Home Articles Acing The Fashion Scene: The Rise Of The Nerd – Opinion

Acing The Fashion Scene: The Rise Of The Nerd – Opinion

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What is one thing that was not cool when you were growing up, but has now somehow become the epitome of fashion? For me, it’s glasses.  

When I was growing up, glasses were strictly in the “nerdy” category. It was worn only by those people who suffered from impaired vision, and were chunky, ugly little squares that did nothing for the face. Anyone who had any aspirations of being “cool” either chose to suffer in silence with less-than-optimal vision, or switched to contacts as soon as they were able. Unfortunately for me, this was never an option. 

My vision was so bad I had to get prescription sunglasses when I went to the beach, and my mom was not willing to shell out money monthly for contacts when I could just get a pair of glasses and be done with it. Thankfully, in the last few years, this perception of glasses as uncool has changed (and rightfully so, I believe). 

Glasses have now become a “cool” item with everyone from celebrities to fashion models donning them. And far from needing them for functional purposes, people have started buying glasses with fake lenses just for how they look. But this raises the question, what other “nerdy” items have now become fashionable?  

Faith Based Events

Quirky Tee-Shirts

Quirky tee-shirts with a reference to a fandom you were a part of, or of a quote you related to, were once a way for people belonging to the same fandom or interest to identify each other and nod a quick “hey, I see you” while passing each other on the street. It was practically morse code for the nerd.  

It used to be that only ardent admirers of a work would wear tee-shirts referencing that fandom as these tee-shirts were seen as ugly and uninteresting. They were a sure-fire way for fellow nerds to strike up a conversation and could often act as ice-breakers. Now, quirky tee-shirts are beloved by everyone from children who sport superheroes and adults who quote ‘The Office.’  

Quirky tee-shirts have become staple casual wear and are even dressed up with blazers and scarves. This simple piece has appealed to itself by being easy to style, fun, and comfortable.      

Pleated Skirts

Pleated skirts were once the domain of schools and tennis lessons. Pleated skirts were so reminiscent of school uniform skirts that they were abhorred outside the perimeter of the school grounds. But they were a staple of the nerd wardrobe and the preppy style.  

But now, you see them all over social media (especially tennis skirts!). I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve seen adolescent girls on TikTok dancing in a pleated skirt. But the pleated skirts of today are not the pleated skirts of the decade before. For one, the pleated skirts in style today are much shorter. But more drastically, there is so much creativity and variety to pleated skirts today.  

Modern pleated skirts are often adorned with slits, straps, lace details and embellishments, and many other variations. They are paired with sweater vests, oversized hoodies, formal shirts, casual tee-shirts, bralettes, and other kinds of tops.  

Tennis Shoes

Tennis shoes, and flats of all kinds really, used to be the ‘sensible’ option. They were bought only for convenience and were rarely seen as an ‘accessory.’ But the world has finally awakened to the beauty of tennis shoes. Remember the craze for those white Adidas tennis shoes in 2018? For a couple of years, it seemed like everyone was sporting those.   

Perhaps it has something to do with the rise of streetwear and athleisure, but tennis shoes have become ubiquitous in wardrobes, whether it be for women or men. And for good reason; tennis shoes are a perfect marriage of comfort and easy style. They don’t look like they try too hard, but a well-cared-for pair can elevate any outfit into the realm of ‘classy.’  

Knee socks

Is there anything that spelled out “nerd” quite as well as knee socks? These long socks were often part of a school uniform and seemed designed only to cover up as much skin as possible in the least flattering way possible. There is no doubt that knee socks in school were ugly.  

But thankfully, this item has been blessed with a second chance; and one it has used marvelously. Nowadays, knee socks are seen as quite cute or sexy (depending on what type you get). Everything from plain knee socks in different colors to ones patterned with cartoon characters and other designs are popular. There are even knee socks with little pom-pom details, and lace cuffs, and kitten ears available.  

Knee socks are popular to pair with short skirts or shorts and peeking out from underneath tall boots. They are also quite popular in colder climates to protect the legs while still maintaining the look of the overall outfit.   

It’s heartening to see so many “nerdy” items entering the ‘cool’ lexicon. As someone who has enjoyed wearing these items for many years, I’m excited to see what other innovations these items will undergo in the fashion space, and how they will come out of it. 


Jessica Lombardy

Jessica Lombardy is a Sportsfan and unrepentant baseball/soccer mom. Taking care of three boys and one man. Her writing covers the intersection of tech and social trends, and the business trends that emerge from them.