Steampunk Costume Ideas and Just What Is Steampunk?

In (b) Costume Party Tips, (h) Cosplay Costumes Central by threetigersmedia

After talking to a few of my friends this weekend, I became aware of a clothing genre called Steampunk. Wanting to know more about the topic, I did some research on the internet to get all of the details on what exactly Steampunk is.

What is Steampunk and what are some costume ideas? Steampunk is defined as a sub-genre of science fiction that mixes 19th century clothing styles with modern day technology. The entire idea of Steampunk is romanticizing the industrial steam-powered era with the concept of time travel backwards into this time period.

Some great ideas for a steampunk costume include a Steampunk assassin, jetpack, hunter/huntress of steammonsters, and Steampunk twins for a pair of friends or siblings. You can also get creative and mix Steampunk clothing with movie characters. For example, you can modify a Star Wars costume to fit the Steampunk vibe. 

The Steampunk style is a major trend amongst fans of the Science Fiction genre of entertainment. Its is essentially a combination of a lot of different concepts that has manifested itself into its own separate sub-genre and clothing style.

There are plenty of places where you might see people dressed in Steampunk, from cosplay conventions to themed parties, holidays like Halloween, and even day to day life. In this article, we will be breaking down exactly what Steampunk is, along with some costume ideas that you can use for your first outing.

women's steampunk costume

What Is Steampunk?

When most people hear the term Steampunk, there are probably a lot of different images that go through their minds. The most obvious assumption would be to analyze the two separate words that make up the phrase: Steam and Punk.

This is a great place to start while trying to explain the overall essence of this style of clothing. To begin, the “steam” part of the word comes from the industrial steam-powered era several decades ago.

The people who are inspired by and follow the Steampunk clothing are very interested in the time period where locomotives and steam trains first became a widespread mode of transportation.

This is, of course, mixed in with the style of clothing known as punk. However, the entire style is much more complex than just the meanings of these two words put together.

In this section, we will be going over a full breakdown of what exactly Steampunk is. Take a look at the list down below to find the characteristics of Steampunk clothing.

Characteristics of Steampunk Clothing:

  • Sub-Genre of Science Fiction
  • Combination of modern day technology and 19th century clothing styles
  • Old-fashioned clothing pieces (Victorian) with a modern twist
  • Some common components include top hats, walking sticks, goggles, metal, lace, etc.
  • Focuses on light brown and copper tones instead of black

Steampunk itself is actually a sub-genre of Science Fiction. This is due to the fact that this concept combines modern day technology and 19th century clothing styles. There have been several Steampunk books and movies that have surfaced in the media over the years, dating all the way back to the 1980s.

A lot of these materials feature plot lines that include Victorian era times with some kind of incorporation of time travel. The main idea of the genre is the technology of the modern day moving backward in time to the point of the locomotive industrial era.

The characters in these stories are usually confused by the machines that were brought back in time from the future, or the present day in this case, which is entertaining to viewers and fans. Sometimes the technology will attack the characters living in this previous century as well, and a battle will ensue.

When you see Steampunk clothing, you will notice old-old-fashioned clothing pieces that are in a Victorian style. However, they have a slightly modern twist when it comes to the accessories.

You might see a Steampunk woman wearing a ruffled 19th century blouse with a similar skirt, but she is wearing boots with buckles, copper jewelry, and a lace hat. Similarly, you could find a Steampunk man in an old-fashioned suit with a top hat, but he has shiny metal goggles on with leather gloves.

The main colors and aesthetics that you will see in Steampunk outfits include light brown and copper tones. A lot of people will get the Steampunk style confused with Gothic, which mostly focuses on black, but the two couldn’t be much more different than they already are.

Men's steampunk adventurer costume

Steampunk Costume Ideas

To give you a better visual of what Steampunk clothing is as well as some ideas to help you put together your own similar costume, we will be going over some Steampunk costumes that have already been created by others. Take a look at the list down below and keep reading to get some inspiration in this aspect.

