Love & Sex

Tools of Attraction: Nerd Chic

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Five New York guys talk about their glasses and suspenders.

Kris, 33, DJ/prop stylist

How would you describe this style?
My style? Really? I just throw shit on. My room's looking messy right now.

But suspenders aren't something everyone wears. Be honest, is this your nerd-chic look?
Nerd chic? Wow. [laughs] No.

Is that offensive?
No, it's not offensive. But I try not to conform. I just try to stick to the way I was born. My mom dressed me for years, so I stick to that aesthetic.

What do you think your mom was going for in her efforts?
My mom was super-Catholic. She likes to stay safe with everything. But if you ask me my inspiration is, it's definitely music. The bands I listened to growing up.

Which musicians inspire your style?
H.R. from Bad Brains was pretty awesome, before he turned into a fucking psychotic piece of shit. There were many. But he definitely is a huge inspiration.

What are styles you like to see on ladies in the summer?
Jesus Christ. Honestly, I always look at shoes first. I like chicks that wear wedges. That's my whole jam. And I love miniskirts; they’re great. And not ‘cause I'm a fucking pervert — they just look good on women who have nice legs.

What are things you hate to see?
I hate when people try too hard. I hate aviators. Ray-Bans just don't mesh well nowadays. But I don't give a shit about sunglasses really. People just need to be original with their shit. Quit looking at magazines, that's bullshit. Come up with your own fucking concepts. But that's women. Not men.

Men just try harder. Men just want to get laid all the time. For instance, you came up to me, right?

Yes, I approached you for an interview for my job.
Do you think I want to get laid or something because of the way I'm dressed? Do you want to bone me or something? What are you trying to say to me?

This conversation has quickly changed directions! I think you're the one who wants to "bone."
No, I'm good for the summer.

Well, me too.

T-shirt: vintage, suspenders: H&M, pants: Alexander Wang, shoes: Levi's

Everett, 19, writer/actor

What kind of stuff do you write?
Plays and screenplays. But right now I'm studying creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

Cute and smart! So how would you describe your style?
I like to wear clothes that express how I'm feeling on that day. Usually they're more tight-fitting clothing. I like well-fit pants, and I love this type of shoes. Old, worn-in dress shoes. I also have cowboy boots that I love to wear. And I love jackets, sports jackets.

Would you describe this look as a particular style? Maybe… nerd chic?
It's funny, my friend actually put this outfit together for me a couple of days ago. His name is James Nealy, and he's an incredible fashion designer. He put this together for me and said, "It looks nerdy, but in a cool and cute way." He's in Michigan right now, but if he heard you say that, he would be very proud. So I dedicate this outfit to him.

Does he pick a lot of outfits for you?
Yeah. He makes his money fashioning people.

You're speaking awfully fondly of him. Is there a crush going on?
No, there's not. [laughs] We tried that out for a while, didn't work out. He's just a good friend.

A good friend who picks some outfits for you is not bad to have. If you were hoping to pick someone up, what would you wear?
I have raw denim jeans that I like a lot, and a nice belt, and a Theory sports jacket.

Even on a hot day like today?
I'd roll up the sleeves, of course. And a plain-collared shirt, with a few buttons undone. Simple. It's the kind of thing I like to see on someone else too. Anyone can wear that and look good. Different people look better in different things, but in general I like to see that look. Do you know the company Desigual?

Yeah, with the backwards S?
Right. It's a Spanish company. Their shirts are really nice, with a nice fit and great colors. I like the way they use color. So maybe I'd wear one of their shirts.

What's a look that you hate?
Ooh, interesting. You know, it more has to do with hair. I admit, I have total bed-head right now, but I really don't get when people shave half their head and leave the other half long, or the guys with the messy buns on top of their heads. I feel like they're trying to make a cool, weird point. Like the point is to look strange. But why not just look nice?

shirt: H&M, pants: Theory, socks: Vermont Smartwool, shoes: thrift store, belt: from a friend, glasses: Morel France

Matthew, 38, sculptor

What kind of sculptor are you? 
I work for a company that designs bars and restaurants. We did The Knitting Factory, a place called Radish, The Box on Chrystie Street. Lots of places.

Awesome. Tell me about your look today.
My dad actually sent me this shirt in the mail today.

That's nice of him. Does he send you a lot of clothes?
No. I think maybe my mom got it and told him to send it to me.

