What Is Steampunk?
What is Steampunk you ask? If you're not familiar with the term, it refers to a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction where steam power, spring gadgets and modern marvels of the 20th century are thrown back to Victorian aesthetics-but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
In part it is technology and science taken to an extreme in a Neo-Victorian setting.
Steampunk simply embodies a time and a place. The time... the late 19th century, the place... a steam powered world, where air travel by fantastical dirigibles is as common as traveling by train or boat (or submarine). It's a place where national interests are vastly different than our own version of history, where the elegant and refined are as likely to get pulled into a grand adventure, as the workers, ruffians, and lower classes. The idea of space travel is not so far fetched; lost civilizations are found and lost again. Anything is possible, and science can be twisted to meet ones own ends.
Where the Ball is concerned, visually speaking, there are many references to use for the creation of a steampunk costume and character. The following is a small sample; Mr. Holmes took front and center in “Young Sherlock Holmes.” It was proceeded by some great but as yet to be known as steampunk pictures like 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Master of the World, The Great Race, Those Magnificent Young Men in their Flying Machines, Around the World in 80 Days, A Journey to the Moon, The Mysterious Island, and City of Lost Children. While more contemporary steampunk films like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Steamboy, Van Helsing, the Prestige, and the Golden Compass followed.
You get the picture. Remember you can come as Doyle's Steampunk version of Professor Moriarty or “Lost Worlds” Edward Challenger or as someone from the pages of history or literature. The sky's the limit. Use your imagination and have fun.
Some helpful ideas in building a Steampunk costume:
Steampunk fashion is a real-world reproduction of the clothing that is or could be found in steampunk literature.
When in doubt, dress Victorian and add. If you're afraid that your outfit is “too Victorian” you're probably doing it right.
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 "steam punk status symbols" (goggles are the most infamous) if they do not fit with your outfit, or with the vision you are attempting to produce.
There is no “steampunk color.” Some people have claimed that steam punk is only brown, or black or white. Many people prefer this color palette, especially brown due to the sepia pictures of the time. Virtually any color can be steampunk. 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.
If Steampunk has a mission, it is, in part, to restore a sense of wonder to a technology-jaded world. "Today satellite photos make the planet seem so small," "Where's the adventure in that?" In contrast, steampunk, with its airships, test tubes and time machines, is "sort of a dream, the way we used to daydream. It's like part of your childhood's just bursting forward again."