Steampunk originally started in the 1970s as a sub-genre of science fiction that incorporated aspects of the Victorian era (1837-1901) into novels based in an alternative reality. Although people now date the Steampunk genre as starting further back, with some including authors such as H.P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley due to their obvious contribution to the inspiration for the Steampunk genre. Today’s blog is all about how to dress steampunk.
The Origins of Steampunk in Literature
Many Steampunk novels incorporate steam-powered machinery and technology into an aesthetically pleasing design. Novels such as Frankenstein envisioned what future technology may look like with the creation of the monster. Shelley’s Frankenstein that was written in 1817 paved the way for the Steampunk sub-genre in the 70s. Despite the word ‘steampunk’ making its first known appearance in 1987. The multiple stories and artworks of the Victorian era particularly, in which futuristic technology is depicted with steam-powered mechanics is essentially the inspiration for the Steampunk genre and is therefore where Steampunk fashion originates. The fashion is that which combines the elements of the Victorian steam-powered and futuristic envisioning of technology with a post-apocalyptic alternate reality.
Steampunk fashion is a post-apocalyptic aesthetic based on the Victorian era, combined with Steampunk fiction and their ties to each other. The Steampunk aesthetic became popular in the 20th century. In 2006 the first Steampunk convention was held, called SalonCon in which goers dressed up in Steampunk clothing and wore certain hairstyles, jewellery, piercings, and makeup. All of which reflects on the Steampunk aesthetic. Despite the popularisation of Steampunk fashion, it is unclear exactly when the fashion was started. It is clear however that the fashion started to gain popularity during the 1980s and 1990s along with the Cyberpunk aesthetic.
Steampunk clothing is traditionally handmade, although nowadays due to the increased popularity of Steampunk fashion, companies became aware of the interest and so started to mass produce items of clothing, including jewellery etc. that fit in with the Steampunk aesthetic.
Steampunk fashion has not evolved much over time, besides the addition of mass-production. Although societal changes have resulted in subtle changes over time. Including the addition of gadgets due to the advancement in technology.
How to Dress Steampunk – The Ultimate Guide!
Women’s Steampunk fashion
Men and women’s Steampunk fashion is not too dissimilar, although it is common for women to wear skirts or dresses with petticoats or corsets, they also frequently wear suits and vests with top hats and goggles, and so they wear trousers too. It is also popular for women to dress as pilots, pirates, and engineers etc. As for coats, women can be seen wearing pilot jackets, riding jackets etc.
Another important accessory for women in the Steampunk community is gloves, most commonly fingerless ones, but it is not uncommon to see somebody rocking elegant ones in the style of pride and prejudice.
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Accessories are an important part of the Steampunk aesthetic and so women also wear pocket watches. Although due to the advancement in technology, many now wear wrist watches that contain exposed gears instead.
As well as accessories, headwear is also an important and commonly demonstrated addition to Steampunk fashion. There are many different styles of hat, some of which include top hats, bowler hats, crush caps, safari hats, and deerstalker hats.
Hair is also an important factor in the Steampunk aesthetic, often people take on the punk hairstyle rather than the Victorian era hairstyles. They do this by adding feathers and styling it in punk-like ways.
Goggles are arguably the most important and most identifying feature of Steampunk fashion, this is because of their versatility within Steampunk fiction, the inspiration for the fashion.
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The variety of clothing that is available to women is encouraged by the Steampunk community due to it being a genre based on adventure. Exploring different clothing and characters within Steampunk fashion is encouraged by the origin of the fashion.
Men’s Steampunk fashion
So many men want to know how to dress steampunk! Men within the Steampunk fashion community also take on different characters. The most common menswear are suits with vests, a hat (of which there are many different styles from bowler hats to top hats), gloves, and a long coat. This is often worn with leather boots. The hats are often crowned with goggles, an easy identifier of Steampunk fashion. Another common accessory in Steampunk fashion are pocket watches or as mentioned before, wristwatches in the Steampunk style.
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If taking on a character such as an explorer, the fashion will differ in order to suit the character.
Explorers often dress in oversized clothing, this can include trousers (sometimes these will be ankle grazing trousers), a ‘cowboy’ style hat, a crush cap, or an explorers/safari helmet.
Aviators frequently wear military fatigue including bomber jackets, they may also wear leather clothing that is tight fitting, such as leather trousers.
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Identifying an air pirate is easy due to the accompaniment of feathers to their clothing. Air pirates commonly mix aviator and explorer clothing, with the addition of feathers and sometimes bandanas. Feathers are not only added to clothing, but to hair as well. It is also quite common for air pirates to add some colour, but not a lot as Steampunk fashion is aesthetically based around monochrome colours.
