Our mate Stuart recently got himself these Wolverine boots. Founded in Rockford, Michigan in 1883, the company has been selling boots to workers, hunters, hikers and the US Army since 1914; Stuart says these ones were worn by the construction workers on the Empire State Building. They were promoted as “1000 Mile Shoes” and were originally made of horsehide. Neigh! you say. Yea.
The Wolverine company also makes Hush Puppies, the casual shoes that were first produced in 1958 and famously resurrected by hipsters in the late 1990s, as chronicled in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.
Heritage brands are awesome, because when you wear and use them, you feel anchored to history.
The other night we were at the tram stop and saw a group of four hipsters attempting to have some drinks on a precarious window ledge above a shop. They were holding beer bottles and glasses. Someone clearly lived in the flat above the shop and had the brilliant idea to drink al fresco.
We were debating taking an iPhone pic of them to put up here, but they must’ve realised what a dick move they were pulling, because they clambered back inside after only a few minutes.
We understand the temptation – particularly if you’re a smoker and there’s no designated smoking area, or if it’s nice outside but you have nowhere to sit. But friends, don’t pull stunts like this.
We know a guy who fell off a balcony and landed on his face. He was in a coma for a while and nobody was sure how brain-damaged he’d be. Luckily, he recovered almost entirely, except he now has false front teeth and has lost his sense of smell and taste.
There’s something undeniably alluring about sparkly stuff. Rappers know it. Nomi Malone knows it. And friends of Dorothy know it. Judy Garland’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz were sequined, but you can get your own twinkletoes by painting PVA craft glue over any old pair of shoes, covering them with red glitter, then spraying them with clear gloss enamel to fix the glitter.
Dead simple stuff, and we are annoyed to reveal that we first read about it via the extremely uncool Lady Melbourne.
Clearly it’s Chair Day here at the Hipster Tipster. You might not be able to upholster a chair, but you sure can tuck a fluffy throw rug over a chair you found abandoned on the street, instantly rendering it shagadelic.
This trick depends on the fluffiness of the rug – if it’s too thin, it’ll just look like an unusually thick dustsheet. Also, the last thing you want is for it to look like some sad hippie share-house relic.
Even if you aren’t into rockabilly, burlesque, swing-dancing or other retro dress-up scenes, at some stage you will definitely be invited to a themed party where it’ll be appropriate to wear the quintessential Forties hairstyle, the victory roll – as modelled by Betty Grable, above.
We have done the hard yards of trawling through all the bazillion YouTube tutorials on the subject (this Scottish chick and this American chick are probably the most helpful), then practising until our arms ached. Here’s our step-by-step guide, plus some other observations.
1. Part your hair. A side part is traditional. Section off the hair you’ll use to make the rolls by parting it where a headband would sit: behind your ears and across the crown of your head.
2. Hold one section of hair out to the side and brush it into a smooth, flat ribbon. Grab it by the ends and roll it in to form a cylinder. This is the tricky bit and it may require practice.
3. When the curl reaches your scalp, arrange it next to the part and pin the bottom with at least two bobby pins: one inserted from the front, one from the back.
4. Repeat with the hair on the other side of the part. It doesn’t matter if the rolls aren’t the same size or symmetrically placed.
5. Smooth down the wings of hair, tuck in any stray hairs, and spray the shit out of it.
Start with ‘dirty’ hair. Clean hair is too slippery to work with. Back in the day they used setting lotion; mousse is probably the best contemporary equivalent as you can easily distribute it through your hair.
Don’t bother with hair rats. ‘Rats’ are any foreign object tucked under your hair to give it support and body. Some people use foam rollers or purpose-made mesh cylinders, or use wads of their own hairbrush hair. But really, you don’t need this stuff.
The roll should be hollow. You should be able to see into it, if not right through it, as it stands upright on your head. If you look like you have little teddy-bear ears on your head, you’re doing it right.
Short hair: You can get a victory roll going in any hair that’s long enough to form a loop the size of a 50c coin. You can always cover the rest of your hair with a Rosie The Riveter-style scarf.
Layered hair: Curls take better in layered hair, so back in the day everyone had layered haircuts. But if you find that the ends of your hair won’t stay in the curl, use gel or wax to slick them down.
Long hair: If you have long hair with few layers, the easiest method is creating a loop . This is cheating as you don’t roll the entire length of your hair up into the roll. But the end result looks just as good.
Fringes: If your fringe is long enough you can incorporate it into a roll. But if it’s short, pin your victory rolls just behind it.
If you’re really into 1940s hairstyles, Daniela Turudich’s book of the same name is an excellent guide. It’s not just a how-to but is also a cultural history of wartime hair trends.
