Hot Topic Has Transformed into a Geek Girl Fashion Paradise

It came to me a few months ago after complimenting a friend’s top. On this particular day she was wearing a cute, draped tank in a grey color with a crocheted back that resembled a skull, but like a homespun, small-town skull made out of black yarn. After asking her where she got it, I was shocked and humbled by her answer: she bought it at Hot Topic.

This friend (La Petite Mort if you’re old-school) wears many hats. She’s a producer, performer, accountant, mother of three, and currently, a summer goth. In my years, I’ve learned that no one dresses better than goths, and as they age, it only gets better. LPM is a perfect example of this, and her cute Hot Topic outfit totally challenged the 15 year old grudge I’ve apparently been holding against the infamous mall store.

After a few excruciating seconds of thoughtful reflection, I decided to do a deep dive on Hot Topic. It’s time to figure out what value Hot Topic could truly have to grown-ass women now that their original customers are in their late 20s and early 30s.

Hot Topic: The Fashion Darkhorse That Loves the Word “Darkhorse”

Admittedly, I’ve known that Hot Topic is one of the best places to find Chelsea Handler-worthy band t-shirts for a long time, but their clothes have historically been… a little bit juvenile for me. (That’s a nice word to use, isn’t it?) I’m not exactly the plaid parachute pants wearer that I was in the late ’90s, and the non-body jewelry in there makes me go :[. The majority of Hot Topic’s clothing seemed like a way to turn yourself into a caricature of an angsty teen, and I did that just fine with secondhand clothing from Goodwill.

Now, as an adult, I find myself bored with the subtlety and restraint behind women’s clothing design. No one is really trying anything new, and everything trendy is just copied off of a Kardashijenner’s Instagram or a Chinese wholesale website. In a moment of nostalgic desperation, I remembered LPM’s shirt and headed to the Hot Topic website only to find dozens and dozens of clothes in real, adult sizes that aren’t emblazoned with “Bad Kitty” or “Misunderstood” in glitter puff paint.

After cruising around for a few minutes, I already had these two items dogeared. Their cuteness merited further investigation.

Lovesick Destroyed Ombre Skinny Jeans, $39.50
Sizes 0-19
 Lemon Turquoise Swing Dress, $64.90 $51.92
Plus sizes: 1-6 (14-30)
Standard sizes: XS-3X

Not all clothing at Hot Topic is created equal, though. There are tons of edgy, bold fashion options for grown men and women, but not every pair of jeans are as wearable as these grey ones, and not every print is as cute as a pile of lemons. Hot Topic still stocks catchphrase shirts and trying-too-hard goth merchandise, but that just makes the gems stand out even more.

The people who score the hardest at Hot Topic are the fans. For some reason, Hot Topic has long been the reigning queen of brand licensing. They also carry the geek fashion brand, Her Universe, which is a branding and licensing giant, in itself. Together, they get fan merchandise and licensed gear that no one else has. I’m talk about more than pins and graphic t-shirts, too. I’ve seen dresses with custom prints based on TINY Harry Potter details, interesting tops with artistic depictions of well-loved characters, and imagery I’ve never seen before!

Here’s a taste of what Hot Topic has to offer the nerdy girls of the world – of all sizes! (Prepare yourself for an abundance of plus sizes! Yes, really!)

Harry Potter

Harry Potter Herbology Tank, $42.90 $30.03
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26)
Standard Sizes: XS-2X, $34.90 $24.43
Harry Potter Defense Against the Dark Arts Dress, $48.90 $34.23
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26)
Standard Sizes: XS-3X $39.90 $26.93
Harry Potter Symbols Silhouette Graphic T-Shirt, $24.90 $18.83
Standard Sizes: XS-2X
Harry Potter Marauder’s Map Leggings, $26.90 $18.83
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26), $38.90 $23.34
Standard Sizes: S-3X

Disney Movies (Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, Lion King, Beauty & The Beast, Lilo & Stitch, Peter Pan, Mulan, Nightmare Before Christmas & 1,000 others)

Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat Leggings, $38.90 $23.34
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26)
Standard Sizes: XS-XL, $18.99 $13.29
Her Universe Star Wars Rebellion Romper, $52.90 $37.03
Plus Sizes: 1-4 (16-22)
Hercules Pottery Dress, $49.90 $34.93
Standard Sizes: XS-3X
Beauty & The Beast Stained Glass Leggings, $26.90 $18.83
Standard Sizes: XS-3X

Studio Ghibli via Her Universe (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Spirited Away Confetti Wrap Dress, $58.90 $41.23
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26)
Standard Sizes: XS-3X $49.90 $34.93
My Neighbor Totoro Family Portraits Dress, $84.90 $50.94
Plus Sizes: 0-5 (14-26)
Standard Sizes: XS-3X, $74.90 $44.94 
Howl’s Moving Castle Dress, $42.90 $25.74
Standard Sizes: S-XL
My Neighbor Totoro Garden Cardigan, $48.90 $34.23
Plus Sizes: 0 (14-16)
Standard Sizes: S-M

So, shopping for clothing at Hot Topic as stylish grown-ups, a recap:


  • Impressive plus size selection & standard sizes go up to 3X
  • Graphic & bold styles with an edge
  • Most things are under $60
  • Tons of licensed merchandise from the best fandoms
  • Unique designs & collabs
  • Good band t-shirts
  • Diverse models for accurate clothing representation


  • Have to sift through really bad teen goth tees
  • I have no idea who some of these bands are?
  • Plus sizes almost always cost more than standard sizes

Wow, so I feel pretty humbled by this discovery. Hot Topic looks completely different to me now! In addition to fashion, they have tons of home decor, travel gear, men’s clothing, and office supplies. I guess they’ve been growing along with that 90s fanbase that made them famous.

There’s one last thing for the “pros” category…

Through the end of the day, you can take 30% off of everything on Hot Topic – including clearance

Tell me how you feel about Hot Topic in the comments! Did you obsess over them in middle school? Do you & your BFF still have your friendship necklaces from 2003? Did you buy your first jar of hair dye there? Spill it!

Probably watching Netflix.

2 thoughts on “Hot Topic Has Transformed into a Geek Girl Fashion Paradise

  • July 27, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I am loving Hot Topic lately and have been buying a ton of stuff because they have an online sale every day – tip: join the insider reward club and for every $100 you spend (which isn’t hard), you get a$5 reward, good stuff… I even have those gray pants at the top and they are fabulous!

  • October 25, 2017 at 2:47 am

    I am in love with the current fashion style. I am really impressed with the dressing style. Would like to try the same for my next wedding anniversary. I hope my husband will like it.

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