The following is a step-by-step guide on How to look like a Steampunk Woman. This guide is here to help you get a number of woman's steampunk costume ideas and a resource to a number of items to help you better understand, what is steampunk fashion.
For Steampunk beginners this guide will help you get a basic Steampunk style outfit for woman together quickly and where to look for items. Great to help you put together a Steampunk Halloween Costume. If you plan to continue with Steampunk fashion you will find more items at Steampunk events and learn about steampunk fashion females and how to make a few unique items on your own as you become more familiar with the Steampunk community.
This sub-genre has been gaining popularity in the last number of years. As with most fashion trends, Woman has many more options and variations to choose from than men. This look takes older style clothing from the 19th Century and adds a number of gadgets and accessories. Many clothing items if they look to new are aged with coffee stains and sandpaper to give it that worn vintage look you're after.
Some of the clothing styles of the Victorian era are still being made today and can easily be found at many retail stores, thrift stores and your grandmother’s closet are all great places to find pieces for your Steampunk outfit. Here are some steampunk women's clothing ideas and If you want more info on where this genre came from. See What Is Steampunk All About?
Table of Contents
How to look like A Steampunk Woman and what is steampunk fashion?
A popular quote to describe Steampunk
“ What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner”
There seem to be two major Steampunk camps
For the purists, steampunk fashion for females strive for period accuracy and are more into dressing up in Victorian style as was in the day with a few Steampunk embellishments. These people appreciate the historical aspect of the genre and enjoy going back in time.
The Free Spirit
Then you have the free spirits, people that are attracted to Steampunk because of the basic look and rebellious nature of the genre. These people are probably already involved in Goth or Cosplay and bring other influences to Steampunk. Creating new and creative ideas that continually add to the mix. A good place to see free spirit Steampunk style is at Burning Man. Burning Man is an annual festival in the western United States at Black Rock City.
This camp tends to wear modern clothing like tight pants or leggings and mix this with other pieces of clothing from the Victorian era. Like corsets, hats with goggles and numerous other trinkets and gadgets that can be added.
How to dress Steampunk
6 Basic Steampunk Rules
- Steampunk is a Victorian-era industrial fashion that has been lifted from the pages of science fiction books about a society run by steam.
- Start with Victorian-era style clothing and add from there. This era was the first to take advantage of steam power. During the latter part of the 19th-century was a very industrial era with many new inventions and technologies. Steam power was a major game-changer and was affecting and changing everyday life. Steam was also expected to develop into a major power source but somehow the petroleum industry took over and steam became a sideline. This is why the premise of this genre is placed in this time period.
- Accessorize. Create an outfit that delights the senses. Although there are rules, this genre can be a mixture of gear, gadgets, and gizmos to create your own unique style. Accessories are what makes this style pop.
- There is no Steampunk color. In my research, many Steampunk aficionados say that Steampunk colors are brown, black and white, correct to the Victorian time period. But Steampunk is fantasy writing, a world of comparatively advanced technology that is capable of creating vibrant colors and complicated man-made patterns. This can make the justification for any color.
- You can mix other genres with Steampunk. This is in keeping with the Steampunk philosophy. Use what you have, be creative and foster individual diversity.
- There are no real rules. You will meet people that are more opinionated on this issue than others. But the Steampunk community despite its rebellious nature seems to attract wonderful friendly people. The only rule that is important is to have fun and break free from your everyday life.
Steampunk Fashion For Females
Women did not wear pants during this time period and they certainly did not have yoga pants. Lora Croft is a bit of an influence on this look. Badass sexy women from another time. As you follow this post you will see basic Steampunk rules. But rules are meant to be broken. Since Steampunk is based in fiction you can make up whatever story or character you want.
I have researched and presented in this post as much information as I could find. I am sure some expert out there may disagree with some of my findings. Feel free to comment below to add your Steampunk expertise. So let's show you how to look like a Steampunk Woman.
Interpretations of Steampunk
Many people bring Steampunk Fashion into their everyday life. They may not put on a full costume but adding a little Steampunk accessory to their look. Also, many people decorate their home with a Steampunk theme, older antics with accents of brass and tubes or have items like Steampunk keyboards and Steampunk lamps.
Finding Steampunk clothes, particularly for women, can be easily found anywhere if you know what you are looking for. The last few years Steampunk products have been popping up. Take some time to learn about the look you're after because you can find similar style products with no Steampunk name for less money.
If you know what you're looking for you can put together a steampunk outfit pretty much in any modern clothing store. They sell ready-made Steampunk costumes that will do in a pinch or to get you started but Steampunk is more about creativity, individualism and what something means to you.
They add unique accessories and clothing items to add to the individual look. Steampunk is a highly creative genre. With a creative imagination, you can make many things work and you can be sure to show up at a function and no one else will have what you’re wearing.
Variations on Steampunk Fashion
This look is simply dressing in clothing from the Victorian era. Formal attire is usually the look you're after. Add a few additional accessories like goggles and top-hat. This is a great variation for people who are sticklers for period-accurate apparel. This look also uses more browns and weathered worn look for a less formal look.
