If you’re a fan of dressing up in costumes with some flashy accessories, you are bound to love the Steampunk style.
Inspired by the designs of 19th century fashion and steam powered innovations, Steampunk is so much more than just putting a costume on.
It’s a movement that allows people to express their individual style. For a Steampunk look, you can combine tight corsets and industrial goggles with feminine lace gloves and parasols.
But what do you need to look like a Steampunk lady? We have the ultimate guide on different Steampunk styles, and everything on how to dress in true Steampunk fashion.
What Is Steampunk Fashion?
Steampunk and its fashion is a truly unique style concept. Steampunk is generally perceived as more popular with people who adopt a gothic look now and then.
But Steampunk is so much more than being a Goth.
To put it simply, Steampunk combines Victorian-style clothing with some futuristic accessories.
Steampunk mixes the beauty of Western European clothing with that dusty, cold and scientific feel of technological revolution and fictional literature.
This is the reason why Steampunk primarily uses accessories like keys, pocket watches, hats, gears, cogs and many more.
It has given Steampunk an individual feel, and you are guaranteed to spot someone dressing up as a Steampunk woman or Steampunk man very easily.
Over the years, Steampunk has developed a range of different themes, from the traditional Victorian-style Steampunk look, to genres like Military Steampunk and post-apocalyptic Steampunk.
While the techy bit might sound more interesting for men, it’s really a fashion movement that has become much more popular with women.
Of course, there are also Steampunk styles for men but it’s fair to say that usually women have more options when it comes to different looks and styles to try out.
One great advantage with Steampunk is that you are free to try as many different looks as you want.
Whether you combine leather boots with a gently flowing velvet dress, and accessorize the design with a few metal chain jewelry pieces, you are in charge of your look!
How Did Steampunk Fashion Develop?
Even though Steampunk itself wasn’t widely known until the late 20th Century, its fashion originated essentially with the Industrial Revolution, where not only workers and capitalists were looking for success but also those with an eye for art.
This applies particularly for writers. Novels, like the books from Jules Verne, inspired a certain decadency in the late 1800s, and of course these books are very popular even now.
While a novel is ‘just’ on paper, fashion designers then wanted to create something a lot more daring.
This has resulted in a mix of fantasy from fiction and reality from scientific innovations.
When Steampunk started, followers were sewing their own clothes such as bodices, jackets and bustiers.
These items were mostly handmade and customized. However, as the Steampunk movement grew over the years, companies and entrepreneurs caught on to the trend and started producing their own lines of Steampunk clothing and accessories.
With its open approach to individual designs, Steampunk was always bound to change over time.
New ideas inspired by modern science, technology and literature have resulted into small variations in themes and styles.
Today, a range of people enjoy Steampunk. Crafters, fantasy cosplayers, watchmakers, illustrators, make-up artists and musicians all come together in a community to create a stunning, unique Steampunk look.
Steampunk Fashion For Women
Unlike men, women always have more options at their disposal when it comes to fashion.
This doesn’t just apply to your day-to-day dressing, but also to specific movements like Steampunk.
Depending on the theme they choose, women can come up with some exciting, customized looks.
As a woman, you can easily use Steampunk fashion to express your personal preferences and individuality.
Steampunk lends itself to blend styles from different historical eras to create an entirely new fashion trend, and this is what makes each Steampunk lover a fashion trendsetter.
Fundamentally, Steampunk is all about breaking free from convention, using your imagination and being creative. And let’s be honest, dressing up once in a while makes life more exciting!
How To Design Your Steampunk Look
As Steampunk is individual to you, there are thousands of options as to what you could do to design your own Steampunk look.
Choose A Steampunk Theme
The best way to start is with your costume, and a possible theme. This will help you narrow down your choices for things like footwear and accessories further down the line.
Some people perhaps would like to re-create their favorite character from a film or book. Others may prefer to keep their options open to create a look that’s different every time they dress up.
Find The Right Items
For your costume, you first need to decide whether you want to buy a ready-made Steampunk costume with accessories, or, if you are not in a hurry, then making your own costume and Steampunk accessories can be a great way to add a personal touch.
If you are an artist, crafter or simply a creative person, then part of the Steampunk fun is to design and create your own costume.
Shopping around thrift stores and hunting for unique items to make your outfit can be an incredible thrill.
