Steampunk Basics: Costuming Made Easy

Updated on November 22, 2016

You Can Create a Steampunk Costume

Steampunk, also known as Victorian science fiction, has exploded in popularity in the past few years. If you haven't heard of it yet, I guarantee you will. It's been in the papers and in articles—there was even an episode of Castle. I run a convention called Steamcon in the Seattle area that's dedicated to steampunk, and I educate people about it, so I do a lot of dressing up. To some folks, the dressing up is the best part. So whether you are just looking for some quick ideas for a Halloween costume, or you want to dress up for a convention or event, I have come up with a few tips and tricks to get you started.

The Base

The main portion of your outfit will be the Victorian or Edwardian clothing. You need to decide whether you are high class or not. For upper class, you will want fancier clothing. Suit coats for men and dresses for ladies. It's easier to portray lower or middle class generally, so let's stick to that. I often find good base-clothing at thrift stores. A high collared shirt, fitted jackets, or vests are good for both men and women. A long skirt, bloomers, or even pants for the women, depending on the look you are going for.

A Few Good Online Merchants

If you are having trouble finding what you need in a thrift store, these online merchants are an invaluable resource.

The Hat

Any good Victorian would be wearing a hat generally—men especially. You can choose not to, but it will make your costume less readily recognizable. Top hats, bowlers, pith helmets, boaters, or flight helmets all work well. Any period chapeau will really "cap" off your look.

I have seen some outfits that were completed by having a spectacular hat. My favorite hat is my mini pith helmet. You can go and buy a hat from a Halloween shop and then spray paint it, glue things on to it and really make it unique. Be creative. Have fun!

Finding Hats

I recommend seeking out your local haberdashery and getting a decent hat, but you can also find some good ones online. If this is for a one time costume, you can go to your local Halloween store.

Goggles

The most iconic piece of equipment on a steampunk costume is the goggles. Be aware, there are lots of goggles out there, but most aren't the right period or look. Swim goggles, and ski goggles are right out. Also single lensed goggles look wrong. You want cup type welding goggles generally speaking. You can get them from various sources, even costume stores. If you want to get crafty, you can buy a basic pair from a welding supply store and customize them. You will want to paint them, because plastic is too modern. I recommend Krylon Fusion spray paint for the base coat at least. Add metal bits to them and generally make them your own. Again, be creative! It's what steampunk is all about.

Buying Goggles

If you are not a crafty type, or you have more time than money, you can buy some suitable goggles in varying price ranges. Harry Potter Quidditch goggles will do in a pinch, but look better if you at least take the time to remove the logo.

Props

The main thing besides goggles that distinguishes a steampunk outfit from an outfit that is simply historical is it's props. Since you are portraying a character from a science fiction/fantasy story you need something that show the viewer that aspect. A weapon of some sort is good. We tend to carry aetheric disintegrator pistols or discombobulator rifles. The point is that it should NOT look ordinary or even real. Remember that you are in Victorian times. A flintlock such as a pirate would carry is too old fashioned and not in the least bit gadgety.

So, if you are a crafty type with time on your hands, you can "mod" a squirt gun and make your own weaponry. See my earlier lenses for "how to" advice.

Buying Props

Here again, it can be time versus money and you might have more of one than the other. I have often found inexpensive options on Amazon and eBay.

Belts and metal bits

Steampunk is a genre with a penchant for brass, or copper. Belts with fancy buckles and studs can really make an outfit. Wear several at once. They are good for carrying your raygun or your brass compass. And don't think that belts are only for your waist. They make great accessories elsewhere as well. Use a belt as a hat band, a choker, or a chest strap to add more interest to your look.

You can also add brass binoculars, or a compass to help add to the explorer or adventurer look.

I definitely won't be making through a metal detector in this get up.

Footwear

I recommend finding fairly low heeled granny boots for the women. Preferably without zippers. They look right and won't kill your feet. If you are planning on wearing your skirts hiked up or bloomers or pants, you will want to find slightly nicer boots. Luckily boots are in right now, so they are fairly easy to find. Men, you can find decent boots too. Just think really hard before you ruin a perfectly lovely outfit by wearing sneakers.

So there is a little run down on steampunk costuming. I hope this helped. Feel free to ask question or let me know how it worked out for you.

Questions & Answers

    Let me know your thoughts.

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Cameron C. 

        2 years ago

        This helped out great. I still need to acquire the boots and jacket though.

      • profile image

        SteamMaster 

        2 years ago

        well, this helped a lot, thanks hubpages.com! You guys are amazing! taught me a lot! Really!

      • profile image

        CollectorsHeritage 

        4 years ago

        Nice steampunk collection. Can I get them online?

