The Complete Glossary of Hipster Hallmarks

A “hipster” is “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns (as in jazz or fashion).” Or so says the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The extent to which that definition is insufficient and unsatisfactory in the modern era boggles the mind. So, naturally, during the past decade lots of people, publications and websites have attempted to fill in the Williamsburg-sized gaps in our understanding by crafting better, more expansive definitions. These efforts often fall short as well. To be fair, devising a comprehensive yet pithy definition is not easy in this case. (Give it a try. It’s like attempting to define the sky with words instead of just, say, going outside and pointing up.)

Fortunately there is an easier way forward. Why exert any energy trying to come up with a formal, all-encompassing definition of the word “hipster” when we can just look to the paper of record for guidance?

Descriptors found in pieces published by The New York Times in the last decade that discuss, describe or mention hipsters combine to offer more than adequate fodder for a useful reference document. They have created a portfolio of hipsterdom.

So if you’re hoping to paint a picture to be hung in some TBA hipster museum of the future, or to create a double-decker bus tour thing catering to hipster groupies, look no further than the world’s foremost daily newspaper for insights on what defines this subset of the population. Below, please find The Complete Glossary of Hipster Hallmarks, cribbed from the pages of The New York Times and presented without comment.


A)
•”all-night roof parties” (May 19, 2002)
•”American Spirits” (March 1, 2009)
•”artisanal tattoos” (August 5, 2012)
•”ascots” (July 10, 2005)
•”asymmetrical haircuts” (July 27, 2003)
•”aviator glasses” (April 16, 2011)





B)
•”bearded [men wearing] trendy straw hat[s]” (October 24, 2010)
•”bespoke frontiersman beard[s]” (August 5, 2012)
•”Brooklyn Flea” (“in the vicinity of the”) (August 13, 2009)
•”bunchy blouses” (June 11, 2009)





C)
•”cardigan sweaters” (October 19, 2011)
•”cardigans” (“droopy”) (June 11, 2009)
•”cigarette-filled afternoons” (May 19, 2002)
•”cocktails with artisan bitters” (May 31, 2012)
•”Converse high-tops” (July 27, 2003)
•”cool-nerd eyeglasses” (October 19, 2011)
•”cuffs with bright blue socks for emphasis” (July, 12 2010)





D)
•”deliberately homely sweaters” (November 3, 2011)
•”dirty looking young [men]” (April 16, 2011)
•”discount shop jeans” (January 17, 2006)
•”droll expressions” (June 11, 2009)





E)
•”80s hairdos” (May 29, 2005)
•”80s jewelry” (June 24, 2007)
•”80s studded belts” (July 27, 2003)




F)
•”facial hair” (“[a] certain kind of”) (April 16, 2011)
•”facial hair” (“creative”) (May 19, 2002)
•”fashion [that] embeds a continued wistfulness for early life” (June 24, 2012)
•”[a] fedora perched atop the head just so” (August 5, 2012)
•”fedoras” (June 9, 2009)
•”fellows with scraggly beards” (June 20, 2012)
•”fixed-gear bikes” (being into) (October 19, 2011)
•”flannel shirt[s]” (October 27, 2011)
•”Fleet Foxes” (being into the) (October 19, 2011)
•”foam-fronted trucker hat[s]” (October 9, 2005)
•”full, bushy beards” (March 23, 2006)
•”furry faces” (March 23, 2006)





G)

•”gaunt people in tight clothes” (May 19, 2002)
•”generic slip-on sneakers” (August 13, 2009)
•”glasses and a gentle, humble demeanor” (January 17, 2006)
•”Grizzly Bear” (“fans of”) (August 13, 2009)





H)
•”hair in a top bun” (“men with”) (Feb 17, 2013)
•”hair that looks as if it had fallen on a guy’s head as he fought his way through a wind tunnel.” (January 17, 2006)
•”harmonium” (playing the) (October 7, 2007)
•”high-waisted skinny jeans” (November 3, 2011)
•”huge tote bags” (June 11, 2009)




I)

•”ironic smile[s]” (October 19, 2011)
•”ironic T-shirts” (June 24, 2007)
•”irony epidemic” (the) (April 6, 2004)




J)

•”jeans [that] fit like pantyhose” (March 31, 2002)




K)

•”kale [plants growing] on tops of warehouses” (June 23, 2011)
•”Kings of Leon” (October 5, 2003)
•”kitsch” (a penchant for) (October 7, 2007)




L)

