My T-Shirt, My Calling Card

I spent most of the last four years denying my geekiness. I’ve always been one, and kind of proud of it, but I worked in Washington, a place more friendly to Ann Taylor Loft than Threadless, RedBubble and TeeFury.

My few and far between moments of flying my geek-flag mostly consisted of moments like receiving marriage proposals in response to my contribution to an email thread at work (okay, it was a social email chain, I’ll admit) with my opinions on what was the most disappointing thing about Star Wars I-III. Apparently, the boys on Capitol Hill couldn’t believe that a girl had seen all the movies, could quote Yoda and had strong opinions on changes to story details.

I loosened up when I left the Hill to work for a nonprofit. It was especially beneficial that my new office was casual. I got to wear my t-shirts with a regularity that I think sometimes horrified my coworkers.

But you know what? My t-shirts are awesome. And I get the best commentary on them from people.

I’m not saying t-shirts are the go-to geek apparel. But you will probably see a lot of them if you ever go to one of those meccas of geekiness, a convention. The articles I read in the weeks prior to and following San Diego Comic Con this summer frequently touched on how-to interact with your fellow geek advice. And one of the number one things that was said? Wear your awesome t-shirts. They are a great ice breaker.

What’s your favorite? Do you frequent a site like Buy Olympia or The Nerd Machine? Do you have one t-shirt that gets you comments every time you wear it? Is there one you want to wear every day?

As I write this, I’m wearing a great Dr. Horrible t-shirt from TeeFury. I just got it yesterday, and I couldn’t wait to wear it.

T-shirts don’t have to be geeky, but I think they’re more fun that way. Much like sport insignia, t-shirts sporting a favorite character or saying from your favorite movie can inspire small talk with strangers (okay, it doesn’t happen often but it can) or just a moment of connection when you see someone reading your shirt before offering you a bright smile from across the coffee shop.

I like to think of my Calvin & Hobbes homage to Han & Chewie t-shirt as my geeky name tag in casual situations. It identifies me as both a Star Wars fan and a reader of the awesome comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes, two things I’m not afraid of spazzing out about with perfect strangers.

Having left DC behind almost a year ago, my geek flag now flies almost daily, whether it’s my t-shirt that announces to the world that yes, I like comics and movies, my messenger bag that proclaims “Reading is Sexy” with a sassy drawing, or the Yoda decal on my laptop. I hope I never have to conform to a pinstripe and pencil skirt identity again.

Image credit: Oi20Morder

  • Kaitlyn Shore


    • Rachael Berkey

      YES! I love Dr. Horrible!

  • Danni Marie

    if you really like nerdy things, you should go on ThinkGeek. They have a bunch of tshirts (many of which are pop culture- related) plus awesome tech accessories and just some fun stuff :)

    • Rachael Berkey

      I <3 ThinkGeek. I could only fit so many links into this post but I definitely check in on that site a lot. :)

  • Carly Lane

    Threadless contains some of my favorite geek shirts of all time, but I grew out of my old ones. I’ll have to check out these new sites so I can let my geek flag fly!

  • Cassie Bergman

    I almost bought the Captain Hammer (Dr Horrible) shirt. And as you stated t-shirts are a great icebreaker. Strangers come up to me all the time about my shirts. Today I am wearing a Fangtasia shirt in honor of the season finale of True Blood tonight. I also just ordered some “out of print book cover” shirts from (to bring out my geeky English-major side). For each shirt they sell, one book is donated to Books For Africa. Keep rockin’ the Ts!

  • Crystal Olson

    Love! I have this killer Mario 3 shirt I got at the thrift store! Always get comliments. I couldn’t believe someone would give it away!

  • Katie Zega

    this is AWESOME. i love comics so much–especially calvin and hobbes! and i love wearing funky clothes to wave my geek flag.

    and this is random, but do you like living in new england? i’d love to move there but know nothing about it!!! :)

  • Geanna Marín

    I’m in love with some of my shirts, too! I think that the most incredible is my Sponge Bob t-shirt!! All yellow but with Sponge Bob face :) I also love my Batman t-shirt, and my squid-tie t-shirt! Time ago I had a Chesire Cat t-shirt that had a whole scene from the book written on the back… But my washer hated that shirt, so it killed the t-shirt…

  • Jenny Lynn

    I adore Threadless! I get all the subtly geeky shirts – right now I’m wearing my Middle Earth subway map, but I have tons of nerd shirts! They do spark conversations. A lady came up to me once when I had on my R2D2 as a lighthouse shirt and said that she was having the worst day ever, until she saw my shirt and it made her laugh and feel better.

  • Deeyun Cortes Wheeler

    Haha I love my “best friends” tshirt with Calvin(Han) and Hobbes(chewie)!! Favorite teefury buy of all time! I definitely plan on rockin it to ny comic con this year!

    • Rachael Berkey

      I was kind of worried I was the only one with it…it’s unfindable online now. I have a hard time even tracking down the jpg of the image. Apparently the C&H creator doesn’t like his stuff being morphed by other stories and made them stop selling it. :(

  • Shelly Stromoski

    I have a Threadless shirt with a happy, dancing soap and he proudly declares, “Rub me on your butt!” Funny looks? Yes. But the soap just looks so happy to keep butts clean, I couldn’t resist.

  • Heather Lodge

    I must have a Dr. Horrible t-shirt!!! Right now darn it! 😀
    The t-shirt that I get the most comments when I wear is my Ben Linus from Lost one. It simply has him on the front and then “Trust Me” written underneath. There are some other small details on the back and inside of the collar, I posted it on my Tumblr if anyone wants to see, it’s my favourite t-shirt :)

  • Shannon Patrick

    Love Dr. Horrible! I have Captain Hammer’s logo, one that says “I have a PhD in Horribleness” and “The status is not quo” – a la “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Got a weird look for that one but it’s cool. I wear it to work under a blazer to keep it casual at my office :)

  • Frank Forrester

    I got my Dr. Horrible shirt in the mail today. I love it. The day it was available to order I show the design to a friend and even though she hadn’t seen the show she got a laugh out of the quote “Home is where the heart is. so your real home’s in your chest.”

  • Stephanie Pandes

    In the past year my collection of geeky tees has grown mainly because I discovered the $10 t-shirt a day sites. My shirts range from Dr. Horrible to Doctor Who. They even have their own drawer. The latest shirt I bought is where the TARDIS turns into Optimus Prime, complete with a bow tie. 😛

  • Heather Mckown

    My junior year of high school (year 2000) i began buying vintage (80’s) comic book shirts on ebay (this was back when they sold for ten dollars now some that i own are available only on buy it not $250 dollars) but i still would never sell them. My shirts show some of my favorite comics, the original New Mutants (spin off of x-men), An 80’s Magneto (who people think looks gay on the shirt now a days, but i’m sure seemed manly in the 80’s)…and my twin sister has an even bigger collection than me. cloak and dagger, x-man colossus, punisher, spiderman., star trek…I love that they are vintage because i imagine the geek who wore them in the 80’s and wonder what he/she is doing now and because they are sooo soft and comfortable.

  • Heather Mckown

    And i also wanted to say after having “left DC behind” are you a Marvel girl now? (until wolverine gets declawed, make mine marvel! -heather) (i don’t know it they still do the make mine marvel bit these days…)

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