Is it your birthday?
No, that's what's weird. It's so random. I think they sensed I was having a rough week and it just magically appeared.

Do you want to talk about your problems? Maybe someone on the internet will have the answers.
[laughs] No, thanks.

Okay. How would you describe your overall look today?
Pretty American. Thrifty, I guess. I maybe paid twenty bucks for everything. Except for the glasses. Glasses are really expensive! The minute you forget how much you paid for them, you start treating them like this, where you get paint and stuff all over them.

They still look pretty good. Has anyone ever told you that your style is nerd chic?
No… I have been called Pee-wee Herman before though.

Boo. You're way more attractive.
I was on my bicycle. I wasn't even wearing a bow-tie!

Yes, rather famously. What styles do you find attractive?
Clean clothes and real shoes.

Real shoes, as opposed to?
Like flip-flops. They're for the beach. They’re kind of gross and dangerous in New York.

Would you say you have a style icon? Someone you think dresses really cool?
Aside from Cary Grant? I enjoy how some people dress, but don't necessarily want to dress like them. Like Spalding Gray. He's got the whole Northeastern thing going on.

I bet he would have an awesome story about his style.
Well, he got arrested in the Hermitage because he was on tour for something, and he pulled his pant legs up, and he had long underwear underneath and he got arrested because it looked like he was impersonating royalty. Because he looked like an eighteenth-century royal.

shirt: gift from dad, glasses: Ascots, jeans: Levi's 501, shoes: Goodwill

John, 24, barback

You're visiting from San Francisco. What's the biggest difference between San Francisco style and New York style?
I think it's really similar. People in New York definitely seem like they care a lot about how they look, which isn't a bad thing. But it is summer, so people are dressing differently because of that.

By the way, you came all the way from San Francisco, and decided to go to Blue Bottle to get coffee?
Yeah, I wanted to see if there was a difference. I tried an espresso you guys have that I haven't seen at the San Francisco branches.

How would you describe your style?
I would call it very simple, and classy.

Has anyone ever told you its very nerd chic?
No, I don't think so.

Would you be offended if they did?
A little bit.

Really? Uh oh…
[laughs] It's not that bad, I guess. Is it because of the glasses?

Maybe. A philosophical question: do you think nerd chic comes from within, or is on the outside?
It is probably from the outside, actually.

I actually need glasses — my vision is slipping. Do you think that will turn me into a nerd?
I don't think so. I guess it depends on what kind of glasses you get. I like to think that smaller glasses are nerdier than big frames.

What do you like to see on girls in the summer, nerdy or otherwise?
I like skirts on girls. Or really tight blue jeans. And I also really like plain T-shirts on women.

glasses: Modern Cosmo, shirt: Ruca, pants: Levi's, shoes: Levis, camera: Canon

Nick, 29, Hamptons editor of

What inspired you to wear this shirt today?
Most of my other stuff was dirty. I found this in a drawer. It's been a while since I had a chance to do laundry.

You're wearing Adidas — are you from Boston?
No, I'm from the Hamptons.

Are those Ray-Bans?
I actually got these at a Thrillist party for free.

Lucky you! Does Thrillist provide most of your wardrobe?
I get stuff from various other clothing lines, if I've written about them.

I'm jealous. At Nerve, we get sent a lot of cheesy paperbacks and porn. Can you get me into the white party?
I don't think he's doing that anymore. Last year it was in Los Angeles. Sadly it's a loss. I can't help you out.

What a rip-off. How would you describe your style?
Very thrown together. I don't put that much thought into what I wear. Mostly I just wear jeans, but I khaki it up every once in awhile.

Has anyone ever told you your style is nerd chic?
No. I'll take it, though!

You're not insulted?
No, it's not an insult. Nerd is kind of in now, I guess.

Do you have any nerdy interests?
Comic books. I really like comic books.

I just read The Killing Joke. Am I nerd-approved?
That's a fantastic choice.

I enjoyed it! What do you like seeing on a lady in the summer?
Sundresses. I hate to see flip-flops with socks.

Is that a Hamptons thing?
No, it's just a weird, ugly thing.

Do you have any words of style wisdom to impart upon on readers?
Wear what's comfortable. Except for flip-flops and socks.

suspenders: Levi's, pants: Banana Republic, shoes: Adidas, sunglasses: Thrillist freebies