FORSGREN: 5 kinds of shirts all nerds need in their closet

The Art of Nerding Out

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Nerds don’t let nerds go out like this. | Photos by Adam Forsgren,

I was “challenged” by coworkers to write a column about fashion. So if this week’s edition ends up not sitting well with you, please send the hate mail, the bomb, etc. their way. Thanks for understanding. And thanks for all the fish …

I am not what you call fluent in fashion. My style is that I don’t really have any style. However, I am observant, and I’ve noticed that true nerds have a consistent dress code. While there is a range in … “upscaleness” (is that even a word?) in attire from nerd to nerd, there are a few common, basic building blocks.

Take shirts, for example. Shirts are an essential weapon in the nerd wardrobe arsenal. A shirt doesn’t just give a nerd some style — it can even signal to other nerds that the wearer is part of the club. This is especially true shirts that are less common and mass-produced than the ones you can get for $7.50 at Walmart. And all the while, the right shirt really reflects the feelings the wearer has for favorite fandoms.

Yes, the right shirt is truly a Swiss Army knife-like fusion of function, feeling and fashion. And I believe there are five basic types of shirt that all well-dressed nerds should have in their closet …

The graphic tee

This is the nerd’s fashion bread and butter. Emblazoned with logos and depiction of your favorite pop culture characters or properties, the graphic tee can be in instant identifier to like-minded people that you know what’s up.

For example, let’s say I wear my Babymetal tee out to Best Buy or the zoo or someplace like that. Ninety percent of people will have no idea what Babymetal is and no desire to learn. But the people that know will give me a thumbs up or a knowing nod. They may approach me and have an instant opening line: “Nice shirt, homie.”

And if I see a beautiful woman who’s also wearing Babymetal gear? Well, I would be too scared to approach her, but I DEFINITELY would spend a lot of time beating myself up for not talking to a gorgeous female who may actually share a common interest with me. Sometimes you have to take what life gives you.

The long-sleeved button-down

Hard to believe, but there may come a day where you may not feel like wearing Green Lantern or Chewbacca on your chest. Or maybe you may need to look more presentable. Or perhaps you may just want to wear something with a little more to offer in the sleeves department. That’s why having at least two or three long-sleeved button-downs in your closet. Solid colors and plaid flannels are my personal favorites, but there are plenty of other options.

The floral print Hawaiian shirt

Because if they’re good enough for Wash of “Firefly,” they’re good enough for any nerd.

The sports jersey with nerdy stuff on it

The battle between jocks and nerds still rages today, and most of the time, jocks have most of the ammunition. But you can strike at a jock’s heart by wearing a football or baseball jersey defaced and desecrated with nerdy logos and images. Wear your Team Gryffindor hockey jersey to your jock brother-in-law’s house and watch the pain well up in his face.

Or maybe just wear them because they look cool.

The sweater

Sweaters, cardigans and sweater vests are essential nerd attire. Not only do they keep skinny nerds warm at social gatherings held in drafty rooms, they also don’t stand out or draw too much attention, allowing you to blend into the background of a party or family gathering. Unless, of course, we’re talking ugly sweaters. Then all bets are off.

I prefer my sweaters of the hooded sweatshirt variety. They’re super comfy, and since most of them are splattered with “Star Wars” graphics or Marvel Comics characters, they serve some of the same purposes that my graphic tees. If I REALLY want to show my “Star Wars” love, I can wear my Boba Fett hoodie over my “Return of the Jedi” T-shirt.

Hey, this was kind of fun. Maybe I should do headgear next …

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