      • profile image

        CollectorsHeritage 

        4 years ago

        Earlier I didn't knew much about steampunk clothing like what all categories will come into it and how to actually implement them on us. After reading your blog I was fascinated to research more on steampunk fashion and concluded with many online steampunk clothing stores which I will refer before going for my next steampunk festival.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        hello i am a color guard designer for a marching band that is doing a show about time. I want to introduce steam punk time traveling women as a story telling idea. I also want to use the same character and costume for my indoor program to the Music from the movie HUGO. This is basically a dance activity that usese rifles, sabers and flags to tell abstract stories on football fields and in high school gyms... what are your thoughts.. I learned so much from your blog..Thank you Carl

      • Atomika07 profile image

        Atomika07 

        7 years ago

        I just recently got into steampunk and I really love it. This lens is a get guide, thanks for sharing!

      • VSP profile image

        VSP 

        7 years ago

        Great niche! Almost makes me want to put a costume together.

      • gypsyman27 lm profile image

        gypsyman27 lm 

        7 years ago

        I like the look, but I don't think I could pull it off. I have been known to dress in unusual fashion, but Steampunk would be pretty far out even for me! I like the way some of the outfits look on women, but that goes without saying.:~) See you around the galaxy...

      • zillermil profile image

        zillermil 

        7 years ago

        I've been trying to figure out how to make a good steampunk costume! This is great, thanks!

      • Diane Ellen profile image

        Diane Ellen 

        7 years ago

        I find steampunk quite interesting. It's cool that you have gone into a lot of detail for those who want to dress in steampunk - nothing is left out!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Wonderful collection of Steampunk costumes and accessories! :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Very creative lens. Thanks

      • DreamsBloom profile image

        DreamsBloom 

        7 years ago

        Last year I dressed up for Halloween in a Steampunk costume and went to a dance...only One person other than myself knew what steampunk was! So sad. But I loved my costume and enjoyed it. I made a pair of "goggles" from a tutorial on Instructables.com using a baseball! Ingenuity is one of the greatest things about steampunk!

      • Franksterk profile image

        Frankie Kangas 

        7 years ago from California

        What a fun lens with plenty of cool things. Congrats on LOTD. Blessed. Bear hugs, Frankster

      • profile image

        DebMartin 

        7 years ago

        As always, I love the steampunk stuff. Wish I were as creative as you, however. Nice lens.

      • profile image

        WeirdStuff 

        7 years ago

        Those aviator hats are absolutely cool!

      • DavidCzajka profile image

        DavidCzajka 

        7 years ago

        Beautiful Lens created.

      • Scarlettohairy profile image

        Peggy Hazelwood 

        7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

        Great costumes. Such a cool look!

      • profile image

        Sspain 

        7 years ago

        Excellent Lens on putting a personalized steampunk outfit together! The style definitely has a unique appeal that you capture in this lens. Thanks for sharing!

      • smithlights profile image

        smithlights 

        7 years ago

        I've never even heard of steampunk. Thanks for filling me in!

      • smithlights profile image

        smithlights 

        7 years ago

        I've never even heard of steampunk. Thanks for filling me in!

      • Nancy Hardin profile image

        Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

        7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

        How crafty of you to think of this...great tips and ideas for steampunk costumes. Thanks for sharing.

      • McAllisters profile image

        Mike and Karen 

        7 years ago from Southern California

        So cool! A fun LotD!

      • profile image

        Marelisa 

        7 years ago

        This is fantastic. I so want a pair of goggles now. :-)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Wow what a Great Lens. I love these Steampunk Costumes! I just love the hats. And I defiantly love the dresses, I just adore that old fashion style, but I think you punked it up to our modern day, Just wonderful.

      • elyria profile image

        elyria 

        7 years ago

        How fun and creative! Congrats on lotd!

      • Dragon 40 profile image

        Ken McVay 

        7 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

        How bizarre...now I'm feeling my age :-)

      • fugeecat lm profile image

        fugeecat lm 

        7 years ago

        This is great. I love the steampunk look and I am going to have to look at how you advise people to alter squirtguns to look steampunk.

      • mbgphoto profile image

        Mary Beth Granger 

        7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

        Interest and fun! congratulations on your LOTD

      • Faye Rutledge profile image

        Faye Rutledge 

        7 years ago from Concord VA

        Interesting lens. Congratulations on LotD!!

      • lbrummer profile image

        Loraine Brummer 

        7 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

        Congratulations on the LOTD. Very cool lens.

      • Susanne-Iles profile image

        Susanne Iles 

        7 years ago from Canada

        I loved, loved this lens! Great work..great tips...and you look fabulous!

      • bassetmonkey profile image

        bassetmonkey 

        7 years ago

        love the lens. thanks for the paint suggestion and the googles suggestion. Awesome!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

      • Shoputopian profile image

        Karnel 

        7 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

        Congrats on Lotd, I love this look, angel blessed!

