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These days, there's apparently few worse things you could be than a hipster. People aren't outright saying they are worse than Hitler but you can kind of read between the lines. And wearing/doing things because they are ironic is pretty stupid.

But I feel like there's a lot of innocent people that can get caught in the searchlights during a hipster hunt, who have perfectly reasonable explanations for why they exhibit some of the classic hipster signs. Like...

Thick-Framed Glasses

Hipsters are known for wearing thick-framed glasses, as if they lived in a time before strong, lightweight materials were invented.

But even though there's contacts and titanium frames now, there's still totally legit reasons some people might wear thick-rimmed glasses. Like if you have tiny eyes.

Nobody likes having tiny eyes. They make you look like Vigo-possessed Ray from Ghostbusters 2.

BattleRoyaleWithCheese

How can you rule the earth and call other people pitiful half-men when you yourself look like a little piggy? You can say you are the Scourge of Carpathia and the Sorrow of Moldavia but all other people are going to hear is, "Oink, oink, oink!"

But see how a bold pair of frames can really enhance Vigo's eyes.

Now that he's a less freaky looking demon with normal-sized eyes, maybe the Ghostbusters will take what he has to say more seriously instead of shooting him.

Honestly, though, thick, dark frames carry out the same function as eyeliner (the point of eyeliner is to make your eyes stand out and look bigger if you are not versed in the lore of makeup) and are a lot easier to put on. And if you can't wear contacts, like me, eyeliner doesn't do much for you behind the glasses.

So yeah, some of us thick-rimmed glasses wearers aren't hipsters, we are just trying to look less like pig demons.

Vintage T-Shirts

When people these days see someone wearing an 80s pop culture themed T-shirt, their first thought is usually "hipster".

Because what the hell would a grown-up be doing buying a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt, specifically one with the original series logo? To be ironic, that's what.

Or maybe honestly nostalgic, which isn't much better since that kind of blind nostalgia has been bringing back a wave of old properties like Transformers, G.I. Joe, the A-Team, the Smurfs, and others, in mostly awful modern incarnations.

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See what ten thousand ironic t-shirts have wrought.

However, here's another explanation - they are very frugal people who are very good at taking care of their clothes. For example, the oldest T-shirt I can put a date on is my 1992 junior class T-shirt, which I still wear regularly and is in pretty good condition. I haven't gone to any trouble to preserve it and it's nearly 20 years old.

I wear it because it's comfortable, and because it's black, not because I want to let people know that the junior homecoming theme was Stayin' Alive.

Alumnae Theatre
This Stayin' Alive, not the general concept of survival.

Friends I knew in even more insanely frugal households ended up saving clothes way beyond their fashion expiration date, going to college and later the working world with Engrish-festooned shirts from Taiwan that their parents had dumped on them in junior high, because they had a complex about "wasting" things.

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Maybe not the best thing to wear to your first day on the job as a copy editor.

When you grow up, you realize some of the things your parents taught you to do are a little crazy, but old habits die hard.

If the shirt in question is a newly-bought replica, none of that applies, of course. But unless you can see the tag, what are you going to do, carbon date everybody's shirt?

Mental note: Can't-fail small business idea #406 - T-shirt carbon dating kits.

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Skinny Jeans

As someone with weight on my mind a lot, I didn't really get "skinny jeans" at first, as a product. If you want tighter jeans, buy a smaller size, right?

Now I get that you do have to make some changes to the cut to get it to hug your legs all the way down - if you have skinny legs. But for a pretty big percentage of Americans, you don't really need that special cut. You can probably find a standard cut of jeans out there that will do all the hugging you need.

Because to a great extent, how "skinny" a pair of jeans appears is relative to how fat the legs in question are.

For example, any jeans on this person are going to look like skinny jeans:

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You don't usually find a person that big walking around in skinny jeans, but there are a lot of smallish people out there who may have put on a little weight recently but are in denial or maybe just can't afford new jeans. And with the remarkable things they're doing these days with stretch denim, they might just still be able to make their old jeans work - only now they look like skinny jeans.

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Conversely, women who suddenly lose a lot of weight can be mistaken for gangsters.

This is why I wear flares. Flares or boot cut jeans, being big at the ankle, never going to be mistaken for attempted skinny jeans no matter how fat you get, unless you get giant ankle tumors maybe. People will just look at you and go, "Oh, that person got too fat for their jeans."

Better than being called a hipster.