If you like the vintage leather look Steampunk fashion is for you. Adding leather accessories can turn almost any outfit into Steampunk.
This Steampunk variation has gained more popularity since the movie Wild Wild West an excellent example of Western-style Steampunk. Top-hats are still popular but cowboy hats, guns, and holsters with a pocket watch with chains give it the western look. For women dressing up, a saloon girl is a popular style, corset, garters hats, and stocking.
Goth influenced Steampunk
You can use any color you want as long as it's Black.
This theme uses 19th-century military nautical clothing with Steampunk accessories adding musket, sword accessories, brass binoculars, and any other elaborate shiny gizmo can be added.
This theme uses the Victorian era aviator clothing. As with any Steampunk look, the accessories are what make this look over the top. Pirate and aviator variations are often blended giving us the sky pirate. A blend of aviator and pirate.
Civil War and Military Steampunk
The Civil War took part during the 19th century so any old military clothing from this time will work well. With the added bling of brass buttons and gold threading. The military theme works well with the post-apocalyptic crowed. This theme does not have as many options for women as for men.
If you want to dress period accurate. Unless you want to break the rules and wear men's military jacket pants and boots that certainly were not worn by women of the time. But creating a very interesting look.
The main accessory to achieve this look is the Service Tropical Pith Helmet and some old kaka clothing or other formal wear from the time period. This is a good theme for women to pull off wearing pants.
This Variation stretches the boundaries of traditional Steampunk and goes outside the normal time period. This variation is what would have happened if during the Victorian era there were a great apocalyptic disaster. This look features gas masks as a key accessory.
Weapons are a very important factor, especially strange homemade weapons. The bigger and stranger the better. This is in keeping with the post-apocalyptic lawless setting. This Variation also blurs into the recent Zombie trend that has been very popular in the last number of years. Requiring special weapons to kill Zombies.
To keep you guessing there are a number of other subgenera's that mix steampunk elements with other culture or time periods a good example is Bamboo Punk or Rice Punk.
This subgenus mixes oriental influence with the gadgets of steampunk. Using rich-colored and patterned Chinese textiles as a base putting a leather corset over top adding a top hat and goggles and whatever else you can think of.
Starting your Steampunk Costume
Pick a character or theme you are after. Below are a few examples of Steampunk Themes but they can be interchanged and there are a number of other characters you can find in books and movies or you use your imagination and create your own character.
Start with costume elements
This will help you narrow down what you are looking for. Some people like to create a character and grow that character over time. Others like to have a number of options available to create a different look every time.
If you need a costume quickly for an event then purchasing ready-made Steampunk costume and accessories can be purchased online or at some nearby stores in a pinch.
Often crafters, artists, and very creative people are attracted to the Steampunk genre. Part of the enjoyment of getting your costume together is crafting some neat accessories and shopping around thrift stores hunting for unique items to make your outfit personal and over the top.
Fabrics and Textiles to use for Steampunk
Fabrics to Avoid
Denim You may say, hey denim was available during the 19th Century and with that, you would be right. But denim then unlike now was strictly considered work clothes. Men of the time only wore jeans to do work any formal function jeans were not worn.
Knits I found this listed in my research with no explanation as to why. Knitting was available at the time but I guest by using knitted items would give the look more of a Steamgrandma than a Steampunk look.
Synthetics Polyester and synthetic were not to come for a number of years.
The list of fabrics and textiles that are favored is based on what was available during the industrial era. Important to some purists of Steampunk that want to stay accurate to the time period but as Steampunk is an imaginative genre you can make whatever fabric you like work.
Places to find your Steampunk woman outfit
Your own closet
Once you start learning and understanding the Steampunk look you may find some items already in your wardrobe that would probably work.
Hint: check your grandmother's closet if she will let you, she may have a few items that would work well to get a vintage look.
Keep an eye out at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales and your local Kiijii for older clothing items that could work. As you get more involved with Steampunk you will find at many conventions and fairs, vendors and other Steampunkers selling handcrafted one-of-a-kind items. Part of the attraction of this genre is the endless quest for that next killer gear gadget or gizmo accessorize to add to your outfit.
There are many retailers like Charlotte Russe that sell clothing that will work. Look for Victorian elements, military elements, western elements, and other Steampunk elements. You will learn to know what to look for, as you get more familiar with the genre. If you are a little crafty with the right style shirt and a few minor alterations you can transform a modern-day blouse back in time.
There are a number of places online to purchase Steampunk items like Etsy, eBay, Amazon and more. They sell clothing items, accessories, and home décors like lamps and clocks.
This is where you will find a Steampunk favorite, the mechanical arm. The cost is not cheap but many of the items are more than just functional accessories. Beautifully handcrafted works of art.
For a great resource for unique Steampunk items checkout Etsy.
1. Steampunk Woman Glasses
Glasses are very popular accessories in Steampunk. They serve a function and they add coolness to any outfit. Typically try to stay with glasses that were available during this era.
