August 16, 2012

The Steampunk Costumers Redux

I’m reading this rewritten short essay in my class today, and I thought I might share it with you too.  I’ve two pages done on the Nazi Submarine Pens also.

A steampunk workman and “Lady Potts.”  Comic Con, 2012.

I swear I personally saw all 120,000 Comic Con visitors and photographed most of them the one day I attended Comic Con this year.  According to my camera’s image count I didn’t really do this, but between my husband the Great Geezer and me, we did come home with over a thousand photographs…mostly of folks in costumes.

I’ve obviously been naive about this world of costumes. 

Although many Comic Con Convention attendees use characters that have already been created, such as the muscled Batman, others follow a trend and their costume evolves from that.  I saw flocks of zombies flitting through the crowds with their white drapes and dripping blood.  Around every corner you could find another character from Star Wars or curl-on-the-forehead Superman.  There were an easily spotted few students from Hogwarts with their capes flapping behind them, and often we would see people with token pink kitty ears.  The largest group of costumed visitors we saw this year was steampunk. 

What is Steampunk?  Wikipedia tells us, “It’s as if the world took a turn into the future at the Victorian age yet gained all the modern electronics…plus a few.  It is a genre that originated during the 1980s…and incorporates elements of science fictionfantasyalternative historyhorror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternative history such as Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States.”

          Often research into the Victorian age leads to dramatic costumes, and the creation of a unique persona is born to fit these.  I asked one military officer how he created his costume, and he said in a clear British accent that he had known what he wanted when he started.  He had been unable to find the exact pre-made costume he wanted though.  After months of research he sewed the frock coat, vest, and striped pants all trimmed generously with gold braid I saw him wearing.  Other costumed personas used some common place symbols that indicate steampunk combined with long skirts or top hats..  Most wore goggles, perhaps on their hats, as well as vests, and many wore armaments of one sort or another.  Someone long ago found a Victorian man with goggles, and now all Victorian Steampunk men sport goggles.  Though the Costume panels discussed research and how to research, much to my surprise they never mentioned brick and mortar libraries.   I felt the lack.

Sometimes the research information was wrong.  At one Steampunk Costume panel I attended, I was told that all steampunk women wore corsets.  In reality, the lady of the house, the housekeeper, the governess, and the lady’s maid will have worn this restrictive garment.  Lower class minions would have worn a chemise or binding under their layers of black, grey, and navy blue topped with their crisp white aprons and mop caps. 

Once the steampunk costume has been created, most attendees take on an imaginary persona to live within it.  Many steampunkers attendees seemed to favor Victorian or Edwardian upper class and take on those mannerisms.  Medals from sports, or wars, or wars from alternate worlds were pinned on thrust out chests.  Although I found medals and pins for the average workman, I saw virtually no working class folks except for my husband, the Great Geezer.  I asked several folks who were knowledgeable about steampunk where the lower class women were….the maids or the cook.  There aren’t any, I was told.  Yet the Victorian world could not have survived without the backstairs legions that kept their world moving. 

I can see a steampunk costume in my future…with the appropriate mannerisms of course.  While my Geezer slings his work belt on his hips, I can see a crossed holsters over a crisp white apron on mine.  On one side, I shall wear a feather duster, and on the other a small spaceman’s pistol the better to defend myself from amorous housemen, of course. 
Yes, I already ordered a blouse.


  1. I can't wait to see a photo of your costume. Of course, you will have a little white mop hat with some goggles, I am sure. Just like Downton Abbey ~ only steampunk!

  2. You do so rock, lady! I adore you!!

  3. Oh wow! This is so fabulous! What fun! Thanks for sharing this with us, Mage.


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...