What Are Steampunk Goggles?

Steampunk goggles are a key accessory and symbol of the steampunk aesthetic. With their vintage inspired design, steampunk goggles evoke a sense of adventure and imagination.

A Brief History of Goggles

Before diving into the world of steampunk goggles, it’s helpful to understand the history and evolution of goggles in general.

The earliest known goggles date back to the 1700s when Inuit peoples used bone, antler, and ivory to carve snow goggles to prevent snow blindness. Goggles became more widespread in the 1800s as technology advanced.

Key innovations and uses of early goggles included:

  • Swimming goggles – Used for swimming and diving since the early 1800s. Early models were made of leather or cork.
  • Motoring goggles – Driving goggles became popular in the early 1900s to protect driver’s eyes from dust, wind, and debris. Many featured leather or canvas frames with glass or celluloid lenses.
  • Aviator goggles – Essential for pilots to protect from wind, glare, and dirt when flying open cockpit planes in the early 20th century.
  • Welding goggles – Crucial eye protection from sparks and UV light when arc welding became more common in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
  • Ski goggles – First used in the late 1800s for protection from UV and glare when skiing in snowy conditions.
  • Military goggles – Adopted by militaries in WWI to protect soldier’s eyes from debris on the battlefield.

Many early goggle designs from the late 1800s and early 1900s help inform the vintage styling of modern steampunk goggles.

What Are Steampunk Goggles?

Steampunk goggles are specially designed goggles made in the steampunk aesthetic style.

Steampunk as an aesthetic movement combines futuristic technology and science fiction with 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery.

Steampunk goggles capture this juxtaposition of old and new.

Common features and qualities of steampunk goggles include:

  • Vintage styling – Inspired by real antique goggles from the 1800s/early 1900s with leather or fabric straps and round or oval shaped lenses
  • Functional design – Can include actual lenses for eye protection or just decorative darkened or tinted lenses for show.
  • Steampunk embellishments – Decorative touches like gears, rivets, chains, clockworks or metallic adornments
  • DIY crafted – Many are handmade in the DIY spirit of steampunk culture
  • Goggle varieties – Styles can range from aviator goggles, welding goggles, diving goggles and more
  • Practical or for costume – Some feature practical lenses for sports/hobbies while others are costume pieces for steampunk attire

Here are a few examples of common steampunk goggle varieties:

Goggle TypeDescription
Aviator GogglesUsually features leather or canvas straps, large oval or teardrop lenses, reminiscent of early pilot goggles. May have decorative metal accents.
Welding GogglesInspired by old welding masks but with steampunk embellishments. Often flip-up style lenses.
Diving GogglesEvokes antique diving goggles with art deco metal adornments in steampunk style.
Specs/Monocle StyleSmaller rounded lenses or a single monocle lens attached to a headband or glasses frame.

Steampunk goggles can range from practical eyewear to fancy dress accessories, but always contain that key mixture of retro design and subtle sci-fi edge.

Steampunk Goggle Uses

Steampunk goggles can serve both costume and practical purposes:


The most common use of steampunk goggles is as part of a larger steampunk costume or outfit.

“Goggles and gas masks were items regularly used around machinery andexperimental chemicals during the industrial revolution. They are a popular accessory used today in steampunk fashion for their strong industrial associations.”

– The Definitive Guide to Steampunk Fashion

Goggles make the perfect finishing accessory for any steampunk costume, adding retro sci-fi flair. They can be paired with items like:

  • Top hats/bowlers
  • Tailcoats/vests
  • Corsets
  • Boots
  • Gas masks
  • Tool belts

See examples of steampunk costume goggles

Goggles are often incorporated into steampunk interpretations of historic fashion as well, like Western and cowboy aesthetics.


While many steampunk goggles are just for show, some feature real practical lenses for use in sports and hobbies where eye protection is needed, like:

  • Motorcycling
  • Woodworking
  • Welding
  • Metalworking
  • Paintball/airsoft
  • Swimming

The steampunk styling adds a cool flair while still offering needed protection. Practical steampunk goggles may resemble early 20th century motoring goggles or welding masks but with added brass/bronze adornments.

The vintage look suits the hands-on machinery hobbies popular in the steampunk community.

