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Geek fashion professionals offer their advice and picks for Valentine’s Day gifts
Here’s what you should know before buying geeky apparel, jewelry, cosmetics, or a custom made design.
If you’re like us, when the holidays roll around it’s easy to get burned out while shopping for that perfect gift. Deciding what to buy someone for Valentine’s Day is maybe the most intense gift-finding experience of all, thanks to the pressure to find gifts that will reflect how much your special someone means to you.
But worry not: We’ve brought you a bevy of personal shoppers to help you decide just how to find the perfect gift for your geeky Valentine. Her Universe‘s Ashley Eckstein and a host of other geek fashion experts are here to help you out this year.
They weighed in on four different areas, offering their advice on how you can choose a gift, what their top gift picks are, and why you should consider going geek for Valentine’s.
Clothing and Accessories
“It’s always nice to receive any sort of gift, but the perishable items like flowers or chocolates or candies, once you eat the candy or once the flowers die the gift doesn’t last beyond that,” Eckstein told the Daily Dot. “What’s nice about geek fashion is it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can wear it often, and it’s something that doesn’t go away.”
Alice Bolte is the art director for ThinkGeek Solutions, which creates apparel for video game stores like BioWare and Bethesda. She thinks choosing geek fashion for a gamer for Valentine’s Day and in general is a great gift since gamers really love what they play and some games have special meaning for them. A fashion gift is a way for them to wear something that represents what they know and love. Bolte told the Daily Dot that ThinkGeek Solutions puts together lines that have cohesive looks for the different games, which can be helpful when you’re choosing a gift.
“For example, for a lady Dragon Age fan we have a whole Leliana line that includes armor leggings, a T-shirt, and an awesome long angel wool hood coat we just released. They were all made to work together as a strong cohesive look or awesome separate,” she said. “So if you see your valentine wearing something showcasing their favorite game or character you can almost guarantee that we have something in our stores that will go with that item.”
Eckstein advised that choosing an clothing item depends on knowing your valentine’s correct size. If you do, then apparel is a great choice for a fun gift, and you can consider going for a top, cardigan, dress, or skirt. If you don’t know their size, she recommends a scarf, tote bag, or other accessory like jewelry.
Her Universe picks:
1) Mystery Deadpool top in February’s Loot Crate
The women’s wearable Level Up item in February’s Loot Crate box will be a unique Her Universe Deadpool fashion top. While it won’t arrive by Valentine’s Day, you can let the recipient know their gift is on the way.
“Not only are you giving a surprise gift to your valentine, but on top of it they don’t know what they’re getting until the box arrives,” Eckstein said. “All I can say is it’s a Deadpool fashion top. The theme for Loot Crate this month is ‘dead,’ and so we chose Deadpool. Obviously with the movie coming out this month it could be like the perfect Valentine’s date. You can go see the movie and then gift a Her Universe Deadpool fashion top. We can’t show what it looks like, since it’s a surprise, but it has something to do with tacos and chimichangas and Deadpool, and it’s the perfect kind of spring, summer geeky fashion top.”
2) Star Wars Disney Parks collection
Her Universe released a Star Wars line for Disney Parks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on it from wherever you are!
“Disney Parks now has an app [Shop Disney Parks]. You can get basically everything that’s in the parks on this app,” Eckstein said. “That can even be a nice surprise … all these items that they think are exclusive [to Disney Parks] can now be sent right to your home without having to go to the parks!”
ThinkGeek Solutions’ picks:
Bolte highlighted a few options for Fallout fans.
“The 111 hoodie for men and the angle [hoodie] for women as well as the cardigan are a few for Fallout that are really great and fans really love them,” she said.
One of ThinkGeek Solutions’ top sellers in the Bethesda store has also been the Vault 111 medallion necklace handmade by RockLove Jewelry.
2) Mass Effect
“For Mass Effect, we just came out recently with the morality charm necklace so that has been really strong, and then of course we’ve got two classics if the gamer doesn’t already have these and they love Mass Effect,” Bolte said. “These are just basic awesome pieces that no matter what they’re guaranteed to love. It’s the N7 women angle [hoodie] and the Men’s N7 armor hoodie.”
If your valentine loves The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you might want to check out ThinkGeek Solutions’ recently released Brotherhood line which includes leggings and a belted top. You might also want to consider the Amulet of Mara, another handmade RockLove piece.
