Steampunk  æsthetics

Æsthetics in and of Steampunk: So what is this all about?

    I Just a few thoughts

    II The Materials of the Gods

   III Daily Garb


I Just a few thoughts

(I've got something else to say about Steampunk. It concerns Expeditions in the Steampunk Aera and a very short introduction to Steampunk)

This is my collection of thoughts about all things I consider relevant to Steampunk as a lifestyle, as a subculture and as an aesthetic influence in and on my life.

This is also an ongoing project things will be added constantly. There are many things where I can see Steampunk touching various aspects of my life and where its manifestations influence the growing subculture of Steampunks in their daily life, be it in there sense of dress, their choice of transportations, what they eat and drink if and what kind of poetry they read and write and so on. 

Finally this is a highly personal view on Steampunk and in itsself it is therefor likely to be ridden with contradictions, inconsistencies and so on, but : By Jove, I don't care!

So, let's get on with it, shall we?

Steampunks look like this, but this is only a sample and there may  in due time develop new styles:


The most visible part of  Steampunk, especially to outsiders, is apparel. Since Steampunk borrows heavily and deliberately  from what was fashionable in the Victorian, Wilhelminean and Edwardean Aeras, you are likely to find the following:

Top Hats:

Gwntleman wearing top hat



 (to me the definig element of steampunk apparel)
Brass goggles, very Steampunk

(so far I've only seen Steampunkettes wearing them)
Corsett - not only for Steampunks

The list does not end here, of course. In fact, the list of apparel to create a steampunk costume, possible combinations with more common clothing and various bits of miscelaneous equipment is so long, I can not hope to give an all-including account. For this matter I refer you to the Playing Dressup Thread on the Brassgoggles Forum.

Brassgoggles is the place to be for everything concerning Steampunk. Well, at least as far as my humble opinion is concerned.

And there is also the thing about steam-cybernetics, they come in many shapes and sizes and you can see them on the lady kneeling in the picture above. She is carrying/wearing a steampunk-cyber-gattling gun. Other examples of  this weird science approach to style, outlook and garb are:

Steampunk Watch

And then there is this lighthearted sums-it-up-picture:

   Steampunk Lincoln

So, this is obviously not the end of the steampunk wardrobe, far from it. It's just something that strikes the eye. As I have said, Steampunk Aesthetics borrow heavily from what was fashionable towards the end of the 19th century. By now there are a number of dedicated sites which provide information and/or supply the apparel of this aera: Gentlemen's Emporium is one such example as is Victoriana.

There are also various sites which are useful if you have a more militaristic approach to Steampunk fashion or simply like to give you uniform fetish asort of vintage patina:

What Price Is Glory is one example, but there are many Militaria Sites online these days, so browse and take your pick.

But there's only so much you can wear and there is so much more...

II Steampunk Æsthetics: Brass and polished hardwood - the materials of the gods

Today it seems, clear, sharp lines (recently with more rounded edges), chrome and other silver-grey metallic colours, aluminium, titanium, carbonfibers and other artificial materials, such as the ubiquitous and dreaded plastic in all it forms and degrees of toughness are all the materials there are.

However, there was once an Age when æsthetics were more divers, when not so much creativity was suffocated and drowned by regulations concerning shape, size and various other features. 

In short: The more or less romanticized version of the time roughly between 1865 and  1925, althouh the later date is deeply inside Dieselpunk. If you browse the interior of an Antiques Dealer you will get an idea what I am on about, also, the following image is a beautiful and drastic example of the Æsthetics of Steampunk:


Another fine example along the samle lines is:


This very fine (and fully functional) example is quoted quite often, and, as you can see: it is manufactured of the materials of the gods: Brass and polished hardwood.

III Daily Garb

The spectrum of styles and elements Steampunks integrate into their daily garb is wide and impressive. I shall only provide a short list of elements I choose for my daily dress. Actually, nothing too high-key, but for the interested reader, I can readily recommend the Playing Dress-Up Thread on the Brassgoggles Forum.

My personal choices:

First and foremost the Pocket Watch, companion to every Steampunk Gentleman:


I consider the pocket watch a must accesory for the Steampunk gentleman, which I endeavour to be. Pocket watches (please, by Jove, mechanical pocket watches, not the modern battery powered models) come in many styles and there are fitting models for the traveling gentleman, the adventureous lady, the intrepid explorer, the pirate and so on.

If you wear  shirts quite often, as I do,  there's another classic accessory which is quite steampunky and which goes together nicely with a pocket watch:

The Waist Coat:

Steampunk Waistcoat

Waistcoats come in many shapes and colours and materials and you can combine them with suits, denim or even khakis. You get extra pockets and a place to carry your pocket watch around in style.

I have also noticed that wearing a shirt, tie, waistcoat and a dark pair of dark trousers leads to vastly improved service in stores. But than again Germany is considered a desert when it comes to customer service, so every improvement is remarkable.

Something I also wear when I can are breeches. This is a bit dodgy in Germany, since most Germans react irritated whe they see someone who wears something which could be part of a vintage uniform. It is quite easy people think of you as being of disreputable political opinion, especially if you wear them with boots to match....

Oh! There is something I forgot. A rather extravagant garment these days but something I have worn in the Englischer Garten and while shopping for groceries in winter, the pilot's cap:

Pilot's cap

Sometimes you simply cannot think about some of the more obvious items in everyday Steampunk-style dress, because you are so used to it. This is the main reason while the following item appears so late:

The trusted companion abort an aiship, submarine, the desert, savanna and the pavement of the city: The boot.

Here are just a few examples, but the list goes on and on. 

First, two model I own and wear regularily:

Regular Army Boot

A regular army boot, available online from various vendors and also at regular army surplus stores near you. Goes well with almost every kind of gear, even a suit. Actually. I find it more Steampunk to wear a pair of boots with a suit than regular shoes, even if the shoes are Steampunky themselves. I think wearing combat boots and a suit is a nice oddity to have. Also: Most people do not notice anyway.

Next, a more specialised kind of boot you do not find easily, I had mine made by the highly recommendable people at Civil War Boots:

German Low Boot

Rather ufortunately, these boots have nailed soles, so they wreak havoc with parquet, but they are excellent if you are going for a picknick in the woods or a public park.

And of course, the ladies also get quite a selcetion. Actually, there is a lot more footwear about for the ladies, which combines nicely with a Steampunk outfit. A very splendid example are these boots:

Steampunk Lady's boots

They are even designated Steampunk boots in the catalog at Clockwork Couture, a site which caters exclusively to female customers and gentlemen with ladylike tastes. If you are a Homo Sapiens Sapiens of the female persuasion, I recommend you pay the site a visit.

(To Be Continued)