Some of you may have heard of the genre “Steampunk”, however, not many are aware of the accurate definition and lifestyle of it. It is slowly becoming more and more popular, so I would like to share with all of you the proper way of defining the subculture and embodying the lifestyle.
The word Steampunk refers to a particular aesthetic sub-genre of science fiction in a world where steam power is still used – usually the 19th century or Victorian Britain – but with main elements of fantasy and science fiction, including futuristic technology filled with mechanical gears, clocks, and weaponry. During this time, Late 19th century founders took then-modern technology and set it in, you guessed it, the steam age. Complete with airships, submarines, typewriters, and robotic body parts, everything fantastical and Victorian was re-imagined and submerged as a mechanical device.
There are two basic classifications of Steampunk: the 21st century social movement and a literary movement.
The Steampunk Movement is a social movement characterized by the the return of 19th Century fashion blended with pre-modern imaginative technology. There are a number of major themes incorporated with Steampunk fashion, these include, but are not limited to:
- Victorian Era: Corsets, gowns, bustle skirts, frock coats and top hats are accompanied by goggles, metal wings, gears, and other DIY accessories. Steampunkers believe that everyday items are able to perform unconventional tasks. For instance, a pocket watch would double as a time machine, or a compass could navigate you through the stars.
- Goggles: Crafted by hand in brass, leather, metal and other materials, these are a sign of an active mechanical lifestyle (involved with steam!) that requires great protection.
- Gears and Clocks: These items and that of the like are a rejection of anything manufactured. In the Steampunk world, all devices and personal items are hand-crafted and look creatively busy. You may not even know that the purse your partner is donning can also pull out as a navigational map to somewhere extraordinary!
- DIY and Revamping: You can make absolutely anything embody “Steampunk”. From watches to blue tooth head-seats, coffee tables to kitchen appliances, iPods to even toilet seats, and dresses to coats, it has been created or is being imagined at this very moment.
- Weaponry: No Steampunk outfit is finished without some sort of man-made or modified weapon for… well, taking out your enemies, right?! You never know.
The Literary Movement takes historic events, mainly during the Victorian Era, and applies Science Fiction or Fantasy manners to this period. Steampunkers constantly imagine a future filled with bizarre flying machines, mechanical marvels, fancy steam and technology, and polite society. Think about what should have been instead of what could have been. Sharing similar elements of the social movement, the literary movement involves some general themes of Steampunk literature:
- Aesthetics: Like previously mentioned, Steampunkers are fond of a polite society. You will find their homes filled with plush cushions, tea service, waiters, cigars, and extensive navigation to take you to the moon.
- Alternate History: What if mechanical computers were built in the 1800s instead of the 1900s? Would they be filled with brass, steam and metal? What if aliens and other encounters landed in the 1800s in a brass capsule? What if garments were made completely out of leather, metal and gears?
- Steam Power: Everything in the Steampunk world rejects diesel, gas and electricity. Think more Flinstones than Jetsons ;D
- Exploration: Steampunkers love to explore everything to take them out of the ordinary.
- Start of Industry: American Industrialism began in 1908 with the invention of the Model T. The Steampunk lifestyle is when you would build a car complete from scratch materials using hand-machined metals and wood.
The thing I love most about Steampunk is its versatility and wide use of imagination. It is so broad, yet has specific details when you look deep into it. People who are emerged in this subculture have no limit – the opportunities are truly endless. Some have even taken Star Wars and reconstructed the characters’ garments to fit the Steampunk style. Others may feel that the color palette is neutral – browns, blacks, whites – but that should not be the case! Branch off into something more creative and deeper into the color spectrum, and you will discover something magical. Take a look at the following outfits and devices put together by incredible Steampunk enthusiasts and try to see if you can come up with something yourself. Although some may not look like something you wear on a daily basis, you can definitely put together a casual ensemble or wear one of the thousands of Steampunk accessories to spruce up an everyday, more modern look. Remember, think Victorian, gears, mechanical, steam, classy yet industrial, and giving a nice blend of innovation and aesthetic.
The possibilities, like I said, are endless! I’ll leave you now with your imagination – let it run wild… For more references and how-to’s, check out the following pages: