Today my mom told me of the days that she and her friend Kelly would get let into a club called Earl's for free in '70s San Francisco for their "trend-setting style that [apparently] the club needed". She called herself a hipster and has told me that I am one as well. She obviously didn't mean this in a negative way, but at the time, I couldn't help but feel hurt by being placed in this category. While I'm not the American Apparel, '80s loving, big glasses, cigarette smoking type, I do try to wear things that are different from your everyday mall outfit. So is this what she meant by calling me a hipster? Yes, I believe so. But I can't help but think that her '70s version of hipster and our 21st century version are two very different people. I mean, no one today would admit to being a hipster--there are too many negative connotations. Yet there are so many people that are grouped into this category, myself included.
So, the question of the century (or maybe the week) is: What is a hipster, really, and is it such a negative thing? Is a hipster someone that follows fashion and wears the "hippest" clothes? Because to me, fashion and hip don't always mix. Is a hipster someone who just exudes cool? Because to me, cool is just a frame of reference for someone who is totally comfortable in their own skin and confident in their style. The people who should be embarrassed at the term used to describe them are those who wear expensive and bought distressed clothes, head-to-toe trying too hard, wearing what they think is the hippest item of late. That would be the negative definition of a hipster and the one most commonly referred to. But I feel like people also group another type of dresser into the hipster category. That would be people like me: we have fun when we get dressed, get creative with what we have, and are generally confident with the outcome. We wear vintage, thrift, designer, hand-crafted clothes, and whatever else we can find. Perhaps this is the hipster my mother was referring to. This is the hipster I would like to bring back. It's that confidence in their style that makes them seem undeniably cool (the kind of cool I described above). Those are the people I admire. Now, why is that such a bad thing?
So today is the beginning of a new era. I will no longer be insulted, I will no longer get defensive when called a hipster. Instead, I'll take it to mean that I'm the kind of person who takes pride in looking their best and feeling good about it. I'll let them believe what they may about who I am because it doesn't matter if they think I am that kind of hipster because I know who I am and I like that person.
And just so we're clear, I don't agree with any kind of labels but as long as they exist I want people to know that it doesn't matter what you are, it matters who you are. I believe Johnny Weir said it well, as brought to my attention by my friend, Hilary, here.
*all photos by Scott Schuman