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How To Describe Steampunk Clothing & Fashion? Is It a Lifestyle?

How To Describe Steampunk Clothing & Fashion? Is It a Lifestyle?

Steampunk isn’t just an approach to fashion; it’s a lifestyle. The designs retain the stunning aesthetics of the Victorian Era while adding in metallic sci-fi flair with industrial era steam machinery. Steampunk fashion includes specific dresses, corsets, hats, masks and of course the trademark goggles.

For those of you interested in this style or interested in learning more about it, you can read on to get all of the information that you need to about this style.

What Are The Elements Of Modern Steampunk Style

The style of steampunk fashion is a fantastic mixture of fashion trends in the 19th century, deeply rooted in the Victorian Era. These styles can be associated with the famous “characters” of this era, including the burlesque, explorers, countesses, lords, soldiers, and other subgenres related to this era like Goth. Today, this style is often recreated using items found at thrift stores or handcrafted precisely for this purpose.

Traditionally, the steampunk style didn’t include much accessories like jewelry. However, in recent years, more accouterments have become part of this style. These accessories consist of an emphasis on stylized headgear, such as goggles or masks. Sometimes women choose to wear gloves, particularly ones where the fingers have been cut out. You will also notice post-apocalyptic elements, like gas masks or ragged clothing, as part of this style.

Steampunk has also been adapted into various subgenres, such as Lolita attire. Lolita style is a more modern adaptation of steampunk, which tends to rely mostly on commercial steampunk clothing rather than the thrift shop styles.

Just like with the women’s steampunk styles, you can see many variations to the men’s steampunk fashions as well. The original aesthetics features with men’s steampunk fashions include well-ironed suits that have vests. This look is often finished off with top hats and longer, straight-styled coats. These tend to look more traditional to the Victorian Era than the women’s fashions are, but individual variations add a bit more flair to it.

You can also expect to see high leather boots with steampunk goggles and gloves. If you are going for a pilot or explorer look, you may opt for bomber jackets and highwaters.

What’s terrific about steampunk style is that there aren’t any specific set of rules that you have to abide by to fit in with this style. You can even incorporate modern things, such as your phone, as long as you give it the appearance of steampunk to match your attire.

Your steampunk style can be and should be, as unique as you are. Finish off your look with items like watches, which can either be pocket watches or worn on the wrist. You have many options here.

As previously mentioned, these costumes can either be store bought or handmade. People commonly choose to get inspiration from thrift stores, but as its popularity grows you can purchase clothing at specialized steampunk shops. The color scheme for steampunk clothing is generally very subdued, more on the neutral side. There may be touches of blue or red, but that usually is as bold as the color scheme tends to go. The outfits themselves fit a theme or character, tied together with the perfect accessories. Some people do wear steampunk clothing for everyday use, but most people only wear their costumes for special events like steampunk or cosplay conventions. When you wear steampunk clothing, all depends on your personal preference.

The modern approach to materials in steampunk designs lean more towards materials like metals and leather as opposed to more traditionally Victorian materials like cotton or other natural materials. 

Common Types of Steampunk Clothing And Accessories

Steampunk Dresses

For the most part, women steampunk styles involve wearing appropriate theme dresses. These dresses include petticoats and corsets. When you see these dresses, they are very reminiscent of what you would see women wear during the American “Wild West” or Victorian Era England. There are often more modern modifications created for this style, such as different cuts of the steampunk dress skirt or some industrial flair added to the dress.

The style of the dresses is designed to be very similar to the Victorian Era silhouettes, including bell skirts, bustled skirts, trumpet skirts, and petticoats. For the most part, these silhouettes are created with a less modest and more modern twists to this classic style.

Steampunk Corset

In traditional fashions, corsets tend to be more of an undergarment. With steampunk, corsets are a commonly incorporated article of clothing. Corsets can be underbust or overbust, depending on the type of style for which you are going. They can be made with either leather or brocade, and feature steel-boning as its structure.

Steampunk Hats

Headwear can be easily considered one of the essential parts of the steampunk look. Depending on the look that you are trying to achieve, you will need a specific hat to finish off your look. The standard choices are a bowler hat, top hat, pith helmet, leather flight helmet, and a newsboy cap. These are just some of the usual options that people often choose for their steampunk style. Hats are not mandatory, and you can even add a little punk into the look by opting for a more modern hairstyle. Some options include dreadlocks, braided hair with beads or feathers, or some other style that makes your style stand out.

Just by the simple addition of industrial looking goggles can transform your look into the iconic steampunk style. Whether you are going for a more punk look or want to stick with a more traditional and elegant style, steampunk goggles can be a must-have accessory. As far as lore goes, steampunk goggles fit in with the theme as they can protect your eyes from when you are out exploring or if you are in the lab inventing. The steampunk goggles typically have brass fittings around them, giving them that timeless industrial look.

Steampunk Masks

Some steampunk styles may interest you, which require the use of steampunk masks. You will find that there are quite a few stylish and appropriate theme options.

One of the most classic steampunk style masks is stylized gas masks. If your character is someone who lives in pollution-infested London, you may opt for the gas mask look. You can add some steampunk goggles to this look to make it more complete or you can have a full gas mask that includes goggles. These can make quite the statement.

Sometimes you want just a little something to add a bit of mystery to your steampunk style. In these cases, you may prefer a steampunk masquerade mask. These can offer just enough protection to hide your identity. You can choose something more traditionally Victorian Era, or you can choose something more industrial. Either way, this is an elegant touch to accessorize your look.

Another very iconic steampunk look is the plague doctor mask. A doctor mask is a particularly great option if you are wearing trousers and a long coat, as someone who works in a lab may wear. This mask is a must if your character is a shady scientist who is doing questionable experiments. These masks are distinguished by the long beak nose look to it.

A steampunk mask can also be just as simple as wearing an eyepatch. An eye patch is a seemingly simple look that can have a cool impact on your look.

The Origins Of Steampunk Style & Genre

At its core, steampunk is heavily influenced by the Victorian Era literature and the industrialization that was taking place. This imaginative theme has elements of the post-apocalyptic world, which explains the popularity of masks like gas masks. Some of the literature from famous authors towards the end of this era is the main inspiration, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson. It is based on an alternative history of this era, though there is a debate as to whether or not this is fantasy.

Steampunk was a popular choice for media in the early 2000s. This blended style appeared in many famous movies and shows, including Guy Ritchie’s version of “Sherlock Holmes,” the “Sweeny Todd” movie, and “The Golden Compass.” These are just a few of the most notable appearances of steampunk in media during this time. It also started to become popular in music, as artists like Lindsay Sterling used steampunk in music videos. Later on, it remained trendy. One recent example of this is when “Castle” did a steampunk-themed episode. Even wrestler Becky Lynch wore costumes inspired by steampunk. Even videogames have picked up on this trend, with the recently released “FrostPunk.”

Kate Lambert, who became known as “Kato” professionally, created the first steampunk clothing company in 2005. The company, “Steampunk Couture,” mixed a variety of different elements to create a distinct look. These elements include shabby chic, Victorian, sci-fi, tribal influences, and post-apocalyptic styles. There are also some elements of the Harajuku/Mori girl. Other famous designers like Prada, Christian Dior, and Versace started showing steampunk inspired clothing on their runway events as early as 2010.

As this style became popular, there even became a steampunk cosplay convention. SalonCon started in 2006, and soon other similar gatherings began.