Alston Stephanus with a Vintage Twist on Nerding Out

Nerding Out with Alston Stephanus

Comic-Con International 2014 in San Diego marked my very first cosplay experience. As an accessories designer and a big nerd, dressing up for Cons came very natural. It was not long until I began Nerding Out as a way of expressing my interests in my everyday style. About seven years ago my fashion choices developed into a flair for the 30s and 40s vintage. When I began cosplaying it felt right to start combining the two together. My eclectic style is quite formal, think dapper suits with accessories like hats, waistcoats, and suspenders inspired by some of my favorite fictional characters. I also really enjoy going all out for a photo shoot.

Favorite Everyday #NerdingOut Looks

I’m a huge Disney fan. I’ve been to every Disney Park there is, and I love to “Disney Bound” when I go. Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit is a favorite of mine because the character’s costume coincides with my suits. I also love R2-D2 from Star Wars. On several occasions, I have paired a snappy suit with a casual graphic tee and accessories.

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Favorite #NerdingOut Photo Shoots

Playing on the Star Wars theme, I did a photo shoot with friends with items from Her Universe. The dress with the AT-AT walkers and the sweater with X-Wings are both from Her Universe. I dressed up the looks with handmade pieces from my Alston Stephanus Accessories company.

Other #NerdOut photo shoots include Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them, Wall-E, and Beauty and the Beast. They are all vintage inspired looks with a touch of whimsy. I assembled each of them with fashion that is not typically considered “nerdy,” but when all put together, it creates something special.

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Star Wars on the Runway

In December of 2014, I was presented with the opportunity to design for The Masterpiece Strikes Back: A Fashion Exploration in Association with Star Wars ©LucasFilm LTD & TM. I designed a high fashion female version of Lord Darth Vader for the event. I thoroughly enjoyed putting together this formal ensemble for the runway, while incorporating Alston Stephanus Accessories pieces as well. Alsi, I stylized formalwear looks for C-3P0 and R2-D2.

Nerding Out for me was an evolution. I love to #NerdOut and dress in ways that are unexpected. When I travel now, I usually end up over packing several large suitcases just to have an assortment of my formal nerdy looks, accessories and all, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Bring NerdingOut Into Your Everyday Style

Nerding Out is a stylized way to bring nerdiness into your everyday life. On a personal level, it’s also much easier and enjoyable. I’ve tried cosplay in the past, and I didn’t feel comfortable in it. Other than my most recent cosplay, Lara Croft, I’ve always felt like a fake in cosplay. (not sure why Lara is the exception) After nearly two years of trying, I had just about given up. I’d stick to my jeans and graphic t-shirts. Except…I got tired of that. Having a closet more than half full of graphic t-shirts was getting old. So old, some of them I had owned since I entered college. However, my mind soon changed.

I did a shoot with a friend, Katie York, in more casual attire than cosplay, but fancier than a t-shirt. And guess what, I greatly enjoyed it! More then enjoyed, I was thrilled with the results (see below)! From that, the Nerding Out seed was planted.

nerding out
 Dress by Hot Topic, Shoes by Converse

Nerd Out Squad

A couple months back, I created the Nerd Out Squad. It is the social club branch of Nerd Out. The need for such a group grew from wanting more than just a quick snap with other nerds, I wanted to connect. Community has always been the main objective for Nerd Out as a whole. So we decided to make that the focus of the Squad and it’s really resonated. With nearly 900 members in just a few short months, it’s been a wild ride! Events ranging from a Guardians of the Galaxy Brunch to a Back to Hogwarts day at Universal Studios Hollywood. With this in mind, a lifestyle aspect to Nerd Out was the next step. Between the photoshoot with Katie and the Squad, #NerdingOut was born.

#NerdingOut incorporates nerdy style into your every day.

A spin off from Casual Cosplay in that the outfits are inspired by your favorite character. But in Nerding Out it can be as general as an entire fandom (ie. Star Trek), or as specific as a single aspect of a character (ie. Luna’s Spectrespecs). It’s all about how you style it and what works for you! And of course, where you’re Nerding Out! Are you Nerding Out at one of the thousands of events we’ve listed on our Calendar?

Elhoffer Design

One of the designers that encapsulates Nerding Out is Elhoffer Design. Katie, founder of Elhoffer Design, prefers “a subtle geek nod in her designs, using silhouette, color, texture, and lines to tell the story of the character or fandom.” I wore her Magical Maxi Wrap Dress in Crimson and Gold on a sunny morning in Griffith Park. I also wore it to our Back to Hogwarts event! It was great to wear in the park as it wasn’t restricting as some cosplays can be. Most importantly, I felt great in it.

