This post is meant to be read in conjunction with Part 2.
The Steampump event was so huge, so brilliant that it definitely warrants two posts. Part 1 will be a picspam of fashion from the night and some general observations about wearing and putting together an outfit. Part 2 will be the specific deconstruction of my own outfit.
I’ve re-uploaded a couple of my photos of favourite outfits on the night below. There were a lot of other people who wore wondrous things – actually pretty much everybody – but I didn’t manage to get a photo of everybody and you can’t really see what people are wearing in some others. You can find my full gallery here, and there’s links to different photographers here should you wish to peruse more pictures.
Create Your Own Steampunk Outfit 101
The key to many steampunk outfits is layering or at least the illusion of it. If you think of the areas of your body as a canvas, the layered look involves showing as many different colours, patterns and/or textures on as many different areas of your body as possible. A lot of the bases start with a simple button-up shirt or plain top. I would recommend something long-sleeved since your arms are another place to display a layer, but this is definitely not a hard and fast rule, especially since you can use long-sleeved jackets and shrugs to the same effect. Similarly, you can also start with fairly plain bottoms – a skirt or trousers – and add layers on them although I find it slightly difficult to layer bottoms.
The best items for layering are ones that cover a small area and expose the items under it. For example cropped jackets and shrugs are quite popular in steampunk fashion because people want to show off their corsets or belts. Vests, singlets and waistcoats cover the torso but not the arms and many leave the upper chest exposed. If you start with a simple long-sleeved top you can cover it with a short-sleeved shirt and then stick a corset over the top.
You can experiment with adding skirts and underskirts and bloomers by wearing several skirts of different lengths on top of each other (that also gives the upper layer more volume). Alternatively a lot of people like to pin up or tie with ribbon sections of a long skirt (I’ve used a garter belt to achieve this effect in the past). Not only does this reveal the different underskirt but you can safety-pin multiple sections to give a plain skirt a bustle-like cascading effect.
Layering trousers is a bit more difficult. You can roll them up and wear funky knee-high socks or tuck them into some boots. You can also make something like this. Accessories play a big part: a hip-height messenger bag can add to the overall outfit, or maybe a holster for your Nerf ray gun. If you have some spare material or lace you can create sashes, neckties and cravats. Extra belts can be worn around the hips or worn over the shoulder like a bandolier. Suspenders can hold up trousers or skirts, or can hang loosely from your waist for a laid back look.
This no-sew collar tutorial shows just how important accessorising can be. A cravat or choker can add extra class, a pocketwatch and chain makes a waistcoat look that extra bit awesome, and a hat, hairband or fascinator is almost a must! You might also want to think about adding scarves, shawls, gloves, pipes, cuffs, rayguns, watches, canes, parasols, fans, masks, eyepatches, goggles, spectacles, monocles, weaponry and a number of other easily-obtainable (or makeable) extras to personalise the outfit.
Ahh! It’s all too much!!
I encourage all of you to experiment, but sometimes we’re the most creative when we work inside limitations or structures. A lot of people find personas and roleplaying helpful. If you’re a “beginner” in steampunk aesthetics it’s useful to think about a character or occupation to impose constructive limits. For example a lady would tend to wear brighter colours, more elaborate textures like silk and satin and carry a parasol or a fan. On the other hand airship crew would have more practical clothing, wear matte textures like linen and cotton, stick to black, grey and brown, carry rayguns and goggles. These are definitely not rules and you should feel free to wear bright pink linen shirts and carry a raygun and a fan. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried you’re not “doing it right”* an occupation might be a good place to start putting together an outfit.
*It’s very difficult to do “wrong” unless you miss the mark completely and think converse shoes, baggy jeans, t-shirt and a hoodie is a steampunk outfit. And even then it’s arguable.
Shopping & etc
There were some wonderful local vendors and exhibitors at Steampump and I would do them injustice if I didn’t give them some publicity. Thank you to everyone who worked on this event and volunteered their time to help because it totally went off. I can’t wait till the next one.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch the names of everyone who had a stall or performed. If you’re not on this list, let me know!
- Clockwork Butterfly // A Bit Shady
- Don Pezzano
- In Sectus
- Maduncle Cliff
- Joshua Button (Photographer)
- Omega Howell (DJ) // Steampunkerie
- Sarina del Fuego (Burlesque)