Fashion is very cyclical, fads come in and out of style constantly. In the 1970s the fashion of the 1940s was back, in the 2000s the fashion of the 1960s had a comeback. Hipsters of today nod to fashion of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the Western History / Genealogy archives we have a collection of trade catalogs that include several fashion catalogs that maintain advice and products eerily similar to the fashionable tastes of some of my Capitol Hill neighbors.
Facial hair has made a big comeback in the last few years. Ten years ago it might have been unusual to see a young man with a full beard, but now it's common to see a handlebar mustache on the guy pouring your microbrew. There was even a short lived trend of men decorating their full beards with flowers or braids. Similar facial hair was a standard look for fashionable young men in the turn of the century west. The book, Dressed for the Photographer states
"Moustaches, which were mentioned in the fiction of the day and even appeared in some fashion plates by about 1848, were substantial, mostly horizontal with downward-twirled ends. They actually seem to have been affected mostly by the younger men and were considered very 'dashing'"
Men's hair styles also seem to emulate gentlemanly styles of past. Again the book, Dressed for the Photographer reads
"...The hair, well oiled with macassar oil, is worn quite long on top so that it may be sectioned and combed into a high wave at the center of the forehead. ...The height of the top-knot wave subsided after mid-decade, and the hair was more simply parted at one side and waved back from the face. Side hair covered the ears by about 1857"
This description sure sounds similar to today's "man-bun" style. I also envision the side hair looking like the side part that I saw on many of the musicians at this past weekend's Underground Music Showcase on south Broadway.
Bicycling seems to be the hobby and transportation of choice for the hipsters of today and hipsters of the Victorian era. While reading through the several publications of bicycling clubs of the past in the Western History archive, I sensed a tone implying that only the hip and in the know were a part of cycling culture. True to hipsters of today there seems to be an attitude championing being there first, The Cycling West magazine wrote
"To any one who tells me in rapturous tones, 'oh I adore my bicycle!' I quietly reply, point black 'Do you clean it yourself?' It is by the answer I receive to this inquiry that I judge whether the 'adoration' is a real one or only part of the 'fashionable craze.' The true cyclist at heart can always be recognized by the inspection of her steel steed."
Followers always seem to be jumping in on the trends that the hipsters claim to be originators or truer fans of.
If you are curious about other fashion trends of the past and how they are reflected today be sure to look at one of the several trade catalogs in the Western History / Genealogy Collection. The library also has several books about the history of fashion.