Making your own steampunk outfit doesn’t have to be overly expensive or extremely complicated. For congruency’s sake, it’s a good idea to create your character with a specific occupation or personality in mind. This can often give you more ideas for accessories and helps to ensure your outfit fits together nicely.
Choosing a Steampunk "Archetype"
Giving your character an occupation (or obsession, for those mad scientist types) is a great way to coordinate your clothing and accessories so everything really looks like it belongs together and suggests a certain theme. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t mix things up and be free with your outfit, your archetype is really just a guideline.
Some common steampunk personalities include aviators/airship pirates,
gentlemen/ladies, scientists/inventors, or mechanic/tinkerers. These only scratch the
surface of possible steampunk personas to be inspired by. Any individual or character related to the Victorian era, Industrial age, Wild West, or steam-powered science
fiction genre can be an excellent muse for your steampunk costume.
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Steampunk Costume Wardrobe Basics
Once you’ve settled on a type of look you can start putting the basic wardrobe items together. Dusters, chaps, prairie skirts, and blue jeans are a good start for a western type of steampunk look. If you’re going more in the European Victorian direction you’ll probably wear garments like frock coats, breeches, ankle length skirts with bustles and crinolines, or triple-breasted vests.
Because steampunk is a re-imagining of the past there are no rules you’re required to follow. Hemlines and necklines can be given a more modern approach that o generally be considered very risqué for a proper Victorian lady. Women can even dress entirely in what would typically be “men’s clothing” for all they like without even a single gasp of disbelief from any fussy old matrons.
Steampunk Costume Details and Accessories
For many steampunk outfits, the accessories are where the real magic happens. You can dress up in Victorian clothing all you like but where’s the steampunk in that? Now shove a ray-gun into your holster and now you’re getting a little closer. Other steamy types of gadgets might include modified pocket watches, aviator hats, top hats, and jewelry (or accessories for men). Adding rivets, gears, leather, and wires to any standard accessory can give some great steampunk flair. Heading out to a party? Then maybe
add a flask to your belt to carry your concoctions! If you want to get a little more complicated with your steampunk costume, bionic arms never cease to impress.
Goggles are a wonderful (and common) accessory for any steampunk outfit, but they really do look best when they go with your theme. Would a steampunk dandy need goggles? Maybe not. But is he also a welder or a scientist? Then yes, goggles would probably suit him quite well. That’s not to say you should only wear them if they serve a specific purpose. If their function is to make you look awesome then wear the heck out of those bad boys! A spiffy alternative to goggles are sunglasses, modified monocles or eye patches with a mechanized lens.
To really go all the way, you might want to add some flair around the house with some steampunk home décor.
You don’t have to stick to any kind of specific archetype to make an awesome steampunk costume, though. There are no rules, so if your style involves piecing together a costume from all the random odds and ends that appeal to you then go for it! You’ll end up creating a unique steampunk costume that expresses exactly who you are. Steampunk rebels against authentic Victorian style, so embrace that rebellion and choose the accessories you like best rather than those you think other people will approve of as “steampunk”.