Goggles, armor and wings: Gifts for nerdy fashionistas
Clockwork Couture offers one-of-a-kind hats for steampunks.
December 7th, 2011
08:20 AM ET

Goggles, armor and wings: Gifts for nerdy fashionistas

You’re wandering through the mall, intent on spreading holiday cheer and looking for gifts that suit the subculture nerds in your life. The last friend on your list without a check next to their name wears goggles in public and makes a show of checking their pocket watch as moving cogs and wheels adorn their Victorian era suit.

Or perhaps they roll on thick black eyeliner, hammer their own swords in the backyard on Sundays or give anime characters a run for their money by bringing impeccable costumes to life.

So what do you buy for your steampunk, Goth, SCA member or cosplayer friend this holiday season?  Luckily, you’ve tuned into the Geek Out shopping wavelength.

If you’re afraid of buying something they might already have, it’s easy enough to ask. They will appreciate the fact that you want to find something that fits into their subculture that they don’t already own. Some specialty shops, like Clockwork Couture, offer a wish list where steampunks can check off their favorite gotta-have items.

Because buying subculture specific items can range from inexpensive and kitschy to you-better-be-in-a-serious-relationship-to-consider-this caliber, take care.

Places like Clockwork Couture are stocked with gifts for the steampunk in your life. From a quintessential pocket watch to a dirigible ornament for the tree to a classy rubber and aluminum tote for laptops and an elegant gun cane, the store also offers up gift options in its costuming department, including one-of-a-kind hats and the ever-versatile canvas utility belt.

The Steampunk Emporium also says “goggles are a given, even if they already have six pairs.” And of course, a top hat to strap them on doesn’t hurt either. Brassy bits, clockwork jewelry or weaponry also signify that you care deeply for your steampunk. If you want to venture into the world of steampunk apparel gifting, there are ways to work around the awkward “but will it fit?” question.

“A lady might like to buy a tie for her gentleman, especially ascots,” said Chris Allen, owner of the Steampunk Emporium. “You can determine the degree of dandy you want them to be. There’s nothing like a tie or vest to completely change a look, and the louder the better.”

Stumped or intimidated about what to get for your Goth friend? Skip what you might regard as an obligatory stop at Hot Topic and find something a bit more thoughtful. Kat Kinsman, our dear friend who penned a loving, memorable ode to her years growing up Goth, shared her suggestions.

“Goths burn a lot of candles,” she said. “They have more snuffing needs than most people.”

So pick up a fancy snuffer or snag this intriguing book about one of Goth's favorite designers, Alexander McQueen. In “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” the evolution of the designer and his creations is profiled, complete with 293 full-color illustrations.

You can also drop by the aptly named Gifts for Goths site and find everything from Goth high heels and fingerless gloves to dramatic makeup and daringly adorable trinkets. They’ve got affordable apparel and gift items for men and women, so fill up the cart and show your favorite Goth how much you care.

If you’ve got a friend who’s toying with the idea of joining the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronism, be a dear and buy them “The Known World Handbook,” which is the SCA’s official and complete guide, if they don’t already own it.

Scott Farrell, the SCA’s media representative, also recommends (side note: these are not endorsed by the SCA) picking up the board game Caracassonne, which is a fun way for the whole family to learn about the feudal system.

If you know a serious SCA member, you can either purchase or point them in the right direction about tracking down authentic medieval reproduction clothing, gambesons (for those in the dark – what you wear under a suit of armor), helmets, crossbows, chain mail, shields, rapiers, or heck, even a complete suit of armor. On the less expensive side of apparel, you can always get them a T-shirt featuring catch phrases in Latin.

Take care if making a book purchase, because they most likely already own quite a few and are looking for specific titles, rather than the complete history of medieval Europe. Farrell suggests sticking with the practical and authentic side of things and staying away from fantasy-based items, like a sword from “The Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones” series. They want something they can use, not put on display.

“Just about everyone in the SCA has had the uncomfortable experience of being given something completely cheesy or inappropriate as a gift from a well-meaning family member, and having to put on a smile and say, ‘Oh, thanks Grandma. That glittery pink gown will look great at our next medieval festival,’” Farrell said.

And don’t forget the cosplayer, your elegant friend who defies gravity with her costumes and probably owns all the specific things she needs to make actual anime characters jealous anyway. But what about the things she wants?

Cosplayer Yaya Han creates and sells her own items, like an adorable pony ears and unicorn set or steampunk wings, but she also recommends buying the cosplayer in your life things like a Jo-Ann gift card, the Sephora Makeup Studio Blockbuster set, “Making Faces” by Kevyn Aucoin (to help them make the most of that set) or a wig from Arda Wigs.

Because of the inherent DIY aspect of many cosplay costumes, you could also show them you care by picking up some Wonderflex by the yard (for said gravity-defying costumes), a random-orbital sander for prop-making or a dremel tool set for any “armor plans” they may have.

Is the cosplayer a casual friend? Gift-give and help the Japanese Red Cross by purchasing the Cosplay for a Cause 2012 calendar, featuring photos of cosplayers in Japanese character costumes. If you think your cosplayer falls under the otaku category, be sure to check out our otaku gift guide!

Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. Geek Out wishes you and your nerd culture tribe member friends a happy holiday season!