      • profile image

        pawpaw911 

        7 years ago

        Cool lens. Congrats on LOTD.

      • profile image

        LasgalenArts 

        7 years ago

        Hey I love the steampunk look. I've seen many cool artists creating steampunk art which is awesome too. Good tips on your lens. And congratS!

      • lilymom24 profile image

        lilymom24 

        7 years ago

        Congratulations on Lens of the Day! =)

      • profile image

        mrducksmrnot 

        7 years ago

        Great idea and Congratulations on Lens Of The Day. ? What about renting costumes just for Halloween? That would create a lot more places of small business in different communities both big and small and would boost the economy not only at Halloween but for just about any occasion.

      • IWS LM profile image

        IWS LM 

        7 years ago

        Cool! Congrats on LOTD!!

      • catbehaviors profile image

        catbehaviors 

        7 years ago

        I'd heard of steampunk before but didn't know a thing about it. This lens was very helpful, and congrats on LotD! Looks like it would make an awesome costume. :)

      • profile image

        myraggededge 

        7 years ago

        Love Steampunk. I realise now that it's the look I was trying to achieve with my lace-up granny boots and tweed culottes back in the late 70s. Blessed :-)

      • profile image

        SquidooFlowers 

        7 years ago

        What fun! Thanks for the intro to steampunk costuming :)

      • profile image

        greatlegs 

        7 years ago

        Very cool. Nice job on the LotD! Never really heard of a steampunk before.

      • DuCiel LM profile image

        DuCiel LM 

        7 years ago

        Love the piece by piece approach, very thorough and informative ^_^

      • MS-Strait profile image

        MS-Strait 

        7 years ago

        Great lens. I've heard the term "steampunk" before, but didn't know what it meant. The costumes remind me of something I saw in a Dr. Who episode.

      • MrWidemouth profile image

        MrWidemouth 

        7 years ago

        I like the style :)

      • OOPSY LM profile image

        OOPSY LM 

        7 years ago

        Also, Congrats on your LOTD!

      • OOPSY LM profile image

        OOPSY LM 

        7 years ago

        Great lens!

      • BunnyFabulous profile image

        BunnyFabulous 

        7 years ago from Central Florida

        Very cool! Love the photos and great explanations. Steampunk costuming looks like a lot of fun.

      • profile image

        JennySui 

        7 years ago

        Great lens! Congrats on LOT.

      • Brandi Bush profile image

        Brandi 

        7 years ago from Maryland

        Very fun! Congrats on LotD!

      • profile image

        legaleze 

        7 years ago

        I love the goggles

      • delia-delia profile image

        Delia 

        7 years ago

        Congratulations on LOTD! I like the prop costume with the big gun(?) fun idea...

      • profile image

        happynutritionist 

        7 years ago

        Great fun...I first heard about steampunk through one of your lenses a while back, and was so proud of myself when I recognized it on the Castle episode you mention in your intro thanks fo you:-) Congrats on the Lotd...great lenses on a fun topic.

      • Laniann profile image

        Laniann 

        7 years ago

        Great lens and you also look great in steampunk costuming. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

      • ElizabethSheppard profile image

        Elizabeth Sheppard 

        7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

        How fun! I love steampunk costumers. Thanks for this lens.

      • Diana Vick profile imageAUTHOR

        Diana Vick 

        7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

        @JeremyAce: It can be quite an art. Creativity is the best part of steampunk imo.

      • Diana Vick profile imageAUTHOR

        Diana Vick 

        7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

        @KirstenAshley: No, sorry. I have never been to Philadelphia. Dragoncon maybe?

      • Diana Vick profile imageAUTHOR

        Diana Vick 

        7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

        @Close2Art LM: Ming is actually from 1950s pulp science fiction and so too late in time. You could do a Victorian take on Ming and make it steampunk.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Now I know what is steampunking all about.

        Congrats on LOTD.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        I love steampunk! So far, I haven't dressed up--but it's really tempting because it's just so cool.

        Congratulations on LOTD, and a great lens!

      • junecampbell profile image

        June Campbell 

        7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

        I love this lens! I love Steampunk! You have done a great job!

      • Ilonagarden profile image

        Ilona E 

        7 years ago from Ohio

        Great lens- love the creativity of your costuming. Congrats on LOTD:)

      • Dianne Loomos profile image

        Dianne Loomos 

        7 years ago

        I love the steampunk art genre but had not thought about dressing up. Enjoyed reading this page.

      • profile image

        NevermoreShirts 

        7 years ago

        Awesome, absolutely love Steampunk style.

      • HeartBroken62 profile image

        HeartBroken62 

        7 years ago

        Never heard of it until now...really neat and unique. Great job. Thanks for sharing your passion. Congratulations on LOTD.

      • PainMan1 profile image

        PainMan1 

        7 years ago

        Very cool lens! Great job on this interesting topic!

