When High WASPs Go Hipster. Or Try.

We can recognize High WASP style fairly easily. Pearls. Navy blue. Black Ferragamos and white button-fronts. Hunter green cable sweaters with hunter green wide wale cords and family brooches. Peach cashmere tunics, long gold chains, bags without logos. Even embroidered backpacks from a trip to Thailand.

But, now and again, High WASPs flirt with hipster-hood, an urban relative of the Artsy Cousin. Not at work of course. Unless we are gifted with a rare creative gene and work with people who wear skull patterns nonchalantly. Nor for grand occasions. Too risky. Too pronounced a protocol. But on a weekend. In a city. When giddy from the Sunday New York Times and too much Lapsang Souchong.

My brother is pretty good at hipster ways. Better than me. Luckily he gives great presents. For example. He gave me theese earrings for my birthday last year.

Gold twisted wires. Oxidized metal flowers. Black metal, by default, is always presumed to be kind of hip. Even when used for cute little posies. These are by Claudia Kussano, a San Francisco artisanal jeweler. (That’s what we say about cheese. Does it work for earrings?) I believe these keep me in the world of tradition where women hang sweet notions from their earlobes, while implying that I might, just might, consider adventure. And if I’m wrong about that, only disillusion me if you must. I trust you to be gentle.

Here is something else which recently made its way from one hipster in my extended family to another of the more hip amongst us. Neither of them me, in other words.

Vera Bradley. Can’t get much more traditional when worn as expected. But this belt, with boyfriend jeans, low on the hips, a t-shirt, hints at subversion. Irreverence, at least. Radiates 1970’s retro, if you look closely. We like a few subtle rebellions, but still say, “Please,” and “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome.”

I believe it’s good for everyone to widen their identity now and then. You true hipsters, dig out those pearls from Grandmama. They go with everything. Even skulls. The more conservative amongst us, now and then take a little bitty walk on the wild side. You might already. Do tell.

Images: me, Vera Bradley

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  • this is awesome. i love those earrings. i think you may have inspired me to try wearing pearls, although i doubt i can pull them off. i'll try though. :)

  • Those earrings are TDF! Your brother has great taste :O)

    I have a cute pink elephant Vera belt I cant wait to wear – once the sun comes back to the great white north!

  • I have an Olsen belt, black leather with a silver ornate and black beaded buckle which is my hommage to your artsy cousin…wear it with my Gap 1969 jeans…feel a little rebellious when wearing it!

  • Good grief. Those earrings are beautiful, your brother is a man of fine taste!

    (I wear pearl studs every day. But mainly because my diamond studs are out of action at the moment due to a horrendous stem breaking incident caused by stupid me.)

  • "Hints at subversion." I do enjoy the occasional hint.

  • i feel like the love child of a handful of your posts today; here at my (corporate) desk, my right wrist looks like this. that's a watch made of monogrammed spoons, gifted me by my mother a few years ago (the W is her family's initial), and a friendship bracelet i made in december to match the two i made my sisters for christmas when i was home with pneumonia. ("see how much your big sis loves you," i said. "and maybe boil those, just in case.")

  • Ms. Kussano does beautiful work!

    Today's rebellion is my mens engine-turned engraved belt worn over my black cashmere turtleneck with a (too, given my age) short grey tweed shirt. No one has turned and pointed…….yet.

  • I have on my bulletin board a shot of Thelonious Monk in a British-tailored trench coat, repp tie and tweed fedora, drinking a cocktail. I look at that to remind me not to work at it, as strenouosity wrecks any style.

    Can you comment on the WASP (woman's) love of the headband, by which I mean the formal tortoise or velvet kind, worn by grown women? Though these do look very hip on surfer dudes.

  • I just love those earrings, and your witty repartee, as usual. I dip my toe in each pond, and definitely qualify as the artsy cousin/auntie. When I wear my hair curly and wild as it is wont to do, I wear pearls. When I wear it straight and demure, I wear the funky earrings that I make. I love how you understand the nuance of it all! ~Madeline

  • I love the earrings, and I see you took the photo – very nice! I like the belt, too – it's reversible! I live in separates, so reversible is always good.

