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Sweater, hoodie, or jacket?

We’re technically keeping the heat in, not the cold out

Dear Hipster:

As the chill of autumn settles in around us, I think the most burning question on everybody’s mind is... sweater, hoodie, or jacket? Which method of fending off the cold reigns supreme?

— Kelly

One time, I used the phrase “keep the cold out,” or something to that effect, around a physicist, and she annoyingly corrected me about how we’re technically keeping the heat in, not the cold out, because heat energy moves only in one direction. To which I replied, “Well, how can Sub Zero freeze people if heat only moves one way?” To which she replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So I guess I won that particular argument.

Sweaters are undoubtedly the most iconic winter wear. From Kurt Cobain to Freddy Krueger to the Dude to Mr. Rogers, the legendary sweaters of fact and fiction define their wearers. Who’s famous for wearing a hoodie? Mark Zuckerberg? C’mon now. Then again, sweaters can be itchy. Jackets are certainly the most stylish choice, and perhaps the only appropriate option when the weather turns truly sub-thermal; but “I think I’ll just sit around on the couch wearing sweatpants and a jacket all day watching Netflix,” said no one ever. It may be the least flashy choice, but, only a favorite hoodie can truly make you feel snugger than a dusting of fake nutmeg atop a pumpkin spice latte. The less said about sweatshirts without hoods the better. Only super rich people and a very particular kind of hipster wear those.

Dear Hipster:

As an attentive reader of “Ask a Hipster,” I am fully aware of your theory about how the concept of the hipster is ahistorical and, in a sense, eternal. You have said many times that someone has always filled the niche in society occupied by “hipsters,” even if hipsterness has looked different at various points in the past. But would it be possible for hipsters (as we know them today) to go extinct, i.e. for nobody to be filling that particular social role of “the cool kids”?

— Kristen

Less than 30 years after Georg Wilhelm Steller first described the Sea Cows inhabiting the waters around Bering Island, the creatures were hunted to extinction by European explorers eager for a source of durable leather and surprisingly healthy meat. Considering Sea Cows had been bobbing around in the Arctic ocean for maybe tens of thousands of years essentially unmolested before being wiped out in the space of a generation, I suppose extinction’s a real possibility, no matter how obscure you are. Then again, it’s not like anybody is lining up to hunt hipsters, even if it’s only because hipster skin makes inadequate leather.

You would need something more dramatic to truly drive hipsters to extinction, something that would be the rough cultural equivalent of a gigantic asteroid smashing into the Earth’s surface, wiping out the vast majority of life. You would need to fundamentally alter human culture to such a degree that nobody cared about anything anymore, which is pretty hard to conceptualize. Maybe if our robot overlords rise up and consign us to a Matrix-like future as bio-electric generators, or if human life transcends physical existence so we become ghostly balls of pure thought bouncing around in the ether. Maybe then you won’t need anybody to do anything interesting, so you won’t need any hipsters.

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Dear Hipster:

As the chill of autumn settles in around us, I think the most burning question on everybody’s mind is... sweater, hoodie, or jacket? Which method of fending off the cold reigns supreme?

— Kelly

One time, I used the phrase “keep the cold out,” or something to that effect, around a physicist, and she annoyingly corrected me about how we’re technically keeping the heat in, not the cold out, because heat energy moves only in one direction. To which I replied, “Well, how can Sub Zero freeze people if heat only moves one way?” To which she replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So I guess I won that particular argument.

Sweaters are undoubtedly the most iconic winter wear. From Kurt Cobain to Freddy Krueger to the Dude to Mr. Rogers, the legendary sweaters of fact and fiction define their wearers. Who’s famous for wearing a hoodie? Mark Zuckerberg? C’mon now. Then again, sweaters can be itchy. Jackets are certainly the most stylish choice, and perhaps the only appropriate option when the weather turns truly sub-thermal; but “I think I’ll just sit around on the couch wearing sweatpants and a jacket all day watching Netflix,” said no one ever. It may be the least flashy choice, but, only a favorite hoodie can truly make you feel snugger than a dusting of fake nutmeg atop a pumpkin spice latte. The less said about sweatshirts without hoods the better. Only super rich people and a very particular kind of hipster wear those.

Dear Hipster:

As an attentive reader of “Ask a Hipster,” I am fully aware of your theory about how the concept of the hipster is ahistorical and, in a sense, eternal. You have said many times that someone has always filled the niche in society occupied by “hipsters,” even if hipsterness has looked different at various points in the past. But would it be possible for hipsters (as we know them today) to go extinct, i.e. for nobody to be filling that particular social role of “the cool kids”?

— Kristen

Less than 30 years after Georg Wilhelm Steller first described the Sea Cows inhabiting the waters around Bering Island, the creatures were hunted to extinction by European explorers eager for a source of durable leather and surprisingly healthy meat. Considering Sea Cows had been bobbing around in the Arctic ocean for maybe tens of thousands of years essentially unmolested before being wiped out in the space of a generation, I suppose extinction’s a real possibility, no matter how obscure you are. Then again, it’s not like anybody is lining up to hunt hipsters, even if it’s only because hipster skin makes inadequate leather.

You would need something more dramatic to truly drive hipsters to extinction, something that would be the rough cultural equivalent of a gigantic asteroid smashing into the Earth’s surface, wiping out the vast majority of life. You would need to fundamentally alter human culture to such a degree that nobody cared about anything anymore, which is pretty hard to conceptualize. Maybe if our robot overlords rise up and consign us to a Matrix-like future as bio-electric generators, or if human life transcends physical existence so we become ghostly balls of pure thought bouncing around in the ether. Maybe then you won’t need anybody to do anything interesting, so you won’t need any hipsters.

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Here's something you might be interested in.
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Previous article

Secret audit findings hit Navy's hyped 3D printing boom

Hacker attacks due to sloppy security could jeopardize lives
Next Article

Irish coffee meets mezcal at Metl Bar Creamery & Cafe

“Warning to the public — be careful when sipping!”
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