Steampunk Is Vintage – Part 2


Another material that is instantly associated with a particular period in time. The leather in steampunk is not the modern black clad leather of 80s punk rockers, but in fact the more natural tan-brown leather. The addition of this material is everywhere, allowing characters to wear belts, fanciful waistcoats, hats and boots that all fit within the theme. It also makes for a great canvas for more pieces that don’t fit anywhere else. Props that require harnesses or sheaths can be slotted into leather holsters just like they would be back in the day, and once again the look is not compromised by a rucksack or a gym bag. Leather often comes studded too, which helps the yellow metals get another appearance and makes outfits look a lot more hand made. This of course is the point, as leather attire used to be made by leatherworkers just as metal items were crafted by blacksmiths, the absence of mass production really brings home the truly vintage feel.


Whether top hats, bowler hats or cog-laden fascinators, steampunk folk are commonly seen with some sort of additional headwear. This is no doubt just to give them something else to design but it also seconds as another nod to a time gone by. It is easy to forget today when hats are a purely functional item, but not too long ago everyone wore a hat. Find an old picture of Britain and you will see not just men but women and children all wearing hats. The upper class wore tall ones and the poor would be seen in flat caps, but it was uncommon for someone outdoors to be seen without one, those who were automatically were perceived as paupers or socially inept, as it was more than polite to cover your head. Steampunk brings this outdated sentiment back with its many hat variations.

Suits and Dresses

When you go to a public place today, one of the most common items of clothing are probably blue jeans, other than this there is likely no real common thread between the items worn by one individual or the next. From the material that could be any mix of classic or modern synthetic fibre to the actual style of the article from t-shirt to crop top or hoodie. Back in the day fashion wasn’t so diverse but what was common were waist coated suits and a tight waisted, often large backed dresses. Both of these are a standard in steampunk cosplay and of course in vintage fashion circles.

Desaturated Colours

Though the very young and naïve would be wrong to look back at a black and white photo and think that one day someone invented colour, their eyes would be correct in detecting that there wasn’t much variation on the world’s palette. It only takes a glance at some steampunk to notice that this is another rule that follows through to all aspects of their design. Unlike the psychedelic colours of the 60s and 70s, steampunk reverts to a time where dyes, pigments, paints and any other means of creating vibrant colour simply weren’t around. Costumes are often monochrome, with browns and dark earth tones offering the only real variance, this is another indicator that the movement is astoundingly vintage.


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