Steampunk is a unique style which has quietly but confidently stepped out of the sub-culture shadows and into the mainstream, or at least the edges of popular fashion; and all without causing too many jaws to drop. Yet, despite this, if you want to indulge in a hard core steampunk shopping trip you‘d better prepare for a major adventure as you have an epic challenge ahead!
What’s with the scarcity?
While some high street shops may feature ultra tame and dumbed down versions of popular steampunk outfits, if you want anything remotely authentic, whether outrageous or merely individual, do factor in the time and effort involved in tracking these things down.
A limited range of browsable items may be found in independent outlets selling alternative or gothic clothing, and if your town has one of these chances are it’s housed in an offbeat shopping area, rather than the main arcades. However, for the best possible choice steampunk fashion fans really need to get online. That is where every taste, size and steampunk sub genre [think cyber wear or post-apocalypse] is covered by competing outlets, and there are also some fantastic interpretations of steampunk clothes which are edgy, but much more wearable in everyday life, and more affordable, on the websites of company’s like Top Tier Style Fashion.
What exactly is considered steampunk style when it comes to clothes?
Don’t be fooled by anyone who claims that steampunk fashion has no rules, that’s a real cheat of a comment. It is fair to say that there are more blurred lines than some fashion styles, and that is perhaps half of the appeal for those who strongly identify with the story behind the look. Steampunk is based on the principle of blending the past with the present, but not of course just any old thing from history. Influenced mainly by the Victorian era, a true Steampunker dresses in a way which represents both the clothes and the ideas of that time, often with a sprinkling of gothic and a pinch of science fiction thrown in for good measure. You could think of it as a fashion genre smoothie!
Identities are created, the more obviously fake the better, and dedicated fans who attend conventions and steampunk themed events will most definitely be looking for the total experience. So a woman may be wearing say a long, Victorian style dress with its long skirts, bustle and high necked blouse. Her escort meanwhile may be promenading in a frockcoat with top hat, silver tipped cane and silk cravat, or for a more casual look an early twentieth century safari suit perhaps? All of this is a world away from modern life, and as you would imagine pretty difficult to find in either a department store or a charity shop. This kind of specialized outfit is almost impossible to find offline, but easy as pie once you have access to a search engine.
Is there nothing less dramatic?
The beauty of steampunk is that it can easily be incorporated into more wearable clothes, making it easier to express your love for the attitude without feeling like all of life is a costume party. Again the chances are unless you have the time and resources to scour small shops dotted around the country you need to look around online for retailers offering goodies like corsets made to show off, sumptuous velvet dresses or quirky leggings. As a style, Steampunk lets you take it pretty much as far [or not] as you choose to, or feel comfortable doing.
Is it easier to source steampunk accessories?
It’s certainly easy, especially as online retailers offering mainstream items like parasols and monocles to sunglasses and watch fobs are so easy to find and order from. Hardcore steampunk enthusiasts may scoff at taking this route, preferring to source or create bespoke items like large belt buckles and gas masks which are fitting for the more extreme costumes they favour.
Considering that the steampunk look as a fashion statement is still just about nudging the edges of popular culture it’s no surprise that sourcing these outfits involves some serious legwork and focused research. Inevitably, the deeper you venture into and identify with a subculture style the harder it will become to access source material from popular and convenient outlets. Still, the thriving online retailers who cater to all steampunk fashion needs do a great job, and who knows, perhaps as time marches on more physical retail outlets will catch on, and make it easier than ever to explore an identity which is off the radar of so many.