Textiles And Fabrics For Steampunk Style
There are an entire array of different textiles and fabrics you could use for your Steampunk look. Mix and match all or some of these in your costume, Steampunk footwear and accessories.
The below list of fabrics and textiles favored by Steampunk lovers is based on what was available during the Industrial Revolution.
The Best Steampunk Fabrics And Textiles Are:
Using these authentic fabrics is especially important to those who want to stay true to the historic period.
There are also a few fabrics you should definitely avoid for an authentic Steampunk feel.
One of these no-go fabrics is denim. While denim was around during the 19th Century, this fabric was only used for work clothes, and not for elegant formal functions.
Synthetic and synthetic Polyester should also be avoided for a true Steampunk feel as these textiles wouldn’t come on the market until the 20th Century
Saying this, always remember, Steampunk is an imaginative genre, so feel free to experiment with whatever fabrics work for you.
Look Like A Steampunk Woman
Here it is now, our list of the ultimate guide on what you’ll need to look like a Steampunk woman.
For your original Steampunk look, you will need a costume that looks as authentic as possible for your chosen theme.
Your Steampunk costume can include a corset, blouse, dress and more.
Steampunk Woman Shirts And Blouses
If you opt for the traditional clothing for women, then high collars and a garment with a lower cut to show some cleavage as evening is a great option.
You can look for any Victorian-style shirts and blouses. Although white is the most neutral and popular color matching almost everything, any color of your choice will work.
When it comes to style you can go for puffy sleeves or ruffle shirts which look fantastic under a leather corset.
Also look out for lots of buttons and avoid any zips.
Steampunk Woman Corset
The corset is probably THE fashion item that is most identified with Steampunnk. That’s because during the Victorian era, corsets were widely popular.
Almost every woman wore a corset as underneath their different layers of clothing.
A true Steampunk lady however, shows what she’s got, so you should wear your corset outside your clothing and show off the beautiful fabric.
Particularly leather corsets are hugely popular with the post-apocalyptic Steampnnk look.
There are three styles of corsets: Underbust, Overbust and Full Corsets which cover the hips.
You can get a corset from a number of different retailers. Look for vintage corsets in your local shops or online.
You might also want to check with your grandmother or older relatives to see if they have a corset still somewhere in their closet.
Steampunk Woman Dresses And Pants
Probably the second most important Steampunk item to add to your costume is a dress or pants.
In the Victorian era, dresses were huge and elaborate. They were often made up of many different layers of ruffles and lace.
Look for some old Victorian-style dresses online, or you may be able to spruce up any dressed in your closet with lots of lace.
While we mention pants here, they were actually not a traditional item of clothing worn by women in the Industrial era. Pants were strictly work clothes worn by men.
Depending on your chosen Steampunk theme however, you are free to wear pants of your favorite style. Usually dark colors work very nicely.
Black and white striped pants create more of a Goth look but any color you feel comfortable in is fine.
Steampunk Leggings For Women
Same as with pants, leggings weren’t actually available in the 19th Century but with Steampunk open to different styles and fashions, anything goes.
Leggings are so versatile. They can work with many outfits, and some manufacturers even have come up with Steampunk related tights.
The right boots or booties for your Steampunk outfit is a must-have. They can breathe new life into ordinary skirts and slacks, creating an individual style.
You can add details like brass buckles, patterns or any industrial accents to fabrics that feel old-fashioned, like lace and damask.
Sprucing up your footwear can give everyday clothing even the slightest touch of Steampunk.
Steampunk-style boots can boost your boring skinny jeans or pencil skirts in an instant.
Some hearty Steampunk lovers believe that the accessories are what make you a real part of the movement.
Details such as key motifs, Victorian charms, watch works, octopi, cogs or chains, can be included in your style in almost any way you like.
A great place to find Steampunk jewelry online is Etsy. On there you can get so many variations of craft jewelry, including octopuses, mechanical insects, pocket watch pendants, and even leather cuffs with buckles.
Another accessory that adds Steampunk flair is belts. They can be black, brown or tan. You can also find leather belts with multiple buckles or a thin belt with a small pouch (they are super hand to stash away from Steampunk goggles).
If you decided not to wear a full corset, a corset-style belt can work wonders defining the waist. They are also great to combine with all manner of dress.
