Geek Chic: Fashion Without the T-Shirts

Go to any geek gathering and there’s a ‘uniform’ of sorts – jeans and quirky t-shirts.  And really, why not?  T-shirts are widely available and can convey a range of statements, ranging from irony to adoration to everyone’s favorite, the well-placed reference that manages to be pop culture and a little obscure all at the same time.  I have many of these myself.

But t-shirts don’t fit into every situation.  Maybe you have a job that doesn’t require a uniform, but would frown on uniforms.  In my case, I like t-shirts, but they’re some of the least flattering things I could wear (and don’t get me started on ‘babydoll’ shirts either, I’m not twelve anymore).  But why should we feel like we’re in disguise most of the time until we pull on our supergeek costume?  Why not express ourselves through fashion that’s not 100% cotton?  Here are a few ways to go geek chic:


This is a big one, and it can take many, many forms.  Maybe it’s a vintage Wonder Woman watch from the 70s.  Maybe it’s a Gryffindor scarf on cold days.  The key is to remember that necklaces aren’t the only accessories, and accessories aren’t only the territory of women.  Try, for example:

iPin Recycled Apple Key Pin in Stainless Steel from Keyed Up (etsy) – this tie tack is fairly subtle, but will get a grin out of anyone who takes a good look.

Doctor Who Master’s Pocket Watch from ThinkGeek – this watch will fit in with even the stuffiest of dress codes, but you’re reminded constantly of how wildly different the Master became once Russell T Davies got his hands on him… Okay, it was a pretty novel way to bring back a character, I’ll give him that, which means this Pocket Watch represents the best of that arc.

Make Every Day a Costume Day

If you’re like me, you imagined what being an “adult” would be like, and the kinds of clothes you’d wear.  And if you’re like me, most of your wardrobe doesn’t live up to the expectations of past-you.  But why not?  Why not wear cool suits with skinny ties?  Why not wear dresses that might fit in on Mad Men?  It seems like we spend a lot of time just “putting in time” until we can actually live.  Why not find something within the boundaries of your everyday life that you actually enjoy wearing?  And even if you feel you’re just “dressing up” like Adult You or Character of Your Choice… well, at least it’s still more fun.  A few looks from which to take inspiration that still might fit in your everyday life:

Your Favorite Doctor –  Well, maybe not the sixth or seventh.  The second and third might be a little fancy. Still, we’re not talking exact cosplay here, just inspiration.  Go for tweed!  For bowties!  For hair gel!  For a rugged leather jacket and your best scowl!

Sherlock – Or Watson.  They’re both well-dressed.  Sherlock favors scarves and suits, while Watson does cable-knit sweaters and button-up shirts with a military-inspired jacket.  The show’s own costume designer has said she’s fond of shopping at places like TK Maxx (TJ Maxx for us Americans) to stay on budget, so don’t think you have to break the bank to dress the way you want.

Dexter - I realize the other options are rather… warm.  For summer (and more casual) ideas, maybe consider checking out the guys from Miami Metro.  Angel, in particular, wears some styles that might be flattering if you’re a larger guy.

Torchwood – Not everyone works in an office.  If you’re looking for something a little more rugged, check out the cast of Torchwood.  Leather, canvas, denim, shades of gray and black.  Each piece of clothing looks like it’s been designed to take a beating, which is a good thing, with that crew.

I realize this might be a more male-focused article, because it seems like men get forgotten when it comes to fashion.  But aside from Joan, some of my personal favorites include: Mary Margaret Blanchard from Once Upon a Time, Angela Montenegro from Bones, and Gwen from the aforementioned Torchwood, to name a few.

Save It Up

That is, do something once or twice a year that is so incredibly geeky that you’ll bask in the glow of it for the rest of the year.  You don’t need clothes to prove your geek cred.  Everyone who sees you will know.   For example: this Krang costume from a few years ago, made for an office Halloween party.

Now, again, that’s not to say we should all burn our beloved t-shirts – far from it.  This is intended to remind us of options that remain when our t-shirts are removed from the equation.

What about you?  What are some of your favorite pieces of geek fashion?  Do you have any tips to add or recommendations? 


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