You know what I mean by “stylish geek-chic-but-glamorous librarian types,” right? I’m talking Prada-y, Miu Miu-y vibes here: straight-laced, retro-ish, almost dowdy garments and silhouettes, but rendered in unique fabrics or styled in unexpectedly sexy or punk ways.
This is the girl who loved a Fluevog Mary Jane in the 1990s, or cool patterned knee-socks worn with secretary skirts, or very twee sweaters worn with skinny jeans and oxfords and heavy black-framed glasses. She likes odd, eccentric color combinations and quirky accessories. She loves vinyl records more than mp3s and reads Lisbeth Inspector or Eve Babitz.
(Unrelated but rapturous aside: I love Eve Babitz’s recently rereleased novel ‘Sex and Rage’…so good!)
I definitely have this strain of style in my sartorial vocabulary, but I’m a true eclectic. But I also know very stylish ladies who ONLY wear this aesthetic — and like their romantic boho hippie sisters, they often feel a little out of place when they go to the gym. And I get it: among all the Lululemon and loud neon prints, they often can’t seem to find workout clothes that express their personality.
But since I love to solve these weird kind of fashion problems, I went to some effort to find some workout clothes for my glamorous librarian-y friends.
It was a little hard, I admit, and I went about it in two different directions. Librarian glam has a hint of retro to it, and luckily there are lots of retro-y athletic aesthetics coming back into vogue. (Think ‘Royal Tenenbaums’ and the track suit, tennis shorts and polo dress the various characters wore.) Luckily, Adidas is a huge thing now, what with Stan Smiths being the big sneaker du jour and Adidas Original sweatshirts and trackpants are very popular.
But if you’re very much like “Ugh, no Adidas, please!” then you might want to check out stuff like P.E. Nation. It’s spendier, but it still has a retro vibe with a splash of color, but not obnoxiously super-bright.
The other was a super simple aesthetic, but in the uniquely saturated colors that permeate this aesthetic. Think companies like Outdoor Voices or perhaps even P.E. Nation and Tory Burch’s foray into athleisure, Tory Sport — companies that are a little off-kilter and left-field of your typical athleticwear brand, with simple or retro slants or arty colorblocking.
Beyond brands and shopping, though, this fashion type should probably stick to classic, simple shapes: leggings, crewneck sweatshirts, polo shirts and dresses. There’s an elegant refusal at heart of the geek chic realm of fashion, someone who stakes their claim in the ground by saying they’re NOT going to jump on the current trends, whether it’s cropped sweatshirts or moto leggings.
Luckily, athletic fashion has been around long enough now to gain their own classics — and with the explosion of this market, they’re easily available so that even bookish fashion types can get to the gym and still feel like themselves.