Steampunk Woman Hats And Headwear
Hats were an essential part of a woman’s outfit in the 19th Century. That’s why hats are also a big part of a women’s Steampunk costume.
Victorian ladies had a large choice of hats for different occasions, and even times of the day. There were hats for evening wear, and hats for the daytime.
Hats were an important symbol of status.
For your Steampunk outfit, look for traditional Victorian style hats. Then you can add a few pretty accessories, like feathers or some bling to make the hat more interesting and individual.
All kinds of hats that are overly elaborate can work. You can choose from bonnets, church hats, wedding hats, Kentucky Derby hats and others to adapt them to your look.
You can even pick a man’s hat and accessorize it to make it look more feminine.
Another cute hat style is the tiny top hats or toppers that perch on the side of the head. They are held on with a headband, and look incredible.
Steampunk Woman Glasses
Steampunk glasses and goggles have seen a huge boom in recent years.
Steampunk glasses can combine the practical sunglasses with a cool look. For an authentic feel, you may want to look for glasses that were available during this era.
While men wouldn’t get away with adapting a pair of ladies glasses, the other way around works beautifully. Women can easily accessorize a pair of men’s glasses to match with their Steampunk outfit.
You can go for welder’s goggles or aviator glasses. Both work well, especially with a post-apocalyptic theme.
If you prefer something a little less flashy and more simple, look for wired rim glasses with round lenses. Any color can work, though rose-colored glasses are especially sweet (we think).
Steampunk Woman Jewelry
The easiest and most affordable way to turn your outfit into a Steampunk look is jewelry.
Simply look for brass-colored jewelry, little animals or bugs made from machine parts, old gears, antique keys and pocket watches are firm favorites.
These pieces shouldn’t be too difficult to find, and you can even get some beautiful, authentic jewelry for relatively little money.
Popular Steampunk Jewelry For Women Include:
- Pocket Watch
- Dangling Earrings
- Hair comb
Medallions And Medals
Similar to jewelry, medallions and medals add a personal touch to a Steampunk look.
Wearing a medal on your chest can also make you feel like you accomplished something, and especially for Military themed Steampunk lovers, medals, badges of honor or stars are a must-have.
Steampunk Umbrellas And Parasols
These days we don’t carry any umbrellas around unless it’s raining, but in the 19th Century, umbrellas and parasols were very popular. They essentially had three functions then: protect you from the rain as well as the sun, and give you privacy.
The best Steampunk umbrella or parasol should be elaborate and made of lace.
Where To Find Your Woman Steampunk Outfit
Find your Steampunk costume and accessories doesn’t have to be difficult. Hunt around in your local shops, yard sales or online.
This is all part of the fun and enjoyment to put your Steampunk outfit together, so it’s worthwile taking your time finding the things that feel right for you.
Your Own Closet
Once you understand more about Steampunk and what theme you may want to go for, you might discover that some items in your closet work perfectly.
Perhaps you can also ask your grandmother or older relatives if they can have a look for anything with a vintage feel in their closet.
Resale And Yard Sales
Keep an eye out for vintage items and old clothing at thrift stores, local yard sales, estate sales.
The more you get involved with Steampunk, the more you find you’ll visit fairs and conventions where vendors and other Steampunkers sell handcrafted, one-off items.
Once you get started, the quest for your next Steampunk gadget or gizmo to accessorize your outfit is endless.
Steampunk has taken off so well in the past years because there are more and more retailers specializing in Steampunk clothing.
But you don’t have to buy new clothes. It’s much more authentic when you look for items from the era of your theme. This could be elements from the Victorian era, or World War I and II, as well as Wild West items.
The wonderful universe of the world wide web offers us more possibilities than ever to shop for exactly the unique things we are looking for.
Check out sites like Etsy, eBay or Amazon for clothing and accessories. Browsing on these sites, you’ll find there is much more than you thought, and you’ll find the handcrafted works of art are actually very affordable.
Variations On Steampunk Fashion
Steampunk fashion is so versatile that it allows almost everyone to create their own unique style.
Some like it more traditionally Victorian, while others prefer the designs inspired by the Wild West or pirates.
If you are a Steampunk beginner, then you may want to start out by choosing one of the variations and get to know the ins and outs of Steampunk. You can always adapt and change the style to whatever fits you.
