October 29, 2009
Yes, I am jumping on the bandwagon.
I wore this outfit to a party weekend before last. It was a pretty savvy SF geek/SCA crowd, so the one thing I wasn’t expecting was having to explain what steampunk was (since it does seem to have become a bandwagon over the last year or so). I got questions like, “Are you supposed to be something specific? Like Indiana Jones or something?” I’d say, “No, I’m just steampunk.” And then I’d get, “What’s that?”
Well. It’s harder to explain than you’d think. “An aesthetic combining Victorian sensibilities with science fiction,” is about the simplest I could get, and also not very satisfying. Steampunk is an aesthetic, but it also has an ideological component, regarding inclusiveness, DIY, and a recycle/reuse ideal. That’s one of the things I really like about it — I didn’t buy a single thing for my outfit. (Well, I bought the leather vest at NY Comic Con back in February as a present to myself. Then I built the costume around it. But I didn’t buy the vest for the costume, if that makes sense.) And I’m figuring out that I already have stuff for about three more steampunkish costumes: I dug out my riding jacket that I wore at horse shows back in the day — it still fits, and it’s got that snappy tailored thing that would fit right in, especially with a cravat, prairie skirt, and goth boots. How about the khaki BDU’s I got for my GI Joe costume in the spring, but with a leather jacket and goggles? I haven’t even mentioned my corsets yet.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. So I had to explain steampunk to people, which was unexpected. But a funny thing happened. Because about ten other people dressed steampunk as well. Now, there were about 100 people at the party. Each of us wandering individually kept getting asked what we were supposed to be, and having to explain steampunk. But then we all got together for a steampunk group picture.
And it suddenly became clear to everyone, because we all so obviously came from the same world. You put us all together — with our corsets, crinolines, waistcoats, top hats, leather pouches, ray guns, and of course goggles — and suddenly we were a story.
Unfortunately, the group picture I got is too dark to post. But it was a splendid thing. Here is my costume:
More costumes are on the way, I’m sure. I’ve got so many IDEAS. I also need to thank Simon (aka Jeff) for introducing me to Abney Park, another fine example of steampunk’s ability to tell stories through sheer power of aesthetic. This could become an obsession.