Jema Hewitt is a costume artist and author whose Steampunk alter ego “Emilly Ladybird” is well known on the international steam punk Scene. Emilly is an adventurer and bon vivant devoted to absinthe and gin, while Jema has created several spectacular costume pieces for Longitude Punk'd including the iconic Orrery dress.
With an explosion of enthusiasm for dressing up at events, parties and conventions, it was inevitable that such a visual genre as Steampunk was going to swiftly expand as a recognisable “look” for many people both in everyday fashions and fabulous event costumes...
There are so many ways to express yourself or your Steampunk persona in clothing and it needn't involve expensive Victorian museum replica gowns or incredible model making skills (unless you want to of course!)
I'd suggest the first thing to think about is what your outfit is for. Are you looking to incorporate a little quirkiness into your smart work clothes? Or do you want something spectacular for the next LATE at the National Maritime Museum?
Next ask yourself about the Steampunk character or archetype that you would like to reflect in your clothes. What we wear is incredibly individual, no two people dress identically and clues to occupation, class, interests are often observed in the most innocent of outfits as Victorian sleuth Sherlock Holmes would remind us.
Interesting archetypes to think about include, adventurers, librarians, military personnel, bohemians, inventors, explorers, performers, you may even wish to create a fun steampunk name for yourself too!
Then set yourself a budget. It is possible to create a wonderful outfit for under £20 or spend £2000 on a custom made creation, it is completely up to you what you wish to spend. Steampunk is a wonderful scene where creativity is applauded, a “closet cosplay” costume, put together with flair from items already in your wardrobe or a charity shop is just as acceptable at a Steampunk convivial, as a custom built submariner costume made from solid brass and mahogany!
Now you've established those three things, start thinking about the basics, the accessories, and the Wow factor. You may wish to start a scrap book or look at Pinterest pages for some ideas too. Try to pick clothes that enhance the idea of your personal character or Steampunk persona.
The basics are the elements that are easy to obtain, but instantly say “Victorian”. You do not need to wear all of these at once of course, any one item is enough to suggest your leanings towards the Victorian Steampunk Style.
Basics might be, a waistcoat, high collar shirt, high waisted trousers, frock coat or tailcoat or an ankle length skirt, bloomers, corset (It's worth noting that Steampunk ladies always seem to wear their corsets outside their clothes!) military jacket, high neck blouse etc
Then add some accessories... Top hat, Bowler hat, Cravat, spats, gloves, fascinator, a crinoline cage, button boots or bustle drape.
Finally the wow factor – the unusual thing that makes your outfit “Steampunk” rather than traditional Victorian. Goggles, wings, rocket pack, stripy stockings, Steampunk jewellery – perhaps unusual Steampunk artisan earrings or a cravat pin. A pipe, a fez, a leather bracer with flashing lights that conceals a temporal vortex demystify-er! Go wild or subtle, it's up to you!
Originally many Steampunk outfits seemed to favour brown and sepia tones, but there has been an explosion of colour onto the scene, as well as the incorporation of other cultures traditional dress styles which has opened up personal style choices even further!
Most Steampunk love to share ideas, tips and tricks so you can be sure that any event you attend will leave you even more inspired and eager to try out new looks, techniques and cocktails!
Jema will be on hand as Miss Emilly Ladybird on Thursday 13 November at Clocking Off LATE to help you make a steampunk inspired hat.