  • Stunning earrings. Would have looked lovely today. First day in ages I wore not pearls but diamond studs. I felt very grown up. I do not consider Vera Bradley artsy or hipsterish… That belt, worn with clean cut white T, jeans — old and faded or new Boyfriend is about as New England Prep as you can get… Come to Connecticut and see!

    I thought of you today! I had lunch with dear friends in Greenwich… I dressed for the occasion in black brocade pants, a black cashmere turtleneck sweater, charcoal cashmere sweater around my shoulder and silver Reva flats… my diamond studs au lieu de pearls… I wanted to Twitter my outfit to you! ;)

  • Love the Vera belt. A little rebellion is good for us all. Especially when we remember Please and Thank You.

  • Oooh I do love the sound of all your outfits and accessories. Belts seem good workhorses for rebellions moments. I have one with grommets. I do. I really do. The Vera does look quite hipster in the Norcal context. I promise.

    I'm going to have to look up Olsen. And brocade pants, ooh, love brocade. Very Eloise in the Plaza, today. Might have to go ride some elevators and push all the buDDons.

  • For a while, longer than I care to admit, I wondered what Williamsburg, VA had to do with being hip. Anyway, I know Vera Bradley isn't. I always thought Pierre Deux was the hipster choice?

  • Trust me on the Vera Bradley guys. Especially since someone who lives in San Francisco and hangs out with someone who goes to Burning Man gave it to someone who lives in Oakland and works for the University of California in the People's Republic of Berkeley. The brand's not hip, the instantiation of the belt is. I've seen it in action. I can't do hip, but I recognize it.

  • the earrings are so cute! love them. i wish i had a brother who gave me great gifts…but alas I don't have one.

  • I adore the belt, I agree a punch of color/print is always beautiful!

  • What I think I really need is Lapsang Souchong. But I'll try to wear my pearls for the cause sometime soon. xo

  • If someone can transform VB from mumsy to hip, then she is truly a first-order hipster indeed :-). Love your comment about being giddy from the Sunday Times; it does indeed have that effect! And your earrings are a delight.

  • I would never trust my brother to do a good job picking out earrings. I can't believe yours did. I'm always feeling like I need to jazz up and expand my wardrobe, but then I scare myself into thinking I will botch the outfit and look like a mess. So trusty suits and khakis it is :). Thank you for your sweet comments on the posts about my Grandmother.

    And funny you should mention Thailand today…

  • You are so wild Miss LPC, we really are growing concerned about your bohemian tendencies. Honestly. (We totally get this one. Absolutely.)


  • What beautiful earrings. They look delightfully delicate.

    The Vera Bradley belt….now that is a fun mention indeed and quite accurate.

  • I know that you've discussed JCrew at length here before, but… isn't this sort of flirty crossover vibe they have going on now kind of like what you're talking about here..?

    It's high and low – glitzy jewelry, even pearls (I know it's all faux, but I think it sort plays with that concept too), scruffy boyfriend jeans, rolled up, yet high heels… Nails? Maybe done. Or not. But if not, definitely play with lipstick – or eyeshadow. It' s a mix of high-brow and street style, no? And I realize it's not truly either…but I think it's so appealing because it is a crossover, a hybrid of sorts.

    Anyway. That's all I could think of. JCrew. Can you tell it's getting to be my bedtime? Sigh.


  • Awesome collection! Specially I like the earrings. So delicate and beautiful! I have a big collection of such fashion accessories.

  • Absolutely adore those earings. Quite divine. How lucky you are to have a brother with such good taste.

    I loved the garden party piece too. It's absolutely the time of year that one yearns to go back in the garden and smell the lawn cuttings.


    Miss W x

  • Pearls and skulls… hmmmm. Funny that for me, the pearls would be more of a stretch.

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