Once upon a time, we lived in a world where geek girls didn’t have many options when it came to choosing clothes that expressed their interests and passions.
Convention merch and T-shirt shops were dominated by row upon row of men’s attire and items not tailored for a woman’s body in terms of comfort or style.
If you wanted to express your love for Star Wars, or Star Trek, or “Alien,” or anime, you had to raid your boyfriend’s closet and settle for borrowing his favorite boxy, well-worn, oversized tee. That was all very well for pajama time, but not for a girl’s night out, or a day at the office, or when you really wanted to look cute or convention-ready.
I remember the frustration and disappointment of finding an awesome nerd shirt, but then realizing it would tug at my shoulders and neck in uncomfortable ways and make me look like a 12-year-old boy as whatever curves I had disappeared under masses of thick, cheap fabric.
Well, ladies, those days are over. And lo, we are living in a golden age of geek fashion where our biggest problem is not how to find nerd clothing we love, but how not to go broke in the process of shopping for it.
And also, we need a bigger closet. Much bigger.
As we speak, my closet is overflowing with enough Star Wars clothing to last me for over a week. I keep telling myself I will not buy more. Yeah, that’s not happening. Thanks a lot, Disney!
That wouldn’t be so bad, but my closet is also stuffed with outfits representing multiple fandoms, including Marvel, DC, Wonder Woman, Disney, Harry Potter, and my latest fashion obsession, Studio Ghibli. That doesn’t include the geeky purses, socks, jewelry, and other accessories that spill from every shelf, drawer, and box in my bedroom.
I largely credit the revolutionary growth of fangirl fashion to Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe, a fashion house dedicated to female-centered apparel and accessories with products licensed by Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, Studio Ghibli, and other fandoms.
Eckstein famously voices the role of Ahsoka Tano in the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Star Wars: Rebels,” and “Star Wars: Forces of Destiny.”
In 2010, she launched Her Universe exclusively for female science-fiction and fantasy fans after realizing women who loved Star Wars had almost nothing to wear to express that fandom.
“I was really starting to go out and promote ‘The Clone Wars,’” she said in an interview with StarWars.com.
“I was going to … all of these events, but I only had one shirt to wear that was made for women. And my husband – I’m a much bigger Star Wars fan than him – but he had several Star Wars shirts! So I started doing my research because I thought, ‘This doesn’t add up,’ and I found out that over half of sci-fi and fantasy fans are women.”
After reading about girls who were bullied for their interest in Star Wars, Eckstein decided, “we’ve got to change the culture.”
Her Universe has more than met that challenge. The company was acquired by Hot Topic in 2016 and has contracts for clothing collections at the Disney parks.
Refreshingly, Eckstein’s company features an extensive range of sizes, from clothes for little girls to plus-size women. And it hosts the annual Her Universe Fashion Show, promoting the work of fledgling designers at San Diego Comic-Con.
There is still room for growth in the world of geek fashion.
I’m constantly flummoxed by the unavailability of girl shirts at conventions and even at stores as pedestrian as Hot Topic or JC Penney. And I’ve heard many complaints about the persisting lack of options for plus-size women. Perhaps other creative entrepreneurs will step in to fill the remaining voids.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to fill your closet and empty your wallet with fun and flattering fangirl fashions, here’s where to start:
Her Universe: As described above, the mother of all geek fashion outlets is a mecca of nerd couture, where you can find a dazzling array of fandoms and styles, from Wonder Woman replica tiaras, to a Princess Mononoke Kodama skater skirt, to cosplay capes and dresses, to a Beauty and the Beast crossbody handbag by Danielle Nicole.
Their latest offering is the Princess Mononoke Collection, featuring Forest Spirit leggings, a furry wolf vest, and many other things to make Studio Ghibli fans go wild.
Disney: Since it acquired Lucasfilm, Disney’s theme parks and website are the top places to shop for Star Wars attire, but they obviously offer a huge array of general Disney merchandise geared toward women and girls.
Whether you’re looking for a Minnie Mouse sweetheart dress, Chewbacca pajamas, a Haunted Mansion tank top, or a Jack and Sally hoodie, you’ll never run out of options.
ThinkGeek: Perhaps the biggest geek merchandise outlet on the Internet, ThinkGeek features products from a wide variety of franchises, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Pokemon, Harry Potter, Fallout, The Legend of Zelda, Marvel, and Game of Thrones. Shop for a R2-D2 plaid button-down blouse, a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” vegan corset, a Deadpool Pancake Mountain tee, or a Squirrel Girl shirt.
Their newest collection for women is Star Wars wear fit for the office, designed by none other than Her Universe, including a blazer emblazoned with Star Wars symbols, a Rebel Alliance print infinity scarf, and an elegant blouse decorated with X-wing fighters and other ships.
Hot Topic: The retailer beloved by wannabe goths and emo kids specializes in pop culture and music-inspired fashion. You can nab a Harry Potter Gryffindor cardigan, a Lilo & Stitch cosplay dress, Soot Sprite leggings inspired by “Spirited Away,” or a pair of Harley Quinn sequin hot pants.
And, of course, you can score lots of Her Universe merchandise off the rack here.
ModCloth: For geeks who like their style a little more subdued, ModCloth offers vintage styles that aren’t affiliated with any major franchises, but are unique and adorable, with themes encompassing literature, science, art, and general eccentricity.
How about shelling out some cash for a “Great Gatsby” sweatshirt, an astronomy tee, a dinosaur skater skirt, or Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein leggings?
buddingSTEM: If you’re looking for something for your little geek girl that doesn’t feature Disney princesses or great swaths of pink, this website is a refreshing alternative. With collections of dresses, leggings, T-shirts, and other attire featuring airplanes, Apatosauruses, beetles, fireflies, frogs, space, and trains, you’re sure to find something for the girl with an inquiring mind.
SHARE YOUR GEEK STYLE!
We see you, geeky fashion queen!
You’re rocking that fangirl style. You’re putting together the most wicked Harry Potter ensemble. You’re sneaking a little Star Wars-style into your professional wear. You’re proudly donning that cosplay dress for a night out.
Send us a picture of you wearing your most impressive geek style, and we’ll probably feature it on the No Man’s Land blog. Be sure to include your full name, city, and a few sentences about the outfit you’re showing off.
Don’t be shy! Send pics to firstname.lastname@example.org.