Home Culture Where Do The Young Professional and Hipster Meet?

Where Do The Young Professional and Hipster Meet?

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If you were to walk into my closet, you could find just about everything you need to know about the complexity of the person that is me. On the left side of my closet are suits, sports coats, slacks, white/blue dress shirts, and atop the hangar rack are folded polos and v-neck sweaters in just about every color. I only wear two types of suits, Jos A. Banks and Emanuel Ungaro. I very rarely wear any other color shirt to work outside of white or blue; those are also either Stafford or Calvin Klein shirts. The point is that half my closet is what you would expect from any young professional rushing up the corporate ladder.

Then there’s the right side of my closet, bright-colored hoodies, multi-colored button-ups, plaid shirts; and atop the rack are folded sweats, jeans (slim fit or skinny) and colored pants. That’s who I am when I am not at work. And while most people tend to try and find careers in which they can be themselves at all times because they think that it ensures success, I’m made aware that I’m very much not like the person I tend to be Monday-Friday, from 8AM – 8PM. There’s this guy who loves speakeasies, an old pair of faded gray skinnies and his pair of Chucks and then there’s this guy in a $900 suit, face inches away from his laptop, and whose iPhone is growing out the side of his hand. Most people who interact with me are left wondering where the two people meet and if they do meet, what do they talk about?



Last Sunday, Girls aired its fifth episode of the season and you know a lot of people think that may have been the worst episode ever on the show. I thought it was actually the best episode to date. It actually touched on a point that I try to tell people all the time about myself. Just because I aspire for traditional corporate success, doesn’t make me any less down to earth or “hipster.”

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DC is one of the most interesting cities in America right now because it’s not much different from what’s happened to Brooklyn, NY over the last several years. Our hipster community is filled with young people standing in line at local thrift shops for vintage tees who actually are earning six figures at some law firm on K Street.

However, people seem to think that a hipster who is less than a decade away from partner at a law firm couldn’t possibly be genuine. I beg to differ.

What really struck me about last week’s episode was the realization Hannah had that just because you profess to live an alternative lifestyle that it means that you’ve relegated yourself to a life of appreciating being a have-not. That’s not the case at all. There’s nothing wrong with happiness, whether alternative or traditional. There’s nothing wrong with wanting success, virtue, and wealth. Nothing at all. Just because I’m not a twenty-something guy, scraping together pennies to afford a sixer of PBR and still pay my overpriced studio’s rent, doesn’t make me any less hipster or genuine.

I think that if there’s anything that people should take away from this generation, it’s that we are all incredibly multi-faceted. We’re not going to be forced into the same silos for greatness that our parents and grandparents were forced into. That doesn’t mean that we will stop encouraging our children to be doctors, lawyers or scientists; it just means that we won’t be too concerned if they’d rather not eat meat and choose to skateboard to school instead of busing. It’s because we think the two can go together.

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I told myself I was not going to make this about race and it isn’t, but I know that the majority of the people reading this right now are Black (whether that means African-American, Black Latino or Mexican, or whatever remains to be seen, lol). This is a concept that does not escape or appear foreign to the colored section. It’s been a long time in America that we’ve had to cloak ourselves in society in order to earn a living and gain wealth. We’ve had a long history of projecting an image to society that isn’t consistent with the things that went on in our households. While that has its advantages and disadvantages,it’s the truth.

As I finish writing this piece, I look to my bookshelf and am reminded that it’s time for me to read Invisible Man again. Each year, I read a certain book with each season, Invisible Man* is typically the book that read when I’m reminded that I need to put my head down and push towards year-end. In a weird and tricky way it’s funny how that story applies to me. Professionally, I use it to exemplify how I am cloaked and moving through corporate America seemingly at the same pace as my peers but they’ve allowed me to often times slip into positions not typically saved for Black people by overlooking me. Socially, I use it to exemplify how many of my friends view me as a conscious (yet conservative) young brother in DC but they know nothing about my professional success and accomplishments.

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Yet despite the difference in focal points of how others may view me, it doesn’t make either more or less genuine. I’m happy socially and professionally right now. It’s taken me a long time to be able to accept that. I’ve accepted and embraced the difference as being normal. Traditional success, alternative lifestyle… boss.

– Dr. J

Comment(13)

  1. The Hipster and professional meet at coffee shops and on subways.

    But like you and many brothers, I’m split right down the middle, I’m after traditional success, but I’m still hood. I have shirts and ties in every color as I do fitteds and graphic tees. I walk into the office in a suit (with a chain underneath for reasons even I don’t get either), all the while got French Montana blasting through the headphones. I think regardless of who u are outside of work, it’s just common sense to go head and switch your style up and if they hate let em hate and let your money pile up.

