Just What The Hell Is Going On With Dudes These Days?


I don’t know about where you come from but around these parts it’s becoming increasingly difficult to walk down certain streets and not question the possibility that you may, in fact, be living in an early twentieth century mining town or New York City during the prohibition era. It’s kind of hard to articulate, so why don’t I just provide you with a couple of visuals. Here is a picture of Mulberry Street on the Lower East Side circa 1900:


However, if you were to remove the wagon and all of the ladies from this photo and then tell me that it was taken yesterday on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, I would totally believe you. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Feast your eyes on this beauty:


This is happening today! I see it everywhere and while I don’t mean to disparage anyone who has chosen to embrace this particular form of fashion, I definitely have some questions. Starting with, who were these guys five years ago?

Certain forms of hipsterdom have remained pretty consistent ever since Vice Magazine came along and made trying really hard to look like you don’t care if you’re cool, cool. We’ve all seen what we know to be typical hipsters. They have skinny jeans and t-shirts and like a scarf maybe, some non-prescription black rimmed glasses and usually a hat of some sort, a fedora? I don’t really know what they’re called but you know what I mean. However, there have been off-shoots over the years. Particularly what’s happening now with men dressing as though we’re all living in one giant episode of Boardwalk Empire. But seeing as this is a somewhat recent development, I’m curious as to who these guys were even half a decade ago? I mean it’s not like Scott from the IT department or Dave from human resources just decided to start coming to work with waxed facial hair, a bow tie and suspenders. These dudes were definitely some form of hipster before they became, what in some cases look like, newspaper delivery boys from the great depression.

Photo of Broadway Musical Newsies Poster for Disney by Monte Iso

You think I’m kidding! I’m not. There are bars in parts of Manhattan where I’m convinced I’m being served by characters in a musical and at any moment patrons may kick over chairs and start performing lindy hops on long tables. My best guess is that the men we see dressing like this today are the ones we saw dressing like Rockabillies ten to fifteen years ago. Remember when that was a thing? Everyone was taking swing dancing lessons and doing their hair like Kenickie from Grease?

Seeing as the trend appears to embrace regression, it’s not surprising that I’m even starting to see people taking it a step further by wearing clothes and styling facial hair as if we’re still living during the Industrial Revolution. Need an example? I’m glad you asked. This is a picture of Daniel Day Lewis in the movie There Will Be Blood:

There Will Be Blood

And THIS is a picture of how men are dressing today:


I’m not even saying it’s a bad look. Admittedly, it’s pretty sexy, given you’re actually an oil tycoon from the mid 1800s. However the aesthetic tends to lose its luster when you accompany it by playing Candy Crush on your iPhone.

As far as where it comes from though, I’m going to have to assume that the prevalence of this look is due to the rise in speak easy type bars like Please Don’t Tell and Raines Law Room where even though drinking has been perfectly legal for almost a century, people still insist on imbibing in underground establishments, hidden away in allies and tucked under hot dog shops. (No joke, to get into PDT you have to enter though a fucking phone booth in a corner of Crif Dogs.)

It wasn’t long before barber shops hopped on the trend, with many of them built out to look like late 19th century drug stores, advertising “colic reliefs” and “health tonics” in old-timey lettering as well as offering hot and cold towel wet shaves like you might treat yourself to after having just gotten back from the war…in Germany that is.

And I’m not knocking them. Really. I think most of these places are beautiful and I’m a lover of the look and feel of the time period they’re emulating, it’s just that the employees have to walk around in the world you know, today, after they get off work.

And they do.

Looking like this:


I want to know what’s going to happen in ten years? I mean just how far back is this thing going to go? Part of me thinks it would be awesome to see people going straight Colonial and wearing what Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt did in Interview With A Vampire. Can you imagine meeting Tinder dates who showed up dressed like this?


I would die.

So while I’m in no way suggesting that any of you dudes curb your personal preferences or adjust the manner in which you see fit to express yourselves, I’m hoping you’ll excuse my double-takes or long stares as we pass each other on Metropolitan Avenue. It’s not that I find what you’re wearing in poor taste, I’m simply accustomed to a more modern look.

Like the guys who are dressed as longshoremen in Greenpoint.


Yes. This is happening.


  • http://www.thewineglassmanifesto.blogspot.com Alisha

    I’m oddly ok with all of the above.

    A man who dresses well and cares about how he looks is far superior to those slacker-90s-grungy-ripped-t-shirt-wearing guys of yesteryear.

    • Kelly

      Nothing odd about it Alisha! I think overall it’s a pretty solid look, it’s just a strange phenomenon to see it in this day and age.

