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Nerd Costume Ideas: How to Make a Homemade Nerd Costume

Your One-Stop Nerd Shop

I heard you wanted nerd costume ideas to satisfy your hunger for an awesome outfit this year, fellow Earthling. That's excellent because I've got some nifty tips for you right here! Jeepers, isn't that swell?

As far as qualifications go . . . well, I was on the math team and in the chess club for eight years. I hope that's enough to establish my "nerd cred!" To all you nerd-lovers out there ready to get up in arms: yes, this costume involves stereotypes, but that's what costumes are all about! And if you want to explore the other end of the spectrum, check out my punk costume article.

The Glasses

No nerd costume is complete without big geeky eyeglasses. I found mine at a local Goodwill thrift store.

Time to modify: 5 minutes.

  1. Buy a pair of cheap glasses at a thrift store or drug store. I got mine for $2 at Goodwill.
  2. If you have a mini-screwdriver, you can use this to loosen or remove the little screws keeping the lenses in place.
  3. Heating the glasses with a blow-drier or warm (not boiling!) water can also loosen the lenses.
  4. If that doesn't work, use a screwdriver or awl on the lens edge to pry out the lenses.

Pro tip: To truly make these glasses scream "Nerd!" just like a gaggle of high school bullies from the '80s, hell-bent on making life miserable for anyone not in the cool kid clique, you need to add the good ol' tape, a la "a jock broke my glasses, and I took it upon myself to fix them." Masking tape, duct tape, scotch tape - the tape world is your oyster. This is how you express your nerd personality!

The Tie

I found this cute little clip-on tie at Goodwill for about $3. It's a little plain for a nerd tie, but I think it works with the rest of the costume. Alternately, you can use a bow tie or even a regular tie. If you can find a particularly goofy or obnoxious tie, even better.

It's worth noting, however, that a nerd will not always wear a neck ornament: see Revenge of the Nerds for an example. It all depends on what kind of a nerd look you're going for; let your logical mind assess the best possible tie configuration.

A short or long-sleeved button-down shirt works best.

A short or long-sleeved button-down shirt works best.

The Shirt

The stereotypical nerd (who we see in movies, often sporting a pocket protector sprouting out of a shirt pocket) usually wears a button-down shirt. It helps to set him (or her) apart from the regular masses in their tees and polos.

I was lucky enough to have a white button-down in my closet (although, unfortunately, I didn't own a shirt with pockets). If you don't have an appropriate button-down shirt, preferably one with a loud pattern, you can easily find one at your local thrift store. Make sure to button your shirt all the way to the top (another hallmark of nerd style!).

These black and white tapered trousers are perfect for a nerd costume.

These black and white tapered trousers are perfect for a nerd costume.

Pants, Socks, and Shoes

It's important to get something epic for the nerd costume pants. Again, loud patterns that you wouldn't usually wear are good, and again, you'll probably have no problem finding these kinds of pants at your local thrift store. You can also just wear khaki pants, but don't forget to make sure they're short! Pants that hit at or above the ankle are a signature nerd calling card.

The reasons for this are unclear—perhaps there's a correlation between intelligence and height? Or perhaps nerds can't find pants that fit because they're too busy studying quantum physics? If you need to, you can always roll up or pin the pants to make them appear shorter.

A quick note about belts: if you're wearing your pants high, you might need to get a new belt for this costume, as often your waist is a different size than your hips. Suspenders are also a great way to complete the look, especially brightly colored or patterned ones.

Socks and shoes should contrast. If you're going to wear dark leather shoes, make sure you wear bright white socks. And if you're wearing white tennis shoes, dark socks are the ticket. Of course, socks with designs on them work, too, especially if you can find some really nerdy ones!

This is the final result of my DIY nerd costume efforts.

This is the final result of my DIY nerd costume efforts.

Nerd Accesories

I might still tweak it a bit. I think that I could at least find a nerdier shirt and maybe shorten the pants a bit. Some extra accessories you might want to add if you feel inspired:

  • Pocket protector (the ultimate nerd item!)
  • A sweater vest or cardigan for costume warmth and maximum nerdiness
  • A textbook or notebook and pen
  • If you're a girl, try some nerd hairstyles: pigtails, braids, or a ponytail.
  • If you plan to carry a bag, go for a backpack or a simple messenger bag. Remember: function over style.
  • A love of learning and a nerdy attitude!

