Oh the Eighties

This week is the start of semester 2 at uni, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for my outfit deconstruction. In the meanwhile here’s some pictures to keep your eyes busy.

Who are these carefree youngthings?

(Ahem, I’ve done the impolite thing and just posted these up – I figure you guys won’t mind too much but if you do let me know and I’ll take your picture down.)

Steampump Part 1

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 Base

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.

Clockwork Insect by In Sectus

Layering

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.

Clockwork Hairpiece by Clockwork Butterfly

Final Touches

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.

World-famous Goggles by Maduncle Cliff

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.

Gemstone Kaleidoscope from Wunderkammer

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!

Part 2

Melbourne Zombie Shuffle

I’d been wanting to go to the annual Melbourne Zombie Shuffle for several years, but this is the first year that I actually made it! I cut up some old thrifted clothes and go as a fairly straight-forward steampunk zombie. My outfit was based on an actual outfit that I regularly wear but caked with fake blood. I had the most awesome time scaring the bystanders and the crowd was very friendly. At one point I ended up getting into a “braaaaaains” groaning match with a fellow zombie.

There were pretty much every type of zombie under the sun. Characters included Lady Gaga, Barber Shop Quartet, Rocky, Rambo, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Domo Kun, Marie Antoinette, Jesus (of course), Silent Hill Nurses, Zombies vs Plants, Indiana Jones, Freddy Kruger etc etc etc. The effort some people had gone to was amazing. Other people had fairly simple costumes but were just always “in-character” so the strength of their, um, personality made them stand out in the crowd.

FAKE BLOOD RECIPE

My fake blood recipe was a combination of stuff I’d read on the internet and some helpful suggestions from friends. I didn’t measure anything, I just sort of mixed everything together until I felt it was the right consistency.

You’ll need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Glucose/corn syrup (I found it with the baking stuff in the Supermarket after looking everywhere)
  • Corn flour
  • Red food dye
  • Blue food dye
  • Yellow food dye
  • Hot Water

I started with about half a cup of hot water and gradually mixed in a few tablespoons of cocoa and maybe one heaped tablespoon of corn flour. The cocoa will give the blood a deeper colour and help with the crusting (and the taste). The cornflour will thicken the mixure but not colour it.

I added glucose syrup next, until the blood dripped with the right consistency. The syrup will also allow the blood to shine and crust after its dry on clothing or skin.

I added a tiny, tiny bit of red food dye. The first batch I had to throw out because I added too much red, then too much blue, then more red and the colour was really too bright. Mix in a tinier bit of blue and even tinier bit of yellow, and then add more red until you’re happy with the colour.

Bottle it! It’s edible so you can gurgle and and spit it out of your mouth. It’ll also crust and flake once it’s dry on your skin.

As nice as the red-blood-on-white-shirt contrast is, my favourite zombies were the ones who looked liked fairly ordinary people who’d been infected doing daily stuff. Cyclists, artists, tennis players, business men, schoolkids, etc. And there were some really snappy-dressers there, even covered in rips and fake blood.

So without further ado, the best of undead fashion:

ZOMBIE DRESSING TIPS

Blood: The easiest way to create realistic looking blood spills is to spit it from your mouth and let it dribble down, or to hug fellow zombies. Blood pools in certain areas (like around the breasts) and there’d be more blood on the front of the body than the back because most of the blood would come from you attacking a victim from the front. Think about gravity and the source of the blood when applying it to clothing.

Clothing: A zombie has torn clothing usually because it’s brainless and will get their clothing caught on obstacles but keep shuffling. Tears are most likely to happen on either the joins of the clothing pattern (ie. where things are stitched together) which is relatively weak OR on loose material that could be pulled or caught on things. On my dress there were more tears around the edges because they’re more likely to catch onto things than say, close to the waisband.

Skin and Wounds: I used PVA with liquid foundation, purple and green eyeshadow. That looked okay, but I actually liked the simple bruising that a lot of zombies had. Around the knuckles and eyes are darkened with purple, and you can blend the edges in with some green. I also used a thin layer of white facepaint that just gave me a sickly pallour.

Supanova 2010

I attended Supanova on Saturday and amongst the screen/fabric/colour-accurate costumers and cosplayers I spotted a few people who were “dressed up” but weren’t necessarily “dressed as” anyone. I am big on geeky fashion outside of cons and wearing items more than a handful of times per year, so that’s why there are no pictures of the hardcore costumers here. There are plenty of other sites that showcase those.

Unfortunately I seem to have lost a few pictures I remember taking. They’re not on my memory card, so it looks like they have been lost. Alas.

First two pictures are me as a disgruntled steampunk this-is-how-Alice-should-look-so-in-your-face-Tim-Burton white rabbit, and third picture is of my friend Alex (whose outfit I picked out, is wearing my hat and subsequently got a lot of compliments on his ensemble). Everyone else were strangers who kindly allowed me to take their picture when asked!

Okay, so I couldn’t resist putting Pedobear in. Everyone wanted to take photos with Pedobear! The ladies in picture #7 were also dressed as Holmes and Watson, but I thought that their outfits weren’t glaringly “in costume” and would look great on a balmy Brunswick St evening. Girl in #5 had a very Sandman/Endless Death look going on.

What also caught my eye was that a lot of these items of clothing could be found or made quite easily or the silhouette of the outfits could be achieved with a fairly regular wardrobe. The accessories are what made them pop out from the norm: hats and pipes and feathers and braces.

I promise a proper post is happening soon!