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What Is Steampunk Style?

When I first discovered the term “Steampunk”, it was like finding there was an actual name for something I’d liked all along! Corsets AND gas masks, together in one outfit? Count me in!

I LOVE costuming, and fashion inspired by anachronistic historical times – so Steampunk fashion is a no-brainer! Steampunk blends together elements of science fiction, fantasy and history. It’s like a big melting pot of the Victorian period, post-apocalyptic, as well as the Wild West era. Everyone has a slightly different take on steampunk fashion, and that’s okay!

I have a lot of friends that are really into the steampunk scene as well. It’s such a fun way to play with fashion. You’re never too old to dress up if it makes you happy!

Steampunk Airship Costume

Steampunk Airship Costume

My boyfriend took this photo during Mardi Gras 2013. We live in New Orleans, and every year there is a big costume competition called the Bourbon Street Awards where people go all out with over the top costumes. This year we were walking around the French Quarter and saw some of the entrants getting ready and putting on their costumes. This was our favorite!

He built an entire airship which attaches to a backpack frame! This guy has some serious STEAMPUNK STYLE!

Steampunk or “Alternate History”?

Every year, my boyfriend David and I attend Dragon*Con, where we definitely see a TON of steampunk inspiration! If you attend this annual Atlanta convention (one of the biggest geeky gatherings in the US!), you can even check out a full range of panels and events devoted to Steampunk and other Alternate History topics! There is also a parade every year during Dragon*Con – and the Steampunk contingent was a very sizable one!

David has recently been learning how to sew, and has become quite the masterful sewer in just a short amount of time. Part of his inspiration for learning to sew so was that he could start making his own costumes, including steampunk outfits. It can be hard to find good-quality steampunk stuff that isn’t super expensive. Plus, my boy is just plain picky. Two of his first sewing projects were steampunk inspired, including a vest that he can wear a pocket watch with:

David wore this steampunk inspired outfit for Easter

He wore the vest he made along with his seersucker suit, fancy bowler hat, weird-o steampunk sunglasses, pipe and this 1920s replica Freemason pocket watch that I got him for Christmas.

How to get DIY steampunk style

Corset Super Store Women's Steampunk Corset

We’ve become a little obsessed lately with all things related to steampunk fashion around my house. Suddenly my boyfriend is really into the whole thing – he even dragged me to Joann’s Fabric over the weekend to find patterns and fabrics for a vest so he can start making his own steampunk clothing! But what is steampunk style?? Let me explain:

There are many different elements to steampunk fashion! Common visual costuming themes among Steampunk fans include clockwork gears, aviator style goggles and helmets, gas masks, bronze tone grommets and mechanical clasps, lace up detailing and ruffle trim… the list goes on!

Women’s steampunk fashion often includes Victorian style corsets, cute jackets or capes, skirts with lots of layers and ruffles and fancy dress boots!

Men’s steampunk fashion often draws inspiration from military and Victorian Wild West styles. Think long coats, vests, gun (or flask!) holsters, and boots.

You can pair ready-made Steampunk pieces like these with lots of things found around your house, the hardware store or your local flea market. Keep an eye out for anything mechanical looking, and think about how you can embellish the clothes you already own to give them some steampunk flair.

You can take apart things like broken watches and salvage all of the gears inside, and then sew or glue them onto your steampunk clothing. Now that steampunk is popular, you can also find lots of steampunk embellishments at your local craft store.

Keep an eye out at the thrift store or yard sales for anything military inspired – army jackets, gas masks and goggles can be the perfect finishing touches for your steampunk look.

Canadian born footwear designer John Fluevog has a cult-following because of his funky & eccentric shoe styles. Many of them have steampunk elements, and since Fluevog offers quirky shoes for both men and women, Fluevog boots can be a great fit for steampunk aficionados!

Be sure to check out my Steampunk Fashion board on Pinterest for even more inspiration!

 

Steampunk Costumes

For those not familiar, steampunk is a genre which blends together elements of science fiction, fantasy and history – it usually pulls visual cues from the Victorian period, post-apocalyptic, as well as the Wild West era. Different people interpret it in many ways, but when I first learned about it… well, I guess you could say it was like finding there was an actual name for something I’d liked all along!

Even in high school, I remember loving themes of Victorian-era garb, but I usually preferred to see it interpreted in a more modern way, rather than as a straight out of Victorian England costume. I loved seeing fancy Victorian style boots mixed with a little leather and lace. Who would have thought so many other people do too??

Steampunk Boba Fett

It’s become more mainstream in recent years, and when we went to Dragon*Con we definitely saw a TON of steampunk inspiration, like this Steampunk Boba Fett!

Common visual costuming themes among Steampunk fans include Victorian style corsets, clockwork gears, aviator style goggles and helmets, gas masks… Like I said, these themes have a very broad interpretation, so you can go a little crazy with it!

Steampunk Goggles

Every steampunk fan knows an outfit isn’t complete until you add goggles. But just like steampunk fashion, goggles can come in all shapes and sizes, from super realistic, to super girly (and pink!). Here are my personal favorite steampunk goggles for cosplay:

Steampunk Pink Radioactive Aviator Goggles

1. Pink Radioactive Aviator Goggles – Sure they’re girly, but there are plenty of female steampunk fans out there! (These bright pink goggles are also great for raver kids and cybergoths.)

Steampunk CyberSteam Gold Eyepatch with Orange Lens

2. CyberSteam Gold Eyepatch with Orange Lens – Did you lose one eye in The Great Steampunk War of 2038? Well, in that case maybe you need this single-eye goggle. It’s like a monocle traveled through time into the future and came back as this steampunk goggle instead.

Steampunk Elope Machinist Goggles

3. Elope Machinist Goggles – These goggles may be made for the purposes of costuming, but they do their job well. They look great and they’re affordable!

Steampunk Hobart 770096 Welding Oxy-Acetylene Goggle

4. Hobart 770096 Welding Oxy-Acetylene Goggle – Want goggles that look a little more realistic? Check out these authentic welding goggles. Not only will they make you look cool, they’ll protect your eyes too!

Steampunk Aviator Costume Goggles

5. Aviator Costume Goggles – Yeah, yeah, it’s another pair of costume goggles, but man do these look cool! And isn’t that what steampunk fashion is all about??

Want to learn more about Steampunk?

Here are a few resources to get you started:

The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement

The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement

Metalwork Jewelry: 35 Step-by-Step Projects Inspired by Steampunk

Metalwork Jewelry: 35 Step-by-Step Projects Inspired by Steampunk

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature

Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings

Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings

Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos: A Maker's Guide to Creating Modern Artifacts

Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos: A Maker’s Guide to Creating Modern Artifacts

If you’re in the New Orleans area and into the steampunk lifestyle, check out this group that some of my friends started: the Adventurers League of G.E.A.R.S.

There are plenty of other groups around the world, where you can join in the fun too. Meetup.com offers information for a bunch of different local steampunk groups or checkout The Steampunk Empire to find a group near you!

About the Author Mallory Whitfield

Mallory Whitfield created MissMalaprop.com in 2006 as a place to share her favorite cool stuff, handmade products and indie finds. Throughout her journey as a creative entrepreneur, Mallory has worn many hats, including blogger, visual artist, upcycled clothing creator, performance artist, jewelry designer, craft show vendor, creative strategist, speaker, teacher and consultant to other small business owners. By day, she specializes in SEO, content marketing and social media strategy as Content Analyst at FSC Interactive, a leading digital marketing agency in New Orleans.

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