Here are some Steampunk costume ideas:

  • Steampunk Assassin
  • Steampunk Jetpack
  • Hunter/Huntress of Steammonsters
  • Steampunk Wolf Hunter/Huntress
  • Steampunk twins
  • Gothic Steampunk
  • Steampunk Princess Leia
  • Steampunk Star Wars (group costume)

As you can see, there are so many different ideas that you can implement into your own Steampunk costume. You can look these ideas up on Google to find a ready-to-wear version that can come directly to your door, or you can use it to come up with a similar DIY project.

Either way, there are so many ways that you can go with a Steampunk costume. You can really be anything that you want to be and implement the basic Steampunk style components.

Take, for example, a lot of the items on this list of costume ideas. There are things like Assassins and Hunters. Even though this might not be a ready-to-wear costume or something that you have already seen throughout Steampunk entertainment, you can alter anything to fit this style.

You can also create group Steampunk costumes from other movie and book characters. Included in the list above is Princess Leia and Star Wars characters. If you have a few friends with you, a group costume can be coordinated.

This can be done by purchasing and assembling Star Wars costumes for each character that you are dressing up as, and incorporating some Steampunk elements like copper metal, lace, top hats, and goggles.

Regardless of what you choose as your Steampunk costume, you certainly can’t go wrong with any of the starter ideas that were mentioned in this section.

phantom of the opera vintage venetian steampunk mask

How To Put Together a Steampunk Costume

Whether you are attending a Steampunk convention or you are dressing up for a party or holiday, you might need to put together a cool Steampunk costume. There are several components that go into assembling this kind of outfit, which we will go over in this section.

Here are some steps you can follow in order to put together a Steampunk costume:

  1. Choose your top and bottom
  2. Find accessories (ie corset, jewelry, gloves, etc.)
  3. Find some boots to go with your outfit
  4. Add some stockings or leggings (for women)
  5. Finish the outfit with a hat and goggles/glasses

The first thing that you will need to do in order to put together your Steampunk costume is to choose your top and bottom. For men, this can be a full suit. For women, on the other hand, there can be a choice between different styles of Victorian blouses and skirts to mix and match.

Once you have assembled the base of your costume, you will need to accessorize it. Women can find a leather corset and copper jewelry, while men can look for knuckle gloves and other similar accessories that incorporate the metal aspect into the outfit.

When it comes to shoes, leather boots are the best options. Women can add stockings or leggings with lace patterns to make the costume more elaborate. Finally, finish off the outfit with a lace or top hat, and some cool Steampunk goggles and you will be ready to go.

men's steampunk vintage tailcoat

How To Assemble a Steampunk Outfit on a Budget

As you can see, there are a lot of individual components that go into assembling a Steampunk outfit or costume, from the basic top and bottom all the way to your jewelry and smaller accessories like hats and even goggles.

The entire idea of dressing in Steampunk costume is to go over the top. When you attend a party or convention of this nature, you will see a lot of elaborate outfits with so much attention to detail. This can seem intimidating to someone who isn’t comfortable spending all of the money to match everything that is needed for this kind of ensemble.

Steampunk costumes are supposed to be creative, and there is not just one way to dress when you are trying to accomplish this look. As a result, there are plenty of ways to alter your plans in order to make sure that you aren’t breaking the bank while trying to achieve your perfect outfit.

In this section, we will be going over some great ways that you can save money on your Steampunk costume. Take a look at the list down below to find some ideas, and keep reading to get all of the details.

Here are some ways to save money on your Steampunk outfit ensemble:

  • Shop at thrift stores and discount shops
  • Look for sales, coupons, and promos
  • Make a lot of your own accessories and pieces instead of buying them online
  • Trade out some of your old clothing for a new outfit
  • Use your existing or old clothing to make new pieces for your costume

The best way to get deals on clothing is to shop at thrift stores and similar discount shops. If you can save on each individual piece, your wallet will thank you when the entire thing is assembled.

Look for sales, coupons, and promos for wherever you are shopping. Regardless of where you buy your pieces, though, you will always save more money making your own pieces than you would buying them from Steampunk sites.

You can use your existing or old clothing to make new pieces or trade some of it out for something else that you might want. Either way, you will be able to customize your costume more and avoid the marked up prices at the same time if you opt for making your own costume and accessories.

With all of the tips that were offered in this article, you will be on your way to assembling the perfect outfit.

assorted antique steampunk accessories