I have found that with the current color trends (neon! blech!), it is near impossible to find any brown items, let alone well-made, in good fabrics and Steampunk-compatible. But just look at the great selection on eBay:
by Elevenses, found here
All the skirts in this post are size 4 or 6. Most of them are under $20--many of them are under $10! And as you will notice, I'm not interested in any boring skirt. I love texture and detail, so while a very plain skirt can certainly work well in a RWSW, I prefer to choose pieces that will subtly add layers of visual interest while not detracting from the other elements in the ensemble. Like this very pretty and quiet scallop detail on the hem in the skirt above.
by Nine West, found here
The color combination on this skirt is fabulous. OH so Steampunk! You would have to take off that ugly belt and put a brown leather one in its place, but that would be so simple. I seriously debated bidding on this skirt, but since I am toying with the idea of getting the Marin boots in "coffee," and those would be the boots worn with whatever brown skirt I get, I fear the effect would be too matchy-matchy. But for someone with plain dark brown boots--gorgeous.
by Ann Taylor, found here
This is a perfect example of a plain skirt that is not boring. The way it sits on the waist is flattering and hopefully you could work with those belt loops to accommodate a wide brown leather belt. The shape of this skirt is flattering too, and excellent for pseudo-Steampunk, and could even be gathered up with skirt clips, if you wanted to layer it over another skirt for a more Lolita effect.
by Banana Republic, found here
This is a light-weight skirt, which would be great for summer. I'm not crazy about the elastic waistband, though, so you would need to hide that with a bustier or corset belt. In the ideal RWSW, that is!
A quick word about fabrics: there were some very cute skirts that had the right shape or look for Steampunk that I did not include here, because I am a fabric snob. I not choose to wear synthetic fabrics, whenever I have the option of natural, because of the way they feel--and the way I feel in them--but also because of the way they look. Most synthetics look like what they are--cheap imitations of better fabrics. And the really high-end synthetics have a silky drape that is very modern, and inappropriate for Steampunk looks. The best fabrics, that will subtly enhance the realism of a steampunky outfit, are those that really would have been worn back in the Victorian days. My favorites are cotton and linen for skirts--they hang and fall just right, are comfortable and breathable and easy to care for.
by J. Crew, found here
by The Limited, found here
A lot of the photos of these skirts are not very helpful--you have to look closely to see the detail that elevates an otherwise almost boring skirt. In this case, it is the triple-layered ruffle on the hem.
by CAbi, found here
In this skirt it is the subtle vertical texture, and the lovely raw hem.
by GAP, found here
And in this skirt it is the waffle-weave--subtle, does not act as a pattern visually and therefore does not compete with other patterns you might wearing with it, and yet adds very nice texture.
by Maeve, found here
In this skirt it is the carefully shaped construction and the hem detail.
by Elevenses, found here
by Alberto Makali, found here
Just lovely for the jungle adventuress!
by CAbi, found here
Ha--looks like I liked this skirt so much I accidentally posted it twice. Hmmm, perhaps this means I should seriously consider it for my own wardrobe. . . .
by Free People, found here
Now this skirt is intriguing; you can find it online both with and without the front embellishments. I like the embellished version because those "flowers" look subtly like gears--which is perfect for someone like me, who is really drawn to large gear designs on clothing but does not like how. . . obvious they always are on a skirt. They always seem stuck there, inorganically, proudly proclaiming, "Look, I'm a Steampunk Skirt!" This detail on the other hand simply suggests. And worn with some jewelry that incorporates real gears--or real gear buttons on a jacket--the visual connection would be complete.
by LOFT, found here
The careful construction on this skirt is also what makes it appealing--a little patchwork feels a little dystopian.
by BCBG, found here
Again, I love the waist on this skirt--so flattering, and the texture on it is lovely. You could wear this one either with or without a belt.
by Charter Club, found here
A more unique shape, but would still work well for psuedo-Steampunk.
by H&M, found here
Another hideous belt--ugh, I cannot bear to look at it. But the skirt is so cute, and a wide brown (or black, depending upon the rest of the look) leather belt would be great.
by Old Navy, found here
Another skirt that would be so cute layered over a cotton petticoat. Could be cinched up or not. This skirt is also an excellent example of the importance of fabric; this is clearly cotton, and the eye can tell. If this exact same skirt were synthetic, it would not work at all.
by Tommy Bahama, found here
Now you have to be careful when choosing tiered skirts like this one--very easy to look too tribal, or too late 1980's. Best to translate to Steampunk if you are already working a prairie girl look. But look at the gorgeous pattern on this one--so pretty, so elegant! This skirt would need a jacket with it--for example, a bone high collared jacket with small dark bronze buttons, and plenty of them, either semi-fitted at the waist or cropped.
This is just a sample of what I found in an hour of looking yesterday. So next time you need to find something basic like this, just sit down with a cup of tea and enter something really vague like "brown skirt" in your size in the search bar. Don't be daunted by the fact that 13,000 hits come up--just narrow it down to women's clothing and set it to search by "price--lowest to highest" and sit back and window shop. You will be surprised at what you can find, even under $10.
(In case anyone ever wonders--no, I get no financial compensation from eBay and other companies for all my recommendations to their goods. I just share with you all what I do myself, hoping it is helpful to someone else. Let me know if it is--that will be reward plenty!)