A Nerd’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion

by Julianna Coleman, jc764611@ohio.eduSteampunk Spectacle Logo TINY

Lizy Cychosz has already posted about the upcoming Steampunk Spectacle coordinated by the Athens County Historical Society and Museum and the Athens County Public Library, but what on earth do you wear to such an event? You’d be surprised at the variety of costumes that steampunk enthusiasts manage to come up with. There will be a costume contest at the Spectacle, so come prepared to show off your costume and strut your stuff.

steampunk womensThe basics of steampunk fashion are based on natural colors and fabrics interspersed with lots and lots of machinery-inspired accessories. Victorian fashion–that is, corsets, waistcoats, bustles, and the like–also plays an important part. So your typical steampunk costume will have lots of leather, usually in brown or black, and simple fabrics with accessories like buckles, gears, clocks, compasses, chains, and goggles. Many people also wear hats, gloves or long coats and carry a variety of accessorized weapons like ray guns, pistols, or decorated knives and swords. All part of the costume, of course!

Steampunk costumes can be completely handmade or purchased whole like premade Halloween costumes. However, most are assembled from bits and pieces found in attics, thrift shops and purchased online.

Women usually wear corsets, again usually in brown or black, though some may choose to branch out into a variety of colors. They can choose to wear that corset with either a skirt or pants–it all depends on the wearer’s preference. Someone who wishes to be more of a mechanic may choose long pants for their costume, while a steampunker wishing to be more of a “lady” may choose to wear a floor-length skirt with a bustle. And of course, there is all kinds of variation in between.  I’ve seen wonderful costumes involving everything from a tutu to a pair of black skinny jeans; how you build your costume really depends on your fashion sense and who you want to be!mens steampunk

Men’s steampunk fashion follows much the same theme as women’s–lots of leather and metals, with Victorian fashion as its base. Many men wear waistcoats and long dusters or coats, with the top hat being the most common accessory. Spats, leather coverings worn over the shoes, also make frequent appearances, along with pocket watches, canes, and the ever-present gears, clocks, buckles and goggles.

Steampunk fashion can be found in a variety of themes. Very common is a Western theme – that is, one based on the Wild West of America’s history and myth, with cowboy boots, derby hats, six-shooters and long leather dusters. Other steampunkers may choose to go the route of a working-class mechanic, incorporating tools, welding accessories, goggles, and tough leather gloves into their outfits. Still others might wish to have more of an upper-class appearance, leaning more toward the Victorian side of things and using more colors and expensive-looking fabrics in their costume design. Steampunkers can be pirates, mad scientists, soldiers, aeronauts, bounty hunters, and anything else you can imagine – your costume is only limited by your ingenuity and the depth of your wallet.

DSC_0086If you’re looking for inspiration or hoping to make a costume of your own, try shopping at:

The Underground, 90 N. Court Street, Athens
Court Street Costumes, 12 S. Court Street, Athens

The Steampunk Spectacle and Fair will be on September 7th, 2013, beginning at the Athens Public Library at 10 a.m. and moving to a ball at Central Venue on Carpenter from 7  to 9:30 p.m. For more information, see the event website.

3 thoughts on “A Nerd’s Guide to Steampunk Fashion

  1. Pingback: Best examples: Steampunk knives | Steampunk Journal


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