For a long, long time, to be a fan of something geeky was “uncool”. Want to show off the series that you love? It was nearly impossible to find apparel for anything remotely different than what the mainstream wanted people to wear. If you were lucky and found it, it would be a t-shirt with either a logo or vague design on it. But nowadays, it’s becoming more and more popular to like things geek. And with more people comes more creativity. As we speak, fashion in the geek world, particularly women’s geek fashion, is being continually expanded on.
For female fans of sci-fi or superhero franchises, apparel was scare for a long time and not well designed for our bodies. Most were incredibly form fitting, made to show off everything beneath the shirt. This in contradiction with the formless t-shirts male fans were wearing. Many female fans had to resort to either staying in the form fitting clothes or wear the men’s shirts – it was a man’s world after all. It wasn’t until the late 2000s that women’s place in fandom was seen just as marketable as men’s. Enter Her Universe.
There’s no clearer indication of the norms in geek fashion and beauty being changed than with industry leader Her Universe. Founder Ashley Eckstein realized when searching for a Star Wars shirt back in 2008 that there was really nothing out there for women. So after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, she created Her Universe, an apparel company made for women in fandom. The company started with just t-shirts but eventually made its way into more unique pieces. But with the more unique pieces came more unique problems, mainly sizing issues.
The Size of the Matter
Sizing issues are something the company is still working on today. In an open letter to Ashley Eckstein, blogger Lavender Vroman called out the sizing issue when she was unable to fit into a medium – a size, she claims, she could fit in any other company. “Your brand prides itself on catering to women and girls of all shapes, sizes, and styles, from plus size shoppers to kids,” she wrote. “The company’s motto is ‘Fashion for Every Fangirl.’ Too often, though, it seems the brand’s actual target demographic is an extremely narrow one, namely young women and juniors with a very specific body type.”
When it comes to fashion in geekdom, one group that suffers quite a lot is the plus size woman. Not only are there fewer options in stores for plus size women, but those in fandom typically have much fewer options. I remember getting a 2XL shirt from WeLoveFine (now called For Fans By Fans) back in 2013; it was Loki shirt that said “I Do What I Want!”. At the time, a 2XL was a size up for me, because I knew that women’s sizing was ridiculous and I wanted to be safe. When I received it, the shirt was so tight that it was practically a belly shirt for me. How was it that a shirt that was supposed to be larger than what I typically wore fit me like I bought two sizes down? It was frustrating. And that sizing issue is something that is still happening today for plus size women.
When shopping at Her Universe, I have more confidence in what I’m getting due to my experience with the company. When the new Wonder Woman line was announced, I knew I had to get something. So I got the satin jacket in a size up. In all honesty, I could’ve gone with my size because it was so roomy and comfortable. It was unlike anything I had purchased before. This was an item of clothing that fit! Now I know I can trust them in their sizing. Sadly, that’s not the case with everyone. Lavender Vroman’s open letter came in March of 2018, eight months after I had bought my jacket. Vroman was invited by HerUniverse to see their offices and speak to designers about her concerns with sizing. They do everything they can, but it’s still a work in process. One that won’t be completely solved in the near future.
All Geek Fashion All the Time!
Sizing issues aside, the style of geeky clothing has gotten significantly better since the t-shirt only past. With sites like ModCloth, ThinkGeek, BlackMilk Clothing and Elhoffer Design offering unique and fun pieces to show off their fandom. One of the more fun aspects includes subtly showing off your fandom and still being work-appropriate. How about a Gryffindor argyle vest? Or a D20 dress? Maybe even a chemical compound top? There are even workout clothing options, like this Tomb Raider set from Her Universe. Heck, you can be a Captain while you sleep. There are so many ways to show off your love of your geeky fandom in affordable ways.
While specialty things like workout clothes are much more limited in scope, there are many options out there for you to be flaunting your nerdy heart at any time of the week for any occasion. While the selection isn’t incredibly wide, it has continually grown since websites have offered apparel in their stores. And it’s because of fans that it’s being made available. So keep rocking your TARDIS socks and nerd on!
Dream It, Be It
But what about those who don’t see what they like? Some fans have taken their fashion into their own hands and made inspired looks based on their favorite characters. The most popular version of this is called Disneybounding. Fans of Disney essentially created their own fashion pieces based on clothing they already had. Some times it’s so subtle that you wouldn’t know unless you recognized it or were told. Back in 2011, blogger Leslie Kay created her DisneyBound Tumblr. Originally it started as a trip log detailing her excitement for a Disney trip. It then evolved into something more.
She began sharing ideas and inspiration for fans of Disney to create their own unique “Disneybound” pieces, based on characters from the Mouse House. Kay told HuffPost that Disneybounding was a way for her to express herself, saying “I needed a creative outlet. I started to create Polyvore sets based off of my favorite Disney characters and within days, my following grew from a couple hundred to a couple thousand. Three weeks later I was on national television talking about Disneybounding and the rest was history.”
The rest is literally history as fans have taken the idea and been extremely creative with it. Some have shared their looks while at the parks like YouTuber Heather Traska’s lookbooks. But the majority of bounders are all around the world, just out there making a living and giving themselves a bit of joy in their daily lives. And that’s the best thing about dressing in your favorite fandom – it gives you happiness in your daily life, even if things aren’t going so well.
Making the Difference
At the end of the day, it’s fans who make these decisions possible. We need to continue to be vocal about what we want and what standards we want companies to live up to. Things can’t be fixed overnight. But if we continually demand change, our voices will be heard. That’s why we’re here now – women’s geek fashion has changed and expanded upon because of our voice and our creativity. As Ashley Eckstein put it, “the biggest way to change things is with your dollars.” So let’s keep demanding the change we want to see.
[Featured image via HerUniverse]
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