How to pull off the ‘geek chic’ look


Ill-fitting clothes; think beige angle swingers, a faded checked shirt and your dad’s brogues. Oversized, thick lensed and rimmed glasses and an unnecessary amount of techy gadgets. This was the stereotypical look of geeks. A stereotype that you may presume eyewear brand Oliver Peoples, the maker of vintage Oliver Peoples sunglasses, would never be associated with.

Dating back to 1510 the word ‘geek’ comes from the German word ‘geck’ and means ‘fool’ or ‘freak.’ At the time of origination it was used as a derogatory term to describe those who were wacky circus performers- the ones who would eat bugs or live animals. Soon the word ‘geek’ was attributed to ‘freaks,’ which were classified as those who displayed a physical trait that was not considered to be aligned with the social or cultural norms. The term became popular in Britain at the beginning of the 1900’s.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as being someone who is ‘unfashionable or socially inept.’ People who fall into this category are those who are overly intellectual or who are shy and socially introverted. There’s always been a stigma attached to the word geek. It’s a common insult you hear in the playground, an association to be avoided.

However the connotations of the word geek has evolved over the past 20 years. We’ve come a long way from the representation of geeks in films such as Revenge of the Nerds in the 80’s- and there’s one reason in particular.


Enter geek chic.

In the mid 2000’s a new fashion trend among teens sexualised the traditionally ‘undesirable.’ The younger generation started to embrace stereotypical geeky fashions; the braces, the high-waisted trousers- the thick rimmed glasses. ‘Geek chic’ was defined as, ‘The dress, appearance, and culture associated with computing and technology enthusiasts, regarded as stylish or fashionable.’

The rise in popularity of geek chic can be attributed to a number of influenced. A shift in pop culture, celebrity endorsement as well as particular fashion labels, with the likes of Oliver Peoples glasses championing the vintage look.

It was the geek chic eyewear aspect that celebrities endorsed the most. Whilst it is perfectly normal for stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Elijah Wood to be photographed wearing Oliver Peoples sunglasses, it’s wasn’t ordinary to see celebrities wearing glasses- especially by choice.

But when the geek chic became on trend stars such as David Beckham, Justin Timberlake and MyleeneKlass dared to bare their thick rimmed specs in all their glory. The geek chic trend has never died- it’s just constantly reinvented by the fashion industry. Certain celebrities are known for their nerd like appearance. Take ZooeyDeschanel for example. The Oliver Peoples’ princess owns the geeky fashion trend. With minimalist make up and an array of Oliver Peoples glasses she wears pleated knee length skirts, blouses and chunky knits, rocking the smart yet cute look.

It’s not just celebrity endorsement that overturned the fortunes of geeks everywhere. At the same time the geek chic look came into play, popular culture started to portray geeks in a new light. Now, in a majority of films and TV programmes you’re likely to find the bumbling nerdy guy- the one who hides nervously behind a huge pair of glasses but radiates a loveable charm that’s irresistible to really hot women- think Peter Parker from Spiderman or Leonard from The Big Bang Theory.

Geek chic and hipster have amalgamated into one. Now, geeks everywhere can hold their heads up (from the toilet bowl) and be proud of their quirky dress sense and obsession with books and technology.

Fashion designers such as Oliver Peoples, Gucci and Mark Jacobs have fully embraced geek into their repertoire, still creating new models of eyewear and clothing that keeps geek chic cool. Thankfully, society has even accepted the stereotypical geek to be a hugely necessary. It’s thanks to nerds, geeks and freaks that we’ve been able to make some many important technological advances. It’s thanks to nerds, geeks and freaks that we’re making advances in medicine.

Now, people love geeks so much, they even buy t-shirts with the word ‘geek’ written on the front. What could be more self-satisfying than that?

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