If you enjoy dressing up and wearing costumes, you’ve probably come across steampunk at some point in your sartorial adventures. The mainstream saw glimpses of its aesthetic in popular movies like Wild Wild West, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Hugo. But steampunk has been around for a bit longer than those films have.
There are many ways you can dress up in steampunk. You can come up with an original character and design your outfit from scratch, or you can use steampunk-themed movies to guide you. Here are five easy but creative steps for you look like you come straight out of a steampunk movie.
Understand the Steampunk Aesthetic
Things can get confusing with all the fantasy-themed clothes, shoes, and accessories out there. Knowing what steampunk is all about will help you narrow down your options and give you a clearer vision of what to wear. So what is steampunk?
Science-fiction author K. W. Jeter is often credited for coining the term steampunk as a way to distinguish himself and fellow writers from cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is more futuristic and high tech while steampunk is anachronistic and whimsical.
Imagine a fusion of the romance and opulence of the Victorian era and the rusty, rugged steam-powered contraptions of the Industrial Age.
From a fantastical literary theme, steampunk has since evolved into a bustling movement complete with its own video games, movies, fashion, and even lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for hardcore steampunk aficionados to dress up in steampunk outfits, attend conventions, and decorate their homes in a similar distinctive style.
Now that you have a good grasp of what steampunk is and what it is not, it’s time to start looking for sources to inspire you. There are many steampunk-themed movies that are a gold mine of sartorial inspiration and costume ideas. Start re-watching your old favorites, or look for new films you haven’t seen yet.
To help you brainstorm costume ideas, check out this video featuring 10 of the best steampunk movies over the years:
While watching the steampunk movie, take note of all the different characters you find interesting. Google these characters to see all the creative ways people have worn similar outfits, whether for a cosplay at a convention or in their everyday life. Aside from the visual impact, you should also choose an outfit based on how comfortable and confident you will be wearing it.
Conceptualize Your Outfit
Once you’ve selected a movie character to emulate, break down the character’s outfit into specific items. This will make it easier for you when it’s time to start shopping for clothes and accessories.
Many steampunk outfits will feature at least one of the following:
• Victorian-era-style clothes like corsets, ruffled blouses, and bustle skirts for women
• Waistcoats, tailcoats, and peasant tops for men
• Pocket watches
• Goggles or monocles
• Leather or lace gloves
• Chokers with leather straps, buckles, and gears
• Top hats adorned with metal decorations and knickknacks
You do not have to copy everything the character is wearing down to a T. Just because the character is wearing six-inch stilettos while sword-fighting doesn’t mean you have to go down that painful route. Movies are a product of special effects and imagination, so make adjustments to your steampunk outfit to make it more comfortable for everyday life.
Know Where to Shop
Steampunk has gained mainstream popularity, so it’s not that hard to find steampunk-themed clothes and accessories. There are many brick-and-mortar boutiques and online shops that specialize in steampunk style. Shopping online will save you time since you can just click your way through the product catalog, unlike when you’re scouring through racks in physical stores.
Thrift stores are another wonderful option where you can score great bargains on clothes and accessories. Thrift shopping can be a fun exercise that feels like treasure hunting because you really don’t know what you’ll find. On the other hand, this can be exhausting especially if you don’t have the patience or time to dig through piles of clothes and shoes.
The whimsical and creative aesthetics of steampunk offers many great opportunities for you to express yourself. Become familiar with the style popular elements of this movement, but don’t let it stifle your personal tastes or stop you from having fun.