out as much as possible, and voila! Forrest Gump moves to Brooklyn. And gets way more self-aware.

Congratulations! You have arrived in hipster-dom. Now it’s time to go make friends with other hipsters. This can be tricky; you will need to remember to act like you don’t care about anything. And to stay away from “sensitive” topics, like primetime TV. Why not try these conversation starters: “Hello, I also only go to that obscure coffee shop down the street where they only serve fair trade coffee grown in Brazilian rainforests. Starbucks is so the devil.” Or, “Of course I was at that show the other night. Nerdy Girl and the Technical Thing is totally happening. I like their use of the ukulele.” And if you need any more inspiration, check out “Evolution of the Hipster,” by Paste Magazine.

Once you’ve made friends with other hipsters, you have truly made it. And this is where we part ways forever, as you are no longer interested in “One Tree Hill,” and I don’t want to talk about the benefits of neon leggings.

Rachel Carter has an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Girl Zone magazine and The Faster Times. She is currently living in New York and working on a young adult novel about ghosts.

  • Chris Aitkens

    Rachel, Help! I think I’m turning into a hipster against my will. I have an obsession with ironic clothing and a desire to be considered uncool. I even like the idea of stupid tattoos and unusual facial hair. Please reverse this wretched curse before I start killing my sperm count by wearing tight pants and texting in front of moshpits.

  • nathan

    i’m black. does that make me a hipster?

  • RCarter

    Chris: This sounds serious. You should probably go do something as unironic as possible. Try reading Twilight without mocking it.

    Nate: Hipsters don’t see color. Obviously.

  • nathan

    so what you’re saying is that my colorblind cat, Webster, is a hipster.

  • RCarter

    I think your cat is secretly Kanye West.