Philosophistry Database

Every sex cultivates an attractive trait well before the opposite sex has had a chance to know what's happening

When women say they dress more for other women than for men, it’s because they’re playing a bigger game than men can understand. Arguably fashion could be meant just for an overall enhancement of status. But that status is only conferred by its simulated value in enticing the opposite sex. When an outfit is deemed “sexy,” for example, it’s not typically implied that it encourages sexual interest in the same sex.

Even if fashion is ultimately for the opposite sex, men can only appreciate a sliver of the fashion acumen of women. Women want to be ahead of the limited apparent taste of men and appeal to their subconscious tastes. Hence, women compete to be the most fetching of the fetchers. They depend on each other to create beauty contests and assess each other’s skills, rewarding each other’s fashion sense with status, but ultimately they are competing in those same contests.

Likewise, men are bonded by elaborate rituals to sort each other out. Women may never know the convoluted adventures men partake in to create novel and abundant professional and creative successes. If a man only has a few minutes to convince a woman whether or not to mate with him, that man will move Heaven and Earth to collect all the necessary ornaments of accomplishment. Are the men who run Fortune 500 companies doing so to impress women? Perhaps in the grandest sense. But impressing women isn’t the thought that wakes those CEOs up in the morning. It’s a sense of mission or intrinsic reward that motivates them. For if someone is driven just by the minimum needed to impress a member of the opposite sex, their genes will likely be out-duplicated by someone willing to impress the already minimally impressive competition.

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Hipsters will be succeeded by hipostates: those whose apostasy is only to like things un-ironically

The successor to hipsters will be "hipostates," which is a compound of "hipster" and "apostate." While the term "apostate" indicates someone who has abandoned a religious affiliation (the opposite of apostle), it has relevance to the New Hipster.

Hipostates are people who like things un-ironically. They eat fast food not because they are trying to act poor, but because they think the food is tasty, reasonably priced, and an excellent delivery vehicle for calories. While as a hipster's prime motivation is to sample and remix a medley of subcultures, wearing them like a badge, with a wink in their eye, hipostates eat fast food because it's good.

There are billions who eat cheap hamburgers, but that doesn't mean they deserve the label "hip." What distinguishes the hipostate is their awareness. They know that their interests may not be cool, but they partake regardless. They seize them, wear them nonchalantly, and that unabashedness is the next trend after hipsterism.

This new movement is similar to willful philistinism, which describes the behavior of the 1980s British upper-crust who didn't have time to read books. They proudly celebrated their dislike of opera, poetry, and all things intellectual to compensate. But hipostates may like opera and the finer things; They're just not "for" or "against" any broad categories like the Sloanes of Britain.

Whereas hipsters are into emulating the general feel of cool tastes, hipostates do them one better by being extremely particular in their tastes. The hipostate takes the time to delve into subcultures, picking and choosing pieces to suit their individual tastes. The hipster, on the other hand, is too busy partying to calibrate their consumption.

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The next hipsters will instead reject all preexisting fashions to the point that they become invisible, even amongst themselves

So much of fashion is about sticking to certain trends and styles to convey that I'm this "kind" of person: "I'm a rocker," "I'm a tech professional," "I'm into creativity and art." But within these kinds or species, there's incredible differentiation among organisms. Some species have lots of conformity of expression, such as investment bankers, and others have much more variability, such as New York fashionistas. But even with the variability of a New York fashionista, you can still look at them from across the street and think to yourself, "Oh, this is some 'New York fashionista'" even though their ensemble may be very individualized.

The hipster poses problems for this way of thinking. Hipster fashion defines itself with being syncretic, slapping together bits from other species, almost like a collage, and then re-purposing them with some commentary such as irony or nostalgia. However, despite this remixing, you can still spot a hipster. Even if they dress like a jazz musician from the 50s, there will still be dead giveaways: the curly mustache, the fake eyeglasses, or simply that the guy looks too young and savvy to just be a professional jazz player.

