Forget the toga party. If you want a themed party or Halloween costume with lots of diversity, choose Steampunk! Decorate with giant gears and pipes, crazy lab equipment and Victorian high tea. Steampunk costumes are easy and cheap to create. Turn your kid’s discarded toys into futuristic accessories in no time.
I came across a great description: “Steampunk is the intersection between the romance of what was, the science of what could have been, and a splash of WTF.” If you’re a movie-goer, think Back to the Future 3 or Wild Wild West, or check out the opening sequence of HBO’s Game of Thrones’ Steampunk-esque artwork.
Steampunk has been around for decades. It’s recently blossomed among geek culture with cross-over to every genre. It is an aesthetic that combines Victorian or Edwardian history with the science fiction imagination of authors like H. G. Wells, using the influence of the Industrial Revolution. There’s also the related themes of Dieselpunk (technology and themes of 1920s-1950s) and Steamfunk (Steampunk from the perspective of Black people during the Victorian age).
Typical of niche concept gone mainstream, the rules have changed. In fact, some writers suggest that there are no rules to the Steampunk genre any more. If you read the comments after their blog posts, it’s easy to see the jury is out on that one.
A Beginner’s Guide to Steampunk Clothing
1. Start with creating an impression of the Victorian or Edwardian appearance. This includes waistcoats for men and corsets for women (typically worn on the outside and/or made of leather in the Steampunk culture). Corsets are not a necessity, nor is exposing your bust! Pinstripes are dashing on both genders. Skirts can be floor length, layered or not, short or long. Frills are devine. High collars scream Victorian (in both men and women). Find signature clothes in your closet or raid a local used clothing store, like I did.
2. Steampunk mixes metal tones, with a predominance of brass or copper. I found most images had burnished or antiqued looks to the metal. Decorate your outfit with metal accessories in unexpected ways. Wear a long chain attached to your belt for a simulated pocket watch. Disguise toy water guns as futuristic ray guns.
3. Mix leather and lace. Wear a leather jacket over a frilly lace blouse. I used a wide leather belt instead of a leather corset. Layer belts for a rugged look. Wear long boots or old-fashioned tailored shoes.
4. Rivet the heck out of everything! Don’t know what a rivet is? I’ll be posting soon about how to create fake rivets on your accessories.
5. Gears pre-date the Steampunk time periods, but they are exemplar of the pop culture because they are symbolic of the increased use of machinery during the Industrial Revolution. Use them artistically as accents, or give them the appearance of function (over joints or articulated). I purchased mine at a local craft store. Find gears from the insides of old mechanics and clocks.
6. Goggles, either worn on the face or on your hat, are another characteristic Steampunk accessory. Wear them plain, or apply wires, gauges or other metal bits and pieces with the adhesive of your choice. I crafted mine from old swimming goggles.