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Fashionistas get their geek on

The popularity of contrived geek chic looks - thick-rimmed glasses, marching band jackets, argyle sweater vests, plaid shirts - among the fashion set might be a little silly, but it seems to be a curious side effect of the new era of geekdom.

Smarts are making a comeback in the too-cool-for-school world of fashion lovers.

Fast fashion shops such as Charlotte Russe and Forever 21 are offering up fashionable geek specs for the non-visually challenged. Saks Fifth Avenue's online store is promoting a music video featuring the latest looks from Marc by Marc Jacobs for men and women that look oddly reminiscent of the wardrobe for the geeky 1980s TV show "Square Pegs" (trivia points for anyone who knows which "Sex and the City" star was featured in the short-lived series).

The new television series "Glee" about the triumph of dorks has already established itself as one of the coolest shows after a successful viral campaign, and geeks of all ages are being avenged and celebrated on film.

Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, plays a studious and therefore geeky sorority girl in the new horror flick "Sorority Girl," and Sandra Bullock embodies a goofball cruciverbalist - that's what they call people who construct crossword puzzles for those of us who are not-quite-geeky-enough - in the latest contender for most dreadful romantic comedy, "All About Steve."

The unabashedly dorky Charlyne Yi stars in the much better geek-love story, "Paper Heart."

President Barack Obama has been openly called a "policy geek." MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow has been commended for her geek-appeal. Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe of "Harry Potter" fame proved that geeks can thwart evil.

Last month, The New York Times declared, "We're all gadget geeks now," citing a recent study documenting the gotta-have-it technology fever of cell phones, high-speed Internet, high-definition television, MP3 players and video game consoles.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that people have decided to - literally - wear their inner nerd on their sleeves. There's something about imitation and flattery that comes to mind.

"I like to be called a geek," said Marina Orlova, who operates a "Hot for Words" video blog and has a new book from Harper Collins of the same name exploring the etymology of some of her favorite words. Orlova was named Wired.com's Sexiest Geek of the Year in 2007 and garnered the No. 2 spot in 2008. Orlova has been described as a "busty wordsmith" and hailed as the "world's sexiest philologist" by The New Yorker.

She made a video explaining the origin of the word "geek" and says "it's never been sexy until now." She said it hails from a German word for foolish person but was employed in the early 20th century in "Mutt and Jeff" comic strips as an insulting way to describe hardworking people.

She said perhaps "geeks" became truly sexy starting in the 1990s when many became overnight millionaires with billion-dollar corporations.

Speaking by phone from her Los Angeles penthouse, Orlova said she didn't expect to make such a name for herself discussing words for the past 2 1/2 years, but she said she really is the geek she plays on YouTube.

She said intelligence has always been sexy, and so it's not a surprise that people are adapting the look of geeks.

What's more interesting is that geek chic is accompanied by a new acceptance of geeky pursuits of literature, the arts and technology. That's a fashion trend I think we can all appreciate.

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