Steampunk is a literary genre that originated around the 1980s and has gained momentum as a lifestyle in the past 10 years. Steampunk mixes science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative history. It is inspired by the novels of H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley. Imagine Victorian attire with technology that had stayed with steam power and gadgets that are both useful and beautiful, with intricate brass, copper and silver work. That’s steampunk.
Going full-on steampunk for work may be a little much, but you can add steampunk touches to give your everyday wear some distinctive style.
If you are crafty, why not try your hand at crafting your own steampunk ensembles and accessories? Craft stores have plenty of antiqued gears, pendants, and charms to create unique and one-of-a-kind steampunk jewelry.
Sew Your Own Dress From a Pattern
Those that sew can try their hand at creating lovely steampunk clothing items, from skirts, jackets, and men’s driving costumes to wedding dresses with patterns readily available on the market. They can usually be found in the historic or costume category.
Vogue’s new spring catalog features a stunning skit that is a perfect mainstream version of the steampunk style. Look for Vogue pattern 8858, pictured above. This pattern is rated as "easy." Experienced sewers should have no problem with the elaborate ruffled maxi-length version. Patience and carefully reading the instructions should enable less experienced sewers to take on (and conquer) a new sewing challenge. Paired with a high-neck lace blouse this skirt could easily become part of a wedding ensemble.
Simplicity has two patterns in particular that easily translate into wedding party attire: pattern numbers 2172 and 2581, pictured above.
Also pictured is Butterick 5696, which would also be a lovely choice for a steampunk bride.
Picking up steam is the steampunk wedding trend. From a beautiful corseted Victorian gown for the bride to tails and top hats for the groom and groomsmen, a steampunk wedding can really set your wedding apart from the crowd. Lots of beautiful and fun Victorian choices will make your wedding as elegant as it is unique.
A stylish way to add steampunk to your wardrobe is footwear. Boots or booties paired with more conservative skirts and slacks can breathe new life into your usual style. Details like brass accents or buckles, industrial accents or patterns, and fabrics that feel old-fashioned, like damask and lace, work well.
Everyday clothing items you can pair with your steampunk boots include skinny jeans or pencil skirts, peplum blouses, jackets or dresses. Consider including fabrics that are especially steampunk.
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Key motifs are well, key, to steampunk. So are chains, Victorian charms, watch works (gears and cogs), and octopi!
Jewelry is the simplest, and often the most affordable way, to add steampunk to your wardrobe. Look for brass-tone jewelry, pocket watches, bugs and animals made from machine parts, antique keys, gears, and octopi.
If you’re not sure what themes are steampunk, just look to the literature closely associated with steampunk for ideas, such as 2000 Leagues Under the Sea (nautical themes), The Time Machine (watches, clockworks), Journey to the Center of the Earth (goggles, compasses, bugs), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Victorian Mourning Jewelry, stovepipe hats, silver, crosses).
A wonderful place to look for steampunk jewelry is Etsy. Etsy artisan craft pocket watch pendants, jewelry featuring popular motifs of owls, octopuses, and mechanical insects. Wide leather cuffs with buckles are excellent steampunk accessories for guys and gals.
Belts can add steampunk flair. Look for black, tan or brown leather belts with multiple buckles or a thin belt that incorporates small pouches (somewhere to stash your steampunk goggles). Corset style belts work wonders at creating waist definition and work with all manner of dress.
Outerwear is perfect for adding a steampunk look. Coats are rarely worn inside; you can be more flamboyant in this area. Look for heavy wools, brocades, velvet, or velveteen, which are also on trend for this season. Look for Victorian styling and military inspiration such as epaulets and brass buttons.
To keep your head warm, wear a leather aviator or a top hat and scarf. Ladies, try the smaller fascinator style. Keep your hands warm, but texting and twittering ready, with fingerless gloves.
Full Steam Ahead!
Anath on January 14, 2013:
I like the style. It is not something I would wear everyday but I like wearing my Steampunk Corsets for special occasions, they are always a hit!
Tess45 (author) from South Carolina on January 11, 2013:
You are welcome. Steampunk has really gained momentum in recent years. The Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downy Jr. are very Steampunk. Another is League of Extraordinary Gentleman. It certainly is a fun way to add some variety and elegance to your wardrobe. Thanks you for reading and commenting.
Yves on January 11, 2013:
I had not heard of Steampunk, but I must say that first (burgandy) skirt is beyond fabulous, and very elegant. I love elegant skirts that are not "stuffy."Thanks for the inspiration Tess45.
Tess45 (author) from South Carolina on January 10, 2013:
Thank you so much, Tigerbaby.
tigerbaby777 from Nampa on January 10, 2013:
Tess I love vintage clothing. Great hub! Very pretty and feminine. Voted up and useful.