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How to dress like a hipster on the cheap

Anyone can pull off the hipster look without spending big bucks if they know where to shop, what to buy, and how to flaunt the attitude.

By Mar 17, 2014 4:56PM
This post comes from Jeremy Bender at partner site on MSN MoneyThe hipster image arose when the latest generation of cool kids cultivated a style outside the mainstream. Now that style has, ironically, gone mainstream.

21-year-old Denise Romero looks for a blouse while shopping in a Brooklyn, N.Y. thrift store © Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
Trappings that used to be alternative have turned up in malls across America, priced at a premium. Let's just say that if you're shopping for "hipster" gear at a mass-market retailer, you're doing it wrong (unless you're buying something "normal" and uncool -- it gets confusing).

Here are some tips to help you pull off the look cheaply and easily.

Avoid the major shopping outlets
To look like a bona fide hipster, no special brands or items are required. Rather, a general attitude and look are the defining elements. This means that any aspiring hipster should skip right on past the pricey name-brand stores.

Counterintuitively, it also means steering clear of the thrift stores that get attention and draw in the crowds. Although these outlets may house larger selections than small, local thrift shops, the prices are generally much higher and not worth your time or effort.

Thrift stores are your best friend
There is no larger treasure trove of possible hipster clothing than a thrift shop such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Here you can find the full spectrum and variety needed to assemble a personal, yet convincing, hipster look at minimal cost.

A general rule of thumb for hipster fashion: The kookier and more retro, the better. Don't shy away from cheap denim cut-off jeans or vests, or ill-fitting jeans that can be cut at the legs to make a fashionable pair of "jorts" (i.e., jean shorts). Seek out anything nostalgic, such as old cartoon t-shirts and vintage backpacks, which are also staple items. You can find your local Salvation Army here and the nearest Goodwill here.

Head to your local vintage store or antique shop
Vintage shops offer excellent values as long as they remain local secrets. Some may even stock clothing that's more in the hipster vein than the Salvation Army. And there's always the chance you'll stumble upon a particularly unique piece or two. Notable items to look out for include funky eyeglass frames, blazers, newsboy caps, vintage sweaters, and tight and/or unusually colored pants.

Some antique shops also sell secondhand clothing that can fit into a hipster wardrobe. Keep an eye out for suspenders and sweaters, to be precise.

Never underestimate your own closet. A potential goldmine for anyone looking to be a hipster is your own, or your parents', closet. Clothes from back in the day (that would be the '80s or '90s) that fell out of style are now back in vogue. Old sweaters, colored pants, flannels, and skinny jeans are hipster mainstays.
Never be afraid to doctor old clothes, either, into something more hip. A JanSport backpack from high school, for example, could become an immediate hipster item with the addition of some flair -- fabric Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle badges, perhaps, that you sew on. The best part about rooting through storage closets is that everything you find is completely free and is convincingly, authentically, hipster.

Rock the hipster attitude
Just as important as finding the right clothing is nailing the hipster attitude. Similar to grunge, hipster style relies on the notion of being alternative to give clothing some pizzazz. Beyond that, you need to feel comfortable rocking retro items while embracing the nerdier side of things, such as Pokemon or old Nickelodeon cartoons. Getting into alternative and indie music is also part of the act.

Mainly, though, the central tenet of the hipster style is being laid back and blasé. And the best part about this aspect of nailing hipsterism -- it's totally free.

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Mar 18, 2014 10:24AM
How can the mainstay of hipster style be "laid-back and blase" if you have to work that hard at it?

Mar 17, 2014 9:48PM
Riiiiight.... Because you don't want to spend a fortune to look destitute.
Mar 18, 2014 11:30AM
It's expensive to look this cheap!
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