Steampunk is a rapidly growing subculture of science fiction and fashion. Because of this, it’s becoming increasingly popular to hold steampunk parties, conventions, and the like. It’s not necessarily a new subculture but it’s only recently become something you could refer to as “mainstream”. Because of this, it can be difficult to figure out what is and is not proper steampunk attire.
If you’re not already familiar with it, steampunk is fairly easy to describe. It’s a somewhat eclectic mix of Victorian era fashion, morals, etc., with technology that wasn’t present at the time. A good way to think of how technology went further is to think of it a certain way. Everything in steampunk was at least possible with clockwork and steam power. Because of this, it’s very common to see small boilers, large gears, and intricate pipes on anything steampunk.
Putting Together The Ultimate Outfit
While it’s easy to nail down what falls under “steampunk” in terms of the average item you may see, it’s still rather difficult to build a proper outfit for it. This is especially true if it’s your first steampunk outfit. There are a few tips to help you build the best outfit possible, of course. Today, you’ll be looking at some tips for each part of the outfit, head to toe, to build a men’s steampunk outfit. These will start at headware and work their way down, so you can build your outfit in your head the same way that people will see it when they look at you. First, you need to figure out what kind of look you’re going for. For the sake of simplicity, these will be broken down into three general types, the “noble”, “gentleman”, and “inventor” types. The general idea is that nobles look rather wealthy and ostentatious, gentlemen prefer a more subdued outfit, and inventors seem to have just stepped out of the workshop.
Pick Your Character, Pick Your Hat
Hats are, usually, the easiest part of the outfit for a person to pick. The type of hat you wear will immediately reflect the outfit type you’re going for. If you’re putting together a noble outfit, you’ll want to get yourself a proper top hat. A top hat was the hat of choice for the nobility in the Victorian era and is thus a perfect fit for a noble steampunk outfit. If you prefer, a stovepipe hat is a more than acceptable substitute for a top hat. A dark brown or pure black color is preferred, though you can, of course, pick a color you feel best suits you.
Gentlemen will want a comfortable bowler hat. While these were generally considered the “working man’s” hat back in the day, they give an air of class without sacrificing practicality. This is exactly what you’re looking for in a gentleman’s outfit. A brown of any shade is a good choice here, though you can choose a black hat if that is your personal preference. Inventors can also use a bowler hat, though many feel that it’s unnecessary for this particular outfit style. Since the idea of the inventor outfit is that you’re a scientist, you may feel that you wouldn’t want a hat in a laboratory. If you do choose to complete the outfit with a hat, however, stick to a light grey or light brown color.
Picking The Right Shirt & Jacket
Once you’ve picked out your hat, it’s time to choose your shirt and jacket. This is an area that gives you a bit more leeway in your choices. You can mix and match, within reason, quite a few different options to get the look you’re really going for. Noble outfits tend to have a combination of a long sleeved jacked, a fine button up shirt, and a long tie or a cravat. Most of the time you’ll want to stick to black and white for the colors on your shirt and jacket. Not only do they contrast extremely well but they also lend a classic look to the outfit. For the tie or cravat, you’ll probably want a smoke grey color or pattern. Gentlemen tend to wear a button up shirt with a waistcoat and a bow tie.
For the shirt and waistcoat, feel free to experiment with different color combinations till you find one you like. As long as you stick to whites, browns, greys, or black, you’ll be more than fine. The bow tie is usually black or light grey but feel free to try a few other colors if you want. Inventors also tend to wear a button up shirt and waistcoat. You’ll normally want an ascot instead of a long tie or bow tie with the inventor, however. For the shirt, you’ll want to stick to white, light greys, or browns. The waistcoat is usually brown but can also be any of the lighter greys.
Pants & Shoes to Match Your Look
Last, but most definitely not least, is the combination of pants and shoes. Nobles will usually have dress pants and shoes. Your shoes should be black and highly polished while your pants can be a couple of different colors. You’ll want your pants to be close to the color of your jacket if not an exact match. Gentlemen wear the same basic thing though with different color options for their shoes. Your shoes can be black and polished, brown and supple, or brown and polished. Inventors have a slightly different dress code for their pants and shoes. For your shoes, you’re going to want tall lace up boots of either a dark grey or any brown shade. Specifically, you want narrow boots that have just a touch of heel. For pants, you can opt for long shorts of a color matching your vest or pants of the same color.
The Fun Part -Adding Weapons, Gadgets, Gloves & Accessories
Now that the main outfit is finished, it’s time to accessorize, starting with your hands. Nobles and gentlemen alike can get a lot added to their outfit with a nice set of gloves and a cane. You’ll want your gloves to match the color of your button up shirt, usually white, and to be of fairly high quality. Gentleman should carry either a derby-handle cane or a shepherd’s crook, depending on your preference, while nobles can use a fritz-handle or knob-handle cane. Inventors don’t always carry canes but they do usually wear gloves. You’ll want a darker color to your gloves, usually a light grey, and you’ll want them to go a bit past your wrist. If you choose to use a cane with your outfit, a knob-handle cane is a good option.
Goggles & Glasses
Another common option for most outfits is eye wear such as glasses and goggles. Nobles tend to wear rather small glasses, the type that simply sit on the bridge of your nose without earpieces. These can simply sit on your fact or they can be attached to a handle and necklace. The main point is that they’re rather small and very fancy. Gentleman tend to wear a monocle attached to a chain. You may need some practice to properly wear a monocle but it can have quite an effect on your outfit. For both the monocle and the noble’s glasses, you’re going to want the metal to be brass or copper. You can choose another metal, of course, but brass and copper are the metals of choice for steampunk outfits. Inventors usually forsake both glasses and monocles for goggles. You’ll want goggles that are similar to aviator or welding goggles. Again, you’ll want quite a bit of brass or copper to be showing on them. You can actually search online for steampunk goggles if you want to save yourself some time and effort in exchange for paying a bit of money.
Put it All Together
And with that, your outfit is complete. Keep in mind, however, that these tips are to help you build a very simple outfit in one of these three styles. Also remember that they’re nothing more than tips. If you want to add something else in that you think would fit, feel free to do so. For example, some people like to build props such as false guns that have extremely intricate clockwork mechanics. Others like to dip more heavily into the sci-fi roots of steampunk and build fake shrink rays or the like. Some people even like to build “fake” arms made of clockwork and pipes that slide over their real arm like a sleeve. If you’re looking for prop ideas, you might want to take a moment and read some steampunk fiction or look at what other people have made already. Just remember that, in the end, it’s your outfit and you can add anything to it that you want.