How To Be a Hipster

Oh,the hipster status: So easy to spot, but so difficult to attain. From the threads and music to your college major and apartment, any misstep can make you into a total poseur.

Wear Hipster Clothes

The first part of hipster life is style. Be advised: Any brand that clearly states you spent good money on your jeans — designer brands – are not for hipsters.

Hipster jeans look like your mom’s hotter friend wore them in the ’80s and lost them down a rain gutter, and you picked them up last week at your neighborhood Goodwill. In reality, you probably bought them at Urban Outfitters for $75 and paid for them with your dad’s credit card.

Listen to Hipster Music

Next, music. If you aren’t a music buff, don’t worry. Getting down to the nitty gritty of hipster jams is easy if you do your research. Pandora is a great resource, as you can search an acclaimed hipster band like The Pixies. If you like them enough, you can buy a t-shirt from Hot Topic. If you’re looking for a more recent band, start with Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian or Fleet Foxes, as well as some mainstream hip-hop, such as Nicki Minaj or Lil’ Wayne.

And don’t forget to nod your head slowly at all your neighborhood bands’ basement shows as well, buy their records and name drop them pretentiously (even if your best local band is just two dudes who can’t play the 10 gallon bucket and washboard they record with).

Start a Hipster Career

Hipsters also tend to have obscure, intellectual or artsy college degrees. Popular hipster majors and subsequent jobs include, but are not limited to: graphic design, arts administration, studio art, illustration, computer animation, philosophy, women’s studies, anthropology, psychology, communications, film, media production, journalism, literature, etc. It’s all about paying the big bucks to attend a small, private, liberal arts college to get a degree in the things that will teach you the art of traveling, writing, using cameras and sitting on curbs chain smoking and thinking.

Have a Hipster Attitude

Because a hipster’s job prospects might include such titles as bike chain engineer, herb cultivator or collage art critic these people tend to have a certain attitude — a blend of indifference, sleepiness and snobbery. They’re never busier than you are, but they think they are.

Image source: Paste Magazine, Nov. 2009

They do not get too excited about anything. They do not suck up or act like anyone is actually cool (who can be cooler, really?). They always talk about needing coffee or cigarettes or a beer, regardless of the time of day. This combination is particularly common if you are also a runner or vegetarian – nothing adds to a hipster’s mystique like being a running, smoking vegetarian. But, hipsters also tend to know the best local places to grab good, cheap food (although it might be vegan).

Live in a Hipster Apartment

A hipster’s living arrangement is the most paradoxical part of the existence, however. Hipsters tend to have rich parents. Of course, they’d completely lose their hipster status living at home in a McMansion, so hipsters tend to live in small apartments in gritty parts of their cities of choice, with at least two other people. It’s all about street cred, even though the closest most hipsters have ever been to a shootout is a blow-out sale at Anthropologie. Want to find the neighborhood in question? Just look for bohemians, hippies, gays, artists, independent coffee shops, bike shops, college students and street art (but not Shepard Fairey. What. A. Sellout.).

Heed this warning: Hipsters are generally disliked by wannabe hipsters. Mimicry is just another burden the uber-cool must bear, so tread lightly as you become a hipster.

In the end,  you’ll really know you’re a hipster when everyone calls you one but your curt reply is always, “Fuck hipsters.”

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Renee Mitson I love blogging and social media. I obsess over tech, interior design, memes, cycling, and ridiculous fashion trends. From Providence, moved to Boston, Toronto is next this fall! Twitter: @reneemitson

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34 Responses to “How To Be a Hipster”

  1. Sam

    First off, if hipsters are going to spend good money on anything, it’s their jeans. I see more hipsters wearing designer jeans than I can count. Second, replace Hot Topic with American Apparel. The hipsters you’re talking about don’t shop at Hot Topic. In fact, they hate malls altogether. They go to t-shirt websites or pick up their band shirts at the show, because it enhances their cred.


    “Dude, that Lifter Puller t-shirt is badass.”
    “Thanks, bro. I got it when I saw their last show at Triple Rock Social Club. You know, I wish Craig Finn had stuck with that style. He’s just getting too poppy with The Hold Steady.”
    “I mean, sure. But Boys & Girls in America was pretty kickass.”
    “Yeah, totally. If you’re into that sort of thing.”

    Also, Pandora is a kiss of death for indie cred. It gravitates toward popular songs without venturing into the truly deep cuts. It’s also the definition of someone else telling you what to listen to. If you really want the hipster music thing, visit a record store with a good reputation and talk to the people there. Have a conversation about what you like.

