Nerd shirts for my fashion friends, fashion shirts for my nerd friends

It’s been a while since I posted - mostly because I haven’t been online much lately and my camera wasn’t working. But I haven’t forgotten this wonderful space, so I’m popping in to say hello and share my latest wardrobe preoccupations. It’s lovely to see you all again. I hope you’re doing well!

This season, I’m raking over some familiar territory. My efforts to rethink my relationship with the screen print are ongoing. After a year or so of buying what felt like very few, clearing the decks of the ones I wasn’t wearing and enjoying the ones I was, I came to the conclusion that these urban staples qualify as a summer essential. I should add that most updates in the last couple of years have been to the winter wardrobe, and when the weather warmed up I found myself on the back foot and in need of a refresher.

With this in mind, I've been trying out a new silhouette. I’m liking the extra coverage, longer length and looser fit of a unisex tee, and I’ve found some interesting designs on my travels. I’ve swapped the merch stands for museum shops (fewer concert shirts, more art prints) and I’ve found some of the best ones on various trips to Spain. No idea why this should be the case.

I’m not entirely sure whether this is backsliding or consolidation, but it occurred to me while making this post that I tend to use a printed tee as a kind of “third piece” in summer. Then again, in this capsule the third piece is probably the hat (a sort of beanie/cloche/turban in lightweight leather) which I like to think adds a bit of polish to the look.

1-2 A little gem from Spanish brand Typographia. There are so many layers to this obscure visual gag that I can’t even begin to explain it, but if you’re one of the tiny number of people who’d get it, then you’ll know the joke’s inevitably on you. Or me in this case. Of course I had to buy it, it’s perfect with oversized pants and ridiculous footwear. Pretentious, moi? Why thank you!

3 Props if you remember the name of this 1950’s robot, with a skirt from my mother’s collection (I shortened the lining to bring it up to date.) If you’ve ever wondered what happens to urban Goth style when the European sun comes out, then wonder no more. Everyone has to leave the house sometime and Barcelona’s Annexia have pop-culture references and bad taste designs for every occasion. At three for €50, I felt it was important to save Mr Edge from himself so I took up the slack. As they say on their very NSFW Instagram feed, be afraid. Be very afraid.

4 I was browsing Uniqlo looking for something sensible and plain when Mr Edge thrust this Andy Warhol design into my hand and said it had my name on it. Enough said. Menswear styling with linen mix silver pants and wild-card Sketchers, but in the end I wore white Birkenstock sliders. Best viewed IRL than in the photo, for full metallic goodness.

5 The tee that convinced me not to give up on tees, a concert shirt from the ridiculously talented tune-yards. I love the cut and the print and I’ve worn it a lot. The guipure skirt is very old and was doing nothing, so I cut a chunk out of the lining and it’s looking like a player again.

I’m pretty sure Angie’s going to tell me this is sloppy and the proportion is off, and I cannot disagree. Nevertheless, when it comes to channelling some old-lady-punk attitude when running the tourist gauntlet on my way to the supermarket, it can’t be beat. I know you know what I’m talking about.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    AHHHH, I love tune-yards! I just saw them a couple of weeks ago in DC and came so close to buying that shirt, but I'm really trying to not add so many concert tees to my already ridiculous collection. 

    It's awesome to see you post again, and I love your creativity. You're making me want to employ my graphic tees more often now. I feel like I get enough of the references from the art world in #1 that I appreciate it(I may be missing the overall message but I think I have enough that I can bring my own interpretation) . :-) I love what you did with your mother's skirt and the one in #5 to bring them up to date. As always, I'm admiring your style.

  • Elizabeth P replied 6 years ago

    Oh, so good to see you post again! 
    I love what you've done with these tees, and in resurrecting the skirts.  Creativity in spades, indeed.

  • Becky replied 6 years ago

    Nerdy t-shirts are a vital part of my daughters' chosen style at this point in their lives. While they do wear the ubiquitous unisex "free" t-shirts from events they have attended or in which they have participated, they also choose shirts for themselves based on some witty/nerdy saying. The t-shirts usually don't have much in the way of an actual graphic; it's more about the wording. For example: "Don't be so NaCl" or "Hakuna fermata: It means keep playing for the rest of your days." They do spend some time choosing the right color and fit of these individually selected t-shirts, so I call it a win.

