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Steampunk Fashion History

Updated on January 6, 2017
The Roots of Steampunk MP3
The Roots of Steampunk MP3 | Source

Background Behind the Steampunk Fashion Movement

Although the term Steampunk was coined in 1987 by author K.W. Jeter, the history behind this rapidly growing sub-culture goes much further back.

Having its roots based in science fiction and Victorian era lifestyles, it has been greatly influenced by authors and inventors like H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, along with modern authors Scott Westerfeld, Philip Pullman and China Mieville to name a few.

If you are thinking of sporting Steampunk clothing in its true style, you should consider a few things about the history associated with this rising trend. The rest of this article aims to bring up a few points to ponder.

Asylum Steam Punk Festival Photo
Asylum Steam Punk Festival Photo | Source

Steampunk Fashion is Catching on Quickly

Even though this type of clothing has been in existence for many years, the phrase "Steampunk" is fairly new. Nonetheless, it is rapidly gaining footing as enthusiasts of the culture continue to slowly but surely grow.

Steampunk gear, accessories, and clothing have done Victorian styles a big favor by bringing the look back into the mainstream and rendering it "current" with a much larger audience.

This style of distinctive attire has most definitely gained a great deal of well- deserved popularity over the past few years.

During the Victorian era's later days, there was a focus on the industrial movement and innovative discoveries. It's this specific time period that provides most of the visual inspiration for steampunk apparel.

Certain fashion accessories were about to be made in order for the new developments to be celebrated. Goggles and intricate timepieces, among others, were specifically made to be used with the newest clothing styles.

Nowadays, steampunk has made strong sales among people of all ages. Books, plays, and films are now showing the ideas that make steampunk fashion iconic. Some of the styles include tailored Victorian-era looks for men and women, like having cutaway cuts and fanciful hats, among others. If you like, you can sport eyeglasses that have horn-rimmed frames or wear some aviator goggles for an added look.

Recommended Steampunk Primer

Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology
Vintage Tomorrows: A Historian And A Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into The Future of Technology

Historian James Carrott and futurist Brian Johnson provide a glimpse into Steampunk's influence on today's culture and the world's technological future.

In this book are interviews with several experts in the Steampunk arena, giving us a look at today's technology in a Victorian Era setting.

This 420-page masterpiece is available in both paperback and Kindle version.


What is Steampunk?

Steampunk Fashion Boundaries

When selecting Steampunk clothing, it's essential to understand that you should remain within specific fashion boundaries.

In order to have that courtesan appearance from the Victorian-era, sporting various corsets, jewelry, long dresses and wigs may be in order.

Steampunk guys would certainly do well using pocket watches and trench coats, along with well-fitting pants. Muted shades are your friends, just like solids or very understated pinstripe prints. Of course, if there exists a way to include a gear, cog, or portal to your clothing, all the better.

Though knowing the historical elements of steampunk attire may stimulate fresh ideas, one must always keep in mind that steampunk fashion, along with the steampunk way of life in general, is all about expressing an individual's personality.

Allow yourself to get innovative when designing or buying steampunk accessories and fashions. Who knows what you will come up with!

Steampunk Fest Roma - 2014
Steampunk Fest Roma - 2014 | Source

Steampunk Combines Romance and Adventure

The Steampunk look brings together the romance and adventure of the Victorian era with an industrial flair, much like the visions created by Jules Verne. Including accessories and specialized clothing to this classical fashion is what heightens the fashion sense of steampunk clothing.

For instance, many people who classify themselves as Steampunk may sport certain interchangeable designs, such as an explorer or an aviator, merely by adding a few accessories to classic and traditional clothing.

Throughout the Victorian era's later times there was an emphasis surrounding the industrial movement and innovative discoveries. It is this unique period of time that gives the majority of the visual creativity for Steampunk apparel. Particular fashion accessories were made so that the latest developments were celebrated when it was still considered new and hip.

Goggles and elaborate timepieces, among other things, have been specifically made to be used with the latest clothing styles. It is possible to look for accessory items which use a type of "scientific" appeal. In the event you find a measuring device that is made from wood and/or brass, then cheers to you.

The Latest in Steampunk Apparel

The most recent Steampunk clothing includes accessories such as opera glasses, beaver hats, pocket watches, and monocles among other things.

The basic idea is that the apparel, accessories, and attire display an outstanding mix of the Victorian steam designs and the modern day punk look.

Currently, Steampunk has made strong sales among men and women of every age group. Books, plays, and films are showing the ideas which make Steampunk fashion famous.

Many of the designs consist of personalized Victorian-era looks for men and women, like having cutaway cuts in addition to fanciful hats, to name a few. If you'd prefer, you could sport eyeglasses with horn-rimmed frames or perhaps don some aviator goggles to have an added look.

Although particular supporters of Steampunk attire are likely to prefer having a complete look, you'll find individuals that blend partial Victorian-era outfits using styles from other times.

A lot of followers are likely to agree that room for uniqueness is key in piecing together your very own ensemble. In addition, selected hand-made fashion accessories may be combined with the particular Steampunk outfit you may choose to assemble.

Steampunk Clothing Collective

Check Out Abney Park - My Favorite Steampunk Artists

Lost Horizons
Lost Horizons

Sample songs from early Abney Park in 2008. Airship Pirate is a favorite of mine along with a lot of other fans.


Party Like It's 1899!

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Had You Ever Heard of Steampunk Before Today?

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© 2012 Hal Gall

Visitor Comments - Drop me a line.

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    • lisln profile image

      LorLinda 4 years ago from Denver Colorado

      Different is good maybe not always on me but on someone else I am sure. I like some of the style for one thing I love the high heeled boots :)