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Steampunk Fashion

PicsArt_03-26-12.28.27Steampunk is basically Victorian era Science fiction with technology based on steam power and clockwork. Usually with airships.

It’s a design and fashion style that merges (post)modern technology with Victorian sensibility.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to steampunk. The safest way is where you start out with a Victorian or Western look and add a few steampunk elements.

Many people believe that women have to show their corsets for the look, but that is simply not the case. While many enjoy the look, an exposed corset does not make the look, though lots of people really enjoy it. (Please see Melanie Schuessler’s Steampunk outfits, they are amazing, and have no exposed corsets.)

5792420943_40ea4d331e_oWhat I find makes something look steampunk is the little accessories. They should tell the story of your character at a glance. Think about the sort of steampunk character you want to portray. A Lady, plumber, adventurer, vampire hunter, accountant, airship pirate? What sorts of things would that type of person wear during the Victorian era? What sorts of accessories would that type of person carry? Then consider how to add a steampunk twist to it.

Adding a steampunk twist to something that is modern may be as simple as painting it brass and copper colored, or adding lace depending on what it is and it’s purpose. Making something more steampunk that is Victorian in nature, can be as simple as using it in a different way, or re-purposing it. I hesitate to say “slap a gear on it” but you’ll find that is what plenty of people do. Adding small details to an outfit are really all of what it takes to give something a steampunk feel.

4663702692_8eb52aa054_oFirst thing, headwear. The Victorian era is a time where everyone wore hats when they went outside. Add a top hat, bowler, or even just a fascinator (tiny hat or other ornament worn in the hair).  It adds a whole lot of attitude to an otherwise simple outfit. To go a step further, add a feather, cameo, lace, or symbol on your hat and it will turn it up a notch.

Jewel tones, metallics and browns are the most popular colors in steampunk fashion, though, the Victorian era was the one that discovered aniline dyes, which made just about any vivid color possible.  I only suggest staying away from heavy usage of blacks because then you start looking more like a goth, than a steampunk figure. Arguably, steampunk is heavily influenced by modern gothic designs. There are a lot of Lolita/Steampunk crossovers as well.

4663647428_8c48fd6edd_bWhile steampunk is based on Victorian aesthetics, if you want to dress as a woman, you do not have to wear a skirt. In the steampunk world, things are equal among the sexes, though still have a wonderful degree of politeness and courtesy. However, if you do want to wear a skirt, you have a LOT of options. Think about what works with your character. Would they wear a long and flowing skirt, or would it be a tighter, A-line skirt for working among large gears? Would they have a bustle, or a drape on the skirt? Tucks in the skirt, or bustling of just about any style skirt, is very popular and a great steampunk look.

Vests are an easy way to add an extra layer for both men and women. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like and are a great platform for detail work.  Vests should be fairly fitted, or left open. If it’s poorly fitted it will be more obvious on a closed vest than an open one. Canvas or leather are great fabrics for a hard working look, while brocade and suitings are better for a more refined outfit.

4663039383_b04a7da3bc_bIf you do decide to wear a corset as outer or underwear, please wear something underneath. A tank top at the very least will make your corset experience so much more comfortable and prevent chafing. I like to use a dress shirt underneath mine. You can even add lace around the collar and cuffs, remove any pockets, and tea dye it for a “old time” feel.5792977164_763ea07b47_o

Adding buckles as closures to just about anything, will add to the look. Chains, especially gold, brass and copper ones are great accents and of course exposed clockwork, such as a pocket watch with a glass back. Leather and lace are great fabrics that especially lend themselves to this style.

In the end, the steampunk fashion is almost anything you want it to be. A lot of layers is a good thing. A simple shirt, or one with lots of details and lace, then a vest, bodice or coat, belt (or two), pants or skirt (or two), great shoes, and a fabulous piece of headwear, plus your ray gun, parasol, fan, goggles or mask (steam powered devices produce lots of smoke and soot), and you’re all set to conquer your next adventure!

Check out the photos of people I’ve taken over the years at steampunk events.

IMG_20140112_191348 IMG_20140112_191255 IMG_20140112_183955 5792972566_d3b6b5df1f_o 5792972328_5153478707_b 5792964544_373255120f_b 5792963666_45221ef5b8_o 5792962580_587f708400_b 5792961022_03b9dac14b_b 5792960752_ccf771b97b_b 5792958900_57d5739dd3_b 5792950894_61702c3f2d_b 5792404595_b23a08e53d_b 5792948550_479930b81b_b 5792948116_be397c3d86_b 5792410783_aaf99e006b_b 5792407899_e17066cf88_b 5792394199_f351e3594d_o 4663703494_45c5885f17_b 4663664598_5774b6698c_b 4663664110_44c39db56e_b 4663041561_a0e4d4093b_b 4663034895_6ba994c8e9_b