  • RobinF replied 6 years ago

    Some great looks! I avoid tees because they do nothing for me but you have a real knack for making them look good. Love the skirt of your mom's.

  • Cardiff girl replied 6 years ago

    Loving your style!

  • Bijou replied 6 years ago

    Nothing nerdy here! I love all these looks and wish that I was able to wear these cool girl looks with authenticity. 

  • cindysmith replied 6 years ago

    So glad you dropped by with an update & some WIW pics. I always enjoy seeing your outfits. I love what you've done with these t-shirts. Your style is edgy, eclectic, and a lot of fun.

    You always inspire me to be true to myself and not worry about dressing how a 48 year old woman in Texas is "supposed" to dress. Thank you for that. Now, I'm off to go pull my platform hi-top sneakers out of the donate pile thanks to your 1st outfit here :-)

  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    Your outfits are always great and these are no exception.  I generally avoid t-shirts but you've made them work here.  

  • Vildy replied 6 years ago

    Love your style.  I don't get the Woof shirt at all but Klaatu Barada Niktu is from my childhood.  Thank you and Janet for the mention of tune-yards. I'd never heard of them and I love them. I'm fascinated by how talented they are.

  • replied 6 years ago

    Number 4 is my absolute favorite.  So great to see you again.  I have missed your sage advice.  

  • Murph11 replied 6 years ago

    Fantastic to see you! These looks were worth the wait. And yes, Museum shops are the best.

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    Re: tune-yards -- Merrill Garbus is one of my musical heroes of the last few years. So creative and talented. One of those artists who grabbed my ears from the first notes of the first song I heard (it was "Bizness") -- my initial reaction was "what IS this??" and then I was hooked.

    (And one of my favorite ringtones for my phone is "Water Fountain" :-))

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    Great to see, Liz. Missed you. 

    OOOH. You wear a turban well, and look fabulous as always. LOVE the doggie bot. #1 is my KILLER fave. 

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Love the tees with the sheer overlay skirts. Brilliant pairings!

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    Fabulous tees, and fabulous outfits on you! It's great to see you post. 

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Janet: oh yes! She is my #1 girl crush! Such an inspiring performer, and so original. Best experienced live! And yes, the joke on the shirt is very open-ended, which was part of its appeal.

    Cardiffgirl, ElizabethP, thanks! I'm all about customisation and I'm wearing skirts more these days so... yeah, rachylou: I think the secret to these shirts is avoid wearing them with jeans. Luckily, I rarely wear jeans.

    Becky, RobinF: 
    It's not completely flop proof, but a crew neck with the right print can be great for my body shape. I often have fit issues with other styles. Horses for courses. 

    Bijou: but but but this is me at my nerdiest! Seriously though, cool isn't something we should try to nail down in my opinion. Let's have some fun instead.

    cindysmith: oh yes, something else I could bang on about for hours - what's a 50-year old woman supposed to look like? And only keep the platform hi-tops if you have room for them. ;)

    Sara L: 
    pardon me, but I do believe I've seen you sporting a Star Wars shirt. :P Or perhaps I'm mistaken? ;)

    Vildy: aha! But can you name the robot? Spoiler: it's not Klaatu ;) And yes, you should definitely listen to tune-yards. Everyone should listen to tune-yards. 

    thanks! Aren't they just? Great for jewellery too.

    Angie: I've been missing this, and you too. It is lovely to be back, if only for a post or two. Suz, Sterling: thanks! It's lovely to see you again too.

  • Vildy replied 6 years ago

    ohh, no, I'd forgotten the robot's name. But here's a story for you.  Many, many decades ago Michael Rennie was in Atlanta and he was eating dinner at the same country club restaurant my friend's family was. Of course, my then young friend knew who it was but wouldn't think to approach him. However, a very drunk guest staggered up to Rennie's table and elatedly slurred some loud garbled version of Klaatu Barada Niktu at him. Rennie seemed bewildered.

