Ideas for making a great Steampunk costume
(even if you’re just throwing it together)
Holy crazy, batman! It’s been quite some time since I’ve delivered a post for you all. My apologies! To make it up to you all, I’m sharing a post about a topic I haven’t yet covered at all: Steampunk!
My soon-to-be-roommate and I decided to completely geek it up the other weekend and visit two awesome themed faire-type events:
- Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida. I’ve been to a few of these, and I had even performed at this one last year for a weekend. It was great times. Perhaps I’ll do a Ren Faire post someday
- Steampunk Industrial Show in Mt Dora, Florida. I had never been to one, and have never attempted to make any Steampunk garb, but we were up for the challenge! Special thanks to my friends from the awesome Celtic folk duo Jig to a Milestone for posting about it!
What in the world is Steampunk anyway?
According to Google:
According to Urban Dictionary:
Or as US young fiction author Caitlin Kittredge put it:
“It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans…”
When thinking about Steampunk fashion, where do I start?
Wikipedia give the following blurb about Steampunk fashion. I’m altering it to be a slightly easier to read list format for you all:
Steampunk fashion has no set guidelines but tends to synthesize modern styles with influences from the Victorian era. This may include:
- suits with waistcoats
- top hats
- military-inspired garments
Steampunk-influenced outfits are usually accented with several technological and “period” accessories:
- flying/driving goggles
- ray guns.
Modern accessories like cell phones or music players can be found in steampunk outfits, after being modified to give them the appearance of Victorian-made objects.
Post-apocalyptic elements [can also be included], such as
- gas masks
- ragged clothing
- tribal motifs
So then, effective Steampunk. Guidelines. Standby. and Go:
1. Choose a time-period
The easiest way to look like you’re really trying to do Steampunk is to give it some Victorian influences.
Ladies, choose a shirt with lace, a slightly ruffed collar, a big skirt, or add a bustle to your garb. I made one quite quickly using an old window covering I had, safety pins, and cool-looking buttons:
Other victorian female costume inspirations:
Gents- wear a waistcoat and a jacket, a coat with tails, or a top hat.
Steampunk need not be JUST for English-folk. Granted, it is most popular in the realms of British culture, but Steampunk characters can also be from plenty of other countries. The American Wild West is a popular alternative. Visit this page for multicultural Steampunk ideas.
1. b. OR Choose a character
There are some great ideas for superheroes, disney princesses, fictional characters, and the like.
A friend of mine made a Steampunk Duffman (Simpsons) costume! It was pretty rad.
We had fun taking photos where Duffman was being useless but looking cool, and the ladies were “doing all the work” (err- driving the ship, and navigating… or something).
Want some other inspiration for steampunk characters?
It need not be a specific character, either! Try brainstorming ideas for a steampunk pirate, ballerina, ringmaster, US president, playboy bunny, zombie … the options are endless!
Use one of these ideas or come up with your own! Use some of the ideas presented here and do a little bit of research if you need help brainstorming. Feel free to write me and I’ll help you out too! I’d love to see a steampunk version of Winnie the Pooh, Inspector Gadget, Madonna, or Captain Planet for example. Why not?
1. c. OR Choose a mythological creature
My friend and I hinted at the fae with our costumes seeing as we both wore wings. Together we decided we were ice and fire, or sun and moon… or something like that… yeah….
Let’s take a closer look at my wings (the brown owl-feather ones) :
Cool, eh? You may never suspect that I found these at Party City around halloween time, though you can shop their wings online year-round. I did absolutely nothing to them; that center diamon-jewel thing was part of them from the get-go! The only catch is that they aren’t too fantastically made, so the feathers fall out after a few uses, but that’s where I got the feather for my hat!
Pan, Unicorn, Merfolk, Centaurs, Faeries/Fairies, Narwhals… There are a lot of options. Why do the fae need technology when perhaps they can do it all with magic? Because it’s fun. And they’re Tesla fans. I don’t know. Go ask the good folk.
The joy with being a mythological character is you can always say that something you’re wearing (or doing) is just, uh… magic! uh.. yeah- that’s it. It gives a bit more freedom.
2. Add technology!
Ideally, one wouldn’t just glue gears to something and call it steampunk (not that I’m above that… check out my home-made mini top hat below).
One of the coolest things about steampunk is the idea of technological innovation.
A friend of mine made these amazing wings below. Yes, they opened and unfurled as well. Pretty darn cool I must say! (though, he did say they got heavy after a while… The prices one pays to look awesome). He does this stuff professionally, so feel free to contact him for commissions.
You can go buy some of your own on Etsy (via someone I don’t know, but they sure look great):
Another gent at the event wore this backpack of gadgetry.
It’s quite popular to turn old nerf or play guns into Steampunk guns:
There’s a pretty good tutorial on painting your own gun here
I made one too- you can see it hanging from my belt below:
When in doubt, just remember- What Would Tesla Do?
Pocket watches, jewelry, goggles, top hats, spats, collars… there are so many ways to accessorize! Rather than write a whole lot of words and lists, I’m providing you an array of photographical inspiration:
4. …. But What about….?
Still have concerns? – Don’t worry- it’s all about having fun and making the attempt!
Don’t have the “right shoes”? – If you can, wear simple black heels, boots, or dress shoes. If you can, make spats to go with them. If you’re stuck with just tennis shoes/sneakers (depending on where you’re from), don’t let that keep you from trying on the rest of it! If anyone is judging you, they need better things to do with their life!
Not sure where to even start/this is overwhelming? Take a breath, wear a buttoned shirt and pants, or a suit if you can. Add a waistcoat. Or a coat with tails. Get a long skirt and add safety pins to bustle it up a little.
**If you’re going to a steampunk event, there are usually vendors! Wear something simple and plan on adding to it throughout the day! Easy-peasy.**
But my friend says I NEED such-and-such to be steampunk! No, you don’t “need” anything to be steampunk. Even what I’ve written is just a bunch of ideas to help inspire. The guidelines are very wibbly-wobbly, so don’t fret. Try it out! You may just surprise yourself.
But I don’t have anything ready/I cannot sew! My friend and I (below) are both seamstresses (ok, ok… *She* is a seamstress. I just sew things). And neither of us really planned our costumes. We didn’t buy patterns from Joann’s, we didn’t break out the sewing machines, we just used items we had and added pins and magic to help make it all come together:
Need more inspiration?? Check out these films/books:
Jules Verne’s Around The World In 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Alice In Wonderland
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Back to the Future III
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Return to Oz
Wild Wild West
The Golden Compass
Also, I do a lot of research on things- do feel free to utilize the research I’ve already done!
Check out (or follow) my Pinterest Steampunk folder
I truly hope this post has given you some insight on where to start when coming up with your own steampunk garb/persona. Please comment below and share your own makings!
Want to check out more geeky things?
- Have you made any cool steampunk garb? Share it below!