Nerd Girlfriend
January 21, 2012 7:50 PM   Subscribe

In 2009, Roxana Altamirano made her first post to Nerd Boyfriend (previously), a style blog that finds clothing similar to those worn by iconic male figures. Now, almost three years later, there is a Nerd Girlfriend.

Roxana has guest curated on Etsy, and been featured on a couple episodes of Put This On by Mefi's own Jesse Thorn: Work, Personal Style.

Also, an interview with Roxana that explains why she uses the word "nerd" even if many of her subjects aren't stereotypically nerdy.
posted by mokin (31 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
mokin: "Also, an interview with Roxana that explains why she uses the word "nerd" even if many of her subjects aren't stereotypically nerdy."

Because "hipster" sounds kind of negative?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:12 PM on January 21, 2012 [13 favorites]

Love that photo of Debbie Allen & Phylicia Rashad.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:16 PM on January 21, 2012

Now, if only someone could find me Ferris Bueller's outfits...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:22 PM on January 21, 2012

Sexy librarian was what I was hoping to see. I hold out hope for the site because I just can't dress without looking like I am about to go camping.
posted by jadepearl at 8:38 PM on January 21, 2012

Holy shit that Nerd Boyfriend site is giving me some sort of existential quiver. Not in a very pleasant way, either.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:40 PM on January 21, 2012

Nerd Girlfriend is kind of adorably hipster. It's really infuriating.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:43 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Damn, I was really hoping Nerd Girlfriend might host ideas for things I'd actually want to wear.
posted by jacalata at 9:11 PM on January 21, 2012 [8 favorites]

:( Most of the Nerd Girlfriend looks are frumpy unless you're supermodel thin and can compensate for the ironic intent of the clothes with a pretty face.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:20 PM on January 21, 2012 [15 favorites]

This uses an extremely non-standard definition of "nerd".

(Jennifer Beals?? Jennifer Beals = Nerd? Really? In what universe would that be true?)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:45 PM on January 21, 2012

This is like that girl I follow on Tumblr who's convinced that she's colossally nerdy ("OMG, how will I ever find anyone who understands???")because of her obsessions with Bettie Page and Twin Peaks.
posted by hermitosis at 9:52 PM on January 21, 2012 [5 favorites]

No big deal, part of the broadening definition of nerd. It now means something non-standard but still cool. Like playing Angry Birds on the train instead of listening to some awesome new band.

People who used to be nerds when nerds were non-standard and not cool self-identify as geek, neckbeard or basement dweller now. People who are nerds and not cool but still want to seem cool claim they are otaku, everyone knows they are not cool.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:55 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

So...nerd = 80s?
posted by maryr at 10:12 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just make me look like this. All the time.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:35 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah...let's see them find Molly Ringwald's prom dress from Pretty in Pink.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:52 PM on January 21, 2012

*click* uh, this is a fashion thing, bleh whatever, OH HEY GILDA RADNER!
posted by louche mustachio at 12:12 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

So is this a case of a derogatory term being taken over by the class that once mocked and looked down on nerds? Because that's kind of creepy, like if people like Mitt Romney started calling themselves the N-word, and everyone being okay with it. (i know i'm exaggerating a bit here, nerds weren't enslaved and such, it's late and i'm tired, so it's the best i came up with.) Most times insults are taken over by the group that is oppressed to either lessen the impact or remove it's power.

I guess it just frustrates me when people that call themselves "nerds" are the ones who made my life hell for actually being one back in the day, but now think it's cool to call yourself that, but you know, not actually "be" one. :P
posted by usagizero at 12:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I interpreted the "Nerd" part of the title as referring to collecting all these pictures and looking for current analogues, which, yeah, is nerdy by the definition of "getting into uncommon interests and spending a lot of time on a thing outsiders look down on as stupid/a waste of time." Which, judging by the comments in this thread, fits.

The worst part of "nerd/geek culture" is the defensiveness and the way it's morphed into sneering at things for not being "authentically" nerdy. Other people's interests are not stupid just because you don't share them, and if you are a "nerd" (i.e., someone who's had their own interests shat upon), you should understand that better than anyone. It's new ubiquity can be irritating, sure, but get some fucking perspective.

I dug this. Thanks for posting it.
posted by kagredon at 1:12 AM on January 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Bad self use of the "nerd" word= our capitalist governor (michigan) Rick Snyder. The guy makes me ashamed hat I use a computer and have pens in my pocket.

And, am I wrong or are there only five entries on that site?
posted by HuronBob at 3:32 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought that one of the big benefits of being a nerd was that you didn't have to worry about fashion? Have I been doing it wrong all these years?
posted by octothorpe at 6:19 AM on January 22, 2012

The people in the photos aren't nerds. The people who studiously identify and locate their items of clothing are. Or else they're just fashionable stalkers.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:25 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, see, I just had a flash of insight. The thing is, back before the internet, developing a nerd level of knowledge about a non-standard topic was really difficult - whether the topic was the work of Spinoza (which is still sort of difficult) or the history of Legos or the minor record labels of the early seventies. That information was really specialized and it was all on tiny pieces of paper and old magazines and specialist books somewhere. I remember, for crying out loud, that it was actually difficult in 1990 to find any significant information about the eighties albums released by the Pogues. So anyway, to accrue that knowledge you had to be obsessed and diligent in a way that often meant that you were a weirdo and didn't have a lot else to do with your time. And you often had to be fairly smart and conversant with research methods. More, you would never encounter another person who cared about your favorite topics, so if you tried to talk about them you would be considered a raging bore. Thus, nerds liked nerd topics.

