Any time I am at conventions or other gatherings of steampunks, I am often struck by the skill with which those in attendance have assembled their outfits. This does not, however, prevent certain individuals from making some truly appalling fashion choices. Often, this is simply a matter of bad judgment, and with that spirit in mind the Dorian Gray corner has returned to provide some insight into how not to walk out the door in an outfit of such atrocious construction that it could make even a blind person wince.
1. Before you even THINK about buying something for an outfit, as a steampunk, it behooves you to make damned sure that what you are purchasing is, in fact, unique. I am sure we have all seen the infamous steampunk octopus – a metal cut out whose ubiquity on Etsy (and Regretsy) has becomes veritable legend. Don’t show up at a con decked out in the generic ‘steampunk’ refuse that talentless hacks have taken to peddling in the hope of a quick buck and at the expense of any number of good clocks.
2. Avoid shoddy workmanship like the PLAGUE. Remember, if you have an opportunity to wear a full steampunk outfit, you want to SHINE, and if your outfit was clearly constructed cheaply, it WILL show.
3. Dress to your body type. Anyone can look stylish, but it hinges on a person being willing to dress to their body, rather than trying to force yourself into an outfit that may suit an idealized human being. As per example, I have an hourglass figure, with emphasis on both the top and bottom of the hourglass. As such, I will not wear a vest unless it has a corseted back, as a regular vest will simply hang straight from my upper assets and give the impression that I am an extremely fat cylinder. So, even though I love vests, I forego them.
4. Consider what you will be doing in this getup. Do not wearing revealing clothes in subzero weather, do not wear a long-line corset if you intend to be able to bend over, and don’t wear high heels if you are hoping to run anywhere. Apply some common sense.
5. Once you have gotten into your outfit, take a look in the mirror. Then walk away. Then return and look again. If you can, view the outfit in several different kinds of light. Zero in on anything that jars with the rest of the outfit, and no matter how much it pains you, remove these from the outfit.
6. Beware of looking ‘clunky’. Steampunk outfits tend to lend themselves to a lot of gadgets, and this is fine to a certain degree. One must remember, however, that it behooves one to adhere to rule 2. If you’re getting dressed up, make sure you’re exhibiting only the best of your collection, and always adhere to Coco Chanel’s maxim that, before one goes out the door, take off one accessory.
7. Make sure your attitude suits your outfit. After all, if you have the chance to dress the part, it’s also time to act the part. So don’t be afraid to play your role to the hilt.