Unlike men, women can easily adapt a pair of men’s glasses into a Steampunk outfit. Aviator glasses and welder’s goggles both work well, especially with a Post-Apocalyptic theme. As for simple shades pick wired rim glasses with round lenses. Pick any color you want. But rose-colored glasses are a favorite. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
2. Steampunk Woman Hats And Headwear
Hats are a very important part of a women’s Steampunk costume. During this era, hats were very much in style and there was a lot of variety to choose from. There were hats for the daytime and hats for evening wear. Hats were a big status symbol back in the day.
Stick with traditional Victorian style hats. Then adding a few feathers and some Steampunk bling will give you the look your after. Bonnets, church hats, wedding hats, Kentucky Derby hats all elaborate over the top hats all can be worn in Steampunk. As always men’s hats can be worn and adapted for your look.
Another popular style is the tiny top hats or tiny toppers perched on the side of the head and held on with a headband. Funny if a guy would wear that he would look like a clown. But women can get away with that look with no problems. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
3. Steampunk Woman Shirts And Blouses
If you want to go with traditional clothing for women then high collars during the day and something lower cut with cleavage for evening wear. Look for any Victorian style shirts. White is popular but any color will work. Puffy sleeves and ruffle shirts with work nicely under a leather corset. Lots of buttons are nice, avoid zippers. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
4. Steampunk Woman Corset
During the Victorian era, the corset was very popular. The corset was just one of a number of layers of clothing that was worn. Women in the Steampunk genre general wear their corsets outside there clothing and the real badasses wear leather corsets popular with the post-apocalyptic Steampunk look.
Corsets can be purchased anywhere at regular retailer stores. Look for vintage corsets at a thrift store and your grandmother’s closet. There are basically three styles of corsets Underbust, Overbust and a full corset that covers the hips. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
5. Steampunk Woman Dresses and Pants
Dresses in the Victorian era were big and elaborate with many lays. Lace and ruffles were on many dresses Find and old Victorian style dress and a few items to make it look Steampunk. Below are a few ready-made examples ready to go. But with a little creativity, you may already have something in your closet that can be converted to Steampunk.
Now with pants this is a stretch as women during this time did not wear pants and if they did it was strictly work clothes. Dark colors work nice. Black and white striped pants blend into goth. A few good examples that will work. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
6. Steampunk Leggings For Women
Let get one thing straight leggings were not available in the 19th Century. But with the creative nature of the Steampunk. Legging can work with many outfits. Many manufacturers have come up with a number of cool Steampunk related tights that can really set an outfit apart. See some examples below. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
7. Steampunk Woman: Boots and Shoes
With Steampunk rules are meant to be broken and many cool styles of women’s boots and shoes made today would easily work with Steampunk. The style you are looking for is a shoe or boot made from leather with a pointed toe and low heels. Avoid open-toe shoes. Stick with laces or buckles and try to avoid zippers. During this time spats were popular, white with black buttons.
For the history buff: zippers were invented in 1893 and the end of the Victorian era was 1901, this makes Zippers technically correct, but just not modern zippers.
Shoes and Boots for women during this era were not as fancy in general. They were made from leather and the heals were lower. Most often they were walking in the mud and they were hidden by the long dresses of the day so many styles of the era were quite plain. Shoes during this era were more for practical purposes than fashion not to say that they didn’t make any fancy shoes during this time
Having said that if you want to stretch the rules many modern boots and shoes will work. Here are a few examples. There is even a Steampunk line of footwear. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing. See my Ultimate Guide to Steampunk Boots for Women.
8. Steampunk Woman Jewelry
As far as jewelry is concerned there are a number of items to choose from all were being worn during the 19th century. Not too difficult to find if you look for older styles. Many pieces will work. Steampunk is a mesh of industrial and elegance. Some items can be very delicate and other items can be more imaginative. The chatelaine below is a good example. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
- Pocket Watch
- Dangling Earrings
- Hair comb.
9. Steampunk Umbrellas and Parasols
Umbrellas and parasols were very popular back in the day. Serving two functions protection from the rain and protection from the sun. Lacy and elaborate.
Umbrella: Waterproof can be used for shade or rain.
Parasols: Not waterproof designed to provide shading and privacy
Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
10. Steampunk Woman Accessories
As you can see there are a number of accessories to choose from. Most stockings will work. But fishnet stockings were not available at the time. Click any picture to see Amazon pricing.
Glasses and Monocles
11. Steampunk Headphones
Headphones were definitely not around in Victorian Era but a Steampunk still has to rock the tunes in 2019. I think this pair has a great look that would work well with Steampunk and they sound great too.
Frends Layla with Benefits Headphones
This guide will get you started but there is a lot more to Steampunk. Once you get more involved in the fairs and conventions you will find many warm wonderful people that are willing to share their knowledge. This is where the real fun starts.
As mention, the purists tend to stick with more period accuracy but the free spirit can take the look wherever they want. Follow these basic guidelines and you will be a Steampunk in no time.