Hipsters…the new Dandy?
Let’s begin with the definitions: someone that I would identify as a “Hipster” today would be someone who values a certain something about their image, be it their shoes (or lack thereof), their organic/free trade food, their loyalty to the ‘best’ brand, or their sensitive taste for coffee. The modern Hipster is someone who values being different from the rest, knowing better than the masses, and calling attention to this aspect; often through dress. The easiest Hipster to spot is the one in the new shoes, the interesting but not too wild sweater and the Buddy Holly glasses. Thinking Kanye West and Weezer perhaps? Both would qualify as Hipsters to me. But not all fit this easy category of Hipster, there are many variations on the (life)style. Some Hipsters may be more organic and wear only handmade or vintage clothing, or they could be more into wealth and wear a subtly styled and well-tailored version of popular dress. Be it a colorful cufflink, a plaid button-down shirt, a hand-dyed scarf, or even a gold chain; the Hipster makes himself distinguishable. He is known for his aspects of knowing better, of being better cultured, and of being better dressed; and he wants to be. It is against the Hipster attitude to be the same, to blend in, no, the Hipster wants to be noticed and remembered for their certain excellent characteristic.
So what about the “Dandy?” The first Dandy in the 1800’s was George Brummell, a man who not only dressed with the greatest of precision and at the forefront of fashion, but also in fact the man who began the trend of bathing daily. Leaving a time of extreme frivolity and mistake before the French Revolution, George Brummell chose to distinguish himself in society asa man of practicality but also of great stature and intelligence (even if only social). He cast off the ridiculous adornments of 18th Century France and opted for a simpler, cleaner look. His tailored coat and tails were functional yet stylish, working with his slim breeches to give him a sleek and clean look. Right down to the details, Brummell wore a top hat, before its popularity, and a perfectly folded cravat. His look and his attitude brought Brummell a name in society, a name associated with class and respect which he wore proudly.
Now you may be asking, why have I only spoken of men in this comparison of the Hipster and the Dandy. The Dandy was originally a title for men, when men were still at the center of fashion and what they wore was equally as changing and as important as women’s fashion. In modern dress however, men’s fashion has fallen by the wayside, content to remain in the same black suit and tie or just jeans and a t-shirt. Perhaps this even boosts the argument for the Hipster; with no pressure driving the modern male to dress in any particular way, he is going even further out of his way to dress so well and with so much care. However, I must say that the idea of a Hipster is definitely applicable to females. Somehow, a little bit more daunting with the huge variety in women’s fashion. Yet, a woman who strives to dress significantly better than her peers, and one who is passionate and persistent about her views on this. A female Hipster formula does exist, and it is quite similar to the male profile. Often found in San Francisco, Portland, and New York, this girl also has Buddy Holly glasses to go with her vintage jackets, gloves, bags, scarves, shoes, bikes, furniture…..etc. Now that’s just the obvious one, but the Hipster female comes in all shapes and sizes, a woman like Lady Gaga, for instance, could be considered a Hipster for her huge attention to detail and performance. A wealthy woman who doesn’t just wear designer brands, but new brands that are 100% sustainable or recycled, or just classier than the rest. This woman expresses through her dress her desire to be better, and for everyone to know that she is.
Now that we’ve broken it down, does the Hipster really fit the bill of a modern Dandy? Well, there’s the cravat, the perfectly folded neckwear which greatly enhanced to look and feel of Brummell’s outfit. Today we see scarves, bow-ties, the occasional ascot. A man dedicated enough to the perfect look of his outfit will pay great attention to his neckwear, and it will always be a piece that adds momentous class or that grabs your attention immediately. Secondly, the skinny jean of the Hipster…equatable to the slim breeches of George Brummell? If the dress of your Hipster doesn’t tip you off to his (or her) Dandyish qualities, just listen to them speak, watch how they interact, and discuss with them the great pros and cons of life. You will notice, your Hipster despises the uniformity and the idiocy of today, he is passionate about distinguishing himself above the rest, about being noticed for all the right reasons.
George Brummell sparked changes in fashion back in the early 1800’s just as changes in society occurred. The Hipsters would advise that we be at the forefront of the change, break out of the mold and start something new in our society.