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Steampunk Fashion

Updated on June 26, 2015

If you are unfamiliar with Steampunk, it's something of an aesthetic movement growing out of Victorian romanticism combined with a futuristic sci-fi and fantasy sensibility and a penchant for DIY and steam-driven technology.Steampunk fashion and clothing is at the heart of it for a lot of people, but ultimately it is more than just the vintage goggles you wear.

To my mind, the basic premise at the core of Steampunk is, "What if". For example, What if steam was still the driving force of technological innovation?" How would the world look if this were so? How would the world look if the best things about Victorian mores and values were still in place? How would society have evolved? What if Jules Verne were writing about things that were real? What if HG Wells' time travel machine were real? Adventure is at the heart of things, as are technology and magic.

While the topic of steampunk itself is kind a huge, since at this point the ideas behind it have been going strong for at least 20 years, this hub is going to limit itself to the purely decorative -- it covers design, steampunk fashion and the general aesthetic of the movement -- whether Western, Victorian or more Post-Apocalyptic in flavor.

The best way to appreciate steampunk is to get out there and take a look at it, so this is going to primarily be a compendium of links to great sites where you can come up with your own ideas for putting together some fabulous looking outfits. But if you want to get into Steampunk as a genre of literature, just wait for my next hub :)

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Will Smith in Wild Wild West. A great Western steampunk look.Here's a Western/Southern steampunk look for the ladies. Looks awesome. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27594459@N04/3903717618/Love the aviator cap and goggles here. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jernst/3411985725/Victoriana Steampunk - But a bit more daring than Victorians would have worn. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/3442281256/This reminds me of the outfits worn by the Pre-Raphaelites in the series Desperate Romantics. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hypersapiens/3587717161/
Will Smith in Wild Wild West. A great Western steampunk look.
Will Smith in Wild Wild West. A great Western steampunk look.
Here's a Western/Southern steampunk look for the ladies. Looks awesome. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27594459@N04/3903717618/
Here's a Western/Southern steampunk look for the ladies. Looks awesome. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/27594459@N04/3903717618/
Love the aviator cap and goggles here. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jernst/3411985725/
Love the aviator cap and goggles here. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jernst/3411985725/
Victoriana Steampunk - But a bit more daring than Victorians would have worn. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/3442281256/
Victoriana Steampunk - But a bit more daring than Victorians would have worn. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/djwudi/3442281256/
This reminds me of the outfits worn by the Pre-Raphaelites in the series Desperate Romantics. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hypersapiens/3587717161/
This reminds me of the outfits worn by the Pre-Raphaelites in the series Desperate Romantics. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hypersapiens/3587717161/

While drawing heavily from Victoriania, Steampunk really has no rules so you'll see a far greater variety in how fans express the aesthetic in their clothing, ranging from a British upper crust elegance to the Wild West Frontier of the US in the 1800s and swinging back to English factory utilitarian wear.

Add some dashes of the gothic and the post-apocalyptic, and you're all set. I've also seen some Asian-influenced design that looks smashing as well.

To the right you'll find some pics of looks I happen to like. The first here is Will Smith from the movie Wild Wild West, which would have been a great steampunk movie if it weren't such a terrible movie LOL

Based on the old tv series, Wild Wild West features all sorts of crazy gadgets and some great design. Since it is on cable frequently, it is well worth watching just to see the design aesthetic. The tv show itself is worth watching too.

Sources for Steampunk Clothes and Patterns

Because Victorian-influenced fashion comes back into style and never quite goes out entirely for the mainstream fashion industry, it is actually quite easy to cobble together your look at your local department store or through catalogs.

Lately, Steampunk and Victoriana seems to be gaining ground in the mainstream, so it is easy enough to find bits and pieces of outfits at retailers as huge as Target and Kohls.

I would also look at places such as Express and The Limited as well. Things like ruffled shirts and military cut jackets will take you far. Also, don't forget the army & navy store.

Now this list here is for the truly dedicated. If you sew, you can find patterns, or you if you don't sew, but want to just buy a complete outfit that would be suitable, take a look at some of these retailers.

Keeping up with the latest in Steampunk Fashion

If you want to keep up with the latest trends, like to see everyone's new ideas and gorgeous outfits, then check out the RSS feeds below.

The first is for the Discussion board on Flickr's Steampunk Fashion group and the second is for Steam Fashion on LJ, which I've mentioned above. This is a very active group which posts tons of info, links to commercial sites where you can buy appropriate clothing to restyle and lots of photo shoots that should help generate some great ideas.

For more accessories, also check out my hub on Steampunk goggles. You may also be interested in my hub on Dr. Horrible's Costume, since that can easily adapt to a steampunk style.

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    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 

      6 years ago from SE MA

      When I was in High School, there was a show called The Wild, Wild West

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Wild_West

      We didn't have the word then, but it was pure steampunk.

      Ooops, I see you mentioned that. Consider this a second endorsement :-)

    • Just For Fun profile image

      Joe 

      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I've tried on one of those 19th century vests like the one Will Smith is wearing above and they are very comfortable. I wouldn't be comfortable wearing one outside the house though unless I had a cane, monocle, and a zillion dollars.

    • Garrett McLee profile image

      Garrett McLee 

      8 years ago from Florida

      To a lot of people, Steampunk is just cosplay or for Live Action Role Playing. I think steampunk should be a style of dressing for every-day. Goth kids have theirs, punks have theirs, it's time for the steampunks to be accepted in society! Have you seen http://www.SpeculativeMinds.com ? They're a new steampunk community that's just getting started. If you're really into steampunk, they could use some info like this around the forums.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love the idea of a Victorian influence on fashion - the whole Victorian thing was fabulous. But they can keep the bustles.

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