Beards/Mustaches

Sometimes you come across a young man with a bushy beard and mustache and you automatically think "hipster." And quite often you'd be right. People don't usually combine a contemporary hairstyle with the beard of a Civil War gentleman unless they're trying to get attention.

Crazy Myka Fox

But it could also be sensitive skin. Some people experience horrible razor burn every time they try to shave, and just decide, "fuck it."

And maybe they just want to make the best of what they've got, so they style it into something ridiculous, because, face it, everything you style a beard or mustache into looks ridiculous. That's your only alternative to plain.

However, if they're clearly shaving big swaths of beard in order to get some kind of pattern:

Die Hipster Die

That leaves the sensitive skin excuse right out. Hipster away.

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Only Listen To Obscure Bands

So is there an explanation for why someone would only listen to obscure bands and avoid anything popular, other than they want to think they're better than you? Maybe.

I wouldn't exactly say I'm crowd-phobic but nothing annoys me more than dealing with huge crowds and long lines and lots of traffic. Do you know where you can find all that? Concerts for popular bands.

Plus, exorbitantly expensive tickets. You get none of that if you go for an obscure band, or as I prefer to think of them, "off-brand musical products." There's nothing snooty about it, any more than it's snooty to go to Arby's when Tony Roma's has a 2 hour wait. Or buying Hydrox cookies because they are out of Oreos.

BeautifulFunnySadAndTrue.com
Did you know the Hydrox cookie was actually invented 4 years before the Oreo? It still sucked though.

But that's just concerts. Why wouldn't they at least listen to popular albums? Well, it's not easy developing a taste for shitty music, which you will have to do to enjoy most obscure-band concerts (there's a reason nobody goes there). You've got to put in quite a few hours building up a tolerance for it, which means a lot of time with the ol' iPod.

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"An hour ago it sounded like cats fighting, now it sounds like broken violins. I think I'm making progress."

I guess if you really cared about quality music more than saving money and avoiding traffic, this would be silly. But hey, even if their priorities are silly, they're not doing it to show off at least.

However, if you take this popular-music-eschewing person to Disneyland or to Times Square on New Year's Eve and they're totally enjoying it, this is not a crowd-phobe and is most likely just a hipster.

Obsessed With Vinyl Records

Everyone knows hipsters are obsessed with vinyl and always preaching about how the sound quality is so much better. Anybody could have a preference for vinyl, but it seems like the only motivation for being so preachy about it to others must be to show off your superior taste, right?

Pretty much, but there's one other rare possibility. You could be a recording industry executive. As has become pretty clear in the last decade, record companies hate illegal downloaders more than anything in the world.

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To be fair to them, a lot of illegal downloaders are teenagers.

It would be a dream for them to get more people to demand vinyl, because you can't download that. A lot of record companies are coming up with tricks to encourage vinyl sales and hoping it catches on.

So maybe that obnoxious kid is bragging about vinyl to look superior, or maybe he's a record company shill doing some "viral marketing". Even if he isn't (and he probably isn't), you can still call him one. You can have a lot of fun with a hipster that way.

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Wearing Ugly Sweaters

One notorious part of the hipster wardrobe is the hideous sweater - it's either too small, made of clashing colors, or otherwise looks like something someone would wear in a school picture in the 70s.

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Coincidentally enough, those all describe sweaters commonly knitted by people's grandmothers. When I was a kid, my grandmother doted on us by knitting and gifting us with hideous, outdated sweaters that often didn't fit. I hated those sweaters. But here's the thing.

I wish Grandma was still knitting those hideous sweaters for us because she got Alzheimer's in her later years and passed away in 2004, and now I have no grandparents. If she was still alive and able to knit, I would wear every single one of her mismatching monstrosities.

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I guess I would probably have that expression though.

So when someone is proudly wearing the ugliest sweater in the world, maybe they are a hipster, or maybe they are a grandma's boy. If you're thinking, "Well, you only have to wear grandma sweaters when you're going to see your grandma," that is a horrible thing to say and I am going to tell your grandma you said that, and you really should visit her more often. When is the last time you visited her?

So anyway, next time you are about to label someone as a hipster, take a step back and consider what the odds are that they might just be a tiny-eyed, money-saving grandma's boy with sensitive skin who put on some weight lately. And their dad is a record company executive. Okay, I guess the odds are astronomical. But not impossible.

Check out more from Christina in 6 Things Everyone Wants To Share And Nobody Wants To Read and The 6 Most Statistically Full of Shit Professions.

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