Through eight seasons of their hit sitcom (the show is currently on its ninth season), the guys of The Big Bang Theory have become some of television’s favorite geeks. As their friendships grow and their personalities develop, each character also creates his own quirky sense of style that seems perfectly matched with his interests and idiosyncrasies.
So how do you channel the geeky style of The Big Bang Theory without dressing head-to-toe like one of its characters? In the same way that you’d build any wardrobe or create any look: by focusing on choosing the right essentials so your clothes will work with both your fashion sense and your lifestyle. That means that we won’t be counseling you to adopt Howard’s technicolor skinny jeans or Raj’s signature sweater vests. Instead, we’ll focus on the essentials you need to create a classic wardrobe with some geeky personality. Here are 10 pieces that will help you create your own Big Bang style, perfect for the adventures and antics you find yourself involved in, whether you’re a brilliant physicist or engineer or not.
1. A classic graphic tee
When looking to outfit your wardrobe to channel the geeky style of The Big Bang Theory, it’s only logical to start with some inspiration from Sheldon Cooper. Jim Parsons, the actor now loved for his portrayal of the character, tells Men’s Health of Sheldon’s quirky uniform on the show, “I don’t believe the people who made the shoes he wears, who made the pants he wears, who made the shirt he wears ever thought they would see [those pieces] on the same body at the same time.” But to Parsons, Sheldon’s breed of geeky style is about “making a fashion choice because I really love it, whether or not this is what you think looks good or is normal-looking or what should be.”
To channel Sheldon’s geeky style without getting any strange looks, grab this graphic tee from Ralph Lauren. With its well-worn jersey and timeless print, tees like this one offer a more classic twist on Sheldon’s usual assortment of superhero-centric graphic tees. That’s not to say you should ditch your Star Wars tees or comic-book inspired shirts — it never hurt anyone’s wardrobe to have Sheldon’s signature Green Lantern tee or an awesome Iron Man tee for casual days at the university (or trips to the comic book store).
2. A pair of dark jeans
Sheldon wears his signature graphic tees with a range of pants, from chinos to corduroys to the occasional pair of denim. And you can never go wrong wearing a graphic tee exactly the way the casual top was meant to be worn: with a pair of trim, well-fitting jeans. We’d recommend a pair of dark denim for its versatility, which makes it right at home both in the halls of the university or hanging at the apartment with friends.
These New Standard selvedge jeans from Parisian label A.P.C. may be a little more high-end than the pair in Sheldon’s closet, but they’re made of hard-wearing Japanese selvedge denim, which will break in from its dry state for a personalized fit and fade. Long-lasting and hard-wearing, these jeans will be a smart buy for your wardrobe.
The New Standard is a comfortable regular fit, but also check out A.P.C.’s Petit Standard or Petit New Standard if you’d prefer a slimmer fit. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be as tall and thin as Sheldon to pull off a slim look; it’s all about finding the most flattering fit for your build. Some other great pairs of denim to check out are these styles from Ralph Lauren, The Unbranded Brand, Naked & Famous, Rag & Bone, and Levi’s Made & Crafted.
3. A bright pair of chinos
Howard Wolowitz may have one of the most distinct senses of style on the show. The Big Bang Theory Costume designer Mary T. Quigley told Entertainment Weekly that Howard is “much more of a fashionista [than Sheldon and the other guys]. Luckily, I have an actor who really believes in ‘in character’ and is willing to put the tight pants on, and feels comfortable doing it.” That’s great for Simon Helberg and for Howard, but the truth is that skinny jeans aren’t for everyone. Instead, honor Howard’s bold sense of color with a much more wearable silhouette: a slim-fitting, but not skinny, pair of chinos.
Your ideal color choices will depend on the colors you like and wear most often, but there are a few versatile choices that are a great option for any guy. You’ll stay stylish ordering a pair of Brooks Brothers’ Garment-Dyed Chinos in deep navy, which is perhaps one of the most versatile colors for the colder months. Another bold option worth your money is this pair of green Marc Jacobs cotton twill chinos. A saturated army green like this one helps you add some color to your wardrobe, just like Howard does, but in a smarter and (we can only imagine) more comfortable way.
4. An oxford shirt
While we’re making some edits to Howard’s look, it’s probably a good idea to ditch his signature turtleneck dickey and western shirt combo for a much more flattering, but still button-front option: the classic oxford shirt. Oxford is a woven cotton shirting fabric with some weight and texture. Strictly speaking, an oxford shirt isn’t a dress shirt — true dress shirts are usually made of finer, lighter-weight fabrics — but an oxford shirt is a versatile choice that works in many settings (and seasons) thanks to the fabric’s durability and natural wrinkle resistance.
An oxford shirt is one of those items that’s virtually impossible to wear wrong, and any wardrobe has room for a classic white or blue Ralph Lauren oxford. We’re also partial to the updated fit of the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece line (and we think, if we could talk some fashion sense into him, Howard would be, too). You can check it out here. The oxford from the Red Fleece line is made of American cotton, and features a button-down collar, a center back button, and a deep yoke. It’s just as versatile in the middle of summer with the sleeves rolled as it is layered under a sweater or blazer in the winter.
5. A field jacket
Like the other guys on the show, Leonard Hofstadter is pretty consistent in his sartorial choices. One of Leonard’s signatures is his assortment of field jackets. While he often layers his field jacket over a hoodie, ditch that extra zip-front layer and you have a great casual piece you can wear on its own for warmer winter days or layered with a sweater on windier ones. Pair a field jacket with some jeans and a white tee and you have a great weekend ensemble. Or wear one over a button-down shirt and chinos for a weekday-appropriate look.
