What is a hipster? The answer to the ubiquitous question asked of the Millennial generation. Plus a travel manifesto for hipsters on why, where & how we travel.
What is a hipster? My definition
Everyone seems to want to know who/what/where is a hipster. There’s a trend to declare that there is no real definition for what a hipster is, though the word is used loosely by just about every publication imaginable.
What is a hipster? You’d be surprised. It could very well be YOU.
A hipster is an individual—one that usually fits within a certain subculture. Which subculture? It doesn’t matter. Because the definition for hipster is so very vague.
In its most simplest terms, a hipster is an individual who wants to know things. Whether it’s knowing of a band before anyone else, or knowing about the conflict in Syria, the history of taxidermy or obscure words in 20th century Americana. A hipster is someone that’s eager to learn, to see—and yes—even to do. Being a hipster means you’re part of a subculture. As a demographic, hipsters try to set themselves apart from culture as a whole, while simultaneously remaining within the culture. This is nothing extraordinary for a subculture, and yet there’s a certain stigma applied to the “hipster” label.
The term, Hipster, has become used rather frequently to identify anyone that doesn’t appear mainstream. So hipsters stand out from the crowd. (Even if they fit into their stereotypical niche of standing out from the crowd.) Personally, “hipster” is just about the only label I’ve ever felt comfortable with. It’s a subculture so vague it can cover all manners of sins, styles, and vices.
What does a hipster look like?
Hipsters wear skinny jeans and cargo pants, t-shirts and tank tops, trucker hats and no-hats. They drink wine, beer, gin & tonics, old fashioneds and Arnold Palmers. Many hipsters refuse to be recognized by that label or any label. And yet they’ll wear branded clothes. And yet many won’t. Are you starting to realize a trend here? Hipsters do one thing, and other hipsters do another.
Stereotypically (and really, what is any personified definition but a stereotype?), hipsters might look pretty basic.
Want to dress like a hipster? You probably already do. Anyone can be a hipster. Hipsters wear just about any brand you can imagine. Though really you’d generally associate Salvation Army, OxFam, Humana and other thrift & vintage shops as the shopping destination of choice for hipsters. Hipster fashion could include any type of label/brand from Urban Outfitters to something truly trendy and original—an indie designer perhaps. #supportlocalbusiness
Interested in traveling like a hipster? Check out my hipster city guides for destinations all over the world!
How to look like a hipster in 2023!
Dressing like a hipster these days typically involves a mix and mish-mash of vintage, indie, and alt fashion styles. Keep in mind that the hipster fashion trend has changed over time, but these days with the arise of Gen Z adapting many of the trends popular with millennials, what’s considered a hipster has changed a lot.
In general, though, if you want to look like a hipster, these are the key components of the newest style of hipster:
- Thrift Store Finds: Hipsters often gravitate towards thrift stores and vintage shops for unique clothing items. Look for retro pieces like high-waisted jeans, flannel shirts, oversized sweaters, and vintage band T-shirts.
- Skinny Jeans: Skinny jeans are a staple in the hipster wardrobe. Opt for slim-fit or skinny jeans in various colors, but avoid overly distressed styles.
- Plaid and Flannel: Plaid shirts and flannel jackets are iconic hipster clothing items. You can wear them buttoned up or tied around your waist for a laid-back look.
- Vintage Accessories & Jewelry: Accessories are essential for a hipster look. Consider wearing retro eyeglasses (whether prescription or not), oversized scarves, beanie hats, and vintage-inspired jewelry—whether black jewelry, gold, or silver.
- Alternative Sneakers: Look for unique and quirky footwear options such as vintage boots, canvas sneakers (like Converse or Vans), or even classic loafers. Avoid overly trendy sneakers.
- Mix and Match: Embrace a mix-and-match approach by pairing unexpected clothing items. For example, combine a vintage dress with combat boots or wear suspenders with a graphic tee.
- Graphic Tees: Hipsters often wear graphic T-shirts with designs related to indie bands, vintage logos, or pop culture references. Look for tees that express your personal style and interests.
- High-Waisted Bottoms: High-waisted shorts, skirts, and pants are popular among hipsters, as they create a retro and flattering silhouette.
- Layering: Layering is a key aspect of hipster fashion. Combine different textures, patterns, and colors to create a unique and eclectic look. Pair a cardigan with a graphic tee or a denim jacket with a flannel shirt.
