Culture | From high-waisted to high fashion

Hipster appropriation of nerdy style leaves no pants behind

Look up from your paper right now. Chances are, if you’re on campus or in a café somewhere, you can spot one. That guy sitting beside you, wearing the faded, skinny blue jeans with obnoxiously bright neon shoes, a tight button-down plaid shirt and a leather jacket, he’s one of them. The girl walking toward you with a baggy t-shirt from the eighties tucked into a high-waisted denim skirt, sporting lace-up granny booties and oversized reading glasses is another. These people fall into the class of hipsters, and in this city, on this campus, they are everywhere.

Hipster fashion is ubiquitous: suspenders, high-waisted skirts and skinny jeans, over-sized sweaters, vintage t-shirts, and unnecessarily big glasses that serve absolutely no purpose to your eyesight whatsoever. There are the vests, bright accessories, party dresses – some that resemble ones I wore as a child, others that resemble my grandmother’s – and an inordinate amount of revamped eighties workout clothing: American Apparel. I am not saying this fashion is ugly, or commenting on the people that swear by it; in fact, I myself am a part of the hipster fashion world, though perhaps not to the same extent as the diehards.

Take a moment to examine the next true hipster that walks by, someone straight out off of Pregnant Goldfish, a blog dedicated entirely to hipsterdom and all its wonders. Do they resemble anyone, perhaps a stereotype that has existed for decades?

Hipsters seem to have appropriated all fashion that society has traditionally associated with geeks, and reworked it to make it cool and “hip.” The high-waisted pants, button down shirt combo is a classic for geeks, but also for hipsters. So are hipsters merely geeks revamped? Are hipsters poking fun at the traditional geek, or by creating a hybrid of geekism and trendiness, are they creating a brand new stereotype of the hipster?

When you walk by the next girl wearing glasses, a cardigan belted over top of a high-waisted skinny jeans, and lace-up ankle boots, ignore the vintage cool of the pieces and really examine them. They are the clothes that we have always associated geeks with, deconstructed and combined with some old-school class and modern-day cool. Without the alligator skin belt, the cardigan is just a plain cream wool sweater, a little too short and buttoned awkwardly over jeans that cover more than half a girl’s body. The little hand-me-down boots are simply substitutes for the “it” shoe of the last five years, Uggs.

Geeks have always been the outcasts of society. In TV shows like Screech from Saved by the Bell or Steve Urkel from Family Matters, they are lovable, but unfashionable and out of touch with the trends. Hipsters have taken this traditionally outcast fashion and brought it out into the limelight, showing that which was once un-cool and lame can be turned into a major fashion statement. However, what does this really say about hipsters? By creating a new version of the geek style, have they eradicated the traditional stereotype? Personally, my descent into hipster fashion was gradual, and I did not consciously appropriate all geek fashion possible, but I did purposefully seek out clothing that was less mainstream and more unique. Now, my “unique” fashion follows me everywhere; at least with hipster fashion in its most extreme form, you rarely find someone wearing the exact same vintage eighties cardigan. That only happens with American Apparel, the store that brought hipsterdom to the masses.

The fact that hipsters identify with geeks, the traditional outcasts of society, reflects that those who truly rock hipster fashion see themselves as outsiders. Unable to identify with the mainstream trends of the time, hipsters took something old and lame and made it new and cool again. And so the circle of fashion goes, what is old must be new again at some point. Go forth, hipsters, and rock the geek fashion, but please, if you don’t need glasses, don’t wear fake ones. That’s one trend too excessive and unnecessary, even for a clothes and accessories whore like myself.


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