Tagged: Hot Topic

Emily S. Whitten: Amazonians Unite! Wonder Woman and Geek Fashion

Five years ago almost to the day I wrote this column about the abysmal state of geek fashion and marketing for women. In 2015 I wrote this column, lauding the advances that had been made in that area and highlighting some great finds.

Now I write to celebrate the fact that there are currently cool women’s fashion options for so many geek properties that you could basically throw a dart at a list of fandoms and be assured of knowing that there’s a cute branded dress, piece of jewelry, pair of shoes, or at least women’s-fit tee for that property out there somewhere.

That. Is. Awesome.

I’m glad to note that there are a number of good companies out there that consistently pay attention to women’s fashion for geeks. One of my favorite geek tee companies, TeeTurtle, has sold comfy and flattering women’s tees for some time; and recently advertised that they have three fits available for men and women – recognizing that we all have different bodies and preferences for fit. (And OMG, their new Groot and Guardians of the Galaxy tees! Want!!) And ThinkGeek, a general favorite for geek merchandise of all sorts, has a solid rotating roster of women’s fashions, including this Twinkling Stars Skirt and this Glow-in-the-Dark Constellation Dress, which I surely should own.

But to me, the juggernaut of women’s geek fashion at present is Hot Topic, in large part thanks to Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe.

I’ve spoken to Ashley before about the pioneering role she’s played in this industry, and I can’t overstate the effect the Her Universe Fashion Show held at SDCC has had on it, either. Bringing in aspiring high-fashion designers who are both passionately immersed in the fandoms and are designing specifically for women has resulted in some of the most brilliantly unique fashions I have seen – both genuinely fashionable enough to walk down any runway, and better than regular runway clothes because of the layered fandom meanings behind the designs. And taking the winning designers to the next level by giving them the opportunity to design collections for Hot Topic was the next step in bringing women solid geek chic options with a lot of thought and tailoring for our gender behind them. I’m looking forward to seeing what new designers bring to the table at this year’s fashion show, and hope the show is around for a long time.

I also can’t imagine what the state of my convention-attending (and general) wardrobe would be these days without these designs. From cute dresses to wear when doing my interviews, moderating panels, or going to amazing geek parties to stealth geekery  I wear to my daily work, to jackets to cosplay pieces to pajama pants, when it comes to Hot Topic fandom fashions (and especially when new collections are announced) I pretty much just say, “Shut up and take my money!”

And that brings us to their latest new release, the Wonder Woman collection. It seems weirdly appropriate that exactly five years after my column bemoaning the lack of marketing and design recognition of the female contingent of fandom, we’re getting both a movie in which Wonder Woman, arguably the most prominent female character in comics, has first billing in her own big budget movie that also ties into the larger DC movie universe, and a beautifully designed collection of women’s fashion celebrating the movie’s release.

I’m eagerly anticipating seeing the movie as soon as I get a spare moment (I’ve seen enough good reviews already to be more optimistic than I’ve been about previous modern DC movies). And I’ve already managed to get my hot little hands on several items from the Hot Topic/Her Universe Wonder Woman collection.

Of the pieces offered, I was most interested in the Lasso Dress, the Reversible Dress, the Ombre Skirt, the Faux Leather Jacket, and the 3-piece Cosplay Wedge Boots and managed to snag the first three. (These collections go super-fast. I couldn’t land the shoes because they were already out of my size.)

All of my wardrobe pieces are fantastic. I already love them and I’ve barely even worn them out yet! I have, however, modeled them all for you so you can see how they fit on a regular non-model-type person.

I tried the Ombre Skirt first. It is very comfortable, with an elastic waist that keeps it snug but not too tight. It feels airy but also not flimsy, with a lining and a translucent outer layer. The high-low gradient design is charming, with stars sprinkled over it, and it twirls nicely (always fun!). It’s a very summery-feeling skirt, which is why it’s extra-cool that it also has a special Wonder Woman logo that appears in UV light.

(I tested it, and it appears boldly and almost immediately, and disappears again on leaving sunlight. It’s amazingly cool.) Overall, I love it.

Next up was the Lasso Dress. This one is great in that it looks fairly dressy but is made of a comfortable fabric (with pockets). The combination of the intricate gold neckline and the elegant lasso belt made me feel like a true Amazonian princess when I put it on. Add a pair of gladiator sandals or gold heels and you’re 100% ready to join the Themyscirans for their evening revels.

Last up was the Reversible Wonder Woman Cosplay Dress. This dress is definitely going on the convention circuit with me! It’s light, comfortable, and flattering. The Wonder Woman design side hits in all the right places so that you really do look almost like you’re wearing her costume. And the brown-and-gold logo side is appealing and oddly elegant considering the design is logos. This side is also more subtle, so it can be worn out and about when you’re feeling like being a little bit stealth about your Geekness. (And it’s made with tear-away tags so it’s easy to wear both sides.) I’m excited to find places to wear it!