Steampunk accessories are often the identifiable feature of any Steampunk look, from essentials such as goggles or top hats, to pocket watches or boots. These items help to complete the Steampunk aesthetic. Without them, it is doubtful that your outfit will be considered as Steampunk fashion. The unique accessories within Steampunk fashion are arguably the most important part of any outfit, it’s what makes it ‘Steampunk’.
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Some items are essential for any Steampunk outfit, they are in many ways the identifiers of the Steampunk aesthetic.
A utility belt is a commonly used accessory within Steampunk fashion. It adds an extra something to your outfit and also gives you a place, or multiple, to store your other accessories.
Another frequently seen accessory in the Steampunk world are boots. Boots are such a versatile accessory that come in many different styles. Whether it be military boots, cowboy boots, or Victorian boots. They look great with all outfits, even with dresses.
Hats are a very common and stylish accessory within the Steampunk community. There are many different styles of hat, your choice of course depends on your outfit. If you are dressed in military garments, then a crush cap may be what you are looking for. Or if you are dressed as an explorer, then a safari helmet will be your preferred choice. Hats are an important addition to your outfit; they truly add to your character and make your outfit seem more believable. The many different options of hats add to their importance due to the fact that whatever character you are portraying can be intensified by the addition of a hat.
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Similar to goggles, steampunk glasses can be an important addition to your outfit. Particularly when the sun is out. Steampunk glasses are perfect for when it is a nice day and your goggles don’t offer UV protection, but they are also a stylish and casual addition to any outfit.
Goggles are arguably the most important cog within Steampunk fashion. They are the main identifiable feature of the Steampunk aesthetic. They complete an outfit, whether it be an air pirate, or a pilot, goggles are an essential accessory.
Steampunk Accessories for Women
There are some essential accessories for the women in the world of Steampunk. As mentioned before, the accessories make the outfit. Here are some accessories that are typically seen on Steampunk women although they will look great on all genders.
Victorian style boots are popular among women, the many different styles make them appealing to all different Steampunk styles. For example, some come with a small and thin raised heel, whereas others are chunkier. The length of the boot also varies, this can be particularly appealing to your various Steampunk styles. Victorian boots will look great with a dress or skirt.
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Steampunk jewellery has many different options that you can choose, from fancy necklaces with elegant mechanisms, to rings with intricate detail and large gemstones, there is no doubt that there will be jewellery that fits your outfit. Jewellery is your chance to set you apart from the rest of the Steampunk community, it is what can add a little colour and add more character to your look.
The addition of Victorian gloves to your outfit adds a certain amount of elegance, while also just looking really freaking cool. Gloves are a nice touch to make an otherwise pretty outfit look badass.
Chokers are a common addition to gothic Steampunk fashion. They come in multiple styles, from the simple to the more intricately detailed. Either way, they are a simple way to make your outfit look even more Victorian in the Steampunk style. Chokers are another versatile accessory that suit all outfits and really bring out the ‘do not mess with me’ side of Steampunk fashion.
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Steampunk Accessories for Men
There are many accessories that are traditionally worn by men, but they will look badass on all genders.
Monocles or ‘monoggles’ are a perfect way to add more character to your outfit. They are frequently worn with villainous characters, although they are at times worn with heroic ones. Steampunk monocles are not always what you expect a monocle to look like, they are often tampered with in order to represent the Steampunk aesthetic even further. The addition of cogs and lenses are an inventive and fitting way to make your outfit undoubtedly Steampunk.
The many different styles of pocket watch are also a popular addition to your outfit. Pocket watches, like the monocles, are often tampered with in ways that show the complex pieces of machinery. The pocket watch is an excellent addition to outfits that need some elegance and are also a fitting addition to characters such as explorers. You can read all about how to wear a pocket watch here!
As mentioned in the unisex section, belts are commonly used in order to add something extra to an outfit. However, you can take a belt even further by adding a Steampunk belt buckle. You can buy buckles that fit the Steampunk aesthetic, they feature all sorts of designs such as the symbolic machinery cogs, or even Victorian portrait silhouettes surrounded by elegant designs. The little details can really add to your outfit.
Canes were a popular accessory among higher class men in the Victorian era, and they make a great addition to Steampunk fashion. As like all other Steampunk accessories, there are many different styles that will suit many styles. Canes are the perfect way to assert your characters power and elegance and the many different styles help to portray your chosen message. A plain and simple cane can portray elegance, whereas something such as a dragon or some other kind of monster will convey your power.
If you enjoyed this blog on how to dress Steampunk, you might also like to read about these fantastic steampunk underbust corsets.