How to Steampunk?

How to Steampunk?

Authored By George Sprouse

Steampunk is a culture and fictional genre based on an alternative Victorian history. Whether it's in a novel or a costume, steampunk aims to capture a Victorian vibe alongside modern or futuristic ideas. Dressing up in costume is a large part of the culture. Although a steampunk costume is limited only by your imagination, you should begin with a Victorian foundation, and add the sci-fi flair from there. The steampunk culture can be a lot of fun when given a proper chance. Better still, the fandom at large offers a chance to make lifelong friends.

Steampunk fashion is about creating an outfit that delights the senses, entertains the wearer, and engages the viewer. Never feel obliged to take away from the style or appeal of an outfit simply because you fear it will be "not steampunk enough." Do not be misled, coerced, or second-guessed into including a collection of "steampunk status symbols" (goggles are the most infamous, though we do love them) if they do not fit with the outfit, or with the vision, you are attempting to produce.

Imagine a character you want to be. The first step in planning out a successful steampunk character is thinking up a vibrant, interesting character you want to dress as. Because steampunk can be so broad, you can choose to settle for an archetype. Do you want to be a gentleman steampunk? What about a mad inventor, or an aviator? Thinking up an interesting role for your character to play in this imagined world will make it easier to come up with interesting costume ideas.

  • Learn about the origins of Steampunk. Steampunk is seen to have originated from writers Jules Verne and other writers who made their then-contemporary Victorian aesthetic futuristic. Steampunk is influenced in equal parts by history and fantasy.
  • There should be a real-life counterpart to most of these possible archetypes. Look up photos from the Victorian era or early 20th century and look at the things they used to wear. You can use those examples to inform your final costume.


Begin with a Victorian outfit and add from there. Steampunk fashion is essentially a science fiction take on old Victorian elegance. If you're having trouble knowing where to start, it may help to start out with a purely Victorian theme, adding the extra doodads once a foundation is ready. Vests, overcoats and corset-aligned dresses make up the basis of Victoriana.

  • Bowties, top hats, and tweed vests are all part of male Victorian fashion.
  • Corsets and dresses are a staple of female Victorian fashion.
  • Anything that attracts attention while retaining elegance may be seen as falling in line with a Victorian fashionista's ideology. Vivid colours such as deep red, royal blue and sea green were commonly used.These colours may be used in contrast with the "industrial" colours of steampunk.


The most important thing about being steampunk is to have fun and be yourself. That's what this is about. Don't feel compelled to conform with everyone else. Don't feel shy about posting just because you don't want to dress like the other people who you've seen post. And don't post with the question "do you guys think this is steampunk enough?" Post with the statement "I feel that this is steampunk, and here is why I think so." At worst, someone will disagree and then the two of you can discuss your conflicting views, get to know each other, and come to an understanding; or, you can simply feel free to ignore them, and you have every right to do so if you don't feel like arguing over a simple difference of opinion.

To Top