Think geek

Aaron Leth

While most of you were probably traipsing along white beaches and showing your Britneys to the Girls Gone Wild crew, only to eventually take down a governor, I was experiencing our spring break as more of a snow break. Oh yeah – three of the 10 days of spring break were snowy. But guess what, winter’s last dance let me do some hardcore contemplation (read TV show catch-up), all to say welcome back to the second half of second semester.

One of the shows I caught a little too often was Tyra. While I’m still baffled by the fact she got her own talk show and swings her weave around like she’s the next Oprah, ahem, Jesus, she literally “geeked out” over men’s style and its latest turn toward the nerdy side. Of course she spun the underlying message to tackle something about women’s insecurities as she usually does, but after realizing I slighted the men in my spring trends column, I had to lay down my thoughts, access my own wardrobe and wonder: Is going geek chic?

In the land of Minneapolis that is grubby, dirty, bike-riding hippies and co-ops, there’s a fine line between geek chic and geek tragique. I’m a big fan of polished, proper and posh styling – basically if I look good, I feel good. So adapting grubby, geeky styles is a big step for me. But one so attuned to the fashion world must recognize the “trickle up” effect of dress – a phenom most exemplary exampled by the grunge period in the early ’90s. I’m willing to budge, and I hope you are too.

First, though, let’s highlight what TO DO by what NOT to do. The geek chic trend doesn’t mean scraggly neck beards and the trash ‘stache. The world is not a giant soup kitchen, so let’s straighten that hair up. A guy can have very quirky, trendy hair without it looking like it’s a rat’s nest. This idea is epitomized in dreads: lose them fast. You know you’ll eventually end up having to cut your hair anyway, why not start working on shorter styles?

And here’s my favorite. Somewhere along the line, buying skin-tight jeans, which are very high fashion for men as well as ladies, became skin-tight any type of pants: corduroy, canvas, wool, etc. Even worse, someone started the rumor tying a frayed, tablecloth-resembling scarf around your neck made you runway-ready. Now, the clincher: the Timbuk2 bags. I remember the first time I saw one of these, on the West Bank of course. I loved it. But this was also in 2005, and now as long as you have one, throw on that grandpa scarf, neon plastic shades and voilà, très chic?

Almost, not quite. Instead of going all out as so many have tragically done, try one or two trends at a time. I like American Apparel scarves because they’re lightweight and versatile. And I espesh love the skinny ties. This of course is very retro, however simultaneously very chic, enabling you to stand out just as much as you would with all the trends mashed over your body like you played a game of “pin the trend on the geek,” but sorely lost.

Sometimes I think guys dress ultra-geek just to make up for insecurity or awkwardness. But trust me; such detriments are not solved via tacky alternative dress. You’ll have a much easier time if you creatively, and with conviction, take one step at a time. Try an ill-fitting pant, but another way, like too short instead of too tight to the point of moose knuckle. It’ll be just as interesting except you won’t be giving any anatomy lessons Ö you know what I’m saying?

So Tyra was probably right: Going geek is chic. But in a city of extremes, I fear it has already gone too far. Now is the time to backtrack and think geek a little more mildly, and who knows? Maybe it will be just in time to save the cheerleader, which means you’d save the world. Now that’s geek chic.

-Have a fashion question? Let me know at [email protected], and you too could appear in “Where Life Meets Style!”