All three items are excellent unique designs that look good, fit well, and feel comfortable. From the pieces I’ve tried, this collection gets an A+ from me.

So have we reached the zenith of geek fashion for women thanks to Her Universe and Hot Topic? Much as I love their items (clearly!) I hope not! There’s still plenty of room out there for other companies and designers to bring their unique fandom fashion visions to life – and I hope to see even more successes like the Her Universe/Hot Topic collaboration come to pass.

But in the meantime, I’m going to revel in my new Wonder Woman fashions and keep an eye out for the latest from Hot Topic. And until next time, Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: Adventures in Costume-Making, Halloween Edition

Hot TopicHappy post-Halloween, everyone! I hope it was spooooky and fun and sugar-coma-tastic. Man, I love Halloween. And this year I had a big party to go to, so I decided to go all out on my costume, a creepy “broken doll.”

Even though this year’s costume was not specifically geek-related (unlike that year I went as Black Canary and everyone thought I was Lady Gaga… sigh), I had a great time putting it together, and since putting together a good costume is part of the fun for me at some conventions, and I haven’t done a costume how-to (Emily-style!) in a while, I thought I’d give it a whirl with my Halloween getup.

I am unashamed to admit that this year’s costume idea came from an email Hot Topic sent out advertising their Halloween costume pieces. (And FYI, if anyone else is remembering the days when Hot Topic mostly contained black things covered in spikes, you are now on notice that these days it also contains a lot of awesome geek and pop culture clothing and collectibles.) Although I do like to try to come up with my own spin on costume things, my starting point was definitely the Doll Leg Tights on the Hot Topic site. I saw them and just thought, “A life-sized doll. What a cool, creepy idea.” Especially since I have a weird fascination with the idea of dolls (and other toys) coming to life (wherein depending on the toy, you either wind up as one of the humans in Toy Story or in Chucky and who can say which it will be until it’s too late? See also: the evil doll in the new Ash vs. Evil Dead show, which is hilariously cute-evil).

Unfortunately, by the time I realized I wanted to do a creepy doll costume the tights were all sold out. Undeterred, I thought, “How hard can it be to make doll legs?” Well. Not as easy as you’d expect, actually, but then again, nothing ever is in costuming. That’s what makes it fun! (And after all, it’s not Emily-style costuming unless you attempt to make something you’ve never made before from scratch with little idea how and almost no time to spare.) I decided to give it a go, and ran through the options of drawing them on with makeup, creating some custom temporary tattoos as I have for previous costumes, or using permanent marker (either directly on my skin, or on tights).

I nixed the idea of makeup because I didn’t want to have to worry about it smearing and coming off on things, and I decided against the temporary tattoos because I didn’t have time to properly fit and scale them in Photoshop. A friend informed me that drawing on yourself with ink or permanent marker is bad for you (oops for all those years I waitressed at the Arts Center and doodled on myself in between orders). So I decided to try permanent marker on light-colored hose. It…did not go well. It turns out, permanent marker is not actually permanent on hose. Instead, it gets all over everything. Ick. Fortunately, at that point I remembered my cache of fabric paint (d’oh!); and in the end, that’s what I used. (I have been informed that Michael’s also has fabric markers, so that might be an option for other DIYers, but I didn’t have time to go buy any).

The fabric paint worked pretty well, considering. It’s not super easy to paint on your own legs, but in the end, and using some photo references, I managed some acceptable doll ball joints. Given I was going as a broken doll, I then added a bunch of cracks, which was the fun part. It was kind of like painting lightning; and I also discovered that making some of the cracks really black in the center gave them a more realistic look, for added creepy brokenness. I then managed to create arm-hose by cutting apart a pair of regular hose and then cutting finger-holes in the toes (pro tip: because hose stretch so much, the finger-holes can be only a few millimeters across when you cut them; and you can then use a thin line of clear nail polish around the cuts to stop runs). And then, of course, I painted on them, too.

I was pretty happy with the end result for a first attempt, although as a fair warning to anyone else who wants to try this, some of the paint does bleed through and will thus have to be scrubbed off afterwards, and also touched up on the hose before a second wear. But the Tulip brand of fabric paint I used wasn’t hard to get off.

Once I had the arms and legs out of the way, the rest of the costume wasn’t too challenging; although I did also do some fancy-schmancy nails in one of my favorite greens to match, and those took some time. But fancy dolls have to have fancy nails! (For my fellow nail polish addicts, that’s China Glaze Smoke and Ashes from the Hunger Games line, Wet N’ Wild Spoiled in Correction Tape, and Sally Hansen Lacquer Shine in Glow.) As per the Emily-style costuming method, I love to repurpose costume pieces I’ve used before. Therefore I decided that this doll was going to be a sort of dark harlequin/ballerina-style doll, and pulled together the green corset and fluffy black skirt that originated in an Absinthe Fairy costume, a black lace shirt with puffed sleeves that’s played its part in my Discworld ensembles, and ballet flats that, quite honestly, are part of my regular work attire.