And remember the most important thing: have fun!

Got Your Own Nerd Halloween Costume Ideas? - Share Them Here!

lilymom24 on November 03, 2011:

I'm too late for Halloween but I love the glasses and the dog wearing the tie is just too cute. Also wanted to thank you for blessing one of my lenses. I tried to leave you a message on your bio page but was not able to. Thanks again. =)

Marika from Cyprus on October 31, 2011:

Just saw this one on the front page and had to look! Awesome costume ideas for nerds!

pheonix76 from WNY on October 30, 2011:

Great tips! I am totally a nerd anyway. :)

MacPharlain on October 30, 2011:

NERD!!! Fun lens and good costume tips.

anonymous on October 29, 2011:

hahaha..this is really an interesting, informative and funny all at the same time!

kjbranch77 on October 29, 2011:

haha Awesome lens!

Rantsand on October 28, 2011:

LOL great lens, I was a nerd once....wait, I still am !

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on October 28, 2011:

You nailed it, Nerd Lady.

CatJGB on October 28, 2011:

Ah, this is too cool! I'll use these ideas next time I have to dress up in costume. My hubby is into d'n'd so we could both go as nerds! Hahahahaha!

Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on October 28, 2011:

Oh yes, my closet has plenty of nerd costume opportunities!

pawpaw911 on October 28, 2011:

Enjoyed the lens. Very funny. Now I know I won't even have to change clothes for Halloween :)

iwrite4cash on October 27, 2011:

Fantastic lens, it was a very enjoyable read indeed!

zimbali2011 on October 27, 2011:

LOL! enjoyed it :) great lens

ikari1976 on October 27, 2011:

hahaha awesome pic!!!

KANEsUgAr on October 27, 2011:

never occurred to me to dress like a nerd. such cute ideas, i love it!

sojourner-1 on October 27, 2011:

Great nerd lens. It's always the glasses that seems to complete a nerd outfit.

anonymous on October 26, 2011:

nice job! way to go dressing up as a nerd for the whole world to see, you'd make a great nerd too (this means I liked it), keep up the good work on all your lens, love running into them.

cash37 on October 26, 2011:

Love the nerd glasses!

Mclure2 on October 26, 2011:

Best nerd is bill gates

elyria on October 26, 2011:

So fun and so easy to make, love your Lens! The doggie looks pretty cute too :)

fefe42 on October 25, 2011:

Wow, you've got a great costume there! I voted for Steve Urkel but I also really like Bill from Freaks and Geeks...he's the funniest nerd ever. *blessed*

Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on October 25, 2011:

Fun lens! Love the dog with the tie!

Wendy Leanne from Texas on October 25, 2011:

Awesome lens. Loved it.

lasertek lm on October 24, 2011:

This is a great costume idea!

Chris-H LM on October 24, 2011:

Nerds rule! Pocket protectors are a must although I must say I prefer a bow tie or a bolo (Tex-mex nerd) :P

Lee Hansen from Vermont on October 24, 2011:

Sheesh, Emma. I had those exact safety glasses in junior high. Complete with scratched lenses and tape - for real. I'm still a geeky nerd, but I'm a grandma now so it's cool.

howards522 on October 24, 2011:

The only thing missing is the pencil holder that goes in the shirt pocket! Great Lens!

Diana Grant from United Kingdom on October 24, 2011:

I think I was a nerd 50 years ago, before the word was even invented, and now my grandchildren are carrying on the tradition, what with World of Warcraft (WoW to the cognoscenti) and studying pure Maths (Math if you're American, but I challenge that) at Uni.

I would certainly dress as myself, were I to indulge in Halloween, as opposed to merely distributing sweeties to trick-or-treat pests.

Here are some Angel Blessings

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on October 24, 2011:

A great nerd outfit. Those are perfect creds, too, for having authority on the right costume. :-)

FitVision on October 24, 2011:

Some great ideas here. And an entertaining read! Thanks :)

Don Wilson from Yakima, WA on October 24, 2011:

Cool! I can just dress up as myself.

emmaklarkins (author) on October 23, 2011:

@ErHawkns7100: I agree! Except it would be hard because, like you say, nerds aren't the underdogs anymore!

ErHawkns7100 on October 23, 2011:

It's time to remake Revenge of the Nerds. Nerds will always be popular, we rule the world!

anonymous on October 20, 2011:

Amazing, how nerdy you look..