The Aspiring Hipster

We've put together a guide for the aspiring hipster—that is, one who is still part of the fabric of normal space but is looking to make the transition to über-cool New Yorker. The Clothes Since hipsters phase into the mist the very second they'r... more

We've put together a guide for the aspiring hipster—that is, one who is still part of the fabric of normal space but is looking to make the transition to über-cool New Yorker. The Clothes Since hipsters phase into the mist the very second they're minted, you're going to have to look the part. The New York hipster—aside from playing in the Williamsburg Kickball League—evades detection by frequenting establishments that cater to coolness, and are therefore generally frequented by hipsters alone. So, to get in, you're going to have to pass the visual test. For women, it's easy: wear clothing from different eras on every part of your body with no great regard for aesthetic cohesion and, when it comes time to talk, mention how your Master's thesis in anthropology is going to rupture the cement foundations of the Ivy League. Oh, and wear boots, even in the middle of a heat wave. There are far more rules for men. First, though, you'll need a place to shop. Housing Works Thrift Shops are scattered throughout the city and offer the remainders of designer shops' inventory. For the hipster, clothing that wasn't good enough to be bought on the first go-around is prime pickings. In fact, ... more

We've put together a guide for the aspiring hipster—that is, one who is still part of the fabric of normal space but is looking to make the transition to über-cool New Yorker.

The Clothes
Since hipsters phase into the mist the very second they're minted, you're going to have to look the part. The New York hipster—aside from playing in the Williamsburg Kickball League—evades detection by frequenting establishments that cater to coolness, and are therefore generally frequented by hipsters alone. So, to get in, you're going to have to pass the visual test. For women, it's easy: wear clothing from different eras on every part of your body with no great regard for aesthetic cohesion and, when it comes time to talk, mention how your Master's thesis in anthropology is going to rupture the cement foundations of the Ivy League. Oh, and wear boots, even in the middle of a heat wave.
There are far more rules for men. First, though, you'll need a place to shop. Housing Works Thrift Shops are scattered throughout the city and offer the remainders of designer shops' inventory. For the hipster, clothing that wasn't good enough to be bought on the first go-around is prime pickings. In fact, What Goes Around Comes Around deals in vintage clothing (ladies, get your boots here), as does Cheap Jack's on Fifth Avenue. Check out some of our tagged vintage and thrift stores, but be forewarned: 'thrift,' 'cheap,' 'vintage,' and 'second-hand' in this city generally mean 'pricey' and 'ridiculously pricey.' You're better off following our style guru's guide for the Vintage Style Maven. Bear in mind: It's expensive making yourself look like you didn't spend much money. If you'd rather dispense with the pretense (a hipster would never dispense with pretense, though) of pricey thrift shops, head on over to SoHo for the real thing.
As far as what you should buy: anything that would look good on a farmer (although mesh caps are fortunately out at the moment) but without a trace of dirt and properly ironed; hats that could have been stolen from Elvis Costello; golf caddies; jazz musicians (think: porkpie hats); or mobsters from the 1930's; and anything else that can be worn and explained with irony. Also, you should probably buy some kind of black plastic-rimmed glasses—even if your eyesight is 20/20—and a nice bright-white belt to loop through your jeans (which, we haven't mentioned, should generally speaking be girls' jeans).

Get Your Hair Cut
Just kidding. Leave it the way it was when you woke up.

The Education
Once your exterior façade is complete, it's important to make sure anyone that sees inside will find the right furniture, figuratively speaking. Besides throwing around key words like "post-modern," "Orwellian," or "equestrian schadenfreude," every hipster needs a certain set of obscure tastes built on a foundation of more standardized hipster fare. A trip to the Strand is a good idea, but pick up the necessary copies of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast Of Champions or J.D. Salinger's Catcher In The Rye (a hipster basically reads required reading from high school, but nothing else by those authors), and then mill meaningfully around the clearance books set up on carts on the sidewalk for maximum "I'll read anything" effect. Do not leave without something from the 25-cent pile.

Next, you'll want to stop by Bleecker Street Records or Other Music (both famously hip shops) to pick up at least two Guided By Voice albums—on vinyl, of course; hipsters don't own CDs—and one album by a band no one's ever heard of, which you will start professing is the best band ever so that you appear to have obscure, underground tastes. Bring albums to the counter and ask "Have you ever heard of this?" until the clerk finally says no to one. That's your new favorite band. Hipsters, however, don't need to buy anything at a record store. Milling about, thumbing through the records with a dissatisfied, staidly disappointed look works as well, and marks you as a connoisseur of music with highly discerning tastes. Spend several hours practicing this all along Bleecker Street. We'd point you to Etherea as well, except that sending a burgeoning hipster to the Lower East Side is like sending a mini-golfer to the PGA Tour.

Location, Location, Location
One of the best places to hang out for aspiring hipsters is Union Square, a sort of park and pedestrian parking lot spanning Broadway from 14th to 17th Streets. Here, the young and hip congregate from all over the city—although mostly from NYU—to sit around, do tricks on skateboards, or get in on fight clubs that have recently started springing up on the square. Union Square also affords hipsters ample cover to go to otherwise unacceptable places like the Virgin Megastore or Barnes & Noble and shrug off the book in your hand with a simple "got it at the Strand," which is just two blocks south. Freegans appreciate the four-times-weekly Greenmarket, where you might magically receive a free bruised head of cabbage at the four o'clock hour—if you are very lucky.

If all of that sitting and people-watching isn't active enough for you, you can try to sub-in at one of the Williamsburg Kickball League's games in McCarren Park. Be sure to sit on the sidelines with your white belt and a copy of McSweeney's Believer rolled up in your back pocket, and the second someone takes a break for a Pabst Blue Ribbon, snake his spot on the field. Or just sit for several months and watch the forthcoming construction; Sonic Youth played the final concert ever here before the pool reverts to its original state: a pool. Amazing stuff, huh? A pool.

Nightlife
The hipster exists mostly at night, shunning the light of day like a vampire. The area known as the BELT (or "below the L train," which slices through hipster-infested Williamsburg) is lousy with hipster bars. The new Trophy Bar—whose address, according to Cafe Moto , with its French-style food and drink prices that are anything but laissez-faire, has been described as Kafka-esque (which means dark; add that phrase to your hipster glossary), making its atmosphere and location irresistible to the urban hipster. Really, anything happening in or around Williamsburg should meet hipster requirements.

The Rest
Now that you're disaffected, deceptively well-read, and probably checking out rentals in Williamsburg or Greenpoint, it's time to stay out of Manhattan at all costs. Hipsters hate Manhattan—except for the Lower East Side, where they can complain to their hearts' content about the rapidly developing and gentrifying area—and they only go there to work. (Note to self: and they only commute on fixed-gear bikes or skateboards.) But if you can't keep yourself in Brooklyn, at least stick to these hipster-friendly spots:
1. Hip Places To Eat
2. Hip Places To Party
3. Hip Places To Shop
4. Hip Places To Sleep


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