Move over supermodel. Look out reality TV star. There's a new icon in town and it's here to prove how well-adjusted you can become post-high school hierarchy and retainers. It's the chic nerd and Tina Fey leads the charge with her heady elixir of physical symmetry and intellectual prowess. If the trite beauty-skin-deep banter is anything to go by, then you might want to dive from pore straight into marrow because in the new millennium it's no longer enough to be pretty. Pretty is boring and complacent without the electricity of intelligence and talent to illuminate it.
Tina Fey is one among a diverse group of individuals who've achieved popularity and success on the back of not just her looks, but her brains as well. Being touted as one of the funniest women in the world is no easy fete if you're not playing with a full deck, and Fey plays with aces. While she is noted for her intellect and beauty, others are noted for specific talents and beauty like the cast of Glee, Lea Michele in particular.
Defining what denotes a chic nerd is not simple because while beauty plus brains and talent equals admirable, there's an additional elusive factor that separates the chic nerds apart from everyone else. It could be an aura, an alternative means of dressing that always translates into functional and cute, or it could just be self-possessed confidence that gives them an added edge.
Pharrell Williams is another example of a chic nerd, who could be argued as one of the first to emerge in recent years after being featured in different editorials for similar sentiments. He's the total package: brains, talent, impeccable style that blends urban and uptown aesthetics.
In the midst of a fashion cycle that's transitioned from loud 80s frocks and glitzy everything to 70s menswear tailoring and 90s minimalism, our culture is making an about face from youthful frills, and strutting determinedly into the realm of the sophisticated. The "grown up clothes" that magazine editorials are praising for the Spring of 2013 season offer a clue into the mysterious mix that makes a nerd chic. Big glasses and button up shirts are the new glamorous look when done right with natural makeup and a lip color that pops against your skin.
The new direction of fashion, and in turn our culture, is the path of the integrated woman (or man) as opposed to the eccentric and whimsical one-dimensional trends of the past, which allowed women to play different parts and transform into someone different all the time. Conversely, the vogue of the moment is embracing all facets in one woman.
In its way, fashion seems to be mimicking a form of human evolution. Fashion has historically reflected the social and civil status of women, from the punishing binds of the corset and the subsequent torture of the hobble skirt (which was, ironically, a liberation from the corset), to the introduction of pants which allowed freer movement.
Each step of the way fashion has been there to echo the changing attitudes and needs of women while also offering icons for each era to learn from. Flappers, screen sirens, Gibson girls, and hipsters all represented the cultural perspectives of their times, but became outmoded and limiting over time.
Fashion is moving into a cycle of timeless style, which gives women the rare opportunity to not just become a different woman every night, but to be all of these women at once in an integrated form of womanhood that allows for and celebrates the union of fragments.
Perhaps that is what chic nerds represent to us as a people, fully integrated individuals who don't have to choose between beauty and intelligence, but allow their own innate personal qualities to create a specific form of beauty unique to themselves.