That just left hair, makeup, and accessories. For whatever reason, despite my hair’s inherent general inability to hold any curl whatsoever, I discovered recently that it will stay naturally in simple curled pigtails (weird!) so I opted for those, helped along by hair spray for a little extra staying power, and accented with black ribbon bows. The necklace was actually a Hot Topic purchase I’d never found anything to wear with before, but it set this ensemble off perfectly; and the earrings added a nice additional pop of green to a fairly dark outfit.

The makeup job was a bit tricky, I’ll admit; but it had to be right to pull the costume together. Fortunately, the set of colors I usually use for Harley Quinn could be repurposed for this (and can be acquired at your local CVS). For anyone who wants to replicate the look, I started with circles of Maybelline’s “Dream Bouncy” blush in Plum Wine, which is a cream blush that stays put and shows up well under powder. The powder went over my whole face and is Manic Panic’s “Virgin” Pressed White Powder, which is of excellent quality. I then drew on dark, fairly thin eyebrows with a black brow pencil to get that more doll-like look.

Next up were the eyes – with white around the outside on the bottom, and on the upper lids, to make them look unnaturally large and doll-like (Milani’s Runway Eyes in Backstage Basics has a pearly white that I used). Under the eyebrows I used the basic brown in Revlon’s Illuminance Cream Shadow set, with a touch of the shimmery brown on the inside areas, to make the eyes look like they were more deeply-set. Once I had the basics done, I drew the shape of the bigger doll “eyes” and eyelashes underneath in black liquid eyeliner, and filled in the lower half of my upper lids with the same, getting wider towards the outside of the eye. I finished the eyes with some fake eyelashes on the upper lids to add to the blinking doll effect.

The black eyeliner was also what I used to draw the “cracks” on my face, and worked very well for that because of the liquidity and fine tip on the eyeliner brush. I finished off the look with a lipstick base of Maybelline “Bare All” (originally acquired for my Orphan Black Helena costume) to get rid of my natural lip color, then drew on a smaller, rounded pair of doll lips using Milani Easy Liner in Sugar Plum, Revlon Ultimate ColorStay Liquid Lipstick in Brilliant Bordeaux, and Revlon ColorBurst Lipgloss in Bordeaux. Et voilà! Creepy broken doll face, and Creepy Broken Doll.

After that, all that remained was to go hang out at an awesome house party with the likes of Rose Quartz and Miss Fisher and Daredevil and to happen upon some great settings like this pumpkin-filled alleyway or this old trunk and stone wall in which to take some super creepy doll photos.

So there you have it, folks! A Halloween how-to. Hope it’s helpful to any fellow costumers out there; and until next time, Servo Lectio!

…Because if you don’t? I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL.


Emily S. Whitten: Geek Chic Spring Shopping

Captain AmericaThree years ago right around this time, I was lamenting the fact that there was a sad, sad lack of comics and genre fashion merchandise geared towards women. At the time, my experience was that the available clothing for women to purchase and wear was mostly t-shirts, only some of which were actually fitted for or geared towards women. And accessories of the sort women might be interested in, like jewelry or handbags or less manly wallets, were mostly available only via Etsy or through other fan enterprises.

Generally speaking, what was available via licensed merchandisers was also lacking in the style, flair, subtlety, or imagination that I’d have really liked to see in female comics fashion. Despite being a fan of the comfort of a cute tee shirt, there are times when I’d prefer to be able to let fly the flag of my geek pride with a little more style – like when I’m running from one end of San Diego Comic Con to the other and can’t manage a full costume, but would love to wear a cute dress instead of throwing on the same old tee and jeans combo. Or when I’m heading in to work and want to jazz things up a bit with a subtly geeky accessory.

Fortunately for me and all the other geek women out there who might feel the same way, things have changed since 2012. Companies like Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe began appearing and paving the way by coming out with clothing more flattering and fitting for women and establishing a high profile at conventions. Companies like We Love Fine and Superhero Stuff really caught on to the fact that “if you make it, they will buy” when it comes to women and cute geek clothes. 2014 in particular saw an uptick in more exciting geek fashions becoming available for women, starting in February with geek-inspired runway fashions (and companies like Cozday Clothing), and going into the fall with several companies such as Black Milk Clothing and Living Dead Clothing coming out with themed lines.

As spring rolled around this year and I started looking for a few new items for my geek and con wardrobe, I felt anew that the female geek fashion wasteland of 2012 has happily been replaced by a growing garden of options for the discerning geek gal. From shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, and tights to jewelry, bags, and scarves, to pieces that could be incorporated into actual costumes for cons, there are a lot of cool options out there right now.