“It represents Mara, the goddess of love in the game, so it’s straight from the game and it’s extremely special because your character wears it to allow the option of marriage, so it’s kind of one of those romantic pieces that would be cool for Valentine’s Day for a gamer who loves Skyrim,” Bolte said.
As Eckstein said, jewelry makes a great gift alternative to clothing, which is especially important if you don’t know the clothing size of your giftee. We asked RockLove Jewelry founder Allison Hourcade, who handmakes original and licensed jewelry such as the pieces mentioned by ThinkGeek Solutions above, to tell us why geeky jewelry works for Valentine’s Day.
“To have a piece that is inspired by something that you love in your favorite show or video game is a really nice thing to have translated into real life,” Hourcade said. “For example, the dragon tooth Dragon Age necklace and the Amulet of Mara [from Skyrim] are both pieces that characters in the game use to express their love, and it’s nice to be able to do that in real life … If you have found your IRL love then you both get to appreciate your geekiness together.”
Hourcade’s advice for choosing the right piece of jewelry for a gift is to “follow the recipients’ favorite fandom whims.”
“A geeky piece of jewelry is always a lovely gift, but it’s going to be even more thoughtful if it’s representative of their very favorite fandom,” she said.
RockLove Jewelry’s picks:
While choosing the right jewelry will depend on your valentine’s geeky passions, Hourcade still has some great suggestions. One is her Hobbit acorn necklace, which includes a quote from Gandalf that says “small acts of kindness and love.” It can be a gift for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books or the movie trilogies or both!
“I think that’s a really good one because not only are so many people fans [but] you can give it not just to a significant other but a friend or a family member, your mom or your sister, and it has just a very nice message behind it for your normal day-to-day [wear],” she said.
Want a piece that can work for anyone? Consider this cuff!
“Many people imagine Valentine’s Day being about giving a woman chocolates or flowers or taking her out to dinner, but I think a lot of people forget that it could be for any relationship—just showing your affection and reminding other people in your life how much you care about them,” Hourcade said.
“The dragon cuff, a RockLove piece, is based on a real authentic Viking age original relic. It’s very gender neutral and for somebody who might not be as much of a pop culture fandom fan, it has a lot of resonance with history.” Hourcade described the cuff as a symbol of “fealty and dedication to your clan”—in other words, the perfect unisex gift for any family member.
Her Universe pick:
Topping Eckstein’s suggestions for a geeky Valentine’s Day gift is this necklace the company re-released for the holiday.
“It’s just perfect for Valentine’s Day. It sends the right message. It’s based off of my personal favorite scene in all of the Star Wars movies and it’s something that is very meaningful. You can keep part of it and give the other part to your valentine, or if they want to keep both parts, that’s special as well,” Eckstein said.
You can also consider geek cosmetics for your present. Cosmetics can be a great way for a geek to feel like they are expressing their love for a fandom in a subtle way. Like the other categories, they also last longer than traditional Valentine’s Day gifts.
“Flowers are beautiful, chocolates are practical, and plushes will last for a long time—or until your pet chews on it,” Caitlin Johnstone, founder of Shiro Cosmetics, told the Daily Dot. “Cosmetics combine all three of those traits. They’re beautiful, they have a use, and a single jar of eye shadow can easily last over a year even if used very frequently.”
Espionage Cosmetics has already heard from customers saying they received its products as an early gift for the holiday according to social media manager Christal VanEtten, so you’re not alone in considering cosmetics as a gift! For anyone who didn’t get an early start and are still trying to decide on what to buy though, VanEtten recommends making sure you have a good understanding of your recipient’s cosmetic habits.
“Are they someone that uses makeup a lot? Do they like products that have different uses for them? For example, our everything shadows can be used for lip color, eye color, all different things,” she told the Daily Dot. “Or do they want something that’s really simple to apply, like nail wraps? Or just a quick application like our lip serum? It’s really [about] understanding the preference of the person you’re getting the gift for.”
Johnstone said cosmetics are personal so you can play it safe with a gift card or buy a product if you know enough about the recipient to have an idea of what they wear and what colors they might like. She noted that you can make educated guesses based on your giftee’s tastes—for instance, if they prefer colored eyeshadow versus more neutral browns and golds. You should also try to make your gift match the color schemes they already have in their closet or makeup collection. “Just try to get them something that goes with what they already have,” Johnstone said.