    1. yoooooooooo that's like the negro spiritual of 2013… I always do the quick check where I take my headphones out and see if I can hear them on the elevator. Then proceed to turn back up the 2 Chainz and Ross.

  2. It goes back to the 2013 version of W.E.B. DuBois "Duality of the Veil" concept. We are what we project on the outside and what we keep on the inside. I think this goes for everyone in America living up to what is considered traditional values while holding close the values they believe in.

    Not to long ago I caught myself reviewing resumes of candidates with vastly more experience than myself while blasting Wocka Flocka.

    It's just different.

    P.S. Did anyone else NOT learn what the "W.E.B." stood for in school? I'm scratching my head trying to figure out right now…

    1. William Edward Burghardt "W. E. B." Du Bois
      No, I didn't learn it in school either. A smarty arty man friend of mine was flexin and told me (and I still had to google it to tell you cause I forgot).

  3. I feel like I've been bombarded with images of people around my age (late 20s) going out and starting their own business or "hustles" which is great! Do you! The economy is playing a large role in the revival of the entrepreneurial spirit. Also, there is something romantic about being the boss and building something from the ground up. But don't hit me with the "you built it ground up / I bought it renovated" mess a la Ricky Rozay. If you saw that I bought it renovated, that means we both owners and we in the same hood lol.

    I'm actually happy where I am in the corporate world right now.. and I realize not a lot of people can say that honestly. Plus, sometimes when I have my occasional "I should just quit and do X" moments, I think of Randal Pinkett (black dude that was asked to share his victory with some white chick on The Apprentice)'s "Black Faces in White Places". I took away some good points info in that book, may have to revisit it this weekend… Other times, I think of how much it would cost me to just quit and do X and I'm good. Either way, if you are truly content in whatever you are doing, go hard and keep climbing. There is a difference between a distraction and an opportunity.

    Btdubs: long time reader, first time poster. 🙂

  4. Maybe it’s me but, I’ve always seen the self-employed, entrepreneur hipster as the Holy Grail of Hipsters. I have always totally admired my entrepreneur friends. They get to go to work in their graphic tees. And before reading this article I almost felt ashamed of my segregated closet…half corporate, half me. But this definitely gave a refreshing perspective on what it means to dress and play the part, because the truth is the same ambition the pushes us to climb the corporate ladder is the same ambition that makes us appreciate the spirit behind “Stay Schemin”.

  5. By far my favorite post by you! You really touched on what I feel like is the complexity that is a young black professional in this day and age for men and women. From the power suit to the lounge. It is possible to not be a hypocrite by having your ish together and yet and still get down with the homies on the weekend. Too many times have i heard the accusation, "you are trying to be something you're not"– actually Im all of it! Think we are too limited in our thinking because most people not in the culture themselves would consider this multi-faceted individual a cliche or hypocrite, when in actuality its a shame if you aren't this complex. Loved this post!

    1. I completely agree with you. when I show another side of my personality, people proclaim that you are not who you said you were…when in actually you are not who THEY said you were.

      I am very multifaceted and when people find out at work especially, they are shocked, I'm just like did you really expect me to just be a quiet professional girl and that's it? That's sad because I expect more from others.

  6. I've never met a hipster who wasn't a young professional. I don't know where anyone got the impression that they were two separate things. The only hipsters who aren't young professionals are those who are waiting to be young professionals (teenagers and college students). Personally I can't stand them or anything associated with them – the desperate need to be seen looking trendy, the need to stay up on things you wouldn't otherwise care about, the showing off of how progressive you think you are, the expensive clothes that try so hard to look vintage – the whole thing is just corny and screams out to others that you're a follower.

  7. Jos A. Bank? Time to step up your suit game. Check out the J.Crew Factory Thompson suit at the cheapest end (less than $300 on sale), Suit Supply for $400-$500 (no sales), and J.Crew Ludlow or Brooks Brothers when you are willing to spend $600+. Not the only options, but these are the best bang for the buck.

    Indochino and Black Lapel are also worth looking at around $400. They are made-to-measure suits so your looking at a month or so to get it made.

    Never walk into a Jos A. Bank or Men's Warehouse again.

  8. I literally had this conversation the other day because I always say I’m half a black hipster obsessed with craft beer I can’t seem to find people like me that exist like I’m some weird anomaly I Love My White friends but where can black hipsters go to meet other black hipsters that’s my question

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