Op-op-op-op-op oppa steampunk style.
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I have a confession: steampunk makes me drool. It's a perfect mix of elegance and grunge, ranging from scantily clad gunslingers to head-to-toe circa 1800 style regalia. Steampunk photoshoots are so much fun, and I have photos to prove it. But such an over the top, prop and accessory heavy style can sometimes be hard to work into an everyday wardrobe without looking like you are wearing a costume. So here are my thoughts and ramblings on how to best steampunk your life, or at least, the fashion side of your life.
Feel Your Fabrics:
Picture yourself on the streets of London, 1889. What fabrics are the people wearing? The labourers the housewives the merchants, the militia, the servants of lords, the lords and their ladies? All their clothes would have been made from cotton, linen, wool, silk and leather - there had been experimentation with man made fibres since 1855, but synthetics were not yet prevalent by any stretch of the imagination. However, a variety of natural and chemical dyes were available so despite the trend in steampunk to stick to a neutral, earth toned palette that would not have been the case, especially amongst the wealthy.
So if you want to bring a bit of steampunk into your normal wardrobe, try to wear clothes in natural fabrics. And don't just see the word "cotton" and think of the normal, boring thin stuff you get in fabric stores. Moleskin, poplin, tarlatan and even velvet are made of cotton. Or bring a bit of good old tweed into your wardrobe. It can look a lot better than it sounds!
Steampunk Your Shirt:
T-shirts are like flags. They are a way of declaring your allegiance; be it to Team Edward, Metallica or Hello Kitty. And as steampunk continues its march into our fashion consciousness, steampunk tees are becoming increasingly easier to find. Wear them with jeans for a really simple look, or maybe for a bit more of a steampunk vibe try to use some more old style fabrics with the rest of your outfit like that tweed I mentioned earlier.
That's the wings on the back of my "Steampunk Angel" shirt. Pretty funky, aye? If your local shops don't stock enough steampunk goodness, try Threadless. They have many, many cool shirts in all different styles.
Adorn With Accessories:
One of the key things that turns simple Neo Victorian into fully fledge steampunk is how you accessorise an outfit. The top hat, goggles, skeleton keys, brassy octopus iconography, unique purses, fancy cravats, cogs turned into jewellery, maybe even a little handgun or a vintage spanner strapped to your airship mechanic belt. Even if you can't wear a fully steampunk outfit you can bring a little bit of steam into your normal outfits with the right accessories.
My favourite piece of steampunk jewellery is this necklace James made for me for a steampunk party we went to. He had a matching octopus tie pin. It was fun.
Hold Onto Your Hat:
A bit of a lead on from the previous point, this idea is quite a simple one - put something on your head! Headgear is not such a huge deal in mainstream fashion, but a top hat, bowler hat, tweed cap, or bonnet can really add steampunk flair to an outfit. Obviously this only works with certain wardrobe choices - a straw half bonnet [perhaps with brocade lining and a decorative skeleton key arrangement in lieu of flowers] would look sweet with a summer dress, but ridiculous with daisy dukes and a tank top. For the gents a simple cap in a period appropriate fabric could make even jeans and a collared shirt seem a bit less off the rack and more steamy.
Almost All Out:
The final option kind of flies in the face of my previous suggestions. They were all about incorporating smaller elements of steampunk fashion into a more conventional wardrobe. Now I'm saying that another way to wear steampunk without it looking like a costume is to do the reverse - put together a proper steampunk outfit, and then peel back the accessories and features that make it more "costume"-y. Keep the corset and long skirt, but ditch the parasol, the period appropriate bonnet and the cephalopod motifs. Keep the trews, neat shirt, suspenders and waistcoat, but leave off the top hat, the goggles and the cane.
Feeling ready to bring some steampunk into your everyday? Go forth and steampunk!
Oppa steampunk style!