So many fashionistas in the alternative scene are turning to steampunk for inspiration. But where is steampunk? Where does it come from? And what is steampunk fashion?
What is Steampunk?
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that was first described by K.W. Jeter in the 1980s, and popularized by writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling beginning in the 1990s.
While there’s no one definitive description of what steampunk is, there are some common elements: goggles, Victorian costume and airships!
The Steampunk Setting
The setting is usually futuristic, but not necessarily an optimistic one. It could be contemporary or historical (Victorian-era is particularly popular).
What’s important is that it’s set in the 21st century, rather than the world of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine – at least to start off with.
What steampunk *is* often has more to do with anachronistic technology and retro-futuristic art styles than it does with history per se.
Contrasting sharply with retro science-fiction films like Terminator 2, steampunk stories are characterized by their Victorian setting; Victorian architecture and fashion, as well as futuristic technologies which produce high levels of steam power, such as airships, dirigibles, submarines, and robots.
How Do you Define Steampunk Fashion?
Different from any other genre of clothing, Steampunk fashion takes its cue from the nether worlds between Victorian times and modern-day technology.
It is an interpretation of either modern or historical fashions with a twist, to fit into this era of mechanical and industrial upgrades.
From your corset to your top hat, you can mix and match from different eras without destroying the integrity of your outfit.
Some examples would be taking a Victorian-era dress but adding in some accessories that could have been around at various points in time since then (ex: eyeglasses).
Another popular choice is using more modern materials like fabrics instead of traditional materials that could only be found before such as whalebone.
It also lends itself to a lot of alterations and DIY projects because it is primarily a mix and matches affair.
For example, your corset could be from 1913 but the jacket could be from 2001. You just need to make sure your outfits follow some basic rules like hot topic steampunk fashion.
Top 3 places to find ideas on Steampunk fashion:
1) SteamPunkNotions – DIY decoration supplies for all your steampunk projects! Orders ship worldwide from a US supplier
2) Etsy – An online shopping website that sells vintage-looking jewelry, watches, goggles as well as all of the other accessories you could possibly want when building your very own steampunk outfit! You can even contact artists or shops directly if they sell their own one of a kind pieces!
3) Steampunker.co.uk – An online magazine dedicated to showing off steampunk clothing styles within the steampunk genre as well as keeping up with new trends in this relatively young subculture.
The Epitome of Steampunk Fashion
Steampunk clothing doesn’t have one particular look or style that everyone has to abide by in order to call themselves part of this subculture’s style.
But there are certain items that may give people clues about what you’re going for when they see your outfit.
Things like top hats, goggles, and corsets can all tie back into this era’s “punk”ish roots; as well as more modern accessories like watches and jewellery.
There really isn’t a wrong way to dress Steampunk, but there are some things that you should avoid when going for the “Steampunk Look” There’s no strict definition of what steampunk fashion is, but these guidelines will give you an idea of how not to look like a geek or a goth.
Basically anything with exposed piercings, tattoos, chains, gauges in your ears as well as extreme bracelets and necklaces.
These things have been done to death by other genres already and as such would make your outfit stick out more than it should (Unless they’re related to the story).
You can wear animal parts on your body if its just decorative in nature though! So be warned, and have fun.