“I mean, what if you had a job interview?” I asked.
Suddenly, a panic fell over me. A penetrating melancholy consumed me, and I could feel even more of my black hairs turning gray.
The question was posed to a co-worker who had just bought new eyeglasses. I complimented his choice of frame — something stylish, but practical.
“I’m glad you didn’t get those big, outlandish eyeglasses all the hipsters wear,” I said. My co-worker is not a hipster. He’s a well-dressed man in his late 20s with all the grace of someone who’s lived and traveled around the world, all the while allowing the experience to affect him. He’s a hoot.
The Portland hipster scene has been big on over-the-top ’80s couture, stopping just short of big hair and ripped jeans. Among the more ridiculous articles to gain popularity are the oversized eyeglasses. Certain items from the ’80s are acceptable and have their place. Oversized eyeglasses are not among them. They’re bulky, gaudy, and have the undesirable effect of making one’s head look considerably disproportioned.
I was grateful my co-worker hadn’t gone that route – for his benefit and mine. But what left me dead in my tracks was this entirely practical question, the same question elders had asked me when I chose to pierce my ears and get two visible tattoos. (I’m happy to report the earrings are gone. My two tattoos – regrettably – are not.)
Living in Portland has given me a new-found appreciation for moderation, be it politically, socially or even aesthetically. I’ve taken to wearing really understated, safe, and boring brands like J. Crew, Gap and Banana Republic. (Nearly everything I purchase comes from the clearance racks or outlets, so don’t confuse me for someone who spends good money on clothes.) I like to dress nice, but I don’t put much thought into it. My wardrobe is mostly based on interchangeability. Every shirt must match all of my pants and vice versa. This allows for me to maintain a passive approach to getting dressed.
I believe that simplification is no part of the hipster’s agenda.
Still, it saddens me that my first concern regarding someone’s choice of eyeglasses is how it affects their career prospects. When you’re younger, you’re able to separate personal and professional choices as simple as which eyeglasses to wear. You get a little older, understand how judgmental the world can be, and you see those two parts of one’s being aren’t mutually exclusive in the least. We can always change costumes outside of the office, but I, myself, have found the most tolerable way of living is to ruffle as few feathers as possible without completely selling out.
I’m glad my co-worker will have proper eyewear should he interview for a different job any time soon. And even while it pains me sometimes, I’m glad maturity has bent my logic toward practicality over being whimsical for vanity’s sake.