    Example of how someone makes a purchase of the album “Cursive’s Domestica”:

    “Hey, man. What’s good this week?”
    “Oh, you know, I’m still spinning that new Antlers record, Burst Apart, from a couple weeks ago.”
    “Really? I got a leaked copy a couple months ago, and I think Hospice is way better.”
    “Right on. Yeah, I really liked that album – it reminded me a lot of Cursive.”
    “Yeah, I totally saw that in the Pitchfork review. I haven’t heard that record.”
    “You should totally check it out. I think we have a copy in the used section. I’ll throw it on.”

    If you’re in the fake-it-til-you-make-it club, reading Pitchfork is a great way to pretend to know what you’re talking about. But remember, paraphrase – don’t quote directly.

    One more thing – NEVER, under any circumstances, admit that you are a hipster. If you ascribe to the identity, you are no longer cool enough to hold the title. Word to the wise.

    • Patrick

      Pitchfork?! Ugh. Do not read Pitchfork. It’s vacuous logorrhea…garbage written by tone deaf ivy creative writing groupies. Just wax poetic in gatherings about Neutral Milk Hotel all the time and everyone will assume that you do read Pitchfork. Problem solved.

  2. Yesterday & Today « laila Alive

    [...] same. But more on that later, perhaps. In the meantime, if you’re curious, I stumbled upon this perfect description by Renee Mitson, a blogger I recently stumbled upon, but whose most recent post on hipsters, I [...]

  3. T.

    The word “hipster” isn’t even relevant anymore. The hipster scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn met its death in 2009. Since then no other neighborhood in Brooklyn (including Bushwick); has been able to recapture that vibe. It lasted for 10 years and now it’s over. I think about going to other cities to find that same vibe; but somehow I know it’s just not the same. The first “hipster” generation is now in their 30s and early 40s. This new generation just feels like a bunch of posers who really don’t remember what started it all. Hipster fashion has become so mainstream now that even people who supposedly dress in a hipster fashion; get called hipsters when they are really just into the clothes. It was a bizarre counterculture that prided itself in being somewhat exclusive and underground. Every decade seems to have that weird group of kids who deviate from the norm. The hipster has now carved a niche in the mainstream.

  4. Calvin

    Hipsters are entirely to hypocritical to be hipsters. They think they are avoiding the mainstream when they have in fact become it. It’s now mainstream to be a hipster which I find completely repulsive. The fact that they have become mainstream cancels out what they claim to be.

  5. Ollie parazite

    Hipster as a stereotype is completely dead. it is not mainstream to be one so obviously it has been cancelled out. There are still places that have that vibe but they are trying to change who they are to avoid the mainstream. its all really lame. These days almost everyone is able to fit into a different definition of hipster, apparently some people think the generic Myspace whore is a hipster now. Im sorry but its fucking sad that people try so hard to go for being hipster, i mean thats pathetic.

  6. Khalid

    Just by the way, the “Noa” is completely midtown, and if one acknowledges that they are a hipster, well then they are not a hipster. A true hipster is just doin his thang, and just happens to be a hipster.

  7. Tom

    I was 20something in the 1980s, and I look at these pictures of hipsters and I wonder what everybody is talking about. Lots of us dressed something like that half the time and listened to the exact same music. We weren’t trying to be outside the mainstream or anything. What’s the big deal? Who cares?

    The men didn’t wear women’s jeans. Are dudes literally wearing girl pants? That’s a bad idea. Maybe that’s it.

    Still, move on. Who cares?

    • mott

      agreed – who gives a shit? i totally fit this stereotype and have since 1991 – you talk about this whole “hipster” phenomenon as if its new or something, but really you’re just a hater. its all good, there gots to be haters in the world, but for fuck’s sake, find something else to obsess over – like all the meat-headed, trust-fund babies tossing bean bags on their fraternity’s lawn – or the ladies sporting one of several pairs of Uggs and frilly NorthFace paraphernalia and Dolce and Gabbana bags ALL bought and paid for by mommy and daddy. between your vague “hipster” description and all the gweedo / gangsters i just described, i believe we’ve clumped EVERY single college student into the same category. In the hipster’s defense, at least they’re trying to not look like their parents are funding all their exploits.

