Tips on how to wear geek chic in a smart way

Buddy HollyMen's Wearhouse Inc.

The line between geek chic and plain-old geekcan be a fine one. A bow tie could be a fraction of an inch toothick, or there might be just a little too much room in the collarof a short-sleeve dress shirt.

There's also the issue of the label. "You can't have an uncoollabel for these clothes," says Tom Julian, author of "TheNordstrom Guide to Men's Style." "I don't know who Pee Wee Hermanwore, but that jacket could come back, thanks to a hot youngdesigner."

To ease into this new look favored by the hipsters who just afew seasons ago were touting tight jeans and skater sneakers, startwith a striped shirt and an argyle sweater -- or even a sweater vest,says Scott Norris, senior vice president and general merchandisemanager of Men's Wearhouse. After that, there's a whole world ofhorn-rimmed glasses and wingtip shoes to be explored, but only ifyou feel comfortable in them.

"It depends on the individual how far to take it," he says."It needs to come naturally and you can't try too hard."

Tips from the experts:

-- "Geek chic is not an oversized silhouette," says Norris. Oneof the best looks, he says, is a slim pinstripe suit, skinny tieand fitted short-sleeve dress shirt.

-- With fitted clothes, body type matters. Norris says the bestcandidates are on the taller, slender side.

-- Check out how designers Thom Browne, Band of Outsiders, Shipley& Halmos, Trovata and Duckie Brown are interpreting the look,Julian suggests. Retro brands Penguin, Gant, Hickey and Ben Shermanare also doing versions.

-- Wear hair either slightly messy or very neat, says Brian Boye,Men's Health fashion director.

-- Try jackets (suits, sportcoats and even outerwear) with ahigher armhole. A 2 3/4-inch lapel looks more modern than a 3 3/4inch, Norris notes.

-- Skip the jacket altogether and wear a cardigan or vest.

-- If you go with a polo-collar shirt under a vest, turn thecollar up and keep the shirt's tails out, says Janie Bryant, "MadMen's" costume director.

-- Embrace Buddy Holly-style plastic-framed glasses in a Wayfarershape or rounder horn-rimmed ones.

-- Don't go head-to-toe nerd, says Julian. Perhaps start withglasses, or a cardigan-tie or sweater vest-tie combo.

-- Wear an untucked short-sleeve, button-down shirt on weekends.

-- LeAnn Nealz, chief design officer at American Eagle, likes tosee quirky argyle socks peeking out of wingtip shoes.

-- "Don't go in the direction of black socks and shorts," Bryantadvises.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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