The emergence of the modern day Hipster is the antithesis of the 18th century macaroni but they did have some things in common.The Macaroni was a fashionable fellow who dressed and even spoke in an outlandishly affected manner. The term pejoratively referred to a man who “exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion” in terms of clothes, fastidious eating, and gambling and was the object of some savage British satire. In the Middlesex Journal for November 7th, 1772 Juventis commented on the use of the term Macaroni:

“If I consult the prints, ’tis a figure with something uncommon in its dress or appearance; if the ladies, an effeminate fop; but if the ’prentice-boys, a queer fellow with a great large tail.”

Basically this meant that if a woman looked at an illustration of a Macaroni she would think it was an effeminate dandy, but a working class boy would say the man was a homosexual.

Hipster men, gay and straight, have made Retro their cool, the environment they say is precious to them; they have turned their backs on the ‘the new’. Hipsters want to wear Sylvia Plath’s cardigans and Buddy Holly’s glasses, have beards, wear their hair in ponytails and buns; they revel in the irony of making something nerdy cool. They want to live hi-tech and sustainably; eat organic gluten-free grains and preen themselves in the Edwardian style barbers shops springing up in every town to groom these latter day Dandies. Above all, they want to be recognised for being different, just like the Marcaroni . For the Hipster the way to be cool isn’t to look like a television star: it was to look like as though you’ve never seen a television.The Macaroni on the other hand was only interested in the new, the lavish and the expensive.

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback £10.99 Kindle £2.29  Also available on:

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