  8. D, ,

    what we have here is posers(trendy’s) like some of the emo and scene kids(the ones that wear band shirts of music they don’t listen too), what about the new fad, the pretentiousness. it is still all the same things posers do, they try to be cool, by acting like they don’t care , it is just another manipulation.
    don’t forget the new one hipster goths.
    D, ,

  9. Dartania Thorne

    Oh my gosh… You by no means know anything about hipsters! It is impossible to follow directions to become a hipster. Buying expensive things that look like trash does not make one a hipster. What makes a person a hipster is not following the trend of hipster-fashion. Rebelling without being told to rebel, without knowing that it is cool to do so, is what being a hipster is all about.
    Here are a few real tips to become a partial-hipster:
    *Buying things that are trash-cheap, or even made from trash, that look good and are useful.
    *Being yourself and not caring whether or not anyone calls you a hipster. Do not strive for being labeled hipster. If you are worthy in the environment you’re in, it will come by itself.
    *Make your own music. Don’t wait for other independents. Become the independent.
    *Make your own clothes (if you’re any good at sewing/knitting… start with a scarf)
    *DO NOT buy things at places that are widely known. Mall Kiosks are just fine. Mall stores are not. If you live in a big city, go to local shops. In fact, participate in “local saturday,” where you buy at least one item from a local shop every saturday.
    *DO NOT hang out at starbucks. Find a local cafe. If you can’t, hang out at the library. Many are getting single-cup coffee/hot chocolate makers.
    *Above all, don’t try to fit into and be labled as hipster. Instead, focus on local, independent, and unique things that you’ve never seen before.

  10. kg

    Haha. I liked this article. Kind of can’t believe commenters are bothering to bicker over the correct-ness of the writers description. The correct answer is: ALL OF THE ABOVE.

    I think we all know what REALLY defines a hipster is the unique band of pretentiousness that you can feel coming from a “hipster” (infinitely moreso than you can see). That air of someone who has found a way to mask their insecurities with pride over inane knowledge about some band. They posses an almost palpable need for that person to find something to latch onto that will allow themselves to look their nose down at you. Over something really minute and stupid. THAT is a goddamn hipster.

    I just want to say that because I can’t order a PBR without someone pointing their finger at me and calling me a hipster. YOU LEAVE MY BEER OUT OF THIS!

  11. taiki

    Hipster isn’t new. It’s not even this century or even the end of last century new.

    Read some goddamn Ginsberg.

    “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”

    Ah, Hipsterism, like Wicca. Everything new is old again.

  12. Liv

    Hipsters, hipsters, hipsters.. Blah, blah, blah. What is with the obsession of ‘hipsters’? It’s just another style like every other style that is out there. Why do people fixate on this?

  13. L.

    Oh this article made me giggle.

    Hipster is just a clever, nerdy, passionate, driven, & serious people.

    They dont want trends, they want to inspire them. It could be with a new App., fasion, music… etc.

    Think about it… hipster isn’t a lable, its a complement.

  14. John Appleseed

    Okay, no. Hipster fashion has become mainstream, hipster things like triangles, pictures with irrelevant quotes on them, and nerdy glasses have all become mainstream. The most conformist people I know follow the vintage trend, because it’s mainstream. Wannabe hipsters have diluted hipsterism, blending it into mainstream. However, hipster habits are still not completely mainstream! No one I know who dresses like a hipster goes out of their way to listen to indie or whatever, top 40 is all they know. Basically, hipsterism isn’t mainstream, trying to be hipster is.

  15. Cam

    Being a hipster should be solely defined as living a lifestyle that is outside of what your community views as the “norm”. What this entails is up to the individual.

  16. Meade

    Hipster would never listen to Hip Hop. Never would listen to Arcade Fire. Are you kidding? They are almost as abomidable as Cold Play. Frat boys and Yuppies may listen to Arcade Fire thinking they are “hip”They listen to anything else- even Classic Country music such as Loretta Lynn. They also love Bluegrass. Also, Hipsters would never go to American Apparel. They go to thrift stores. Only youth/scenesters would go to AP. They also sometimes make their own clothes. They drink lots of coffee too, but never at Starbucks. Brooklyn is ‘ol hat for Hipster. In fact, a lot of Hipsters today live in totally unexpected places such as Richmond, Virginia and Austin, Texas. Hipsters tend to be a bit older than expected The vast are are in their late 20s to around age 40. Almost always liberal- but yes, they are actually very conservative Hipsters- they tend to be Libertarian.


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