- Beanie Hats: Slouchy beanie hats are a hipster staple. They add a casual and laid-back vibe to your outfit. I prefer the fisherman style.
- Retro Hairstyles: Consider experimenting with vintage-inspired hairstyles, such as a messy bun, a top knot, or a shaggy haircut.
- Minimal Makeup: Hipster fashion often goes hand-in-hand with a natural and minimalist approach to makeup. Focus on a clean and fresh look with neutral tones.
- Tattoos and Piercings: Some hipsters embrace body art, including tattoos and piercings, as a form of self-expression.
Remember that the hipster style is all about individuality and self-expression, so don’t be afraid to mix and match elements of hipster style to create your own unique look. Be genuine in your choices and wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.
How to travel like a hipster!
Below is my travel manifesto—my reasoning on how and why I travel, and why I publish my series of Hipster City Guides.
We travel to see, to learn, to do, and to think.
We travel to experience new things, find familiarity abroad and connect all the strange dots that make this world so unique yet so familiar. We travel to push our boundaries so we can learn what we want out of life, where we want to be and what we want to do. We travel to learn.
We travel both far and near.
We travel to desolate islands and big cities, to far-flung places and to our grandparents’ houses. We travel to tourist hotspots and to undiscovered travel destinations. Home is where we make it.
We travel with an open-mind.
We travel with enthusiasm and eagerness to discover the world we live in, this world of ours and of our neighbors. We travel with few preconceptions, with a desire to get lost and to maybe find ourselves during the process.
We travel to meet new people—other travelers and locals alike—those that can introduce us to new ideas, new things, new adventures. We travel with respect, compassion and understanding for others.
How to identify what is a hipster!
Let’s dive into the whimsical world of hipsters, shall we? If you agree with my definition from above, you’ll know that I find the hipster subculture particularly enlightening. Hipsters get a lot of hate and a lot of criticisim, but the hipster subculture is actually all about identifying and emphasizing certain particular inner quirks—whether in style, attitude, fashion, and activism.
Picture a world where fashion is a kaleidoscope of irony, where mustaches are an art form, and where obscure indie bands are revered like rock gods. Welcome to the land of the hipsters, a subculture that’s all about embracing the unconventional with a dash of vintage charm.
First things first, let’s talk fashion. Hipsters don’t just wear clothes; they curate outfits like they’re curating a museum of cool. Vintage thrift stores are their treasure troves, where they unearth flannel shirts, oversized glasses, and grandma’s old cardigans. It’s all about looking effortlessly unique while sipping a latte at the local coffee shop.
The Mustache Manifesto
Facial hair is practically a work of art in the hipster world. Mustaches are lovingly groomed and styled to perfection. You might even spot a handlebar mustache that could double as a bike rack! It’s all in good fun, of course, and a way to celebrate individuality.
Hipsters have an insatiable appetite for all things indie. Music, movies, art, you name it. Obscure bands you’ve never heard of? Check. Underground film festivals in abandoned warehouses? Check. Handcrafted, organic, artisanal everything? Triple check! They relish the thrill of discovering the undiscovered.
Food is another hipster playground. Forget fast food joints; they’d rather seek out a tiny café that serves gluten-free, vegan, locally-sourced avocado toast with a side of organic, small-batch kombucha. If it’s Instagram-worthy and has a quirky name, they’re all in.
The Tech Dilemma
Hipsters may embrace all things vintage, but they’re also paradoxically tech-savvy. You’ll find them rocking retro typewriters while simultaneously posting ironic tweets on their vintage smartphones. They love the latest gadgets, as long as they look like they belong in a Wes Anderson film.
Hipsters often form tight-knit communities where creativity flourishes. Whether it’s a pop-up art gallery in an abandoned warehouse or a DIY craft fair in a parking lot, they love to support local artists and makers. They thrive on collaboration and celebrate the unconventional.
A Sense of Irony
Perhaps the most defining trait of hipsters is their sense of irony. They revel in poking fun at mainstream culture while secretly enjoying some of its guilty pleasures. It’s all part of the game, keeping the world guessing and embracing the joy of not taking things too seriously.
In the end, hipsters are a delightful mix of nostalgia, creativity, and a pinch of quirkiness. They’ve taken the road less traveled, and it’s led them to a land where flannel shirts and handlebar mustaches reign supreme. So, next time you spot someone sipping an artisanal chai latte while wearing suspenders, just give them a nod and appreciate the magical world of hipsters they’ve crafted.