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What is the history of nerd apparel?

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Nerd apparel has evolved a great deal over the years from messy hair to clean-cut, pressed collared shirts to graphic tees and tech-savvy watches. This can be traced back to the origin of the word, "nerd," itself, as well as the impact that technological pioneers and their fans have had on popular culture.

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Full Answer

The history of nerd apparel is directly linked to the history of the word "nerd" itself. The first documented use of "nerd" appeared in Dr. Seuss' book, "If I Ran the Zoo." The corresponding illustration featured an unkempt, grumpy-looking, human-like creature with sideburns and messy hair, indicating that nerds were viewed as inferior people who were not well put-together. The image changed drastically throughout the 1950s and 1960s, however, and became associated with high levels of intelligence, interest in books and science fiction, thick-rimmed glasses, and a clean cut look.

The TV show "Happy Days" showcased nerd fashion in the mid-20th century. Anyone not wearing a leather jacket was essential donned in nerd apparel at this time. Button-down shirts tucked into neatly pressed jeans or slacks and glasses were common but also ridiculed.

During the digital revolution, it became increasingly cool to be a nerd. This affected the evolution of nerd apparel by expanding upon the typical clean-cut shirt and pants. Thick glasses have remained a staple, but over the years, graphic T-shirts showcasing popular nerd culture icons became a staple in nerd apparel, as did T-shirts displaying words such as "nerd" and "geek," themselves. The intelligence associated with being a nerd has also created a surge in T-shirts displaying historical references, puns, and other witty or smart references to books, academics and popular culture.

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