Here are a few of the main Steampunk trends.
The traditional Steampunk look simply involves dressing in clothing and accessories from the Victorian era.
You are looking for the formal attire here, such as elaborate hats and ruffled dresses, rather than Victorian work wear which consisted mostly of functional denim pants.
For your traditional Steampunk style, you can use accessories like a top-hat or goggles.
Traditional Steampunk purist also stick to colors from the industrial era which was mostly browns and black.
Leather is a commonly used textile for traditional Steampunk, and you can use leather for almost everything, from corsets to boots to belts. Leather is almost a must-have to perfect your Steampunk outfit.
Inspired by the movie Wild Wild West, Western Steampunk has gained huge popularity over the last years.
With this Steampunk variation, you can dress up as a saloon girl including corset, stocking and garters hat.
Although top-hats, guns and holsters may seem mostly for men, the increasing number of women who enjoy Western Steampunk has seen also the ladies adopting typical male items for their own style.
Steampunk Inspired By Goth
Steampunk allows you to wear any color you like, and you can even choose to go for the deep Gothic black.
Black has the advantage that it goes with almost everything, and gives you much greater freedom of combining different items.
For the pirate Steampunk variation, anything nautical goes. This theme uses 19th Century military nautical clothing combined with swords, brass binocular, muskets and other nautical themed accessories.
Inspired by the Victorian era aviators and flying history, this theme can blend with some of the other popular Steampunk variations, like military and pirate Steampunk.
Finish off your costume with some medals, stars or badges of honor for more authenticity and to show your admiration for the great aviators of the past.
Civil War And Military Steampunk
This theme makes perfect sense as the American Civil War took part during the 19th Century.
For the Civil War and Military Steampunk look you can use any old military clothing from the time.
Similar to the aviator variation, it’s a great touch to pin some medals or stars to your chest for more authenticity, and to show how proud you are of all your achievements in life.
Gold threading and brass buttons can add a little bling to your outfit.
The military theme can also be easily combined with the post-apocalyptic Steampunk variation.
While military jackets, pants and boots weren’t originally worn by women, you are free to add a little imagination to your Steampunk outfit. It’s one of the best theme for women who prefer to wear pants.
This particular Steampunk variation has seen a radical increase in followers. The post-apocalyptic theme can stretch with your imagination, far beyond the boundaries of traditional Steampunk.
Of course, the idea of what might have happened if the Victorian era had seen a post-apocalyptic disaster isn’t really the original Steampunk concept, but it shows an immense amount of imagination.
Just like with modern end of the world novels and films, post-apocalytic Steampunk uses accessories like gas masks and guns.
In fact, weapons play an essential part in this theme, and it’s where you can use all your creativity to come up with some strange, homemade weapons. Generally, the bigger and weirder, the better.
This theme also plays right into the new favorite cosplay concept of zombie attacks.
Other Steampunk Themes
We can go on forever talking about the many themes of Steampunk. Some Steampunkers combine the typical Steampunk accessories with other cultures or time periods, for example Bamboo Punk or Rice Punk.
These subgenres mix Asian and oriental influencers with Steampunk gadgets. They usually use patterned Chinese textiles and rich colors as a base for putting a leather corset or anything else you can think of.
Steampunk is not just a way of dressing for events, fairs or cosplay. It’s a way of expressing yourself, and most of all, Steampunk is a movement that has gained fans all around the world.
It doesn’t take much time or money, if you like the Steampunk style and want to try it yourself.
You might even find that some items in your wardrobe are already very well suited for Steampunk. Just add a few techy or industrial-looking accessories to make your Steampunk attire complete.
Whether you choose a military, aviator or pirate theme for your Steampunk outfit, it’s good to start off with designing your costume first, and then accessorize as much as possible.
The more you get into Steampunk, the more you will learn what you like and what works best with your look.
With the many retailer and online shops specializing on Steampunk clothing, you are never short of options, but if you want to create a Steampunk look on a budget, then the idea of DIY Steampunk is a good choice.
After all, part of the Steampunk concept is that you create your own look, and this means choosing each individual item that works for you and makes you individual.
Above all, remember that Steampunk and many other fashion styles are there to be fun, and they are a way to express your individuality.