Ok, I know you came here to check out some cool steampunk clothes... Hear me out though, I think you will also appreciate a little bit of this style's origin story. But of course, if you are so eager and cannot wait, please go ahead and jump right into steampunk fashion.
So for all of you still listening, and for those who came back, let's talk steampunk.
Put victorian-era aesthetics in a bowl, spice it a little bit with science fiction, mix it - done. Now, you have steampunk. Ok, that is obviously a very simplified version.
So let's go a little bit more in-depth: Steampunk is a genre that couples the beauty of the 19th century with modern technology. If you were to visit an actual steampunk city you would be in awe. You would see men and women dressed in beautiful victorian clothes. You would see submarines. You would see spaceships. You would see all of our modern technologies. But all of them reimagined with steam as their energy source. (Hence, steampunk.)
Steampunk, at its core, is our present reimagined by the old Victorians. Often with a dystopian touch.
That's cool and all, but when was steampunk invented? And, who invented steampunk?
The term "steampunk" appeared for the first time in 1987. In a letter to Locus Magazine, the American author Kevin Jeter used the term to describe his work (Morlock Night), Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, and James Blaylock's Homunculus.
It is said that Jeter used the term punk as a joke as the term would suggest that libertarian ideology would be an integral part of steampunk. However, such ideological ideas are much less pronounced as they are for example in genres like cyberpunk.
In 1992 the steampunk movement gained real momentum with William Gibson's and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine. A great and fun read that is set in 1885 in an alternative Industrial Revolution. The struggle between the technology-fearing working class and the technologically progressive elite is set at its center.
Steampunk might have started as a joke, but quickly evolved from a sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction into a genre in its own right. Today steampunk is present in almost any channel you could think of. It extends into fashion, engineering, movies, and many more. Maybe you have heard of blockbuster movies like Mad Max or The Wild Wild West?
For people like us, steampunk even became a way of life. We go by the name Steamers.
So, are you ready to steam up your style?
Steampunk fashion is definitely quite unique. And we love it for that! Steampunk costumes are heavily influenced by the Victorian Era of the 19th century. If you had read the section about this style's origin story, this really should come as a surprise to you.
Think old British gentlemen and dames and you will most likely picture people in Victorian clothing. Personally, I picture on one hand men in elegant three-piece suits, top hats, and monocles, and on the other hand women in beautiful fluffy dresses and gorgeous corsets.
In steampunk outfits, those Victorian pieces lay the groundwork. They are making up the base of such outfits. Post-apocalyptic and science fiction technology elements are used for details and to make your outfit more nuanced. You have probably seen steamers wear goggles or my personal favorite carry a ray gun.
Generally, steampunk fashion can refer to clothing, make-up, jewelry, and even body transformations. One thing to keep in mind, steampunk fashion is all about expressing yourself. So please have fun and try out whatever you feel like trying out. Please don't feel like you have to abide by any formal rules. Don't feel like wearing a fluffy dress and a tight corset? Go with something more practical - remember the dystopian aspect of steampunk. Why not wear something a mechanic would wear?
Typically, clothes from the Victorian era would suggest a very feminine outfit for women. However, in steampunk, you can dress as feminine or masculine as you would like to. As said previously, it is all about expressing yourself. The sky is the limit!
There are a lot of women that opt to add male elements to complete their amazing outfit.
If you are like me and you can be overwhelmed by too many options, here are a few things you might want to consider when putting together your next steampunk costume.
What could go better with dystopian than distressed? A few ripped and rough features will surely give your outfit a post-apocalyptic feel. You could combine a few distressed and non-distressed elements to give your look that little touch. Go all out or use such features only sparsely. It is entirely up to you and how you would like to express yourself. One thing that can be helpful is to choose distressed pieces that incorporate other Steampunk-y aesthetics, for example, those pieces that have a Victorian influence. Check out our Distressed Leather Jacket for Women to get some inspiration on how you could rough up your steampunk costume.
If you think steampunk, Victorian clothes are usually what comes to mind. Corsets, bustles, petticoats, and accessories like hats and goggles are both practical and aesthetic pieces heavily featured in steampunk costumes. In Victorian fashion, there is a lot of emphasis on accentuating the female body and its curves - either more obvious or more subtle. Our Purple Chained Corset is a beautiful corset that you just cannot wear subtly. It is a head-turner, so in your face, you shouldn't and couldn't hide from the world. You will definitely stand out and be the center of attention wearing a corset like this, as you should! A corset, however, doesn't need to be overtly obvious. You could also combine it with a top or vest, or as part of a bustle or dress.
