Geek Chic: Fashion Inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender

...then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.
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Shannon - Boston University
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...then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.

Okay, okay, all of you friends and CF commenters who've been nagging me to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender for the last few years. You can all go ahead and say "I told you so," because you were right and I was wrong and now I'm completely obsessed.  

Avatar: The Last Airbender has an amazing, rich mythology and a more dynamic set of characters than most shows can claim, much less one intended for children.  I can't wait to get started on The Legend of Korra! 

Know Your Geek: About ATLA

  • Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko, Avatar: The Last Airbender premiered in 2005 on Nickelodeon and had three seasons. The show utilizes the style of both anime and American cartoons. 
  • In the world of Avatar, certain people are born with the ability to manipulate the classical elements —earth, water, fire, and air— through the physical motions of martial arts. This is known as "bending." 
  • Benders can only manipulate the element of their nation, with the exception of the Avatar, who is the only one capable of mastering all four elements. The Avatar is responsible for maintaining harmony between the four nations and serving as the connection between the living and the spirit world.  
  • When the Avatar dies, his/her spirit is reincarnated into an individual from the next nation in the cycle of Water, Earth, Fire, and Air.  
  • The show begins 100 years after the Fire Nation wages war on the other three kingdoms. Although the Avatar is supposed to prevent this imbalance, he disappears without a trace. 
  • A century later, the Fire Nation's world conquest is almost complete when Katara and Sokka, two Water Tribe teenagers, discover a boy named Aang suspended inside an iceberg. To their amazement, he is an Airbender, all of whom were thought to have been killed long ago by the Fire Nation.  
  • Aang reluctantly reveals himself as the Avatar, and the three embark on an epic journey to help Aang master the remaining three elements and defeat the Fire Nation before it's too late. 
  • I hear that there was a live-action movie adaptation released in 2010. I also hear that most fans of Avatar really don't like to talk about that. 

Outfits Inspired by the Four Nations

You may not be the Avatar, but you can master all four elements... of style (Although that just makes me think of Strunk & White.) Read on for outfits inspired by the world of Avatar.

The Water Tribes

Water Tribe header

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

"Water is the element of change. The people of the Water Tribe are capable of adapting to many things. They have a deep sense of community and love that holds them together through anything."

Notable citizens: Katara, Sokka, Princess Yue, Pakku

There are two Water Tribes: one in the North Pole and one in the South Pole. Although they have been hit hard by Fire Nation attacks, they maintain hope that the Avatar will restore peace and save the world. Waterbenders can control water and ice. The people of the Water Tribes dress in blue and white, often with fur accents to keep themselves warm in their frigid homeland.

For a versatile look that can take you from the classroom to a night out, opt for classics, like a white wrap blouse and black jeans. Shearling-lined boots will keep your toes nice and toasty, while a patterned scarf livens up the look. Twist your hair back with gleaming gold pins (hair loopies optional) to show off a pair of luminous, ice-blue earrings. Finally, slip on an eye-catching cobalt parka that'll stand out in a sea of black and khaki coats.

Water Nation/Katara

  Product Information: Parka, Top, Jeans, Boots, Earrings, Scarf, Hairpins

The Earth Kingdom

Earth Kingdom header

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

"Earth is the element of substance. The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring."

Notable citizens: Toph Beifong, King Bumi, Avatar Kyoshi, Jet, Suki

The Earth Kingdom is the largest and most diverse of the four nations and its crown jewel is the great city of Ba Sing Se. (It's not the best place to be a cabbage seller, though!) Earthbenders are able to split huge chasms in the ground, throw giant boulders, and create pools of quicksand beneath their opponents' feet. 

The people of the Earth Kingdom typically dress in shades of green, yellow, and brown. For a dependable outfit that'll get you through the most demanding of days, you can't go wrong with a simple button-down blouse, a comfy cardigan, and skinny jeans. Keep the look grounded (see what I did there?) with a pair of brown combat boots. Finally, add some Earth Kingdom flair with a patterned green backpack, stone ring, and metallic fan earrings reminiscent of Avatar Kyoshi's weapon of choice.  

Earth Kingdom Outfit

Product Information: Cardigan, Top, Jeans, Boots, Earrings, Ring, Backpack

The Fire Nation

Fire Nation Header

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

"Fire is the element of power. The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will and the energy and drive to achieve what they want."

Notable citizens: Prince Zuko, Uncle Iroh, Princess Azula, Fire Lord Ozai, Ty Lee, Mai 

The militaristic Fire Nation is home to the powerful firebenders, who can manipulate flames and lightning. Fire Nation citizens dress in red and gold. (The soldiers conveniently wear helmets with skulls on them, just in case you couldn't tell that they're the bad guys.) For some reason, sci-fi and fantasy villains are serious suckers for a strong shoulder and lots of spikes and flames.  

Instead of a more literal interpretation of the Fire Navy uniforms, I decided to go for a stylish take on the power suit. A bold, patterned midi skirt topped with a crimson blazer is sure to turn heads. Spiky brass earrings and fierce pointy-toe pumps add some edge to the look. Last but not least, slick on a coat of matte liquid lipstick: in "Fiery," of course! 

Fire Nation outfit

Product Information: Blazer, Top, Skirt, Heels, Earrings, Satchel, Lipstick

The Air Nomads

Air nomads header

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3

"Air is the element of freedom. The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom."

Notable citizens: Avatar Aang, Gyatso, Appa, Momo

The Air Nomads are the smallest of the nations. When they are not wandering the world, they reside in the Air Temples, spiritual centers hidden high in the misty mountain ranges where air bison and lemurs freely roam. The Air Nomads, all of whom are benders, live quiet, peaceful lives in harmony with nature. 

Airbenders typically wear orange and yellow robes and have blue arrows tattooed on their heads, hands, and feet. Adopt their carefree outlook on life with a comfortable outfit perfect for relaxing and meditating. Tuck the front hem of a rust-colored tank into a pair of slouchy red trousers, then slip on a pair of simple blue sandals and a light-as-air cardigan to keep your shoulders warm. Finally, a horn necklace pays homage to Appa the air bison, while a pair of fanned wooden earrings resembles the gliders that Airbenders use to ride the wind.  

Air Nomads Outfit

Product Information: Cardigan, Top, Pants, Sandals, Earrings, Necklace, Hand Chain

What did you think?

Would you wear these outfits? Have you watched Avatar: The Last Airbender? If you could be a bender, which element would you choose? (No fair saying you'd be the Avatar!) What other geeky inspirations would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!