Le geek – c’est chic!

Tara Hepburn

A friend said to me recently that she had no time for fashion — that it’s intimidating and elitist, and annoyingly ‘cool’. And whilst that’s a slightly sweeping excuse for her own sartorial ineptitude, it’s a belief that’s not without grounding. The world of fashion has been a bit bold and daunting of late:  all chunky heels, and black, and leather, and patent. Or all of the above.

It is with great relief, then, that there seems to have been a shunning of all things cool in favour of a bit of a square revival. Not geometrically speaking, of course, rather in terms of character.

With this movement the girls got tea dresses for the summer months, and the boys got checked shirts and clear plastic glasses (alas, there is not room to discuss the rights and wrongs of feigning sight impediments). And as the autumnal chill settles in, the fashion pack have provided yet more garms to keep both genders cosy as the temperatures drop. High street shelves are positively heaving with the sort of duffle coats and parkas that truly are anti-cool in every respect – keeping you warm, and keeping your Mum proud all at the same time.

But the real extent of the geek-chic renaissance is best witnessed in the sudden, almost palpable, presence of the humble cardigan. Guys and girls alike have truly embraced this primary-school staple, and not without good reason. Cardigans are brilliantly versatile – working with all kinds of looks, from dresses, to jeans, to smart night-out wear. And Primark have cardigans from just £4, so it’s not even that big of a financial-pull to get on board the brainy bandwagon.

And cardigans look good on everyone. Even the most appalling whale of a human being looks better in a cardigan, because at least it somehow creates the connotation that they’re possibly geeky, bookish and incredibly clever. We might conclude that genetics wouldn’t be so cruel as to deny them both looks and brains, thus they’re clearly a genius.

As it happens, genetics are cruel and obey no rules at all (Natalie Portman has a degree from Harvard, Wayne Rooney has no qualifications whatsoever) – and that person you just saw in a cardigan is probably just a fat idiot, but they’ll have waddled their massive geek-chic lard-filled body right past you before you’ve had the time to reach that conclusion. Cardigans are powerful things.

I’ll personally be holding onto the cardigan look, not because I’m a fat idiot, but because I’ve been rocking it since circa 1995. But then again, as 7-year-old school kids in the playground, weren’t we all? Who knew style could be so basic? I suppose we all did once upon a time, before it all got so complicated.


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