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How to Make a Steampunk Costume

Ensure that you have no regrets when attending a steampunk event. Plan your steampunk costume in advance so you don’t miss out on the fun. Steampunk events are popular, and can range between concerts, expositions, conventions, teas, and fundraisers. Attendees are encouraged to dress up, but many people may be wondering about this new steampunk craze that has its elements in the past, and the future.

What Makes a Costume "Steampunk"?

There are certain elements to a costume that can make it steampunk. You may ask ten people what their definition of steampunk is, and get ten completely different answers, but generally it’s a reimagining of Victorian science fiction. There will be an element of Victorian style to the costume, along with some accessories that are iconic to steampunk style, such as goggles, pocket watches, and leather belts. Gears, rivets, and bronze or copper jewelry may adorn the costume.

Science fiction can also play a large part in the steampunk costume. Consider Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, or H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine. These books were written during the Victorian time. You may wish to add science fiction elements to your costume, such as a phaser pistol, a jet pack, or even wings.

Choosing Your Steampunk Character Archetype

Your first step in choosing your steampunk character archetype is to work out who you will be in the steampunk universe. This is the best part of steampunk, and you can dress up as much or as little as you wish, but still fall under the parameters of “steampunk”. Will you choose to be a lady or gentleman of the upper class? Perhaps you’ll be an inventor, scientist, engineer, or mechanic?

Airships are the mode of transportation in the steampunk world. Costumes can be designed around being an aviator, captain, or member of the crew. If you wish to add a touch of fun you can be an airship pirate.

You may decide to create an entirely new character too, but remember to keep the Victorian style theme in mind. Many people will choose to simply dress in Victorian costume, while others will go to great lengths to create elaborate accessories. What’s so great about the steampunk community is that with even a minimum of effort, you’ll still fit in at any steampunk event.


Find Your Steampunk Costume Elements

The basis of your steampunk costume will involve clothes that look like they were designed and sewn in the Victorian era. You needn’t despair about actually finding clothes that were made back then, though certainly many enthusiasts choose to collect clothing as well. You’ll find Victorian influences in our clothing today. And don’t forget about the 80s–fashions were influenced by the Victorian era–so you’ll be able to find thrift shops full of old clothes from back then.

Decide whether your character is upper class or not. Upper class style will require fancier clothing. Men will be wearing suit coats and cravats or bow ties. Ladies will wear long sleeved blouses and long skirts, or a gown or a long coat.

For a lower or middle class character, the racks at the local thrift shop or Goodwill store can be searched for high collared shirts, jackets and vests. Don’t forget to search through your own closet; You never know, you may already have the perfect article of clothing to wear to your steampunk event!


Add Details and Accessories

One of the most important aspects of the steampunk costume are the details. Choose accessories that fit in with your definition of a steampunk character. Choose boots or shoes to fit your costume. A working class character may wear worn boots, and these can be purchased for cheap from a thrift shop.

For crew who work on an airship, aviator hats and helmets can be worn. Goggles are extremely important while tethered to the outside of an airship, though even lords and ladies may wear them while in the passenger cabin.

Upper class men will sport a top hat, while a lady will wear a hat or a fascinator. Walking sticks, umbrellas, and parasols may be carried. Men may wear gloves, while women may wear lacy gloves.

You may find that you already possess several pieces of jewelry that will work perfectly in a lady’s steampunk costume. Search for chandelier style necklaces, and earrings, and jewelry that contains pearls, garnets, and emeralds.

Guns and weapons are a large part of the steampunk world. A lady or gentlemen needs to protect themselves from airship pirates. You can choose to dress up a dollar store plastic toy, or hand craft your own wooden model.


Be Inspired by Books, Movies, and History

In the steampunk universe most will agree that the only rule in steampunk is that there are no rules. You may choose to wear Victorian style clothing, or not. Not every steamer decides to add cogs and gears to their costume either. Many people are happy with choosing a few basic elements for their costume, then adding to it as they attend more events during the course of the year.

To look for further inspiration for your steampunk costume you may wish to read books, magazines, and articles about the steampunk world. Fiction and film are filled with images of the foreseeable future. You may wish to study up on history as well. The Victorian era can give you some clues as to how to start your own steampunk costume.

One of the best aspects of the steampunk community is that it is a diversified blend of people, from all aspects and walks of life. Everyone, from young children to seniors, can enjoy dressing up and having fun. Each person can participate by bringing their own steampunk style to the event.

You may wish to start your own “trunk”, full of different elements for a steampunk costume. That way when the next event occurs, you can pull out your trunk and find everything at hand. For further ideas about costumes, check out these creative steampunk costume ideas.