Bring Nerding Out Into Your Everyday Style

We’ll be bringing you even more Nerding Out from some of our friends in the coming weeks. Showcasing how a variety of people utilize it in their style. How do you bring Nerding Out into your style? Share your photos with us by using #NerdingOut!
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Dress by Elhoffer Design, Bag by Bioworld, Necklace by KrausHausKrafts, Wand by BrandonMoellerStudio, Photos by Katie Be Photography

The Best Cosplay at Sherlocked USA

The LAX Marriott hosted the first ever Sherlocked USA convention on May 26th-28th, 2017. The convention revolved around…you guessed it, BBC Sherlock! Which of course included cosplay! The convention, which first premiered in the United Kingdom, featured guests Andrew Scott, Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs, Timothy Carlton, Alistair Petrie, Louis Moffat, Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue, Wanda Ventham, Jonathan Aris, and Arwel Wyn Jones. Attendees of Gallifrey One will know this is the same location that Gally takes place, and it was run by some of the same personnel.

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A BBC Sherlock Convention

It was the first time Nerd Out attended a Sherlock Holmes only convention. While the convention was not as fully attended as Gallifrey One, there was still lots of lovely attendees to meet from all over the world! People from Australia, Canada, France, Chile, and more came out for the event! Our founder Michelle was a guest on three panels; Science of Deduction, Being a Sherlock Fan, and Setlocked.

Science of Deduction: Exploring common techniques used to make simple deductions and how they apply to Sherlock.  Hosted by Baker Street Babes.

Being a Sherlock Fan: Join the panel to discuss the dedication and commitment needed to be a Sherlock fan.

Setlocked: Arwel Jones and The Baker Street Babes talk about being on location and meeting the fans.

The Best Cosplay at Sherlocked USA

Nerd Out hosted a cosplay meetup on Saturday during lunch for anyone who wished to attend. It was lovely to see those who put in the little extra effort to bring their best cosplays to the con. Our photographer Victor was absolutely wonderful working with the cosplayers! We couldn’t have wished for a better experience for all! So without further ado, the best cosplay at Sherlocked USA!!!

(Cosplayers, please email us for HQ pics)

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Take Part in the DisneyBound March Challenge

It’s that time of year again! Every March, the DisneyBound community takes part in the DisneyBound March Challenge! Now it’s time for you to take part in the DisneyBound March challenge! This challenge encourages participants to try to DisneyBound every day of the month! It’s not a requirement, however. Some Bounders will come and go throughout the month—showing off their DisneyBounds on various days.


What is DisneyBounding?

If you’re new to the trend—DisneyBounding is when you use clothes that you can find in your closet or local mall to create outfits based off of your favorite Disney character! It’s subtle—and not at all a costume. You don’t need wigs, props or make-up to create your DisneyBound! To start creating your DisneyBound, pick your favorite character! Then, look at the colors that the character wears and where it lies on them. For instance, Donald Duck would have a blue shirt, white pants and yellow shoes. Next, use accessories to incorporate little details from the characters look or story!

Best of luck to all those participating! I can’t wait to see your DisneyBounds!

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Nerd Out Does DisneyBound

Nerd Out’s very own Michelle Jensen even did some DisneyBounds for last years challenge! Check our her Sebastian and Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid below!


Creating a Sansa Stark Warrior Cosplay

To say I’m new to cosplay is an under statement. While I have many friends who are into it so far as they make sure to get screen accurate costumes, I’m not nearly that much involved. For me cosplay is like an extra day of Halloween. It gives you another excuse to dress up as whomever you’d like.

By far the most difficult part of cosplay for me is the budgeting. I have to maintain my budget and cosplay follows that suit. Part of why I’ve chosen the cosplays I have in the past is that I can wear pieces of them in everyday life. They aren’t con only attire. I like to maintain this balance so that I don’t feel so bad shelling out $100+ for a piece of clothing (my Dark Swan, Once Upon a Time coat). It’s much easier to justify if I know it’s something I can wear on any day of the week.

sansa stark cosplay

This year at San Diego Comic Con I wanted to do a Game of Thrones character. I had wanted to do Margaery Tyrell for a long time but couldn’t fathom spending hundreds of dollars on a dress. I can’t sew to save my life so making it wasn’t an option. After this recent season I really got behind Sansa Stark. She finally took control of her situation and has really come full circle. Knowing that summer in San Diego is most certainly 80+ degrees I knew wearing a dress, if I could have even afforded one, wasn’t going to work. Having seen many spins on other cosplays I decided to do that myself, and came up with Warrior Sansa. Let’s be honest, after seeing her ride in to save Jon Snow’s butt, it wasn’t hard to imagine Sansa as a bad ass warrior anymore.

sansa stark cosplay

I decided to base the outfit on one of her dresses that I had liked. It also has an easily recognizable necklace so that made it easier for people to identify me. People recognizing who I was cosplaying as was a major concern of mine. So much so that I tested the outfit out on three different friends.

