It's not for lack of trying.
Over the past year and a half I have been slowly acquiring new clothing items, mostly secondhand, and then trying them out in various combinations, looking to create outfits that are comfortable, practical, weather-appropriate, and just Steampunky enough to satisfy my style hankerings.
It's been easy enough to find clothing pieces that might work in a Real World Steampunk Wardrobe, like the things I find and share with you here often enough from Ebay and other places--but it is much harder to then put those gathered odds and ends into combinations with the other things I have, and get them to turn out on my body the way they look in my imagination.
Let's just say, my imagination is not the issue. Some of the pseudo-Steampunk ensembles I have put together have made my heart sing, like this one, and especially this one. Even this one keeps turning up on Pinterest, so I know there are others besides me who can see the outfit through rose-tinted goggles. Those are my best Real World Steampunk successes thus far--imperfect as they are--and they have only whetted my appetite for more.
But for every one outfit that has made me happy, there are likely several more that were total pseudo-Steampunk fails.
The camera is the ultimate mirror, and it does not lie.
So I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of the outfits I have tried putting together this past year that did not work. It's a little embarrassing to show you these outfits that I tried--and, much as I hate to admit, actually wore in public. To church, no less. But, it's all part of the learning curve, right? Maybe you'll see in these outfits a glimpse of what I was going for, and can even offer helpful suggestions on improvements in the comments. Or maybe you'll just think What the. . ?! and get a good chuckle at my expense. Either way, thanks for stopping by to share in my failure.
Real World Steampunk Wardrobe Fail #1, December 2013:
Linen dress by Land's End. I realize now this might have been a red flag.
Leather belt by Cabi
Scarf I've had so long I don't remember
Earrings by Elaina Louise on Etsy
Boots by Miz Mooz
Okay then. This would be one of those times when I tried to stretch pieces past what they were able--although they did admirably work together in a completely unintended way. Here I was going for a steampunky "Citizen/Adventurer" kind of look, and thought I could start with a dress that was close enough and then elevate it to pseudo-Steampunk with accessories.
Well. As you can see, the accessories were not enough. Even my oh-so-Steampunky hot air balloon earrings could not save me. The overall look was quite cohesive and even attractive, but much less Steampunk and way more late 70's Lady Stetson. I had pictured the scarf wrapped around my neck as a kind of Victorian cravat, but I think it turned out to be the wrong shape for that. I may also have been running late to church and thus may have haphazardly flung it around my neck, mistakenly assuming it's a scarf, what could go wrong.
Also, I was so excited when I found this really nice quality, like-new dress on Ebay for a reasonable price, because it is linen, which is a fabric authentic to the Victorian times. I am a texture girl, and absolutely love fabrics that lend the heft and drape and visual appeal of older times.
Well. As you can see, the main issue with the linen is the extensive wrinkling. I was prepared for that when I purchased it--but that particular Sunday I ended up holding my young son in my lap for quite some time, and the warmth from our bodies together practically ironed a huge mark there across the front of the dress where the belt rode up under my ribcage while I was sitting. Quite unattractive.
Still, the look was not completely a loss. . . but I am also a little unsure how to salvage it. The belt might work fine next time if I'm not planning on holding kids in my lap. . . and I could get a different scarf and tie it better next time. . . . But maybe the cut of the collar will never quite look right, even if I get the scarf right. . . and maybe the hem length is just too modern. . .
At least that Sunday I had a hip and artistic young college woman compliment me on my outfit; she said the whole thing made her happy. But I think she was clearly enjoying me being playful in a retro kind of way--and that's just not the vibe I was after.
So there you have it--when good ideas go awry! Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, links to your own favorite Real World Steampunk clothes, or personal tales of fashion fails. I'd love to hear from you.