Now that hipsters are falling out of fashion, the question is, What will take their place? While for most hipsters their dress was about conforming to their indiepop-youth scene, some of them were trying to push the limits of individuality (like our 50s jazz musician). The next logical step then is a new kind of style based around sui generis, which means "of its own kind or genus." The members of this new way of thinking will have to be so far from each other that they can't even be accused of being some syncretic "out there"-thinking or ironic hipster. They have to not only avoid appearing like a goth or a rocker or this or that, they have to not even be accused of being part of this new movement. Everybody in this new "group" will need a look that is simply undefined.

This will complicate one of the purposes of fashion, which is to identify your kind. The only way members of this "sui generis" class will be able to identify each other is if they can tell that the person is dressing really well, but simultaneously can't tell which box they belong to.

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While men and women are free to dress as they like, women have ten times more genres to choose from, including ones of their own personal invention

Men either have less freedom or more freedom when it comes to dress than women do. True, anybody can dress however they want, adorning themselves with all sorts of shapes and colors that fit their imagination, but to dress stylishly, one has to consider the existing, acceptable stylish genres for their gender.

For men in a cosmopolitan city, there are anywhere from 2-4 genres of attire that, when followed fully, lead to something that could be considered a stylish ensemble. For example, in Austin, TX, there are three genres to choose from. There is the hipster adorned with a willfully eclectic mix of styles, retro or ironic sunglasses, and unusual, but of-the-moment colors (at one point, it was purple, and recently it was maroon). There is the uniform that could be called "white liberal" from those who shop at Whole Foods, who like the hipness of hipsters, but don't like how loud they are, and at the moment, tend to wear shoes sold by Toms, the company that donates a pair of shoes for every one you buy. Thirdly, there is the stylish dress of the more traditionally employed, such as those working in finance, who tend to pick a blur of styles from the hipsters and white liberals, but from 5-10 years ago, while throwing in flairs of attitude and class, such as maintaining a popped collar, or still wearing Lacoste shirts.

If a man doesn't dress in a genre associated with his demographic, he can only create a facsimile of style. He can have matching colors, have forms that fit well, and pay for a coherent haircut, but if he doesn't fit within those above three genres, something will always seems off or incomplete about his ensemble.

Women also have genres to choose from. Two of the genres for men mentioned above also exist for women: the hipster and the white liberal. However, the number of genres for women are not on the order of 2-4, but on the order of 12-16. And since women spend more effort outdoing each other in fashion, appearing unique has larger currency for them. For a woman to appear stylish, she really has two options: to either choose from a pre-made genre for her demographic (whether it's a platinum-blonde inspired from The O.C. or a bangs-bedecked cutie-pie à la Zooey Deschanel), or she can create her own genre and ensemble, as long as it adheres to general principles of aesthetics.

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Women don't dress for men because to calculate how fashion choices affect reproductive chances would boggle the mind

When you ask women, "Why do you dress so well? Is it to impress guys?" they will most likely reply with a resounding, "No, I dress for myself." Technically this is true because when someone picks through their wardrobe, they are rarely visualizing some stranger of the opposite sex viewing them. Instead, they hold a mental image of themselves in the outfit and appraise their beauty in the same way that they would appraise a painting or a statue. So, in that sense, they are dressing for themselves. But dressing well garners more attention, raises social standing, and only "feels good" because it confers benefits in the form of increased likelihood of fortuitous connections.

But it's better that there's a disconnect between rhetoric and reality. Because to consider every encounter with a stranger as an opportunity to make a good impression so as to maximize one's social gain from that individual would boggle the mind. True, every connection you'll ever make starts with a stranger, but socializing is more of a numbers game. In the long-run, with enough iterations, dressing well will raise your social standing enough in some stranger's eye to start a conversation that could eventually lead to finding the love of your life. In other words, dressing well is an off-goal target. The real goal is to build good relationships, but instead, you focus on the side goal of sartorial excellence.

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