Picking what to wear started with looking at what I currently owned. I had boots, black pants from a Katniss Everdeen outfit I had bought, and a sword I’ve been meaning to use for another cosplay. Everything else had to be purchased.

sansa stark cosplay

I tried to pick pieces I could use again. Corset from Corset Deal, yep, can use that for future outfits. The black shirt I had to hot glued feathers onto so that was going to be a one outfit piece. Fortunately, the feathers and shirt didn’t cost more than $20 total. The shield was the only piece I had to either buy or build. Looking at prices online, there was no way I was going to buy one. Luckily, I found this video on how to build one. I modified my shield from this video by hot gluing the face of the dire wolf and adding metal rivets I found at Michaels for a dollar. I really love how my shield turned out. Added benefit to it not being real is that it wasn’t heavy at all!

I also purchased that recognizable necklace from etsy seller LadyAglarwenCosplay. Finally, I had ordered hair extensions. The first order I did wound up being out of stock. The second was too dark. The third didn’t make it in time. Needless to say I didn’t wear any extensions. I plan on using the ones that arrived late at a future con. None the less, I think my hair still looked pretty good even if it wasn’t as long as Sansa’s. I really enjoyed cosplaying Sansa Stark, especially with my own spin.

Have you ever cosplayed an original character, or one with a spin?

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Cosplay Meetups at San Diego Comic Con

Have you checked out the cosplay meetups at San Diego Comic Con yet? Prep for San Diego Comic Con is in full swing! Now is the time to lock down what you’ll be cosplaying as! I, myself have made my choices and used the list of meet ups on Nerd Out to help me figure out which day to wear which of my outfits! I won’t tell you just yet what my outfits are, but one is Disney and the other is Game of Thrones.

With that in mind it was easy to decided to wear the Game of Thrones outfit on Saturday as that’s when the GoT meet up and photoshoot is. And of course, Friday for the Disney outfit as that’s when the Disney event is. (The Disney event is in a ticketed area, so I may not be able to attend the actual meet up, however do say hi if you see me!) Nerd Out is super simple to use! If you haven’t already check out our How To video!

Nerd Out App Calendar

To see the SDCC meet ups go to Calendar > California > San Diego. Then you can hit the drop down at the top and selection Conventions. From there you can view all the events happening during San Diego Comic Con! Trust me, there’s so much on there that you couldn’t possibly do it all! But that’s the great part, you have plenty of options! Below is just some of the Cosplay meet ups listed on Nerd Out!

Make sure to check out the Nerd Out calendar for the latest events!

cosplay meetups

Cosplay Dreams 3D, A Love Letter to Cosplay

Cosplay Dreams 3D documentary film takes the world of cosplay and breaks it down into its simplest form. What draws people to cosplay, what they love about cosplay, and what they have taken away from their experiences encompass the heart of the film. This structure makes it an easily digestible film for those who are unaware of the cosplay world, yet still enjoyable for those who are experts.

Princesses and Pirates

The film follows along a set of cosplayers, all from different backgrounds. Fanboy Brandon has turned his passion for cosplay into bringing entertainment to children by providing costumed characters at children’s parties. Not only has he brought enjoyment to others, he has met his girlfriend while cosplaying. Many people in the cosplay community have not only made friends, but have met significant others while cosplaying. Brandon is also a father. He encourages his daughter to partake. When asked what she’d like to cosplay in the future, she exclaims ‘Jack Sparrow!’ The fact that she has no hesitation on taking on a character that is male shows just how much excitement she has for cosplay. Where some little girls are dressing up as Princesses, she’s looking to take on the Black Pearl.

Ginger, who builds her own cosplays, is my favorite of the group. She doesn’t allow age, gender, or race to influence who or what she wants to represent. She discusses cosplaying Princess Peach, and mentions that someone had asked her if she was cosplaying ‘a black version of Princess Peach’ in which she responds ‘I’m just doing Princess Peach.’ She went on to mention ‘at the end of the day, you’re going to be whatever race you are so you just need to embrace that and not try to be someone that you’re not.’ You can’t change your race for a cosplay, so you just need to rock the cosplay and think more about the meaning of the character than looking identical to the character. I think this is an awesome message to all cosplayers, no matter what race, age, or sex you are. Ginger also helped form Chocolate Covered Cosplay.