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Filed under: Fandom • Holiday Shopping
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Otavio

    Thank you Ariane! There are quite a few of us collectors aornud. I am looking forward to my next batch of heads, I am going to put them in a burlap sack and hang them from a tree and let the maggots feed the chickens. I will bury them after but not leave them in the ground so long.I also collect sea glass by the ton and save/preserve all of the chicken and rabbit feet from processing animals. Have a great day! Cassie

    December 22, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  2. JJ

    Gotta say I'm entranced with steampunk fashions.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  3. Polis

    Draco Invictus!

    December 12, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  4. Alexis

    Um, this is not really a "nerdy fashionista" collection. (Or at least not what I would imagine.) I'm doing some geek chic gift guides this year. Check those out...


    December 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  5. Andrea M

    Between the McQueen book and the Aucoin book, I wouldn't leave my house for weeks! Seriously, somebody please be my Santa!

    December 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  6. Gigi

    For the Lolita in your life check out egl-comm-sales.livejournal.com there are a lot of people selling secondhand brand, shopping services for brand and commissioners that can make just about anything. 🙂

    December 8, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  7. Snacklefish

    This article is wholly incomplete without a mention of ThinkGeek.

    December 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Leo

      Hear, hear!

      December 14, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  8. melissa

    Awesome list, thanks for including gifts for goths1

    December 7, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  9. Amalia

    lol, ponies

    December 7, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Luke

      fk ya!

      December 8, 2011 at 2:30 am |
      • Samantha

        dakidakov on January 11, 2009 They don't have the uroetatipn but Kia has the same quality as Toyota, cuz think. If Kia were crap and they gave Such a long warranty for everything people will start to return faulty cars and Kia Would go bankrupt from repairing KIas. So i think this warranty Which Kia Gives is to show that they are really confident in their car's Quality. END

        March 7, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  10. andor

    regarding SCA attire:

    * the business practices of revival.us are *highly* questionable. Brian R Price, the proprietor, is known to have withheld royalties and profits from authors for a decade or more. He has an unsavory academic reputation, as well, having evidently plagarized large portions of his work from other scholars. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_R._Price#Allegations_of_Plagiarism_and_Copyright_Infringement .

    Please consider shopping at other, more reputable merchants - Historic Enterprises ( http://historicenterprises.com/ ) immediately comes to mind as a purveyor of really excellent medieval reenactment clothing.

    * Similarly, Illusion Armoury is known to be extraordinarily slow on processing orders. Think 18 month – 5 year wait times. There are a myriad of other armourers who are not so slow - Windrose Armoury, Icefalcon Armoury, White Mountain Armoury, Historic Enterprises, and many and more.

    December 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Christina

      Revival Clothing is actually a separate company from revival.us (note the different web address and separate logo image). The two used to be business partners until Brian started being underhanded and greedy and have since separated. Don't lump the two companies together- Nicole runs an extremely professional and reliable business.

      December 9, 2011 at 11:08 am |
      • Polis

        Oh good because I like Revival Clothing!

        December 12, 2011 at 10:53 am |
      • Kitty

        TheIthomasscully on September 11, 2011 I kinda wanna backhand you srqaue across the face. You just give off that kinda vibe

        March 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • Christina

        Hey Kitty, you sour because you know I'm right? The only way you'd want to backhand me across the face is if you're one of Brian's hangers on. Have fun watching him rip off people.

        March 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  11. Shutuptakemymoney.com

    Meh, these aren't gifts for nerds... You want gifts for nerds you need to go to: http://www.shutuptakemymoney.com for gifts so awesome you just want the salesperson to stop talking and take your money.

    December 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  12. Jables19

    I am pretty sure than none of my friends would appreciate any gifts like these. Maybe it's because I don't hang out with wood and iron enthusiasts or dillusional space cadets or people that want to live in an era where everything was more difficult.


    December 7, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Baby

      LOL That brightened my day! I needed a good laugh! Thank you.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
      • Murat

        missemy1995 on August 30, 2011 One thing I like about eysmlf is that I'm a very positive, happy person. I always look for the best in life instead of focusing on the bad.

        March 5, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • duchessofdork

      Then why are you reading an article about gifts for nerds?

      December 7, 2011 at 10:08 am |
      • Baby

        For a quick pick me up at work.

        December 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Jennifer Susannah Devore

      Pauvre Jables19 🙁

      I do believe I may speak for many a fellow imaginative when I feel a quick sting of pity and think, "Awww." How v awful to dwell in a mind free of fantasy and creation; you're missing out, brother! Join the world of the playful. Do you wake up and think, "Sweet! It's Wednesday! What shall happen this day?" If not, get thee some charm in thy life! A day at Disneyland is always a good start as is a Renaissance faire ... so is watching an episode of Borgia, Highlander, Charmed or ScoobyDoo. Fun, my man, fun! Life is about enjoyment, mon ami. Btw, it's spelled "delusional" 😉



      December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • Genesis

        mum0828 on September 4, 2011 LOVE! great givaway khtnas! I love her story and how the business came to life. The blissful bundles are a great gift idea

        March 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Tricksiecat

      You only live once, why not dress up for it?

      December 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
      • Saskfan

        Hear, hear! Well spoken!!

        December 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm |