Hello, for those that don't know me, my name is Nick Valentino. Karen found me at the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego and through a rather random chain of events, we began talking about a growing subculture of Science Fiction and my novel Thomas Riley. I am going to stroll off the beaten path of normal fashion to talk about a sub genre of fiction that has given birth to a new and so far underground fashion that is spinning cosplay on its head. Steampunk.
For those that don’t frequent pop culture cons such as Dragon Con, or The San Diego Comic Con, you may be unfamiliar to the newest subculture fashion frenzy. If so, picture masses of people in Victorian era clothing wandering the halls of some convention center or hotel ballroom decked out in top hats, elaborate filigreed goggles, and a host of copper plated backpacks decorated with everything from blue glowing orbs to giant hoses. No, I am not talking about someone that screwed up their Ghostbusters costume. The steampunk culture is based in fashion. The idea: embrace the intellectual, and look your best while you kick someone’s butt… all while possessing the most genteel of demeanors, of course.What exactly is steampunk you ask? The short and sweet of it is that it is an alternative history. So let’s say instead of electricity being discovered and exploited, that steam and alchemy became the internet boom of the 1800s. So everything is based around steam, gasses, and natural Earth products.
Men usually sport pinstriped dress jackets (extra points if it has tails). A linen shirt topped with a black or brown vest is normally paired with appropriate slacks. As for accessories, a top hat, monocle, wire framed glasses, and pocket watch finish off the outfit. The essential accessory to all steampunk wear, is goggles. In the world of dirigibles, sky pirates and floating rogue battleships, everyone must have goggles. Feel free to put them over your eyes while in action, but while in casual situations, most people have them on their heads.
Ladies, I am not leaving you out by any means. In fact you are the ones that get to wear the good stuff in this subculture. While the guys stay traditional and debonair, you have a little more freedom to express your Victorian inspired style savvy with an array of hats, corsets, wide bottomed dresses, fingerless gloves, ribbon wrapped pony tails, and boots galore. Always remember that the steampunk calling card is the goggles, so ladies, make sure that these are incorporated somehow in your outfit. You surely wouldn’t want to get caught having to fly out of some dangerous situation without them.
Well Nick, you ask, how am I going to wear any of this? I can’t go to a restaurant, club or even a party wearing goggles and a corset on the outside of my dress. On the contrary! Ok, you will be made mercilessly fun of if you show up at a party for some of this, but the way to bring this into real life is to use elements of it. Ladies, it doesn’t matter if you are 12 or 21, you like a nicely dressed guy right? And fellas, don’t you dare tell me that you don’t like a classy well dressed girl in say, some long pony tails and a pinstriped dress.
The trick is to take the elements of steampunk and apply what is appropriate for your social situation. If you are going to a party, ladies wear a nice but off the wall form fitting dress and some riding boots. Gents, put on a sport coat with some nice shoes (the ladies will notice your shoes) and maybe throw on a weathered linen shirt.
Just a few thoughts on the exploding steampunk world and a few ways that you can utilize it to look edgy but classy. Still not sure what I am talking about? Here are a few examples. Enjoy!