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A sense of structure

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have noticed recently a general interest in having rules; or perhaps not rules, but a framework in which to explore. I suppose this makes sense, for people are generally most comfortable if they have a structure to be free in. Often people post here wondering if their outfits are "steampunk," or if there is a way to integrate their personal style into the steampunk environment.
Given this situation, I would like to offer those of you interested in having some basic rules the following list of points to use as guidelines. Those of you who are already confident in your steampunk style have no need to dwell upon these, but anyone who is concerned or hesitant about how to approach a "steampunk outfit" should feel free to use these points as reference. I hope that they are useful.

As a disclaimer, I should like to state that these points are based upon my own experiences, observations, reading of steampunk literature, and academic understanding of history. I will confess that where other people often spend an evening watching American Idol to relax, my idea of "vegging out in front of the TV" involves First World War documentaries; so I am very much taken by the historical aspect of things. However, given that I am the author of the Steampunk Style Quiz, which has been taken over 10,000 times with very positive feedback, I do feel that my observations are generally acceptable.

Rule One: Steampunk fashion is a real-world reproduction of the clothing that is or could be found in steampunk literature. It's that simple.

Rule Two: When in doubt, dress Victorian and then add. The Victorians were the first people to fully capitalize upon steam technology in a way that affected everyday life, so it is no surprise that most steampunk writing either takes place in the Victorian world or is strongly inspired by it. If you're afraid that your outfit is "too Victorian" you're probably doing it right.

Rule Three: Steampunk fashion is about creating an outfit that delights the senses, entertains the wearer, and engages the viewer. Never feel obliged to take away from the style or appeal of an outfit simply because you fear it will be "not steampunk enough." Do not be misled, coerced, or second-guessed into including a collection of "steampunk status symbols" (goggles are the most infamous, though we do love them) if they do not fit with the outfit, or with the vision you are attempting to produce.

Rule Four: There is no "steampunk color." Some people have claimed that steampunk is only brown, or only black, or only white, or only light, or only dark. They are wrong. Virtually any color can be steampunk (though perhaps one might balk at neon). If you like to wear black, there is a steampunk justification; if you like to wear brown, there is a steampunk justification; if you like to wear bright colors, there is a steampunk justification. Remember, steampunk is set in a world of comparatively advanced technology, so it is perfectly reasonable to have vibrant colors and complicated machine-made patterns.

Rule Five: You are allowed to like other genres. If you like a style of fashion that does not fit into steampunk (Enlightenment era, Pulp Adventure, Mod 60s, Medieval, etc.) be proud of it. Do not feel compelled to try and wedge it under the steampunk caption. These are all genres that people have worked very hard to create, expand, and explore; so we rather owe it to them to respect the diversity and uniqueness of their differences. You are all diverse and well-rounded people with differing interests. Let that be a source of pride.

Rule Six: Have fun and be yourself. That's what this is about. Don't feel compelled to conform with everyone else. Don't feel shy about posting just because you don't want to dress like the other people who you've seen post. And don't post with the question "do you guys think this is steampunk enough?" Post with the statement "I feel that this is steampunk, and here is why I think so." At worst, someone will disagree and then the two of you can discuss your conflicting views, get to know each other, and come to an understanding; or, you can simply feel free to ignore them, and you have every right to do so if you don't feel like arguing over a simple difference of opinion.

I hope that those of you looking for this sort of thing find it useful. Above all, I would like to emphasize that the point here is that you should be proud of having your own opinion and your own unique style.

Humbly yours,
-G. D. Falksen


( 115 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 15th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Aug. 18th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Hi! You added me on Flickr and I wanted to be friendly.
Aug. 15th, 2008 05:40 am (UTC)
Huzzah, for a well written list of suggestions!
Jan. 2nd, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
ROFL!!! I LOVE your icon!!!!
Aug. 15th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
Oh monkey trumpets. I just submitted something similar, though more abbreviated. Now it's going to look like I'm competing. Not so,friend. I do think it's something that should be put out there. But do notice the similarities, as I believe the truly adventurous already know these things, even when they feel compelled to ask another's opinion. Like someone else mentioned, we all know how Some Genres can be as regards strict, if not always written, fashion guidelines. It's why I love this group, the diversity trumps all other genres; nay, incorporates them, consumes and reconstructs them. It is okay to like other genres but the gaslight welcomes them all.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 15th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
Mad Seamstress Corollary: When in doubt, add more sequins.