Those worried about not getting an early start on their gift should still consider cosmetics if they think it will be a good fit. Espionage offers expedited shipping and is having a Galentine’s Day sale until the day after the holiday. Johnstone said if anyone wants to buy something they simply must receive in time for Valentine’s Day, they can email her about it. She also added that if customers have questions or want specific recommendations for their partners, “I’m always really happy to answer email.”
Shiro Cosmetics’ picks:
If your valentine loves Harry Potter, they’ll adore this option from Shiro Cosmetics!
“We have Buttebeeer lip gloss which is a really, really safe option whether you usually wear cosmetics or not, because it’s almost completely clear,” Johnstone said. “It’s only the very, very barest tint of caramel color, it smells amazing, and it looks like Butterbeer. It has a little foamy top and it’s really cute.”
For Valentine’s Day, Shiro released this set which includes a lip gloss and two eye colors.
“The names of the products are ‘Baby, don’t hurt me,’ ‘Don’t hurt me,’ and ‘No more.’ So if you have anyone who might appreciate that particular brand of terribleness, then those colors might be the way to go!” she said.
For the music geek in your life, or just a fan of ironic love statements, there’s probably no better “fun” choice for a Valentine’s Day gift.
Espionage Cosmetics’ picks:
1) Lip Serums
VanEtten suggests that geek gift givers consider Espionage’s lip serums, which the recipient can use everyday.
“It’s so sheer, and you can just use it and nourish your lips all at the same time,” she said.
2) Bath Bombs
Cosmetics don’t have to all be about makeup you apply to wear out either.
“For Valentine’s Day, I really think our bath bombs are awesome. They smell great and you’re treating yourself on a lovely occasion,” VanEtten said.
Each one even comes in the shape of a cupcake! You can choose from three products that double as bath bombs and sugar scrubs: a Union Jack Fandom Cupcake, a Unicorn Fandom Cupcake, and a Pirate Fandom Cupcake.
If you’re looking at all the products available from companies but still don’t quite see what you want, then why not get something brand new made specifically for your valentine? You can order a custom-made costume, piece of couture, or other clothing with your valentine’s exact interests in mind.
Catherine Elhoffer of Elhoffer Design told the Daily Dot a custom item is perfect for the holiday since Valentine’s Day gifts should be personal. “Custom-made clothing is like the epitome of personal clothing,” she said. “It’s made for you, for your body.”
Elhoffer pointed out that custom-made clothes allow individuals to experiment with different colors and textures to match their figure and personality. “I can fully customize a dress for a client.”
To Elhoffer, custom clothes are also a good way of showing how much your valentine means to you. “They should mean a lot to you and giving them a custom piece is a great way to show them just how much you care about them because you’re having something custom-made as opposed to bought off the rack or bought at a grocery store,” she said. “It’s so much more loving.”
If you decide on a custom-made piece, Elhoffer recommends avoiding guesswork and researching their preferred styles—even their preferred seamstresses or designers.
“Make sure it’s something that they like and maybe a seamstress or a creator or designer that they have been following for a while, because it means even more when it’s somebody they like and respect,” she said. “It’s always good to start a conversation with your partner first about it. Then also reach out to the designer, and as a group talk about what each person wants from it.”
Though it defeats the element of surprise, it’s a good idea to work with the person you’re getting the custom design for, since custom work also tends to be more expensive and you probably won’t be able to return it. Elhoffer said her customers can always come back to her if they need any changes and usually she will cover the repairs as well as shipping both ways.
“You’re paying so much for the dress I want to stand behind it and be proud of it,” she said. “I have some dresses on way back to me now because the customers wanted to change a few things, but that’s the price of doing custom. You’re paying for that extra customer service and quality and hopefully love.”
A custom work can take about four to six weeks to make, and designers usually have other orders to finish before starting yours, but Elhoffer said it’s never too late to place an order. A custom gift could be just the thing for expresses how much someone matters to you!
And if you’re worried about not having a present in hand, don’t be: After all, what could be a better gift than a special fashion consultation with the designer or dressmaker of their dreams?
Photo via ThinkGeek Solutions
Lisa Granshaw reports on pop culture and geek fashion and is the founder of GeekFold. You can find her work on Syfy, Boing Boing, and Geek and Sundry.