Given that these options are still sort of scattered around, I thought I’d provide you with some favorites I’ve found – some of which I actually own, and some of which are on my wish list.

So check these out, and flaunt your geek fashion for the world!

Hot Topic, which back in the day (yea, these many years ago when I was a teen) used to be mostly kind of goth and punk, has in recent years been adding and adding to its pop culture collections. It now has entire lines of merchandise themed around superheroes, genre TV shows like Supernatural, and more. A couple of recent favorites that I own are the Batman Harley Quinn Dress, the Harley Quinn Infinity Scarf (which I am totally wearing at work today), and the Harley Quinn perfume (are we sensing a theme, here?). And as of this morning, they’ve also got a new Marvel Her Universe line available for pre-order. (You can also shop directly for some of the Her Universe clothing on their website.) They’ve got a ton of fun accessories, too, like this Alice in Wonderland purse, this TARDIS hinge wallet, this Supernatural watch, and this Orphan Black code ring. And of course, Sherlock and Watson cord bracelets for all you shippers out there.

Although some of it appears sold out at the moment (noooo!!!!!), We Love Fine has been carrying some cool-looking geek chic lately. A couple of things I had my eye on were the Companion Cube Fit and Flare Dress, the Kawaii Avengers Sleeveless Top, and the Ms. Marvel Tank. The Balloonicorn Pattern Top is also just plain adorable, and I kind of crave it despite the fact that I haven’t played Team Fortress and usually don’t wear things I’m not an actual fan of on principle (but I did see clips of the in-game Balloonicorn in action online and it amused me greatly, so there’s that).

The aforementioned Black Milk Clothing has some pretty cool stuff, from the looks of it. I covet their dress collection, including the Riddler Skater Dress, the Game of Thrones Win or Die Dress, the Marauders’ Map Dress, and the Harley Quinn Skater Dress. The GOT Rhaegal Dragon Egg Skirt is also pretty sweet.

Speaking of Australian companies, Living Dead Clothing has a super-cute Captain America swimsuit and Cap shield dress, and an Iron Man Skater that could actually be worn as a costume piece. It’s also all over our favorite webslinger’s fashion choices with a Chibi Spider-Man Skater Skirt, a Radioactive Crop Top, and this Secret Identity Skater Skirt that is subtle enough in its geekiness to wear just about anywhere. They’ve also got a mishmash of stuff in their Crypt section, including a Guardians of the Galaxy dress and a Dancing Groot dress (what whaaat!).

Thinkgeek is a regular stop on my online geek shopping route. I’ve got their Tolkien Silk Wrap Bracelet, leetle tiny Batman earrings, and Health Bar Yoga  along with their cute Firefly Kaylee-Inspired Messenger Bag and Portal Companion Cube Messenger Bag. And I wouldn’t say no to their GOT All Men Must Die Ladies’ Long Sleeve Tee, their Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix necklace, or their TMNT Ladies’ Raglan. Plus, they have a rewards system that’s actually worth signing up for. Hooray, free stuff!

Even with all the fun alternatives, sometimes nothing beats a good ladies’ tee. I like to go to places like Quantum Mechanix for those. I’ve got the women’s versions of their Firefly Fighting Elves tee, their Firefly Blue Sun tee, and their Warehouse 13 Farnsworth tee; and I am now coveting their Firefly Independents tee. Quantum Mechanix also has fun stuff like this Firefly Leaf on the Wind keychain/pendant and Jayne Cobb leather wrist strap .

TeeTurtle is another great place for cute, comfy, well-fitting geek tees for ladies (they’re my favorite for a consistently comfortable and well-fitting tee). They have infinite adorable choices (and a lot of fun fandom mashups), but I particularly love my Rebels of the Galaxy, Honest Mistake, Floating Through Space, Codominance Panda, Totodoll, Adorable Monstrosity, and Fire Mage tees.

SuperHeroStuff also has a ton of tees, but I’ve currently got my eye on their Rogue costume dress, and also think their PJs are super cute.

And…whew, I think I’m about shopped out. Now it’s your turn!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!


Tweeks: Tween Holiday Gift Guide

gridWith only a couple weeks until Christmas, we Tweeks can’t stop thinking about what we’ll be getting (because duh…we’ve been totally good this year). But it’s also come to our attention that we’re not easy to give gifts to.  Anya prefers digital comics and Maddy can’t watch DVDs on her laptop, but you can’t unwrap a something that doesn’t physically exist.  So this where we talk about why today’s tweens are hard to shop for, ponder if buying fandom merch should be a personal purchase, and give some ideas on how to present the kids in your life with presents they will love.  We also have a companion Pinterest board with recommendations (& a peek at our wish list) if you haven’t done your shopping yet!