All sorts of people use cosplay to transform into characters from history, comic books, video games, TV, and film! Cosplay Dreams 3D is an excellent documentary to showcase the lifestyle, artistry, and culture of Cosplay!

For more info on the film visit

Espionage Cosmetics: We’re a Couple of Nerdy Misfits

I’ll be honest, I suck at nail art. Painting cute little designs on my nails is just not in my wheelhouse of creativity or patience. So when I heard about Espionage Cosmetics nail wraps I was over the moon! I got my first set, Time Lord, back in April and wore them for my Doctor Who themed birthday. Since then I’ve been a fan of Espionage Cosmetics, so much so that I got their beta box! And now I’ve finally asked the co-founder of EC for an interview, so without further ado…

Brewing a Business

Since 2011, our team of determined nerd misfits have been constantly busy with crazy “what if?!?” ideas, crazier product research and marketing strategy, and lots of mad-sciencing. We’re constantly dreaming up new product lines and finding new ways to reach and respond to our customers. Killer convention booths, special retail events, online promotions, and the most colorful, creative Instagram feed and followers—we do it all with the loving obsession of your garden variety nerd fanatic.

The Espionage Cosmetics All-Nerd Team

Our company is run by an all-pro, all-nerd team that is passionate about all of the geeky stuff in the ‘verse. We believe make-up is just one more way to feel amazing about your stylish, nerd-tastic self! Our goal is to create a space in the world where makeup is not intimidating and perfection is not required. Instead we hope to keep pushing the message towards a larger audience that makeup is supposed to be applied however makes YOU feel amazing. Not what beauty gurus, society, or even your best friend insist are the requirement.

A Love of Fandoms

The Espionage Cosmetics cosmetics, nail art, bath bombs, and other products are were all created to fuse our beloved fandoms and our adoration of bright colors, sparkles, and more. We are our own target market and so we construct only products that we wish existed for nerds like us! Every time someone shops on our website, purchases product at one of our convention booths, or talks about us on social media they are contributing to our experience points that inch us towards being able to create more jobs for fellow, professional, geeks who are looking for a place to call home. We have the best job in the world.

Espionage Cosmetics

1. What inspired the creation of espionage cosmetics?

As a working makeup artist I was already creating or using products that could be used in multiple ways. It is, simply put, more efficient. So when I formulated espionage, everything shadows to have multiple uses. The nerd-themes came in when I signed us up for the inaugural year of Geek Girl Con. We released our Gamer Girl & Browncoats collections which were themed for things that I loved so much about being a nerd. They went over SO fantastically that I realized no one thought it was weird to couple fandom and cosmetics. So we began to move entirely in that direction.

2. How do you come up with your designs?

Every product you see Espionage release is essentially a love letter from us to one of our many fandoms. The games, characters, storylines, worlds we care about and have invested our time into. We take what we love about those things and infuse it into our products. We just create what we want to buy. We are our own target market.

Espionage Cosmetics

3. How long does it take from idea to final product?

Because we are a smaller company our turn around is a lot quicker. For shadows it’s 1-2 months, nail wrap designs its 4-9 weeks, and lip serums its 2-3 months.

4. What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made?

Everything shadows: Borderlands Collection
Nail wraps: Mystical Mane and Nebulae
Lip Serums: Soulless and Cold Blooded Killer

Aside from specific products my favorite things are how we have come up with to convey to a larger market why our product is the way we talk to it w/ potential customers and have navigated our way, after 10s of thousands of interactions in person, to the bullet points that make their eyes light up. Seriously, the best thing in the world is seeing someone’s face when we say “Nerd Makeup” and explain that we hide easter eggs in all of our packaging, design, even on our website that people connected to that fandom will really get!

Espionage Cosmetics

5. What’s your most popular piece?

Nebulae nail wraps and the Browncoats collection are our bestselling!

6. You’ve got some fabulous nail wraps! I love the Doctor Who one! Can you share what’s your next design?

We do about 10 new designs per round. This round we have a collaboration with Wil Wheaton, two new licensed sets with our friends at Privateer Press for War Machine & Hordes, and of course our newly released work with Kelly Sue Deconnick for “Bitch Planet” and Matt Fraction for “Sex Criminals”. Those sets in particular are close to my heart because I love the comics, and the stories got picked up by Comics Alliance, The Mary Sue, Fashionably Geek, and other heavy hitters. It was awesome to see that people were as excited as were!