How often do you actually pay for something with five-cent coins? They just weigh down your pockets and bulk up your wallet, and the only time you scrabble around for them is when you’re 15c short.
Yet how can you spend them? Hospitality staff will think you are the worst kind of tightarse if you tip them with five cents – or even a bunch of five-cent coins. And the heady days of five-cent confectionery are over, friends. Our local milk bar will only sell pre-bagged mixed lollies. Imagine that. Pre-bagged.
Luckily, machines don’t care if you’re a tightarse. So use your echidnas in vending machines. Ticket machines. Snack and drink machines. Even supermarket self-checkout machines.
But first, get a piggy bank. We saw a cute one at Tokuya yesterday for $2.50, or you could just use a jar. At the end of every day, give it all your five-cent coins. You’ll be surprised how little you’ll miss them, and how much they stack up.
Of course, some machines bottom out at accepting ten-cent coins – parking meters and Myki machines come to mind. And some laundromats only take dollar coins. That’s when you take your piggy bank to your real bank to get change. The tellers won’t care either. Little kids and old ladies pull this stunt on them every day.
This is from The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement, Greystone Press, 1970. It’s not wallpaper; some awesome parent sketched their terrible sketches, and painted their terrible paintings, until Max said, “Be still!”
We also love these old-school wall murals that look like a peaceful nature scene. You can still get them from various low-rentonline suppliers, but the new ones are often missing the lovely light and colours from the old pictures.
If your shirt’s missing a button, your hem’s falling down, there’s a hole in your sock or your favourite pants get a cigarette burn, there’s no excuse for looking like a bum when it’s so easy to fix them.
Get a sewing kit. By this we don’t mean some exhaustive, Etsy-ready setup. You need a needle, a pair of scissors, some thread and a container to store them in.
You can start with those little travel-size sewing kits from $2 shops and 100-yen shops. Or splash out on proper reels of thread - we find the most useful colours are black, tan, white and pale blue.
Most button-up clothes come with spare buttons supplied: on the tag, sewn to the care label or an inside seam. Keep these in your kit so you’ve got them when you need them.
Get holes in expensive clothes properly mended, but sew up small ones yourself. The easiest way is to turn the garment inside out, line up the edges of the hole and sew a line straight across to seal the gap.
Nick Drewe has reviewed a range of throwaway beard-scrapers, from Home Brand to “the leased sports car of disposable razors”, so you don’t have to carve up your face trying them yourself. A great read!
Sure, in these days of e-reader ascendancy, it might soon be outmoded to carry a book around. But your iPad doesn’t have an intimidating girth and the words “David Foster Wallace” written on the front, so books still win in the show-off stakes.
However, some books are just too big to fit in your bag. You might still want to read them when you’re out and about, or you might pop into a bookshop or library on the way home, but have no bag to carry your new acquisition.
We improvised the Book String during our postgraduate days when we had to carry bulky tomes between home, the library and our uni office. It will work for just one book, or even several. Basically, just tie up your book(s) as if adding a ribbon to a parcel, and then hook your fingers under the knot to carry the books around.
When the Book String isn’t in use, just roll it up in your bag or pocket. The perfect Book String is a soft rope 5-10mm wide and about a metre long. Thin, rough strings will chafe and cut into your hand. A long shoelace is ideal, but anything will do at a pinch, from a ribbon to a dressing-gown sash.
If you’re anything like us, your phone contains eight Andrews, five ladies called Jess and several other people listed only by their Mess+Noise usernames. If you mix them up, you risk embarrassing yourself with an overly personal text message; rudely telling someone you didn’t actually want to talk to them; and that dreaded return text, “Who is this?”
Here are some tips to mitigate the worst of it.
Check before you send. Even if you’re drunk or in a hurry, it only takes an extra second.
Organise your address book. Add each contact’s surname, organisation and other details so that you’ll be less likely to confuse them. Your phone’s operating system might even file the contacts separately enough to avoid errors.
Beware of using your ‘recents’. Terrible mistakes can be made when you look up someone’s number from a recently received call or text. You can accidentally look up another number – your boss’s, for instance – and not realise it until you press ‘Call’ or ‘Send’.
Avoid ‘panic pranking’. Everyone has caller ID these days, so even if you accidentally call the wrong person and then hang up in a panic before they answer, their phone will identify you as a ‘missed call’, prompting them to call you back. Be responsible: stay on the phone and ruefully explain the situation – even to their voicemail. That way they don’t waste time and money chasing your mistake.
An ex-housemate of ours, who also lived in the same house that boasted the milk crate bed base, used to stroll around the neighbourhood stealing posies of flowers from other people’s gardens when she couldn’t afford to buy them.
