Geek to Chic: 15 Tips You Can Do In 15 Minutes

by Tori Johnson on January 4, 2011

Justin Timberlake“You have no sense of fashion…”
“I think that depends on…”
“No, no, that wasn’t a question.”

– Meryl Streep as fashion icon Miranda Priestly, chastising Anne Hathaway’s nerdily-dressed intern Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you are at least open to the suggestion that you might need fashion advice. And while it’s hip to be square these days, your laid-back look can easily backfire.

In the interest of putting your best self forward, here’s a categorized checklist of how to turn mere geek into fashion-savvy chic:

Women StyleDefining the fashionable geek

Forget about the latest fashion magazines, shows, and sites that purport to feature a flavour of the week branded as “nerdy”, purely for the immediate edge factor to their audience. Instead, a truly chic geek should look clean-cut, smartly dressed, and – at the same time – original and innovative.

The movement for well-dressed nerds has been led by a cadre of pioneering geeks who wanted something less pocket-protector-y for their attire as well as a slew of poser-celebrities (from David Beckham to Justin Timberlake) looking to cash-in on the rising coolness of all things nerdular.

What’s important for you to know is that it’s easy to be a stylish geek with a little help and a dash of inspiration. Still don’t buy it? Check out our three-pronged plan of 15 steps, each of which you can implement in 15 minutes or less:

What not to wear

In order to set yourself up for success, you’ll first need to prevent failure. Start by clearing out your closet of any of the following (but not limited to) five cardinal sins of nerd attire…

• White socks with anything besides running shoes (especially bad when coupled with sandals)
• Running shoes for anything besides running (you should be wearing loafers or dress shoes unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise – i.e. Sketchers or a nice pair of skate shoes because they go with the rest of a carefully-crafted look vetted by a variety of peers)
• Anything with holes, tears or discolorations
• Ball caps (preferably any hats, really)
• Tapered leg pants (Grow up, you’re not a rock star!)

Dressed to impress

Okay good-lookin’, now it’s time to go get some respectable duds. Start with a shopping trip (don’t be afraid to spend a little bit) and be sure to end with a closet full of a number of shirt (3-4), pant (1-2) and shoe options. At this point, you can start consulting some of the resources at the bottom of this guide, keeping in mind the following five suggestions for basic fashion success…

• Untuck your shirt (remember, you’re going for rad-nerdy, not lame-nerdy)
• Always, ALWAYS wear a belt…simple but true…trust us…
• Keep hair, facial hair (which you should sport at your peril, unless friends from all walks of life and both sexes…heck just the opposite sex really…agree you can pull it off), and all nails neatly trimmed
• Get a nice analog watch (lose the one with a built-in-calculator)

When in doubt…

You’re sooo close! Don’t mess it up now…While we expect you’re dutifully following the advice throughout this guide, we thought it would be useful to revisit the notion of not screwing things up at the 11th hour – When in doubt, consult the guides, examples, and cheat-sheets below…

• Trouble starting, here’s an example of an out-of-the-box look to begin with
• Cool nerdy shirts (do NOT wear these on dates – by all means, indulge in one or more of these, but preferably under an unbuttoned jacket or some other stylish way of showcasing your wit)
• Any other questions, check out the very comprehensive fashion4nerds site: one of the best non-nonsense guides for making the act of being a nerd look good
• Top 10 fashion tips for nerds
• A great guide to more nerd fashion guides

More nerdular resources

Congrats! You’re now cooler than Justin Bieber and smarter than Stephen Hawking (as opposed to the other way around…*gulp*) via revolutionizing your ever-crucial wardrobe.

We’ve been a little short on guides for nerdy women (we’re just so happy to have you in the club) so we’ve tried to rectify that in the bonus links here…

More shopping tips for fashionable nerds:

Fashion advice for women in tech/science

Sexy nerd looks for women

Oldies but goodies – and still good advice on how NOT to look:

High tech fashion

…Seriously, have you used any of the ideas above (or “passed them on to the friend this is perfect for”)? Drop us a line below and let us know how this guide scored for you.

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