Why Style for “Dorks?” A Dork’s Manifesto.

Bad guy.

Bad guy.

Good guys.

Good guys.

Someone suggested, recently, that my blog’s name could use an edit. More specifically, I should consider changing a single word.

Q: “Why ‘Dorks?'”

A: Sometimes I get a little post-modern.

We live in a world of semiotics – of signifiers and signifieds, where everything means something. Lots of things.

Here’s an example:

In the classic 80s movie, Revenge of the Nerds, the “Jocks” are the bad guys. They wear a “bad-guy” uniform. Meanwhile, the protagonist underdog Nerds wear pants cropped too high, collared shirts, and bow ties.

The outfits are the signifiers. They signify: social outcast.


Jump forward thirty years.

varsity nerds

Jock? Hipster? Nerd?

2014: Nerd? Jock? Hipster?

2014: Nerd? Jock? Hipster?

Conditions have changed such that trendy, ubercool Brooklyn Circus can make a line of varsity gear – not for Jocks, but for, well, nerdy dudes. Meanwhile, the cropped pants, cardigan sweater, and bow tie is only nerdy in the way that the word itself is no longer even remotely pejorative.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that we now live in a society that appreciates all individuals for who they are. I wish. I mean, I teach high school: and let me tell you, there are still Nerds and Jocks. There is bullying, there is a pecking order. But you can’t tell who is who based on their uniform, and in many ways, the ultra-rigid social signifiers of the 80s have loosened. And fortunately, many of the behavioral norms have changed, as well.

Ok. Pretty dorky.

Ok. Pretty dorky.

When Revenge of the Nerds first came out, the “boxes” for what was socially acceptable were narrow. If you loved something other than Top 40 music and sports, you were out of luck. Proof: I used to get made fun of for listening to the Beatles. The band that never goes out of style was too dorky for the 80s.

Today, thank God, it’s praiseworthy to “nerd out” or “dork out” over, well, almost anything. To dork-out is to love something with abandon. Without caring – or even knowing – what anyone else thinks.  To dork-out is to love something so much that you’re willing to learn about it. Talk about it. Argue about it. Read about it. Even write about it.

Drama. Videogames. Politics. Social justice.

Even style.


Proud Style Dork.

Proud Style Dork.

When a Style Dork dresses, he’s interested in signifiers and signifieds. Not just – how does this look. But also – what does this mean?

When a Style Dork dresses, he’s curious about various combinations – and what they meant historically. And what they mean, now. And how to mash them up.

When a Style Dork dresses, he’s okay with provoking a reaction.

When a Style Dork dresses, he’s okay with experimentation.

And most of all, when a Style Dork dresses, he’s okay with the fact that’s he’s put some thought into it.


And as for you, well, if you’re reading about style, well come now, you’re probably a bit of a dork about style.

Might as well name the blog after the proud truth.

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