Perhaps you’ve heard of steampunk but you’re not quite sure what it is. Maybe you’ve never heard of steampunk, but have a yearning for both Victoriana and futuristic technology. Perhaps you thought you couldn’t dream of cobbled streets and lace parasols AND surround yourself with all those nifty gadgets? Fear not – with steampunk style, there’s actually room for both.
Steampunk is a fusion of the Victorian era with machinery, a mix of antiques and technology.’Steam’ refers to the style we’re talking about: think steam engines, big leather bellows, the whirr of cogs. Materials to look out for are wood, leather and plenty of brass – materials that Victorian engineers were familiar with. The ‘punk’ in steampunk refers to being creative and doing something new and different rather than tartan and mohawks.
Although steampunk is not as established as punk, indie or goth there are people out there living the lifestyle. You might find them working on their twist to a period outfit or planning a party on a riverboat with a gramophone providing the auditory entertainment.
Not everything in steampunk style has to work. Don’t worry if you’re not too handy with a blowtorch – leave the welding to someone else. Not all the creations have to be functional; feel free to create neo-retro nick knacks that are purely a joy to look at. Don’t be afraid to turn to the internet to pick up your goodies. There are sites out there that sell steampunk wares, but hunt through our friend eBay for those hidden gems.
Steampunk style: Dressing the part
No-one can tell you what to wear when it comes to steampunk style, but there are few essentials to stock your wardrobe with.
Goggles – Oversized or otherwise, these definitely complete the look. Just type in ‘goggles’ in a search engine and watch the resulting pages of steampunk spew forth. steampunk goggles should look weird and wacky, not sporty.
Not into goggles? Try tinted glasses or an eye patch, or opera glasses and monocles for a posh night out.
Boots – Heavy boots are favoured. Ladylike numbers, laced, of course. You wouldn’t be seen dead in trainers.
Victorian dress – >Corsets, dresses, bustles, petticoats; look to period costume websites for ideas.
Going Masculine – So you don’t like those puffy sleeves and bustles that make you look bigger? steampunk is a style that looks great on both genders, and without any style rules you’ll look just as snazzy in men’s garments (but best not try and grow that handle bar moustache).
steampunk men or tomboys will look spectacular in long coats, trousers tucked into boots, shirts, waist coats, cravats and britches.
steampunk Accessories – Canes, parasols, gauntlets, fob watches (old fashioned pocket watches you can chain to a pocket), fans, telescopes, pipes, handkerchiefs, weapons – a gentlemanly must, weapons can include steampunk style revolvers or rayguns, while dames can opt for knives tucked into garters (maybe not in public).
Rivets – Okay, they’re not an outfit in itself. But you can’t go wrong with rivets, they help industrialise the look.
steampunk colours Victorian kept their brightest shades for their wallpaper, so steampunk dress should feature plenty of black, grey, brown, bronze, dark gold, burnt umber, dark purple, dark forest or racing green and deep burgundy.
steampunk fabric patterns Consider pinstripes, delicate Victorian florals, and argyle. Solids are more common than patterns.
Steampunk fashion DIY Tips If you fancy modifying your existing wardrobe to add a little industrial grit, consider our Steampunk fashion DIY tips on Mookychick.
If you look like a mad inventor, airship pirate, lavender-scented aristocrat or deadly burlesque dancer then you’ve got it right.
steampunk in the media
Looking for inspiration? Consider ‘Wild Wild West (widescreen version) ‘ (the Will Smith film), or the big daddy from Bioshock (Xbox 360) (the computer game). There’s also a steampunk magazine! There is also plenty of steampunk literature out there, from ‘The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer‘ (Neal Stephenson) to ‘Automated Alice‘ (Jeff Noon) and the old classic, ‘The Difference Engine (Spectra Special Editions)‘ (William Gibson and Bruce Sterling). Don’t be afraid to consider ‘The Time Machine (Penguin Classics)‘ by H.G.Wells and ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Wordsworth Classics)‘ by Jules Verne. ‘Firefly – The Complete Series ‘ veers towards a steampunk approach, though it splices high technology with the Wild West rather than true Victoriana.
Useful steampunk community links
- How to make your own steampunk ‘brass’ goggles
- Velvet Mechanism steampunk Etsy store
- Abney Park
- Æther Emporium
- Clockworkers Guild Journal
- Crabfu Steamworks
- Da Vinci Automata
- Datamancer’s Creations
- Doctor Steel
- Emma Verne: Storybook
- Gaslamp Bazaar Forum
- Girl Genius Comic
- Jake of All Trades
- Steam Brass and Fzz
- Steampunk Fashion
- Steampunk Wallpaper Site
- Steampunk Workshop
- The Art of AlexCF
- The Cabinet of Wonders
- The Gatehouse
- The Steampunk Home
- Vernian Process
- Voyages Extraordinaires
- Weta Rayguns