•”leather cuff bracelet[s]” (August 13, 2009)
•”leg warmers” (July 27, 2003)
•”leggings for women” (January 6, 2013)
•”liv[ing] in Williamsburg, or Bushwick” (October 19, 2011)
•”local food” (an insistence on) (June 20, 2012)
•”lopsided hair” (June 11, 2009)





M)
•”[the] McCarren Park Greenmarket” (“in the vicinity of…”) (August 13, 2009)
•”[the] man bun” (January 26, 2012)
•”manly stubble” (October 27, 2011)
•”men… twisting their long hair into a form more famously worn by librarians, schoolmarms and Katharine Hepburn.” (January 26, 2012)
•”men wearing skinny jeans” (April 3, 2009)
•”mocking over-sharing parents” (“who, for example, post photos of their placentas”) (August 9, 2012)
•”Monday night cornhole” (“tournaments”) (September 15, 2011)
•”mustache” (“reemergence of the”) (February 8, 2009)
•”mustaches on a stick” (June 24, 2007)





N)

•”nerd-chic glasses (October 7, 2007)
•”not trying” (January 17, 2006)





O)

•”off-the-shoulder shirts” (July 27, 2003)
•”old-fashioned valve amplifiers” (the collection of) (July 17, 2011)
•”old-school sunglasses” (November 2, 2006)
•”organic food” (favoring) (October 19, 2011)
•”oversized lumber-jack shirts” (January 17, 2006)
•”oversized plastic-frame glasses” (January 6, 2013)




P)
•”Pabst Blue Ribbon as the… beer of choice” (February 8, 2009)
• “pale, tiny-waisted boys” (June 11, 2009)
•”pasty-white” (April 19, 2013)
•”posturing” (July 23, 2009)
•”potbelly” (“burgeoning”) (August 13, 2009)




R)

•”Radiohead and The Killers” (October 19, 2011)
•”raffishly trimmed whiskers” (March 23, 2006)
•”[the] Ralph Kramden [belly]” (August 13, 2009)
•”Ray-Ban sunglasses” (October 19, 2011)
•”rolled cuffs over oxfords without socks.” (May 31, 2012)
•”roots in the community [that] are superficial” (July 22, 2012)




S)

•”Schlitz” (as a “hipster staple”) (June 9, 2011)
•”scruffy” (November 28, 2004)
•”shabby chic” (May 13 2007)
•”shaggy hairstyle[s]” (October 19, 2011)
•”shapeless sneakers” (January 17, 2006)
•”shorts cut at knickers length” (August 13, 2009)
•”sideways trucker caps” (July 27, 2003)
•”skinny black jeans” (October 27, 2011)
•”skinny jeans” (May 25, 2010)
•”skinny ties” (October 19, 2011)
•”skinny trousers” (October 19, 2011)
•”skinny-leg jeans” (June 11, 2009)
•”slim” (“being”) (October 19, 2011)
•”[a] small star [as] the must-have tattoo” (June 24, 2007)
•”sneaker connoisseurship” (November 2, 2006)
•”sons [named] Denim and Bowie” (Feb 17, 2013)
•”[the] sparrow [as] an icon” (June 24, 2007)
•”boys in specs” (January 17, 2006)
•”straw fedora[s]” (August 13, 2009)
•”antique synthesizers” (the collecting of) (July 17, 2011)




T)
•”thrift-store dresses” (June 24, 2007)
•”tight T-shirts” (July 27, 2003)
•”too cool for school” (June 6, 2002)
•”too much pulled pork and too few pull-ups” (leading to “hipster belly”) (March 21, 2013)
•”tousled brown hair” (November 30, 2003)
•”[a] trailer-park sensibility” (September 28, 2003)
•”trucker cap[s]” (August 13, 2009)





U)

•”unkempt-but-still-dressy duds” (June 11, 2009)




V)

•”V-neck Hanes T-shirt[s]” (August 13, 2009)
•”vintage clothes” (May 25, 2010)
•”vintage jeans” (July 27, 2003)
•”vintage shirts with high school football logos” (September 28, 2003)
•”vintage T-shirts” (November 3, 2011)




W)

•”wallet chain[s]” (August 13, 2009)
•”Wayfarers with prescription lenses” (September 1, 2011)
•”wearing sunglasses at night” (October 21, 2007)
•”women with Feist haircuts” (“young”) (June 11, 2009)







Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor living in Manhattan. Follow him on twitter @matthewjxmalady. Photo by Heather Harvey.