You are probably tired of abiding by silly rules and conventions. Your inner rebel craves to finally get loose: Welcome to steampunk! Futuristic elements and avant-garde shapes will be perfect for you. Wear a cool asymmetrical shirt instead of the same old crew neck you have been wearing for the last decade. Just have fun, experiment a little. One of my personal favorites is to combine soft and flowing with harsh and structured militaristic elements. Just imagine how you would look like wearing such a skirt combined with our Leather Vest. Drop-dead gorgeous!
Accessories might be considered the most crucial (and awesome) part about a steampunk outfit. The best part about steampunk, accessories can be both fashionable and functional. Enough with no pockets for women! Carry your items in one of our cool leather bags without fearing to ruin your post-apocalyptic look. iPhones are not allowed though in a steam-powered fantasy world unless you manage to have your phone powered by steam that is of course. On your next trip to Burning Man don't forget to pack a pair of goggles or a fancy parasol to protect yourself from the sun. Especially the goggles will be a real lifesaver once the next sand storm starts to rage. Yes, I speak from experience. When it comes to your steampunk costumes and accessories, more is always better. So go all out!
The first rule of masculinity is "do not talk about fashion". The second rule of masculinity is "do not talk about fashion". The third rule...
This might have worked for Tyler Durden in Fight Club, but we are all about rule-breaking in steampunk. So let's talk fashion. Similarly, to female steampunk fashion, you could essentially do whatever you would like to do. I know that is great to hear, but yet also doesn't make your life easier at all. Generally, men's steampunk fashion tends to be more masculine with suits and military-inspired garments at its core. There are, however, ways of making your outfit softer.
Just like in our present, military apparel is heavily featured in men's steampunk fashion. You probably have your own thoughts about the military and its subtle or less subtle influence on our lives, but there are some kick-ass military coats out there. I usually opt for a fancy mad-hatter-inspired top hat, but there just is something about a peaked cap that is hard to deny. The best part about military-inspired garments is how easily you can combine them with other fashion pieces. Just think how cool you will look wearing these Welding Goggles combined with this Military coat.
Rips, rough-edges, some distressed elements are a great way to give your outfit that little extra. Just like in women's steampunk fashion, distressed features are a great way of making your outfit what you want your outfit to be. Life is not all rainbows and unicorns, especially if you base your outfit in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world. So time to add some grunginess to your outfit and to show the world that you are not to be messed with!
This one of my personal favorites. Leather gives your outfit a rugged and aged appearance. Wear one of our really cool leather jackets or add leather elements sparingly by wearing accessories like one of our wrist bands. Besides, the cool look leather will provide, it is also very durable and hard-wearing. What could be better for your next festival? And trust me, that Burning Man dust on your leather looks really cool!
With accessories, there is one rule. The more, the better. In men's steampunk costumes you can go all out, both in quantity and style. Do you want to show a little crazy, go with a mad-hatter-inspired top hat like our Brown Fedora. Do you want to show off strength and discipline, go with a military-inspired peaked cap. Goggles like our Psychedelic Goggles are great for all our psychonauts, while our Aviator Goggles gives you more of an edge. One often underappreciated but yet really cool accessory are wristbands. Especially added to short-sleeved garments they truly stand out. Maybe opt for wearing one on both arms, maybe just on one arm. Whatever you decided you want to achieve, wristbands like our Brown Leather Wrist Gloves look fantastic.
There is one rule in Steampunk Fashion: There are no rules. So just have fun with your outfit. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable with. Steampunk people are not judgemental and will welcome you no matter what you have decided to wear. Depending on what kind of event you are going to attend, you might not only want to consider what you will feel comfortable wearing in terms of looks but also in terms of what you will feel comfortable wearing for multiple hours and in steamy heat.
Let's take a festival like Burning Man as an example. During the day the heat and sun can be brutal. That fur coat might look insanely cool on you, but is it worth dying from a heat stroke? Maybe... but probably not. It might be better to save that coat for the night.
Goth and Steampunk are both influenced by Victorian aesthetics. So both styles can overlap quite a bit. As a rule of thumb, however, steampunk tends to be lighter, and playful. One of the main focuses of Steampunk is science and technology. Gothic, on the other hand, is usually darker and more romanticized. Instead of technology, the focus is religion and the supernatural.
Steampunk is influenced by the Victorian age and steam-powered technology. Dieselpunk, on the other hand, is set at the beginning of the machine age around the two World Wars.
There is a lot of room for interpretation and lots of crossover between both in terms of aesthetics and fashion.
Generally speaking, steampunk comes with a more optimistic outlook on the future. Technology and science are being romanticized. Steampunk costumes are heavily inspired by Victorian fashion with their beautiful dresses and dapper suits.
Dieselpunk, on the other hand, portrays a world that is destructing itself. The diesel engine and war are at the core of Dieselpunk. Instead of beautiful Victorian dresses, aesthetics and fashion combine more rectilinear lines and aerodynamic shapes.