Flowers from markets – or, mysteriously, that stall at Flinders Street Station – can be pretty cheap ($5 or less), so stealing your own is not really justifiable by cost, and let us also not forget that it is illegal. But if you are going to steal flowers, here are some tips to minimise the ‘stealyness’.
You are just going for a nice walk. And along the way, you will blithely pluck a flower or two that catch your fancy. Never give off the calculating air of a flower thief, and for fuck’s sake don’t hold a pair of scissors or secateurs in one hand.
Don’t trespass. Always choose flowers that are in a park, a public space, or hanging over a fence onto a street or lane. This is a good example of a plant it is okay to nip some blooms from. But forget the flower if you have to enter private property to pick it – even by sticking your arm through a fence.
Don’t denude or damage a plant. Choose profusely blooming plants so that nobody will miss one or two. Don’t take more than a few flowers from any one plant, take them from unobtrusive areas if you can, and break the stems as cleanly as possible.
Be quick and unobtrusive. Don’t tug frenziedly on the plant, or spend ages lurking suspiciously. Just quietly pick the damn flower, and if it doesn’t come off the plant easily, walk away.
Consider leaves and branches. You won’t have to steal as many flowers if you mix up your stolen arrangement with some attractive sprays of leaves. Also, non-floral arrangements – such as a vase of bold, sculptural dead branches – can be just as aesthetically pleasing.
Ray-Ban has just released “Ray-Ban Icons”, a set of the company’s best-loved designs dating back to 1937.
It includes the classic Aviator and Round Metal (aka “John Lennon glasses” – hilariously, now being marketed as “grunge”), as well as the Wayfarer and Clubmaster styles that have been popular for quite a few years now, plus some ’50s-via-’80s cat’s eye spectacle frames.
However, we’ve noticed that the shape of the round, plastic-mounted 4141 has been much cooler in fashion circles this year.
It’s the eternal hipster cyclist’s dilemma – how can you avoid dorky bike helmets, yet also avoid death and brain damage in a crash? Two Swedish ladies may have an answer – they’ve developed a bike helmet that’s worn around the neck, and inflates like an airbag before impact.
Of course, naysayers are already pointing out that if you land on your face, this cartoonish contraption won’t really work, and it might not be set off in time if you tumble over your handlebars.
Sick of being the person who brings supermarket dips to every picnic when your friends have made parmesan and anchovy crostini, pineapple and cherry syrup cupcakes, or other ridiculous gourmet dishes? We have one word for you: risoni.
It looks like giant grains of rice but it’s really a pasta variety that’s used mainly in soups. You can also find it labelled ‘risi’ (Italian for rice) or ‘pasta a riso’. But it makes a killer salad base. The texture is wonderfully silky, and it’s an easy way to impress your friends.
Cook it to al dente as you would any pasta. Then mix through anything you like. Some suggestions: chopped fresh herbs, shredded prosciutto, pine nuts, halved cherry tomatoes, peas or crumbled fetta. Dress it in lemon juice and olive oil, and Bob’s your uncle – you’re a picnic hero.
Uh-oh, it’s that time of year again – Kris Kringle time! Also known as Secret Santa, it’s the practice of being compelled by your workplace to buy an inexpensive, anonymous gift for one of your co-workers!
If you are unlucky, they’ll all be doled out at the work Christmas party by Craig from Accounts sweating under an unconvincing Santa suit. If you’re extra unlucky, Craig will make you sit on his knee to receive your gift.
We stress that your wit and creativity are likely to go completely unrecognised, so it’s really not in your interests to think too hard about what to buy. One year, when the gifts were themed to the recipient’s first name, we got Ken the sales director a koala-shaped hand puppet, joking that it could deliver bad news to his team. In return, the Hipster Tipster received a hand mirror. Did the giver think we were vain or something?
A good bet is to visit one of the various night markets that crop up during daylight savings time. Heaps of stalls in one place, offering cheap goods that aren’t necessarily crappy-looking. In Melbourne, try the Northcote Town Hall’s Kris Kringle Night Market, or its Suzuki-sponsored counterpart at the Queen Victoria Market.
Have you ever thought about getting a cat? They are fluffy and awesome. You can stroke them and take funny pictures of them and make up stupid songs about them. And if you live in Victoria, the RSPCA will give you one for free this week.
Usually, shelter cats come with nominal adoption fees that cover desexing and vaccinations – the RSPCA usually charges $85 for an adult cat (aged over four months) and $65 for a senior cat (aged over seven years). But until this Saturday, 13 November, they’re waiving this fee.
Also, all RSPCA shelters will be open for extended hours tomorrow (Thursday 11 November) so that you can still get there even if you have to work.
