Steampunk fashion is a very distinctive style where Victoriana meets Science Fiction Warrior Princess. Bustles, ruffles, frills, corsets, waistcoats, brocade, petticoats, flares, flounces, shiny buttons, poufy sleeves, lace, velvet, spat boots, tailcoats, top hats and ornate jewellery pieces are combined with a big dose of military hard edge. A strong element of fantasy is expressed through accessories like ray guns, driving goggles and timepieces that are often included in outfits. There’s also a post apocalyptic sensibility when gas masks and ragged clothing are thrown into the mix.

Here are some examples that capture it well.

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A few of our forum members suggested a steampunk ensemble for Halloween and I have happily obliged. Although few will be able to pull together the look from their wardrobes alone, it’s fun to break down the components. 

The components: 

Victorian Blouse: You need a solid dandy and romantic frilly, flouncy and poufy blouse in a soft fabric or lace. If you don’t have one of those a peasant blouse will do. 

Corset: You can buy fairly affordable steampunk corsets on Amazon if you’re after an authentic look. But just about any corset will work, as will a fitted waistcoat if a corset is not in reach. Layer it over the blouse for a burlesque bombshell effect. 

Bottoms: Combat pants and bustled skirts are popular steampunk bottoms. Add a frilly petticoat to the bustled skirt if that tickles your fancy. Leather/pleather or pinstripe leggings layered under very short suede A-line or wrap skirts are also good. Bell bottoms in stretchy fabric are another way to go, as are leather short shorts. 

Topper: A topper is not essential, but think tailcoats and 19th century military jackets to top off your outfit. Must be fitted. 

Footwear: Steampunk footwear generally goes two ways: combat boots or Victorian boots. So think all sorts of moto boots, lace-up boots, riding boots or boots with spats across all sorts of shaft and heel heights. Some steampunk boots have ornate detailing on them, which is the cherry on top. 

Accessories: The finishing touches of the outfit are what make it particularly steampunk. 

  • Hosiery: Think striped hose, lace hose, or hose with lace detailing on the side seams. 
  • Belts: Think grommet belts, and belts with pouches and straps.
  • Harnesses: A harness can be worn over a blouse instead of a corset.
  • Headgear: Top hats both regular size and miniature are most popular. Decorate them with feathers and flowers. 
  • Eyewear: Flying goggles or small round sunnies are best. 
  • Gloves: Think fingerless leather gloves.
  • Watches: Think vintage timepieces like pocket watches.
  • Jewellery: Victorian jewellery is key. 

Don’t be afraid to pack on the accessories for a very maximal look. Create a tonal effect by layering the same colour over and over again. Or create a high contrast effect with light and dark neutrals. 

Ensemble: Steampunk Halloween

Steampunk fashionistas create extremely intricate outfits that are very dramatic and theatrical. The elements of the outfits are often bought from steampunk retailers, or they sew and make the items themselves. 

Very intricate steampunk outfits are a little impractical to wear each day, but steampunk-lite is quite manageable. Just substitute some of the pieces with denim and leave off the theatrical accessories. You could switch out the bottoms for jeans, or wear the skirt with a denim jacket instead of a corset. Or simply rock steampunk footwear any way at all.