Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dress Obsessed: Shopping For Your Inner Geek

My friend and co-worker Kristi is always wearing the most unique dresses.  I asked her if she'd write a guest post about her favorite places to find her amazing outfits.  Thanks for sharing, Kristi!

When I was a little girl, my fascination with Disney animation easily translated into adorable dresses and cute printed blouses fit for a princess. Little girls had plenty of options to feel comfortable while also sporting a look that showed off their current interests. My parents often filled my closet with clothes that showcased my love for Tinkerbell, Mulan, Belle…believe me, this list could go on forever if I continued.

But as my interests expanded, it was difficult for me to find clothing I would consider “adorable” or “cute” when it came to comic book icons, Japanese animation, etc. Even Star Wars, which holds one of the most iconic characters for me, Princess Leia Organa, was in short supply of outfits for those who were interested in showing their passions in the form of dresses. And as I was growing older, I was breaking away from Disney’s prime audience for those princess collections. I was no longer a teeny human and therefore the expectations of fashion sense and personal interests were expected to change.

Well, my interests didn’t change. I was still exploring the realm of “geekdom” but with a much more limited wardrobe. I sported printed t-shirts and hoodies regularly to let the world know, “YES, I’M A GEEK AND I LOVE IT!”  The t-shirts were my canvas…but even though these outfits were comfortable enough, I never felt the same as when I was a little girl wearing my princess dresses. I felt my outfits were just something I threw together to get me through the day, not something I enjoyed.

For me, I had low self-esteem and my wardrobe wasn’t helping me overcome those judgmental stares. I compared myself to those around me, assuming it was so much easier for them to find a personal style. Many of them were prettier than I was, braver than I was. And I harbored this constant insecurity throughout high school.

College came and went.  I typically wore pajama pants and hoodies (unless of course I had to go in front of the camera, then you bet I was in a nice blouse) to class. And as I began my career in Public Affairs, I was slowly trying to develop a style I could call my own…however, apart from the nice blouses and dress pants, it was boring to me. I wanted to showcase my interests; I wanted to feel pretty for myself.

Fortunately, we were entering a time when body types were celebrated instead of ignored. Women of all shapes and sizes could find clothing that fit their needs and their style. Lady geeks no longer had to struggle to find the fashion for their interests because more designers were coming forward knowing the struggle so many faced growing up. For we who wanted to be all dressed up and proudly showing off our geek pride, it was our time to shine.

My dress journey began sometime in 2012 and has become somewhat of an obsession. My outfits helped me break out of my insecurities, allowing me to feel proud of who I was. I was no longer afraid to walk out into the world and show everyone just how much of a geek I am. Even in my constant struggles with being a plus-sized woman and trying to better myself, I can still feel beautiful in what I wear and how I present myself.

And let me tell you, the first time I wore one of my Disney dresses out in public and people were coming up to me and sharing how amazing I looked and how awesome my dress was, it felt…AMAZING! Each dress I wear, more and more people come up to me to tell me they love what I’m wearing and to say how awesome it is to see such cute outfits that showcase the geeky side of life. Many of them ask where they can find such clothing for themselves and I’m thrilled to point them in the right direction. I want more and more women to feel how I feel every single day. Empowered to look amazing and be the geek they are.

Hot Topic

It’s never shocking to me when I mention Hot Topic in a conversation about clothing, someone immediately goes, “isn’t that the punk store in the mall?” Why yes, yes it is.

“Hot Topic is the destination for music and pop culture-inspired clothes and accessories, plus fashion apparel for girls and guys.”

Started in 1988, this place continued to develop into one of the biggest pop culture paradises for teens and even adults.  Licensed merchandise cycles in from the most iconic bands, Disney, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Star Wars…again, I can go on and on. These guys know how to cater to my fellow geeks.

I’ve got to admit though when I was browsing the Hot Topic website one day and came across a section of dresses, I was shocked and a little unsure if I wanted to jump in and make a purchase. Many of these outfits I couldn’t find in the store (mind you, this was 2012) so I couldn’t just try them on and see how they looked on me. And of course there were the prices…for some, $50+ for a dress isn’t a big deal but as someone who wanted to make sure that what I was getting was actually going to fit, I really was unsure about putting money down.

However, something amazing happened. A SALE POPPED UP THE NEXT DAY! Really, that’s not so amazing, because let me tell you Hot Topic is having new sales each week. Literally just checked this morning, 20% off select styles throughout the store. I saw this sale and thought to myself, “Well, if it doesn’t fit my style, I’ll just return it.” If you get something mailed to you and it doesn’t fit, you can either mail it back for a return or exchange or go to your local Hot Topic and return or exchange it. The worst that could happen is that it didn’t fit me so what did I have to lose.

Well, I ended up losing a lot of money…because I fell in love and thus went on a shopping spree. The thing about these dresses at Hot Topic is that each style is made to fit a variety of body types. The designers of these dresses want to ensure women are able to find something related to whatever interest they hold, something cute and appealing that they could cherish in their collection. Materials and styles range from casual to fancy. I literally had to pull myself away from buying a very beautiful Disney Princess dress because I probably wouldn’t have worn it anywhere (it was meant to be a prom dress).

Nowadays, these dresses can be found on the racks in your local Hot Topic. And more and more are popping up every day. Best advice I can give for those interested in checking out Hot Topic: check in frequently to see what new sales are popping up. Sign up for their electronic newsletter; they’ll let you know what’s available in the store that week due to your specified interests. Also join their HT Guest List program. It’s free to use and you’ll get points towards your purchases (this is for everything in the store, not just the dresses). Get enough points and you’ll have money to spend in the store.




The Dress: Limited Edition Alice through the Looking Glass Alice Adventure Dress

One of my favorite dresses I’ve ever bought from Hot Topic is this limited edition dress from the Alice through the Looking Glass collection inspired by the costume designs of Colleen Atwood. Now this dress was a constant battle for me because I kept thinking to myself, “would I ever wear this dress?” I’m a big fan of exploring other cultures, especially those of Asian origin. I fell in love with the purple satin design and the intricate detailing, many of which would not have noticed the Wonderland symbols in the fabric. But again, at the time of release the price of this dress ranged at around $80+ and through my own personal monologue I decided to step away and let this one slip by me. Within a few weeks, most of the sizes were gone and I figured this dress wasn’t meant to be.

In May of this year however, a huge sale occurred in the Hot Topic online store. I decided to search the available inventory and by my surprise I found this dress once more gracing the lineup of dresses…for $20. I dared to see if they had my size and by god…there is was. I don’t think I’ve ever clicked checkout so fast on a site before.

Slipping the dress on, I noted how comfortable it felt and how easy it was to slip on. The material itself is a polyester/cotton/spandex blend. The back zipper is handy for those that need it, the sweetheart neckline is a fun style I enjoy, and the color is so bright. My only real nitpick of the dress I received was the collar. It may just be a defect in the one I own but the collar almost always flips itself and needs to be adjusted to ensure it stays on correctly. This style of dress is also meant to fit your specific size that you ordered, so when it comes to my weight loss journey, there will need to be some adjustments made to the dress in order to continue to fit me.

This is just one of many dresses you can find at your local Hot Topic store or online at www.hottopic.com.
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