You cannot spell Steampunk Costume without using the word goggles. Well, technically sure... you can, but where would be the fun of putting together an outfit but not adding a pair of cool steampunk goggles?
Aviation and blowtorch goggles are among the most popular styles, but lucky us - there are plenty of different styles, colors and types available nowadays. So whatever style you want to go for, you will almost surely find the right fit for you. And even better: only by adding a pair of goggles, you can make almost any look feel steampunk-y.
Just check out some of the photos taken at Burning Man:
A guy wearing ordinary jeans and a tank top with a pair of steampunk goggles on top? Looks pretty steampunk!
Somebody wearing less pieces of clothes than Eve (or Adam) but with a pair of goggles as a hair band? Steampunk!
When I first learned about steampunk, I asked myself exactly that question. Why does everybody wear a pair of goggles? Sure, it looked cool - but is there some context?
I am probably not telling you anything new if I tell you that Steampunk is set in the Victorian Era. An Era's fashion that is characterized by dandy looking gentlemen wearing three piece suits and women wearing mesmerizing dresses and corsets.
So how do goggles fit into that?
Cinder goggles began to be mass produced during the Railway Mania of the 1840s. It was, however, not only a must-have piece for railway workers. Even passengers were wearing goggles back in the day as wagons didn't have glass windows yet. Goggles were a necessity to protect oneself from dust and cinders from the steam locomotive being blown into one's face.
With the advent of horseless carriages, goggles became more and more an essential part of daily life. From the working class to nobles, everybody found a need for protective goggles.
Similar to Steampunk Goggles, goggles of that Era usually had a leather strap or an elastic band to fit it against one's face. Even the color of the lenses didn't change much - they usually were transparent, blue, green or gray.
The question of all questions when it comes to eyewear. Should you get a pair or steampunk goggles or glasses? Both can accentuate your overall look really nicely, and both definitely have their place within steampunk fashion.
Generally speaking, steampunk glasses are less in your face and might be a tiny bit easier to bring into your daily life. After all, your boss might look a bit funny (or astonishingly) at you when you come into the office rocking a pair of welding goggles.
But see for yourself, and check out some of our steampunk glasses.
There are so many different types of goggles. It's almost impossible not to find a pair that you can fall in love with. From colors to types, there are almost infinite ways on how to design a pair of steampunk goggles. However, we have identified four types you can categorize most steampunk goggles in.
Welding Goggles are probably one of the most common Steampunk Goggles out there. You have most likely seen people wear them at Burning Man or any other Steampunk event. Those types of goggles are characterized by classical round lenses and side shields around both lenses. Most of the time they come with a simple elastics band that can be adjusted, and have a bridge made of firmer fabrics separating the rims.
More traditional Welding Goggles are made of industrial looking colors. Among the most popular colors are black, silver, bronze and gold for the frame, and transparent, black, blue, green and red for the lenses.
Details for those types of Steampunk Goggles could include but are not limited to dragon skin like ripples on the side shields, or spikes at the edge of the lenses.
One of safety goggles' most distinctive features is that these goggles always come with transparent lenses. Contrary to Welding Goggles, which have more of an industrial background (e.g. welding duh), safety goggles are found in labs. These types are intended to protect your eyes from harmful chemicals or toxic steam. A perfect fit for any mad scientist!
Apart from transparent lenses, safety goggles come with an adjustable ribbon and have side shields. Although there are variations in terms of color and material, most come in black, brown or silver and are made from some type of leather and metal.
Also referred to as motorcycle goggles, besides looking extra cool, have one function: protect you from wind, rain, bright light and cinders. Hence, they tend to be a bit larger with a slightly irregular elliptical shape. They often come with extra padding around the rims and in many cases don't have a defined bridge.
The padding is often made of some type of leather to provide full comfort while riding your bike or flying your steampunk airship. Lenses are often anti-glare and can vary greatly in color.
Goggles with only one eye are one of the more advanced types of accessories. In terms of color and shape they tend to fall in the category of welding goggles. So expect to see side shields and a more industrial look when looking at One-Eyed Goggles.
These types of goggles often come with details such as different shades of gold, bronze, and silver, a metal net, engraved metal caps, or a microscope attached to the lens. Since these steampunk goggles only have one lens, artists tend to put extra creative efforts in having that one lens stick out even more.
There are so many different ways how you could wear your Steampunk Goggles that it would take years to list all of them here. As with anything in steampunk fashion: Just have fun with it!
By that I mean wear them in whatever way you want to wear them. Little side note, you don't have to wear them secured around your head. The adjustable ribbons make it easy to fit them around your head, your neck, your top hat - I have even seen a pair dangle off somebody's belt once.
Personally, when I am at Burning Man I tend to wear my goggles for protection over my eyes. On other occasions, I like to combine them with my Steampunk Hat to give my outfit that extra edge.
You see the options are almost endless. The great thing about Steampunk Goggles is that you don't even have to add a gazillion of other steampunk accessories to make them work. It's a great starting piece to get into the world of steampunk. And it's a great addition to almost any festival outfit.
Goggles actually have a function in the real world. They are not just made to look cool, but to protect the wearer's eyes. Most goggles already come with UV protection or polarized lenses, but if you need to go the extra mile, you can get goggles that are designed with safety and protection as their sole purpose.
Goggles have been designed for safety purposes only. It was only later that they were adapted for fashion purposes. Think Welding Goggles for example. Those types of goggles were designed - you might have already guessed - for welding. They come with a dark tint and UV protection to protect the welder's eyes from flying sparks and extremely bright light.
Welding goggles are just one example. Motorcycle goggles were designed for motor bikers. Safety Goggles were designed to protect against chemicals and gases.
One thing to note though, if you want to use your goggles in a context that requires proper safety and protection measures, please get those types of goggles from an expert in those specific areas. Steampunk Goggles while influenced by real world goggles are made for aesthetic reasons. You might be able to count on them to protect your eyes from dust at Burning Man, but that's pretty much the farthest you can go in terms of safety.
Better to get a real pair of Welding Goggles if you are a welder, and then to reuse that pair at Steampunk festivals.
Steampunk Goggles are made for aesthetic purposes. They are designed to give your Steampunk Costume that extra push over the edge. But that doesn't mean you can only wear them in combination with an army of other steampunk accessories. Steampunk Goggles are as powerful in combination with other pieces as they are by themselves. You could even power up your office attire by adding a pair around your head or neck.
When picking a pair of Steampunk Goggles that fits you and your look, you might want to check the different types of goggles here. Once you have decided what type you like the best, you might want to look at the color of the lenses. Do you prefer to have tinted lenses? Yellow, blue or maybe red ones? Or do you want to go a little wild and get kaleidoscopic ones for that trippy feeling?
For some models you can even exchange the lenses to combine them in whichever way you seem fit!
Other features you might want to look into are the bridge, the frame rims and the side shields. For the former do you prefer a bridge that is similar to the ones on glasses? Thin ones? Really thick ones? Frames rims tend to be more on the thicker side for Steampunk Goggles. Some even spot some creative details. In case you are planning on wearing them around your eyes, think about comfort. Padding can ensure maximum comfort while wearing and will protect you from getting prints around your eyes.
However you might have answered any of these questions, one thing I will recommend you to do: Have fun with picking your new favorite pair of goggles. Steampunk and in particular Steampunk Fashion is not made to stress you out. You probably already have way too many things on your plate anyways. So just enjoy the browsing through our collection of Steampunk Goggles and don't overthink it.