Is Steampunk Considered Pastel Goth Or Dark Goth? [Or Neither!]

Steampunk is a unique retro-futuristic subculture and aesthetic that combines technology and designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery with science fiction themes. With its blend of Victorian-era fashion, industrial gears, clocks, and whimsical creations, Steampunk occupies an intriguing space between the past and the imagined future. But is it more aligned with the dark, romantic Goth subculture or the soft, dreamy Pastel Goth style? Let’s explore Steampunk’s relationship to these aesthetic movements.

Defining Steampunk, Goth, and Pastel Goth

Before analyzing how Steampunk fits in, we need to understand the distinguishing features of each style:


Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. (See more:

Key elements include:

  • Retro-futuristic technology like clocks, gears, and steam-powered mechanisms
  • Influences from the Victorian era like corsets, top hats, and frilled dresses
  • Science fiction themes with fantasy and alternate history elements
  • Strong DIY ethic of crafting and modifying objects


Goth is a dark, romantic subculture that began in England during the early 1980s and was partly inspired by Gothic rock music. (See more:

Common Goth style features:

  • Black clothing, dark palette
  • Religious imagery like crosses or rosaries
  • Appreciation for the macabre and supernatural
  • Theatrical, vampiric influences

Pastel Goth

Pastel Goth combines the Gothic aesthetic with pastel colors for a softer, dreamier look. (See more:

Pastel Goth characteristics include:

  • Soft pastel shades of pink, purple, blue, etc.
  • Whimsical, doll-like influences
  • Goth elements like crosses and occult symbols
  • Romantic, ethereal vibe

Now let’s analyze how Steampunk fits in!

Comparing Steampunk and Gothic Influences

Steampunk and Goth do share some similar influences and aesthetic qualities:

Gothic InfluencesSteampunk Parallels
Historical eras like Victorian and Medieval aestheticsSteampunk’s neo-Victorian retro-tech draws heavily from 19th century fashion
Romanticism and dramaSteampunk has a sense of adventure and extravagance
Appreciation for the macabre and supernatural creaturesSteampunk often incorporates fantasy elements like vampires and magic

However, Steampunk diverges from traditional Goth in significant ways:

Steampunk Departs from Goth Darkness

While Goth embraces darker shades and somberness, Steampunk incorporates more colorful and eclectic influences like Jules Verne-inspired sci-fi and whimsical mechanical creations.

Steampunk does contain darker elements at times, such as vampires, zombies, and apocalyptic themes, but balances them with a spirit of adventure and discovery. (See more:

So Steampunk channels the supernatural in a more fanciful, imaginative way compared to Goth’s somberness.

Steampunk Emphasizes Technology over Goth Symbolism

Gothic fashion makes symbolic use of religious icons, pentagrams, and occult imagery. Steampunk style displays a fascination with technology like clocks, goggles, and pseudo-scientific gadgets over Gothic symbols.

Steampunk conveys a spirit of possibilities, where clanking brass machinery and do-it-yourself contraptions represent the wonders of technological innovation rather than foreboding occult objects. (See more:

So while Gothic and Steampunk share some common ground, Steampunk ultimately diverges with its retro-futuristic tech focus and vibrant spirit. But where does it fit with the softer Pastel Goth offshoot?

Comparing Steampunk with the Pastel Goth Aesthetic

At first glance, the earthy brass and leather of Steampunk seems at odds with Pastel Goth’s delicate palette of dreamy pinks, purples and blues. But they both share an air of fantasy that unites them:

Whimsical Influences

Pastel Goth and Steampunk both have whimsical, fairy tale-like aspects.

Pastel Goth pulls from Shakespearean romance and ethereal Victorian dolls. Steampunk incorporates the fanciful imaginings of Jules Verne’s science fiction and the magical wonder of dirigibles and mechanical creatures. (See more:

Both share a spirit of escapism and childlike wonder that defies grim realities in favor of fantasy.

Non-Traditional Appearance

Neither Steampunk nor Pastel Gothic conform to mainstream aesthetic standards. Both purposefully stand out with their unusual retro styles that captivate the imagination.

So in summary, while Steampunk doesn’t fully align with either Goth or Pastel Goth, it shares an affinity for fantasy, romance, and imagination that unites it with both movements in different ways.

Is Steampunk a Unique Standalone Aesthetic?

Rather than neatly fit under the Goth or Pastel Goth umbrellas, most consider Steampunk to be its own distinct aesthetic that selectively borrows from various influences:

Steampunk synthesizes Victorian-era fashion, industrial steam tech, science fiction, DIY artistry, and a spirit of adventure into a bold retro-futuristic style unlike any other. (See more:

Some key ways Steampunk differentiated itself:

  • Focus on imaginative steam-powered technology rather than pure Gothic symbolism
  • Vibrant, hands-on DIY ethic rather than gloomy resignation
  • Forward-thinking fusion of sci-fi and history instead of isolation in the past

So Steampunk adapts inspiration from various sources into an entirely new aesthetic vision of the future as imagined from the past.

Fictional movies, books, and games have played a major role in spreading Steampunk’s unique retro-futuristic aesthetic:

Popular Steampunk works like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels and the Disney film Atlantis: The Lost Empire have exposed wider mainstream audiences to Steampunk’s dazzling blend of neo-Victorian fashion, antique tech, and sci-fi adventure. (See more:,

Other influential Steampunk franchises include:

  • Bioshock video games
  • The Difference Engine novel
  • Fullmetal Alchemist manga and anime
  • Dishonored games
  • Mortal Engines book series

This proliferation throughout books, film, and other media has secured Steampunk’s place as a recognized aesthetic movement.

Steampunk Fashion and Design

Beyond fiction, Steampunk has an active real-world presence through its DIY art, clothing, and architecture:

  • Clothing: Corsets, leather aviator caps, gear-adorned vests, and ascots are popular garments. Accessories like goggles, clockwork jewelry, and robotic limb covers add Steampunk flair.
  • Art: Sculptures, costumes, and functional mechanical art incorporate salvaged parts and daring imagination to realize retro-futuristic inventions.
  • Events: Conventions like the Steampunk World’s Fair and regional meetups celebrate the aesthetic with live music, workshops, exhibitions, and contests.
  • Design: The Steampunk look inspires architecture, interior decor, and landscaping integrating pseudo-antique technology like riveted brass, clocks, and faux-steam power.

Whether through fashion, artwork, or imaginative events and designs, Steampunk endures as an immersive lifestyle and art form rather than a mere clothing style. (See more:

Steampunk’s blend of neo-Victorian and fantastical sci-fi elements come together to form a unique aesthetic vision.


While Steampunk shares some familiar influences with the Gothic and Pastel Goth subcultures, it synthesizes these and other inspirations into its own distinct retro-futuristic identity.

Through literature, design, fashion, and events, Steampunk brings its vision of technology-infused romance and adventure to vivid life. With one foot in the past and the other racing toward the imagined future, this dynamic aesthetic continues to steam ahead as a creative force within pop culture.

In Summary: Is Steampunk Considered Pastel Goth Or Dark Goth?

  • Steampunk borrows some Gothic influences but diverges with its optimistic spirit and tech focus
  • Pastel Goth overlaps with Steampunk’s whimsy but differs in color palette
  • Overall, Steampunk is its own standalone aesthetic that selectively adapts from various sources

Whether you prefer the darker tones of Gothic fashion or the fairy tale escapism of Pastel Goth, Steampunk invites you into its mechanical world of possibilities limited only by imagination.

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