So for now, you will just have to use your imagination. Several of the outfits in the last post (esp. photos 7 and 14) I could see being worn in the real world--ok, I would wear them! (#7 I wish I could have right. now.) And the second from the last is adorable, and although not quite my style, if the corset was more "top" than "undergarment" looking, I could see it at casual day at work. Well, depending upon where you work. ; ) The design foundation of Steampunk is neo-Victorianism--so take your long skirt and/or your puffy-sleeved, high-necked blouse and you have the beginning elements! Then choose your persona in this alternate history, and make the clothing fit that story.
And that, I think, is really what sets Steampunk attire apart from plain-old neo-Victorian--that the clothes suggest you are part of a bigger, more complex, and unexpected story. So that is why the clothes deviate--and in most cases EXTREMELY--from the historical Victorian apparel; because the Steampunk vision deviates from Victorian history.
Before we get on to more eye-candy, I want to address something my friend Stacy said after my last post :
I see [Steampunk] as an alternate post-Industrial Revolution option. As in, a world vastly similar to ours went through an industrial revolution during a time of more gender equality and the clothing represents the mechanical advances of the day but still remains exclusive through amazing fabrics and accoutrements that the average worker wouldn't be able to afford. Like a Hollywood meets Industrial Revolution style. . .
Stacy, YES, that is exactly it--an alternate ending to the historical Industrial Revolution. It is looking back at our world at a particular point in time when so much change was just starting to happen, when there were so many advances in science and industry and exploration, when humans were learning to fly, to gain landspeeds never before comprehended through mechanical locomotion, etc. . . and then imagining what it would have been like if certain ideas from today had been around with that era's "advanced" technology.
There *can* be a little bit of the exclusivity I think you mean--in fact, those are the Steampunk "Aristrocrats"--BUT I would venture that part of the appeal of Steampunk is that it celebrates the common, everyday person who has ideas and gumption and is adventuresome and hands-on. Which is also why a lot of steampunk clothes are more drab in color and are pretty utilitarian in fabric and style, and have so many gadgets!
In fact, the gadgets that are so much a part of steampunk clothes represent that these "characters" DO things--and creative, brave things at that. The goggles suggest aviators, or metal-workers, or driving in primative but fast vehicles. Two big Steampunk design icons are locks and keys, which I think represent secrets to be unhidden (think Sherlock Holmes) and are symbolic of (particularly for women) power over one's own freedom. Clocks (esp. their gears and cogs) are the other big design icon, and they represent not only the glory of the mechanical at its most beautiful and efficient, but also the playing with time and history that takes place within the Steampunk imagination.
But I came across a great quotation about this aspect of the fashion on a discussion board (the discussion ended back in something like 2006, so I am not bothering to link it):
Steampunk’s not all about cogs and gears, and a lot of serious steampunks even look down on it when people stick them to things with no purpose aside from decorative. Clothing does not have to have cogs and gears on it to be steampunk. Clothing where they actually have a function (like tightening a corset) is great, but be careful about sewing a gear to something and calling it steampunk, because to a number of people it just says noob.
I completely agree. And as I mentioned before, I prefer the outfits that look like something a "real person in a Steampunk age" would wear, and not costumes. Outlandish is fine--as long as you can sell it.
And here is a short but very good article (with pictures) about why Steampunk clothes can't be "too plain-old Victorian."
Still speaking of goggles and gears, one of the things you might have noticed about the steampunk emsembles in my last post is that the accessories are really what make them Steampunk! There are certain accessories that are quintessential Steampunk: goggles, gloves, lace, stockings, hats, chains and keys, lots of straps and buckles, belts and corsets! For this post I will focus on the latter: steampunked waists.
KALI -Black Steampunk Burlesque Corset by olgaitaly
I must confess that I love the way corsets look. Ultra-feminine, and yet a little tough. Some of the ones pictured below would be adorable with jeans or a long skirt, and I imagine would nicely play up my newly deflated bosom while downplaying my four-baby belly. You know, so I'd look kinda like this:
Innocence Custom Corset Top by aNGrYGiRLGear
(. . . momentarily sighing and gazing wistfully off into space. . . )
Ok, where was I? Right. Some of the corsets currently out there are true steel-boned, custom-fit pieces--the real and painful deal. For those who like the look, but also enjoy breathing, there are other corsets and belts that have more giving structure and comfortable fabrics/leathers.
All of the belts and corsets featured here are from etsy.
Shoe Spat Hand Tooled And Studded Waist Cincher Wide Leather Belt by ContrivedtoCharm
Red Button Tab Vixen Corset by damselinthisdress
Pirate Vixen Corset by damselinthisdress
Deep Red Striped Waist Cincher Corset Belt by redcurrydesigns
Madam Joannie Brown Leather Clip Belt by AudraJean
Black Wide Leather Lace Up Fairytale Sweetheart Corset Waist Cincher Belt by ContrivedtoCharm
Black and White overbust corset, steel boned, custom made by corsetwonderland
Steampunk Aristocrat Tailed Bodice by taeliac
Wool Plaid and Faux Leather STEAMPUNK Extra Wide Waist Belt or Cincher by CurvyWench
There are several here I would wear around town, and feel good about, or that I would create an elegant evening look with--if I ever had the need and extra fashion funds. My favorite of the bunch (and the most quintessential steampunk) is the "copper utility corset"--but the one I really wish I could buy is the "lola loves leather" one.
(OK, I would love to have some fun accessories like this, BUT I have written before about how having a lot of stuff SO does not fit my life values right now, or the size of my house. So I will just enjoy looking, and not actually fall into coveting!)
Oh, and you full-bodied readers--I must say after browsing through lots of pics in the last 6 months, while slim women model these items on etsy, very big women are the ones who love to wear them to Steampunk costume events! And they usually look fabulous. And like they are enjoying themselves immensely. I'm just sayin.'
Up next. . . Steampunk for the neck!