An M-65 field jacket is a great choice for any guy, and there’s no more authentic way to go than with one from Alpha Industries, the producer of the original M-65 jacket. You can get the jacket in a regular or a slim fit, but here’s a pro tip: Even if you go with the slim fit, you’ll want to size down. These jackets were originally designed to fit over a military uniform, which we’re guessing has a bit more bulk to it than what you or Leonard wear on a day-to-day basis. Other takes on the classic field jacket include this cotton iteration from A.P.C., this piece from Cole Haan, and this herringbone version from Ralph Lauren.
6. A pair of glasses
No discussion of Leonard’s look would be complete without a word on his glasses. They’re a mainstay of his appearance, and can be a centerpiece for any guy looking to embrace his geeky side. Whether you need your eyeglasses to correct your vision or are looking to pick up a pair as a style statement, it’s simple to find a pair that looks great. If you have fair skin, go with a light brown or tortoise. If you have olive skin, go with a darker shade of black or gray. And if you have dark skin, just about anything goes — but you can never go wrong with the academic classic of a tortoise with some good contrast.
Ray-Ban’s original Wayfarers, available here, have long been a popular choice among glasses-wearers, and for good reason. They look great on a range of faces since they’re made in different widths, and if you shop around, you can find a color that’s perfect for you. Plus, they look a lot like Leonard’s glasses — a major plus if he’s your favorite Big Bang Theory character. If Leonard’s look isn’t quite your style, but you still need frames worthy of a Big Bang character, check out some other styles, like this pair of round Ray-Bans, these from Garrett Leight California Optical, or this great tortoise style from Cutler and Gross.
7. A patterned shirt
Raj Koothrappali’s signature style is heavy on layering, and his outfits usually feature a colorful combination of a button-front shirt, a sweater vest, and a track jacket. But Raj’s style is a little bit like Howard’s in that not everyone can (or wants to) pull off that many different layers, patterns, and colors. Strip off the track jacket and the sweater vest and you’re left with the button-front shirt, the perfect piece to make a statement.
Pass on Raj’s flyaway collars and odd color pairings and opt for a fun patterned button-down instead. A good place to start is a classic pattern from Brooks Brothers, like the colorful tartan sport shirt, the grid plaid shirt, the blanket plaid sport shirt, or the cotton dobby sport shirt. Any of those options will easily add a bit of Raj-inspired style to your closet, while remaining fairly traditional.
To have a little bit more fun with your patterns, venture outside the traditional range of plaids and tartans and go with one of the shirts that’s handmade by Gitman Vintage in its Pennsylvania factory. To channel Raj’s fun style, try the polka-dot cotton flannel shirt, the star-appliqued flannel shirt, or even the bold checked flannel shirt.
8. An upgraded briefcase
Raj and the other guys are occasionally seen carrying unstructured messenger bags around the halls of the university. It’s time to upgrade the same worn-out bag you’ve been carrying since college for something a little more appropriate for a renowned theoretical physicist — or for the accomplished pro you are in your day-to-day life. The key is to find a structured bag that can also take some abuse.
Look for a briefcase, or even a sophisticated backpack, that pairs a rugged material with a refined design, like Filson’s Original Briefcase in the company’s rain-repellant cotton twill. Filson has been headquartered in Seattle since 1897, and has been making durable men’s accessories ever since. Not only can a Filson bag carry all your high-tech and low-tech necessities, but it can also easily withstand whatever daily wear or occasional shenanigans you put it through. Filson also offers padded computer bags, available here. Other durable messenger bag options include Ralph Lauren’s distressed leather messenger bag and the “Logan” bag from Frye.
9. A pair of canvas sneakers
All four guys have sported canvas sneakers on the show, which, if nothing else, is a pretty good testament to their versatility. Properly called a plimsoll — a British term for shoes with a canvas upper and a rubber sole — a streamlined canvas sneaker is a comfy but classic summer shoe, and an equally good choice no matter your profession. While the guys often wear Chuck Taylors and Vans skate shoes, you can upgrade your pair a little with a slightly less-common pair. Superga’s sneakers are one choice, or you can wear Converse’s more “grown-up” model, the Jack Purcell.
The Jack Purcell is a low-top plimsoll that looks great in either black or white, both colors that are versatile additions to your cold-weather wardrobe. A classic canvas shoe will look stylish either brand-new or with a season’s worth of wear, so this is one pair of shoes you won’t need to leave behind on sitcom-esque adventures or misadventures.
10. A fun accessory or two
You didn’t think you could build a Big Bang inspired wardrobe without adding in some geek-chic accessories, did you? Watches, socks, and ties are all excellent ways to add some personality to your wardrobe, particularly if you have to keep things buttoned up for the sake of your 9 to 5. Just buy these Star Wars socks, and you’ll be able to sneak Big Bang-worthy style in to any outfit.
Show off your style with a timepiece modeled after the flux capacitor from Back to the Future. Or, select a Math Dial watch, which might indicate hours in binary, or use physics equations to tell time. The full range of options can be seen here. If you prefer a tie to a watch, there are plenty of options for you, too. Your tie collection won’t lack personality once you own a math formulas tie designed by artist Josh Bach or this awesome Pi tie.