Creating A Flight Of The Imagination With Steampunk Clothes

By Paul Budde

Most kids love dressing up in an eclectic collection of clothes, creating a style based in the imaginative. As a grown-up you can do this too, although it's easy to end up looking like you're on your way to a costume party. With steampunk clothes, however, you can create your own fantasy while still looking stylish.

Steampunk is actually a literary genre. Its main influences are the novels of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, where the Victorian era meets sci-fi. In these stories, technological inventions are most often powered by steam.

The movie version of Verne's '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' was one of the earliest visual representations of what the genre is all about. Other movies followed, among them 'The Golden Compass', 'Wild Wild West' and 'Hugo', that inspired a design and fashion aesthetic. If you want to dress according to steampunk, you simply need some Victorian-style items and a lot of imagination.

Victorian attire is usually associated with corsets and bustles for women and coats, vests and top hats for men. These are key items in steampunk too. Accessories like goggles, period timepieces, canes and parasols complete the look. You can get these from antique shops or flea markets or you can make your own.

Victorian attire is beautiful and stylish. However, a full Victorian outfit is also very uncomfortable. Victorian women often fainted because of their tightly laced corsets and the heavy fabric of their dresses, while men had to brave the stifling heat in their coats and top hats.

The solution is to adapt the Victorian aesthetic to your daily life. You don't have to lace your corset so tightly that your ribs break and you can wear it with a skirt or petticoat. If you add lace-up or riding boots, you can navigate the streets and sidewalks with ease. Accessories like a Victorian-style feathered hat or a period timepiece will add elegance.

Menswear don't have to be restricted to top hats and three-piece suits with coats either. After all, this is not how men in Victorian times dressed all day. Riding boots and jodhpurs are a great alternative, as is a vest over a shirt and suspenders.

One of the main features of the genre is technology. This is essential for getting through daily modern life too, so you can simply adapt your technological must-haves to look old, as if they could have belonged in Victorian times. For example, a cellphone or laptop with an outer casing made of copper or in a brass color would not be out of place at all.

If you don't like dressing according to rules, you'll love steampunk clothes. You are creating the look for your own world, where the only rule is that it might have existed in a steam-powered world. This is almost like being able to wear that Batman mask and tutu, but let's face it, it's a lot more stylish.

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