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September 01, 2017 3 min read

When I told people of the MadBurner project, two questions I get asked all the time are what is steampunk and “what the hell do you even mean with steampunk fashion?”. Since you are on this website there is a good chance you can answer that question yourself. For anybody else, let me start with a quick introduction to steampunk itself.

Photo by: Antonio Friedemann

What the hell do you mean steampunk?!

Steampunk has originated in literary fiction. The authors Jules Verne (e.g. Journey to the Center of the Earth) and H. G. Wells (e.g. The War of the Worlds) are the fathers of the science-fiction genre. Steampunk as a sub-genre hence has it roots with those two authors. A distinctive feature of this sub-genre is a setting in the 19th Century British Victorian era. Aesthetics and technology are moreover inspired by industrial steam-powered machinery.Yes, that means there is no "evil" Diesel combustion engine.Often times Steampunk fiction plays in a post-apocalyptic world. Roughly summarized: Steampunk is what the past would look like, if the future would have happened sooner.

Photo by: Enrique Meseguer

The fanbase of the literacy work expanded over time to the fashion world. At the beginning only the biggest fans dressed up in Steampunk inspired outfits. But today popularity has catapulted the new fashion trend even to mainstream media. In the TV show Project Runway contestants had to design Steampunk inspired outfits on the Lifetime TV channel in 2014.

Photo by: Tim Hill

So makes a look Steampunk-y?

As the origin of the term already suggests Steampunk Fashionis inspired by old Victorian Fashion with a retro futuristic touch. The fashion style combines anything from clothing, hairstyling, make up, jewelry and any other kind of accessories. The coloring is usually neutral, with red and blue as the accents. While women usually wear long dresses and men overcoats and pants, the most vital part of an outfit are the accessories. The most common ones are Top Hats, Goggles, Pocket Watches and Leather Bags and really make the look.

Check out these two examples of Steampunk Outfits below to get an even better idea on how Steampunk Fashion looks like.

There are multiple personas for Steampunk inspired outfits. Here you can see a classic Steampunk lady with a corset above a flowy dress and a top hat decorated by gears.

Photo by: Antonio Friedemann

A typical Steampunk character for men wears a long coat with a vest underneath. Googles and a top hat usually support the picture of a gentleman.

Photo by: Antonio Friedemann

There are plenty of other personas in the Steampunk universe. All of them have two things in common:

  • The outfit basis is inspired by the old British Victorian era
  • Retro futuristic touches (e.g. gears) are applied to the outfit

Be sure to also check out our three collections to find a steampunk outfit that suits your persona. Choose from the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, or the Ruler of Hearts.

I hope I could give you a little overview on what Steampunk Fashion is with this article. I am currently working on a more in-depth guide to Steampunk fashion. Be sure not to miss it by subscribing to the MadBurner Newsletter or by following MadBurner on Facebook.

As always: Stay mad!


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