Steampunk fashion is all about blending retro inspired designs with modern punk rock elements. It’s a cool aesthetic that allows you to create unique outfits that will set you apart from the crowd. If you’re new to steampunk or looking to improve your style, here are some top tips and tricks:
The Basics of Steampunk Fashion
Before diving into specific tips, let’s go over the core elements of steampunk style:
- Victorian-inspired pieces – corsets, bustles, tailcoats, top hats, etc. Evokes 19th century fashion.
- Industrial touches – gears, gadgets, goggles, chains, buckles, etc. Gives a machine/inventor vibe.
- Punk rock edge – bold makeup, mohawks, studs, leather, unconventional cuts. Brings that rebellious spirit.
- Upcycled clothing – Repurposing old or modern items for a vintage look. Very DIY punk.
- Mix of textures/fabrics – Leather, lace, velvet, denim, cotton, etc. Creates visual interest.
Blending these different elements is what creates the unique steampunk aesthetic. Keep these core concepts in mind as you craft your outfit.
Craft Your Own Accessories
One of the best ways to get that authentic steampunk look is to make your own custom accessories. This allows you full creative freedom to design pieces that are perfectly suited to your personal style. Some ideas:
- Goggles – Take a pair of modern safety goggles and mod them with cogs, gears, leather straps, etc. Spray paint brass/bronze for an aged effect.
- Jewelry – Necklaces, bracelets and rings made from watch parts, computer chips, transistors, nuts/bolts, keys, etc. Very punk DIY.
- Hats & headpieces – Top hats, bowlers, bonnets and fascinators decorated with feathers, flowers, gears, chains, etc.
- Weaponry – Nerf guns transformed into steampunk firearms with metallic spray paint and extraneous pipes/tubing. Purely for costume flare of course!
- Armor – Create steampunk style chest plates, pauldrons, vambraces gauntlets using leather, metal embossing and rivets.
Check out steampunk DIY projects for more accessory ideas and tutorials.
Part of the fun is dreaming up your own designs!
Mix Modern Pieces with Vintage Styles
An easy way to nail steampunk fashion is to blend modern clothing items with victorian era styles. Some examples:
- Leather or denim punk vest over a lace/floral blouse
- Combat boots with ruffles bloomers
- Tailcoat and top hat paired with ripped jeans
- Bustle skirt with fishnet tights and spikes
Clashing modern punk with historical victorian pieces creates the timeless steampunk aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with unique combinations.
Look through your own closet and see what interesting hybrid outfits you can put together!
Layering different garments is a great way to create depth and visual interest in your steampunk look. Here are some tips:
- Mix up textures – velvet, lace, leather, denim, silk. Keep fabrics diverse for depth.
- Combine fitted & loose pieces – Corset or slim top with an oversized coat/jacket. Tailored vest over billowy blouse.
- Stagger lengths – Long coat over short dress. Knee boots under maxi skirt. High-low hemlines.
- Don’t forget accessories – Layer necklaces, add a chunky belt over a coat, stack bracelets, etc.
Also play around with asymmetric layering – a long coat or vest on just one side. Steampunk fashion is all about getting creative with shapes, textures and dimensions.
Use Bold Makeup
Your makeup is one of the easiest ways to try out steampunk style. Go bold and dramatic!
- Dark lips – Wine, plum, black, navy – make a statement!
- Smoky eyes – Heavy black shadow and liner with a pop of metallic.
- High contrast – Pair a bold lip with minimal eye makeup or vice versa.
- Metallic accents – Golds, coppers and bronzes around the eyes or cheekbones.
- Eccentric details – Add an intricate design with liquid liner. Try mini clock gears drawn at the temple. Go punk with bold graphic shapes.
Don’t be afraid to break out of your normal routine and experiment with striking makeup looks! It’s an easy way to dip your toes into steampunk fashion.
Find Inspiration from History
Looking at real 19th century historical fashion illustrations can provide great inspiration for crafting your own steampunk outfits. Here are some key eras to research:
- Victorian era (1837–1901) – Corsets, ruffled gowns, tailored suits, top hats. Quintessential steampunk.
- American Old West (1865-1895) – Saloon girl dresses, cowboy hats, native American influences. Rugged frontier styles.
- Belle Epoque (early 1900s) – Decadent lace, feathers, bold accessorizing. Over the top elegance.
- Art Nouveau (1890–1910) – Flowing gowns, patterns, whimsical accessories. Ethereal fantasy vibe.
Look for pieces or silhouettes from these eras that you can incorporate into modern looks. Historical inspiration takes your steampunk style to the next level.
Shop Thrift and Vintage Stores
One of the best places to find affordable steampunk clothing is your local thrift and secondhand stores. Keep an eye out for:
- Victorian inspired blouses, suits, dresses and coats
- Vintage military surplus – great for coats, jackets, boots
- Old leather bags, suitcases, jewelry – repurpose into steampunk accessories
- Any unique garment that can be modded/punked up with studs, spikes, paint, etc.
thrift stores are treasure troves for steampunk fashion. You can find quality base pieces for cheap to transform into signature style items. Upcycling used clothing perfectly fits the punk DIY ethos.
Break the Rules
At the end of the day, steampunk fashion is all about breaking conventions. Don’t be afraid to get creative and subvert expectations.
- Men can rock skirts, dresses and corsets too! Play with gender norms.
- Mix ultra-modern pieces with victorian garb – expand eras.
- Make accessories huge in scale – giant goggles, top hats, etc. Bigger is better!
- Combine textures/prints that “clash” – paisley and plaid, leather and lace.
- Customize pieces with punk elements like spikes, studs, bold graphics and colors. Make it your own.
The most important rule is that there are no rules! Use these tips as inspiration then put your own spin on steampunk style. Break boundaries and stand out.
Conclusion: Top Steampunk Fashion Tips
Steampunk fashion opens up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to innovating your personal style. Follow these tips to incorporate Victorian elegance, industrial edge, and punk rock spirit into custom outfits that set you apart.
Most importantly, embrace your inner mad scientist and get creative! Experiment, thrift shop finds, craft your own touches, and make steampunk fashion uniquely you. Become an innovator of style.
For more in-depth information see these guides:
Keep tinkering and developing your distinctive steampunk look! Who knows what ingenious styles you might invent?