Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How I dress: The rise and fall of faux hipsterdom

hipster beard

In 2001, I owned just two pieces of clothing deemed worthy enough to wear through the hallways of John F. Kennedy Middle School: a navy blue Nike sweatshirt and a magenta-red Nike sweatshirt. Both had identical accouterments: a hood attached to the collar and large frontal pockets. This being middle school, I was highly cognizant that if I strictly alternated wearing each every day, my classmates would soon infer my pattern of dress and tease me about it while in line for four-square. That's why, some weeks, I made sure to switch it up: blue, red, blue blue, red, red, red. I realized I lacked variety, but was so genuinely confident about the coolness factor of my hoodies that I thought -- I knew -- it was enough to offset the fact that I didn't wear anything else.

Near the end of 8th grade, it became a travesty to continue wearing the sweatshirts. The red one had unraveled, a hole in the right armpit and missing drawstring. The blue one had an ugly jigsaw-shaped stain, and the overall color was leeching out with every wash. My mom had surreptitiously attempted to dispose of the tattered remains; when I caught her doing it and wrested my beloved to safety, she told me, in no uncertain terms, that I looked like a vagabond wearing them. It didn't matter to me. I put aside her concerns for my social well-being and remained loyal to my hoodies.

That is, until one of my crushes asked me why I had been wearing the same sweatshirt for 3 years.

Since then, I haven't been able to hold down a consistent style. I've fallen in love with baggy, black denim and moved to high and tight khakis; bought white polo shirts and chucked them for graphic tees; wore hemp bracelets and shark tooth necklaces before throwing them away for a bandana, folded twice and wrapped around my head. I've been defined more for what I won't wear: in high school, it was blue jeans; in college, it was boat shoes.

This summer, I'm in the midst of another transformation: dressing "hipster." I still don't know what this means. I know it involves vintage shops, mustaches, witch haus, irony, button-ups and Happy Meal trinkets, but in what combination, how conscientiously, and within what lifestyle -- count me among the lost. After getting feedback from some actual hipsters, I'm not sure it's possible to consciously become a hipster. (Case in point: Accidental Chinese Hipsters.) In fact, I think writing this right now disqualifies me from ever breaching hipsterdom's castle walls.

Which, strangely enough, is fine by me. I've realized that I look pretty good in faux hipster. I have the physical attributes: strangely slightly wavy Asian hair and a tall, emaciated frame. I am so in on the commodification of this style: American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, large obnoxious glasses, garish colors, button-downs, a guitar. To 99% of the population outside of New York, my new designated look, which consists of a half-button-down gray non-collar long-sleeve shirt, semi-tight green pants, yellow shoes, and big, square-ish glasses, is fully, dead-set hipster.

The relevant question is not, how can Peter become a true hipster. Or even, how can he be become a better fake hipster. (And let's not go into, why is he changing his style again?) What I'm curious about is, when am I going to grow stale on dressing like this? (Stale dressing? Get it?) Of having to pull at the bottom cuff to pull my pants off, instead of just unzipping my fly? Of limping around with feet pain, because my shoes don't have any support? I'm guessing, because I'm headed to the Philippines in a month, where, goodness knows, I'm not going to be wearing long-sleeved anything, my love affair with bright, tight clothes will end very soon. 

But unlike the Nike sweatshirts (which I just threw away), I'm going to fold up my green pants and store them in my closet back at home. You know, just in case.

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