7. Tell us about your new subscription box!

Currently the sub box is in Beta, but it will go live to the public in December and ships January 2016! It’s $25 (+shipping & tax) and is worth more than $40 per month. There are two things that this box will do: It will allow us to continually introduce brand new products every month. From new everything shadows, to nail wraps, to serums on a more consistent basis. Additionally when we launch in January it will also include 1-2 items from another geeky company that we think you should know about!

Her Universe Fashion Show 2015

Now that the internet has returned at work I can proceed with my San Diego Comic Con recaps! After the Jet Set Nerds panel I was on finished, it was time to rush over to Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel for the Her Universe Fashion Show! As I didn’t attend last year, this was my first time at the show. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been to one nerdy fashion show before and it wasn’t the most well put together event so I was pleasantly surprised when Her Universe was spectacular!

Oh What a Night!

While waiting in line to get in I was asked to be interviewed. I wish the footage was posted so I could show you, but we talked about fashion, geek girl culture, and of course Her Universe. The lovely Jennifer Tisdale of Blondie Girl Productions was the one to interview me. Blondie Girl is one of three companies that put on the fashion show, the other two are Hot Topic and of course, Her Universe. I look forward to seeing how Blondie Girl gets more involved in the geek world!

her universe fashion show

We were handed wrist bands and escorted into the ballroom where the fashion show was to take place. I made sure to get a good spot, just to the right of the stage. Shortly after Ashley Eckstein took the stage! She looked lovely in a Princess Leia inspired dress! God I wish I had someone to make dresses like that for me! Her’s were made by last year’s winner Andrew Maclaine. The show proceeded with groups of designers. A compilation video of the designers speaking on their inspirations and aspirations were played, then came the dresses! And my god they were fantastic, amazing, extraordinary; there maybe not a proper word in the dictionary for what they were.

The Show Begins

We were handed wrist bands and escorted into the ballroom where the fashion show was to take place. I made sure to get a good spot, just to the right of the stage. Shortly after Ashley Eckstein took the stage! She looked lovely in a Princess Leia inspired dress! God I wish I had someone to make dresses like that for me! Her’s were made by last year’s winner Andrew Maclaine. The show proceeded with groups of designers. A compilation video of the designers speaking on their inspirations and aspirations were played, then came the dresses! And my god they were fantastic, amazing, extraordinary; there maybe not a proper word in the dictionary for what they were.

It was so inspiring to see how they took their favorite characters or fandoms and made them into designs. My favorites were the TARDIS from Doctor Who and the Game of Thrones Khaleesi dress.

her universe fashion show

The winners of the audience’s choice and judge’s choice were Leetal Platt’s transforming Sailor Moon dress and Kelley Cercone’s “Joker’s New Look” design respectively. And oh hey, does Baymax look familiar? Yep, that’s Khaleesi from my Wondercon Recap post! I look forward to next year’s show as this was the highlight of my San Diego Comic Con 2015!

Make sure to check out the Nerd Out calendar for the latest events!

Cosplay Tips & Tricks For Every Cosplay

Craigslist, flea markets, and second-hand stores will become your best friend. Network within the cosplay community for cosplay tips. You never know who will have an item or recommendation that you need. Look into cheaper synthetic fabrics. Sure they won’t always look EXACTLY like the character, but they can save you a lot of cash in the long run.

Coupons, coupons, coupons

Stores like Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics offer coupons on sale items and 20% on single items. Always look into free shipping offers and extra savings if you sign up for a store or site’s mailing list. They are easy to opt out of later. Post Halloween sales. Seriously, get on that.Utilize local crafting and sewing classes. I was able to take a sewing machine class at Joanne Fabrics where they showed me how to use my own machine. The cost was $10 per class. YouTube tutorials. Diagrams, images, written instructions and spoken advice won’t always have the answer you need.

Use reference images of every angle. And DON’T stress your self out over your body image. We won’t always have the same body as our character did on tv. And that is perfectly ok. Don’t use too much glue or adhesive. It becomes heavy and malleable over time. Utilize small repair kits. Hand out cards with your Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr handle to find pictures of yourself. Give yourself enough time to plan and create your costume. Give yourself enough time to get ready and for bathroom breaks. Supportive undergarments can be a lifesaver. No shame in using them or not using them.

Comfort is Everything

Dr. Scholls WILL save you a weekend of pain. And they now come in many different sizes and styles. Wear your cosplay around your house for a day. Many times we get so excited to wear our cosplay for cons that we forget to think about how those long con days will affect our comfort. This includes preventing blisters, rashes and sometimes heat exhaustion. If you are creating your cosplay from scratch, sew in or add pockets to store money, keys, tickets and your phone. Carrying around a purse or worrying about where to store your essentials can be quite annoying.

Have fun. That is what cosplay if for.

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