We know you’re going to buy shoes in op-shops, but there is a point at which ‘vintage’ and ‘grunge’ shoes become ‘broken’ and ‘a waste of money’. To avoid looking poor and homeless, and being stuck with annoying shoes you’ll end up throwing away, here are some things to look for in op-shop shoes.
Buy leather. Vinyl (aka ‘synthetic’, ‘man-made’, ‘leatherette’) is brittle, peels and cracks easily and makes your feet smell, whereas leather is supple and durable. Stiff leather isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker; a good polish can help that. Scuffed leather can also be polished, but don’t buy scratched, cracked or torn leather.
Brittle glue. Flex the shoe in your hand. If you can hear cracking or feel the sole shifting, it might be about to come unglued. Repair shoes using specialist shoe glue, or at least a flexible, water-resistant glue.
Tired elastic. Don’t buy shoes with elastic straps or panels that have lost their stretch or gone ‘frilly’ along the edges. As well as being too loose, they can easily tear or snap.
Rubber soles. If the sole is brittle, cracked, crumbly or worn very thin, it’s only going to get worse. Rubber soles are very difficult and expensive to repair; we’ve had to throw away perfectly good leather uppers because of cracked rubber soles.
Wooden soles. Beware of old cowboy boots and wedge heels with ground-down wooden soles; they’re extremely expensive to get re-heeled.
Leather soles. Don’t buy if these are holed or cracked. Selleys Spred Sole (available from hardware stores) adds a non-slip surface to smooth-soled shoes and can build up worn soles, but it’s not suitable for some plastics or rubbers.
Insoles. If the insoles are cracked or rumpled, they will always feel uncomfortable when worn. Also avoid sticky insoles.
Laces. If the laces are frayed or brittle, invest in new ones. This can also make the shoes look more jaunty!
Heels. Avoid buying shoes with uneven patterns of heel wear, and never buy high heels with missing taps (the plastic caps on the heel) that expose the heel’s metal core.
Too small? Don’t buy shoes that squash your toes at the ends, but there’s a simple trick to loosen up leather shoes that squeeze the sides of your foot. Just stretch them gently over the rounded end of a broom handle. Obviously, this doesn’t work as well with synthetics.
Too big? An insole can improve the fit, but if your feet slide around in the shoes, that’s a recipe for blisters.
Clean the insides. Use a cloth dipped in a 1:4 antiseptic and water solution. Use a cotton bud to get right to the ends of pointy-toed shoes. Let the shoes dry in the sun. Remove odours by sprinkling with a tablespoon of baking powder. Leave overnight, shake out the powder & wipe residue with a damp cloth.
Other things to look for. Italian or Spanish-made shoes are often good quality, as are shoes that have a maker’s mark stamped in one insole and a retailer’s mark stamped in the other (this means they were originally well-made and expensive).
You’ve probably heard this legend that in Mexico they make Coke with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup, which makes people (or by Time's reckoning, “hipsters”) believe it somehow tastes better. Seems it might be made with HFCS after all.
But anyway, we think the vessel Coke comes in is much more influential on its taste. Some people swear by the ‘glass taste’, but personally we love ‘can Coke’. Plastic bottle Coke can get fucked (except when we have a hangover; then we will suckle from it like Satan’s own nipple).
If you want to stay in a designer’s good books, don’t talk about ‘fonts’. Call them ‘typefaces’.
Thanks to digital layout software, the difference is now one of pedantry. But back in the days when text was printed by pressing metal shapes against paper, a typeface was a stylistically consistent alphabet of letters, numerals and punctuation. A font was a set of metal type in that face, in a particular style (eg bold, italic) or point size.
The pedantry of designers also extends to what they like to call themselves. For instance, what used to be known as ‘graphic design’ is now often called ‘communication design’ or, if the designer works on books or magazines, ‘publication design’. Designers who invent and work with typefaces are ‘typographers’.
But you will be on a safe footing if you call them all simply ‘designers’. If anyone queries that, tell them that you prefer to recognise the collaborative potential of the various design disciplines.
We received a tip that our typeface was difficult to read, and so we have just spent an hour in the rather hipsterish pursuit of agonising over which theme best ‘represents us’, and then tinkering around with the CSS so it looks more the way we like.
We hope the result is both legible and edgy. Ledgyble.
We once had a housemate who made her bed base out of milk crates. When she moved out, there were milk crate-shaped dents in the carpet. While there’s something rather undergraduate about this, it’s definitely more advanced than sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Perhaps a milk crate bed is ‘postgraduate’.
You could put a sheet of plywood over the top and secure the crates together with cable ties, but our housemate just used the plain crates. She reckoned that once you laid them out in a grid, then laid the mattress on top, they didn’t move anywhere. She also covered the crates with a valance, so they weren’t even visible.