*cue evil laughter*
(no subject) - tankgirledward - Aug. 15th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ornithoptercat - Aug. 17th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Rule Four is VERY much needed. No one gets that lush greens, all black, or bright yellows can be Steamy! That just HAD to be said! :]
Aug. 15th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC)
i completely agree with rule four. my preference is for jewel toned fabrics, much like a peacock. i am not inclined to drab nor dreary.

when in my goth finery, yes, black and blood, but not for my steamy garb.
(no subject) - msmcknittington - Aug. 15th, 2008 07:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slythwolf - Aug. 15th, 2008 07:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msmcknittington - Aug. 15th, 2008 07:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wormtorturer - Aug. 16th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - elessa - Aug. 15th, 2008 07:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msmcknittington - Aug. 15th, 2008 08:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gg_fangirl - Oct. 13th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ornithoptercat - Aug. 17th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - selkiechick - Aug. 15th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ornithoptercat - Aug. 17th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC) - Expand
I noes! - annahsophia - Aug. 15th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
YEA!!!! :D
Aug. 15th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
I really appreciate this; I was fascinated with Victorian-era clothing in high school, but ended up going the "dirty punk" route because it was so much easier, basically- especially when dumpstering or moving around a whole bunch ;) But, now I'm a bit more settled, and I'm definitely getting interested in it again- seeing all these posts about what's steampunk and what's not made me a bit nervous about any outfits I might want to throw together. This settled my mind quite a bit :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
I think this is more a guideline for folks who are feeling somewhat adrift and unsure and is in no way meant to be the definition of steampunk fashion.
(no subject) - fllnangel17 - Aug. 15th, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lostamongtrees - Aug. 28th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - squirrelmadness - Aug. 15th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
Here. here - well done, perfect sentiments
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
Very well put. Do you mind if I repost? There may be six people in midlantic_steam that are not on this community.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - tzel - Aug. 20th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 11:21 am (UTC)
About number 5 - I agree that you shouldn't feel compelled to stick a gearworks on a cotehardie just to make it "steamy". But COULD you, in fact, steam out another period? I've always mentally toyed with the idea of, say, Ancient Greek steaminess - think chiton and antikythera mechanism. Young Daedalus at his bench.
or, for that matter, all the experiments Ben Franklin had to hide lest he end up at the stake?
Aug. 15th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
I would say of course - easy to justify with alternative timelines if you even need a reason. I have been playing with the idea Alpine farmer steam and don't really care about how it fits. Heck, I am trying to design a Tatzelwurm automaton puppet for it.

(sigh, my hang up is that I want to focus more on the play rather than the fashion shows, but that is a very different discussion and this is a fashion group)
(no subject) - alierakieron - Aug. 15th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - epinoid - Aug. 15th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moadeep - Aug. 15th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - luai_lashire - Aug. 16th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - luai_lashire - Aug. 18th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ornithoptercat - Aug. 17th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - squirrelmadness - Aug. 17th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
Rules 2, 3 and 4 are very much on target.

THese guidelines are well stated and very well recieved. Thank you for being bold and outspoken and stating these observations. If only people would repost these and allow others to revel in this insightfull decloration.

Aug. 15th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
My personal set of rules are so similar, posting them would likely be considered spam.

"Create Awesomeness, let others worry about what to call it"
Aug. 17th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Well said.
Aug. 15th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
Rule 4
After all, dyes are technology, too, and the Victorians innovated there as much as they did in the realm of every other endeavor.

We have them to blame for Mauve.
Aug. 15th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Rule 4
Just remember, "the color of the steampunk future is fuschia."
Re: Rule 4 - isee4dimensions - Aug. 18th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 15th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Well said!
I think the points you made were very insightful and that they needed to be said,thank you.
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