      • profile image

        squidoolover76 

        7 years ago

        Great lens with some wonderful costumes idea.

      • plrsource profile image

        plrsource 

        7 years ago

        Congrats on a great lens...Everything about your lens is cool.The style the costumes...Everything....GREAT JOB!!!!

      • Close2Art LM profile image

        Close2Art LM 

        7 years ago

        cool idea for Halloween, I could be Ming from Flash Gordon, would that count...

      • lucy439br profile image

        lucy439br 

        7 years ago

        Really interesting :)

      • sncalo lm profile image

        sncalo lm 

        7 years ago

        Love it, love it, love it. Congrats!

      • Diana Wenzel profile image

        Renaissance Woman 

        7 years ago from Colorado

        So much creativity. This is such an enigma to me... the Steampunk movement. I can see how much fun this would be. Congrats on LotD and how you have found your compelling niche.

      • LiteraryMind profile image

        Ellen Gregory 

        7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        Very interesting and very thorough and well done lens. Steampunk is interesting.

      • profile image

        KirstenAshley 

        7 years ago

        You look verrrrry familiar. Did you attend the steampunk session of Dr. Sketchys Philadelphia perchance?

      • katiecolette profile image

        katiecolette 

        7 years ago

        What a fun dress-up idea!

      • Bercton1 profile image

        Bercton1 

        7 years ago

        Nice fashion and great costume. Congratulations on LOTD!

      • profile image

        JeremyAce 

        7 years ago

        modifying the goggles to look right imo is some of the most fun. Though my friend is a wiz with metal bits and carries that off well. Glad to see others talking

      • profile image

        yogeshingress 

        7 years ago

        I thing this is very good lence

      • agoofyidea profile image

        agoofyidea 

        7 years ago

        Congratulations on LOTD. The outfits are awesome. Steampunk is so much fun.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Great inspiration! I especially like steampunk combined with manga

      • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

        June Parker 

        7 years ago from New York

        Another fabulous lens by a lensmaster who really knows and understands her subject. I will be adding this link to my Adult Steampunk Costume lens too. Congrats on LOTD!

      • cdevries profile image

        cdevries 

        7 years ago

        Great Lens! Steampunk is an interesting style... the research has got to be fun. Thanks for the info.

      • profile image

        NidhiRajat 

        7 years ago

        a simple word "WOW". congratulations a ton!!!

      • Kandy O profile image

        Kandy O 

        7 years ago

        Great lens! My friend has a Steampunk bookstore and every once in a while she'll do a sewing class there, too. Just fun stuff. = )

      • profile image

        seegreen 

        7 years ago

        I love steampunk and have often thought about making a costume. You have some great tips. Congrats on LOTD

      • AdeleW profile image

        AdeleW 

        7 years ago

        We have been getting some requests for Steampunk costumes, and I must admit that it does tend to confuse us. This lens has been fantastic,we can now help our customers so much more, thanks for taking the time to share, I will look your other lenses now.

        Congratulations on being chosen as the Lens Of The Day!

      • profile image

        COOKINGFUN66 

        7 years ago

        interesting, never realized that anyone would put such thought into a holloween costume, most people just but them. great lense

      • profile image

        gherishjhoven 

        7 years ago

        Excellent statements. The style was indeed great...!

      • CarolineS01 profile image

        CarolineS01 

        7 years ago

        very nice costume! I wish someday, I can wear one attire like this one!

      • seeker2011 lm profile image

        seeker2011 lm 

        7 years ago

        Different and interesting. Nice lense

      • Zenchantress profile image

        Fayme Zelena Harper 

        7 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

        I'm so happy to see someone who is about my size doing this, because it helps me visualize the clothing so much easier. I'm really dragging my feet making a steampunk outfit. I need all the help I can get. And congrats on being the lens of the day.

      • profile image

        miaponzo 

        7 years ago

        This style is really interesting :) Congrats!

      • BFunivcom profile image

        Allan R. Wallace 

        7 years ago from Wherever Human Rights Reign

        I love the look but have not had a good excuse to rig up. Yet

      • hysongdesigns profile image

        hysongdesigns 

        7 years ago

        always fun looking at SP tho I don't really 'do' it, I have younger friends that do. Passing this along

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        One or two other things:

        For men, if you want to go for easy pant styles, try to find pinstriped flat front pants in adrker colors - they have a very period feel. Pair these with a white high-collared shirt for a nearly instant sp base costume. A tuxedo vest will go a long way in adding to the feel of this look.

        For ladies like me, who simply are unable to wear any sort of heel higher than one inch, try your local Payless Shoe Source - I found a really cute pair of nearly flat lace up boots that come up over my ankle for under $30, and I can wear them all winter. They look a little like a very conservative Doc Martin, only without the platform soles.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)