  • Nance

    I literally had to stop and ask “Is that guy Amish, or a Hipster?” the other day. I came down on the Amish side, but if someone else had tried to convince me Hipster, I would have bought it. Very bizarre. At least they’re not all trying to look like John Gosselin!

    • Kelly

      I sent out a tweet once that said “I can’t tell who’s Amish or who just lives in Williamsburg anymore!” You never know.

  • Brian
  • http://muchtomydelight.com Jenn from Much to my Delight

    Spot on! I have been noticing a resurgence of this look, and saw it even more when I was down in Austin a few weeks ago. I do enjoy a dapper look, but it gets old fast when you see it regurgitated by every guy in Williamsburg. It’s like they dressed up for the Jazz Age Festival in June and never got out of character.

    • Kelly

      After reading some of your blog I actually had you in mind after I published this. I definitely felt like you could relate. I want to go to that Jazz Age Festival though. For one day that is. Not like an on going all year round type deal.

  • http://www.qphase2.com Quinn

    Oh my God — I saw the pictures and assumed you were writing about Portland, Oregon. I’m surrounded by this version of hipsterdom. My boyfriend just got his hair cut at a barber shop like the ones you describe. While he waited, he was served whiskey by a guy wearing suspenders and sporting a waxed mustache.

    Awesome post!

    Also, I went to a Renaissance festival this year. I wondered then how long it would be before the hipsters started wearing chain mail or pirate hats around town. Ironically, of course.

    • Kelly

      I’m glad to hear that people in other cities are experiencing the same thing. I really wasn’t sure when I wrote this and I was like “Is anyone going to know what the hell I’m talking about?” And Brian up above just posted that youtube link from Portlandia. Really funny.

  • http://www.adashofquirky.com Anna

    All your points are valid.

    Yet somehow, I dig it. Can’t help myself.

  • Mary

    I LOVE this post!!! Admittedly, I also find this look befuddling yet somehow sexy (on some, not all) and totally have the same “where the hell did this crop up from” moment. I tried to describe being “hipster” to a friend the other day…I was suddenly struck by how hard it is to describe it with there being so many off-shoots of the hipster “thing”. It’s so hard to describe someone who is so anti establishmentarian while being a part of the established, and doing everything so ironically. It’s kind of ironic. Anyway, what I’m trying to say, though not well, is that THIS is EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to articulate. Thank you!!!

    • RheelDaze

      Haha! Fantastic. They come in so many different forms. Writing this I was actually getting stumped when trying to think of exactly what time period it is that this resembles. I had an idea but I had to do some serious research. Glad we’ve got it established now.

  • Awesomely Over-Zealous

    LOL I see this too not as often as you probably do in NYC but DC folks have their own eccentricities as well. Dudes are getting a bit too “feminine” though but that’s just my opinion O_o And I hope it only goes as far back as the prohibition because wearing a corset and ball gown just for fun sounds like a pain.. Happy Thursday! – Iva

  • Lydia

    Well I know the Steampunk movement has been building in the cosplay community, this may be the gentlemen’s way of toning it down for an “everyday” look. A bit retro but I do appreciate a good waxed mustache.

    • Dirk Jones

      Waxed Mustache, Lydia you just gave me the name of my band.

  • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com/ stephanie court

    Oh my god, I nearly died reading this. I live in San Francisco, where this is more prominent than I care to believe. Like you said, it’s not a *bad* look, it’s just out of context. I think it stems from the popularity of TV shows like Downton Abby and Boardwalk Empire, but it’s definitely heading to the next level. I wonder if women will start walking around in corsets and bustles next…

    • RheelDaze

      I’m loving how many people from all over the place can relate to this. I really was worried it was just a Brooklyn thing and no one would understand what the hell I was talking about.

      • http://blog.stephaniecourt.com/ stephanie court

        Oh no, definitely not just a Brooklyn thing. SF hipsters have reverted back to the gold mining days when it comes to their facial hair & clothing choices…

        • RheelDaze

          Gold mining! Yes! It’s a whole new rush out there. That’s hilarious.

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  • Dirk Jones

    I predict fashions by the folks that brought you the Safety Dance™ are going to be the In-Sound-From-Way-Out any day now.

  • http://www.wanderlyn.com Lynsey @ Eternally Wanderlyn

    I really enjoyed this post. As far as how far people will take it, well, I just read an article about people choosing to live a gypsy style life in horse drawn carriages. It’s pretty crazy because they still have their laptops, cell phones, and even Facebook! You can check out the article and pics here:


  • Kelly

    Ooh! I love this! I’m going to use it in my next internet links post. Thanks!