Now it's easy to know all those things, which means that lots of people know about the funner ones - especially at a semi-expert level, enough to carry on a casual conversation. The cooler topics - and those most amenable to capitalism - have floated upward, as it were, so that cool people geek out about them. So basically, there's been a giant shift so that the cool people basically have easy access to the things only nerds had before.

This is absolutely separate from being a nerd/weirdo/outcast - there are now new social markers of nerdiness, but basically, if you're awkward or not pretty enough or have ideas unacceptable to your community or your community just needs to unite against someone, you're still the goat. It is understandably frustrating that mainstream people have gotten all the fun parts without there being a value shift.

I would argue too that as anti-racism, anti-sexism, queer/GLBTQ stuff and so on has become more visible, it has become less socially-acceptable to be "mainstream". Hence, being a beautiful, popular girl who likes eighties movies and Modcloth and referring to yourself as a "nerd", or whatever. One of the big first steps in trying to be less of a white-privileged jerk, IME, has been to seriously sit down and say "yes, I am a white person, I have profited even if indirectly, from racism and have absorbed racist attitudes and I need to own that". Owning privilege is something that take some intellectual focus and some willingness to sit with unpleasant truths. The unpleasant truths of social privilege aren't in a league with white supremacy, of course, but calling yourself a "nerd" when you're hugely socially privileged is none the less an emotional effort to avoid those truths.

It's interesting, too, how contemporary "nerd" stuff is all about commodification - learning what to buy and how to buy it. Like both those "Nerd" sites are literally all about how to buy copies of the outfits in question. Similarly, Lego and hobby nerd stuff. It's all about learning the finer details of how to consume. I think that's a big internet-enabled difference in nerd activity from when I was little. Simply because there was less stuff available, knowledge was what you collected.
posted by Frowner at 6:44 AM on January 22, 2012 [20 favorites]

I know she explains the site name as referring to guys who "own their style" or something like that, but wouldn't that mean that people like Cary Grant, the Rat Pack, James Dean, etc., are also "nerds" by that definition?

Like many things today, I suspect the site name was chosen knowing it is borderline nonsensical but (a) it resonates with the type of people she wants to reach, (b) it was an available domain name, and (c) it is catchy and memorable. But the nerd thing doesn't make sense.
posted by jayder at 7:37 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't know why people are contorting their brains trying to make her definition make sense, she's clearly just talking herself out of a corner that she painted herself into with her dubious name-selection skills. Or, as jayder points out, she picked it well, but only based on factors that have nothing to do with the content.
posted by hermitosis at 7:43 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, see, I just had a flash of insight. The thing is, back before the internet, developing a nerd level of knowledge about a non-standard topic was really difficult

This is part of the main point of Patton Oswalt's book, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:44 AM on January 22, 2012

I wish she'd credit the costume designers (for the film shots) rather than just naming the stars. Karen Allen didn't think up that beret herself.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's easy to write about style of fake Hollywood female nerds who are styled and costumed; I'd find Nerd Girlfriend more interesting if she could base the blog upon actual female nerds in the wild. For example: Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Warren, and Jenny Conlee (who is performing again with the Decemberists after battling breast cancer.)
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:44 AM on January 22, 2012

These are photos of pop-culture icons dressed in elegant timeless styles or understated retro looks, and allows folks who would like to dress nicely, but are uncomfortable with style or fashion, nerds, if you would, replicate the look with clothes they can buy online.

This is actually nerds co-opting the mainstream. I approve.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2012

Funny thing here. My girlfriend shortly after we became rather serious made for me what she calls a look book. She's a fashion designer. Apparently these things are common in her industry but I had never heard of such a thing. She went through my facebook account and gathered up pictures of me that others had taken and that I had which showed me in clothes and situations which she considers to encapsulate my style. She then gathered up a bunch of pictures of celebs, scientists, authors, workers, etc which she thought were echoes or extensions of how I show myself in the world. She asked me over to her place one evening and she revealed this look book to me. She spent an hour or so going through each picture with me explaining how my stylistic choices fit into my personality and world view. She drew correlations between me and these celebs etc. And then when she had finished all of this she pulled out a collection of about a dozen different pieces of clothing she had gotten from the racks at good will which fit into the look book narrative she had just given me. She explained how each piece could be used interchangeably with others, and other pieces she pointed out I already had in the pictures, to create a myriad of different outfit choices for me. It was an incredibly awesome experience. I got a bunch of great new clothes. (I only told her no on one specific pair of pants among the bunch) I got a lot of positive reinforcement for whom I am. I got gentle encouragement to expand my boundries a bit to try thing I didn't normally do. And I felt very valued by the entire experience. Really an amazing experience unlike anything before.
posted by filchyboy at 11:26 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I can't believe nobody is talking about Jodi Foster tucking her tie into pants.
posted by BurnChao at 12:10 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I remember, for crying out loud, that it was actually difficult in 1990 to find any significant information about the eighties albums released by the Pogues.

You, ma'am, obviously never had the pleasure of acquainting yourself with the Trouser Press Record Guide, the all-time savior of music geeks (and nerds as well, I would guess) of the pre-Internet era.
posted by mykescipark at 12:49 PM on January 22, 2012

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