It’s the rumble of air-ships in the distance, the shivers of coal and pipe smoke. It’s the rattle of pistons and the slow turns of gears. Steam punk -- a literary genre established in 1987 -- is a movement unlike any other. Within it stirs elements of fantasy, science fiction and history, allowing it to serve as a speculation on what could have been, had the Victorian era developed differently.
As of 2011, it has began to invade the public’s awareness. Steam punk devotees are offering this whimsical -- and occasionally wild -- form of fashion to their every day lives. Trends have appeared, styles have been shaped, and the result is a look that is thoroughly one-of-a-kind:
It’s an assumption of excess: steam punk ensembles are thought to be collections of endless layers and designs, the tangle of pinstripes. Such an assumption is not quite true, however. The principles of this movement are luxury and functionality, and the garments reflect this.
Foundational elements (such as tunics, coveralls, blouses, trousers and bustled skirts) are often simple. These pieces are intended for comfort and embody the workman sensibilities of the genre. Favored fabrics include cotton, linen and leather. Styles also offer a decidedly Victorian appeal, with modesty preserved.
The yeoman dedication to practicality is seen in all steam punk costumes. However, there is also a sense of whimsy displayed in all details. Cogs and clockwork, the precision of a pocket watch: this is a movement defined by all things unusual. All outfits are unique, reflecting their creators’ personalities, but typical trends include sword-canes, goggles, elaborate time-pieces, parasols and fingerless gloves. Rich fabrics and metallic finishes are appropriate. Consider copper, bronze and brushed nickel to add authenticity (as well as ensure durability).
The Victorian age was a shaped to revolutions -- industrial changes, political reforms and the blurring of social classes (with individuals scrambling through the hierarchy). Steam punk, however, tends to offer more distinct designs. Outfits reflect individuals and their claimed careers: explorers, botanists, physicians, magicians, coal-miners, soldiers and more are all carefully exemplified. This is due to the fantastical nature of the genre. Wearers represent characters rather than ideals.
The quest for knowledge is relentless -- and all steam punk accessories allow that quest to be accomplished a little more easily. Items are meant to evolve; technology is supposed to change. This is the belief that propels this philosophy, and individuals wishing to follow the trends must adopt new designs. Computers can be offered wooden frames and brass keys. Bicycles can be modified with copper components. Simple glasses can be shaped to powerful magnifiers (with goggle-eyed appearances), and lamps can flicker like Tesla coils. The intention is to reinvent what already exists...and make it better.
Steam punk is a movement that can’t be denied -- and, of course, why would you wish to try?