  • LaPed replied 6 years ago

    Waving to fellow tune-yards fans! I haven't seen her live since she released Bird-Brains almost a decade ago; she toured quite a bit in northern Mass/southern VT, where I was living at the time. Before she was a full-time musician, she worked at a puppet theatre not far from where I lived.

    Great tees all around! #1 is very clever. Somewhere, stashed away, I still have a couple of kukuxumusu tees I bought in Spain (again, almost a decade ago, sheesh). Spain, esp Barcelona, is full of amazing design. Love those shiny linen pants, too.

  • Jenni NZ replied 6 years ago

    Oh Liz I've missed you! Was just thinking last week that you hadn't been here.
    Even though, no I have no idea what you're talking about, and I'm no way one of the "tiny number of people who'd get it". The only person you mention here that I've heard of is Andy Warhol- and that's the outfit I like best, adore the pants. I'm much too conventional to understand what you say, and would be one of the tourists that you run the gauntlet past! In fact my 24 year old daughter was one just recently and loved the cycling!
    Great to see you and appreciate your cool ( mysterious) writing again :)

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Vildy: that's hilarious! Poor man, he must have had a special bewildered face for every time that happened. I bet he used it every day. 

    LaP: I knew there had to be someone here to share the joke. It's too clever by half, which makes it quite bizarrely stupid. And I'm pleasantly surprised to find to find a tune-yards fan club forming on YLF. On balance it's probably better for the world that more people can name Merrill Garbus than Klaatu's robot friend. 

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Jenni: hi, cross-posted! Hope your girl had a great time here in NL, and yes, bike culture is one of the best things about this wonderful country. But I've reached the point where I recommend all tourists avoid Amsterdam. Go to Utrecht instead - it'll be better for everyone ;)

  • Jenni NZ replied 6 years ago

    She did have a great time. She works in food, and it had to be Amsterdam as that's where her university friend who works for Fonterra ( NZ's huge dairy company) lives in a Fonterra apartment. She also went for training for her own job in Germany near Hamburg- and was bemused how she seemed to be the centre of attention at the dinner being from "exotic" (?- so not) NZ and having holidayed in Samoa- they all wanted to know about it! Shows the grass is always greener on the other side!

  • Aida replied 6 years ago

    Great to see you! From the description I was expecting something different than what you've shown: tees paired with other interesting pieces which elevate them. Nicely done as always. Especially loving the updated skirts. #1 and #3 (Gort!) are my faves.

  • Style Fan replied 6 years ago

    So good to see you!  My favourite is #1.  Good idea to wear the Ts with something other than jeans.  I don't think you could look nerdy.  You ooze cool.

  • LaPed replied 6 years ago

    Gort! Bonus points for Aida. It's been a million years since I watched any vintage sci-fi; I was ready to call my kooky cinephile uncle and ask him. 

    My Dutch family mostly lives near Utrecht (Bilthoven, Baarn), so I'd prefer the tourists stay in Amsterdam thank you very much. ;)

  • replied 6 years ago

    Creative and truly excellent in every way

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Can I steal all your clothing? Especially the hilarious Woof shirt.

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    The first and last are my favorites - although I have never heard of the tune-yards and am completely out of touch with anything new musically. But I will check them out, so thanks for that too! Always a pleasure to see you Liz!

  • jussie replied 6 years ago

    Ooh clever outfits. I like number 3 best: beguiling, hip and artsy all at once. Good tip about pairing tees with not-jeans.

  • replied 6 years ago

    I vote #5 as tops of the outfit pops, closely followed by #3 but #1 is my favorite T, just speaking of Ts.
    Another person here who gives ear to Tune-Yards.

  • approprio replied 6 years ago

    Jenni: not sure if exotic is the word, but NZ can appear very romantic from a European standpoint. Last stop on the global bus-ride and all that ;)

    yes! I always thought that was the best name for a robot. And 3's probably my favourite too. 

    SF: honestly? I'm nerdy. Really. Just ask LaP's kooky cinephile uncle. ;)

     I was ready to add anything "athleisure" to that, but on reflection it probably works with tricot pants and sneakers, assuming you're under 40.

    waves to shevia! Good to see you again. Isabel, thanks!

    Greyscale: Hah! and you were top of my list of people most likely to get the joke.

    : go team tune-yards!

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