What Do Steampunk Goggles Look Like? Common Features

There are many varieties of steampunk goggles but some common features include:

###Frames and Straps

  • Leather or fabric straps, sometimes with decoration or buckles
  • Rounded, oval, teardrop shaped frames
  • Metal framed aviator styles
  • Materials like brass, copper, bronze


  • Tinted glass or plastic lenses
  • Flip-up/flip-down hinged lenses
  • Darkened welder’s lenses
  • Decorative non-corrective lenses
  • May have magnification monocles/magnifiers

Steampunk Details

  • Gears attached as decoration
  • Rivets, chains, spanners used as ornamentation
  • Faux exposed machinery or moving parts
  • Metallic accents and analog dials
  • Rust, tarnish and distressed effects

Additional Accessories

  • Can have attached side screens or plates
  • Include headlamps or lights
  • May have tubes, filters or respirators
Steampunk goggles examples

Image credit: steampunkzone.com

By mixing and matching various frames, lenses, and steampunk embellishments you can create custom goggles perfect for your individual style or character costume.

Notable Examples of Steampunk Goggles in Movies

Steampunk goggles frequently pop up in movies, especially science fiction films with dystopian or retro-futuristic settings. Some examples include:

MovieGoggle Description
HugoFeatures aviator style steampunk goggles worn by Hugo Cabret set in a 1930s Paris train station.
League of Extraordinary GentlemenDorian Gray wears green tinted goggles with brass frames and decorations. Very steampunk.
Van HelsingAnna Valerious dons large bronze/brass goggles with wings at the sides of frames.
HellboyKarl Ruprecht Kroenen wears round lens goggles over his gas mask in an iconic steampunk villain look.

These cinematic examples showcase the strong ties between steampunk goggles, fantasy, and science fiction. The goggles lend characters a sense of retro-futuristic adventure.

Where To Buy Steampunk Goggles

There are many options for buying cool steampunk goggles, whether you’re looking for costume pieces or more durable goggles for sports:

  • Etsy – Lots of DIY sellers create unique handmade goggles perfect for costumes. Search for steampunk goggles or aviator goggles.
  • Amazon – Carry goggles tailored for steampunk costumes as well as practical goggles with steampunk-suited vintage styling for activities like motorcycling. Known brands like Pyramex offer steampunk welding goggles.
  • Steampunk specialty stores – Check out online stores that focus just on different types of steampunk eyewear.
  • DIY crafting – For a more personal touch, many people enjoy constructing their own steampunk goggles from scratch using materials like leather, brass, and machine parts. YouTube tutorials can help guide unique creations.

No matter your budget or project, there are lots of options for finding or creating cool steampunk goggles perfect for completing your costume or exploring your favorite retro-futuristic hobby in style and eye protection.

Steampunk Goggles: FAQs

Are steampunk goggles safe to actually wear?

It depends on the goggles. Pure costume pieces with dark tinted plastic lenses would not offer sufficient protection for activities like welding or metalworking where UV/glare protection is key.

But many practical steampunk welding goggles made of leather and proper protective glass by brands like Pyramex are safely wearable for hobbies/sports even if they have a vintage flair. Assess safety features before use.

Do you need to wear goggles for a steampunk costume?

Not necessarily, but goggles tend to complete and enhance most steampunk costumes. Along with top hats, they help create the key retro-futuristic look associated with steampunk style.

But there are many variations of steampunk fashion – a steampunk pirate costume may look better with an eye patch for instance!

What types of clothes pair well with steampunk goggles?

Leather coats, vests, corsets, tailored jackets, frilly blouses, top hats, tailcoats, newsboy caps, aviator cap

s, bowler hats, pith helmets, intricate jewelry, and rugged boots all pair nicely with steampunk goggles for a variety of adventurer personas. Let your goggles be a finishing focal accessory.

Do you need to be able to see well out of costume steampunk goggles?

For costume/convention goggles, visibility is less important than the overall aesthetic effect. As long as you can see well enough not to trip or walk into anything, ornate darkened lenses are fine for costuming.

Goggles with flip-up lenses can allow you to easily see your surroundings then back into character. Consider attaching magnifying lenses if vision clarity is very important.

Can you wear prescription glasses with steampunk goggles?

It’s difficult to wear most goggles over glasses. Some steampunk goggles are made large enough to fit over slim glasses frames or offer flip-up lenses for easy viewing then back into place. For conventions, some choose contact lenses and minimal goggles just for the look.

You can also explore over-glasses goggles or steampunk monocles for prescribed magnification. Talk to an optician for over-glasses options.

Final Thoughts: What Are Steampunk Goggles

With their vintage charm, subtle sci-fi edge, and spirit of exploration steampunk goggles encapsulate so much of what makes the steampunk aesthetic special.

Whether dressing up for a convention or protecting your eyes while tinkering, quality goggles add a touch of neo-Victorian adventure and imaginative retro-futurism to any activity. Let your interests and hobbies guide your goggle choice to complete your personalized steampunk look.

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