Wal-mart is out of top hats
April 3, 2009 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Given short notice, how can I dress in a Victorian/Steampunk sorta way?

Twice now I've been informed of steampunk/victorian style parties on late notice and I don't have anything to wear. I'm not looking to win awards but I'd like to not show up in a black T shirt and jeans. I'm male and have money but not a lot of crafty skills. What kind of outfit can I get together in a hurry that would make me not be an embarrassment?
posted by chairface to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How much of a hurry are you in? Any outfit would look more steampunk with a handlebar moustache and/or mutton chops.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:50 AM on April 3, 2009

High boots. Leather aviator goggles and brass buttons, baby. Throw a puffy shirt in the mix and you're gold!
posted by adipocere at 10:54 AM on April 3, 2009

Response by poster: Typically 1-2 days of hurry. A fake mustache is certainly possible (probably better actually).
posted by chairface at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2009

Suit, cravat, goggles, and, this is key: a really fantastic vest ("waistcoat", if you will). You may want to outfit said vest with pocketwatch and fob (chain). Also consider a rakish cane or walking stick of some variety. This can easily be embellished and made into something awesome.
posted by teamparka at 10:58 AM on April 3, 2009

And, yes, a hat. Top hat, bowler, etc. Goggles may be perched on top hat brim for effect.
posted by teamparka at 10:59 AM on April 3, 2009

A well-worn duster or riding coat can cover a multitude of anachronistic sins.
posted by annaramma at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vests, suspenders, riding boots, monocle, things with gears.

Flickr has some examples of other people's costumes.
posted by Smarson at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2009

Vest and goggles appear to be de rigeur.

You can purchase the former at a thrift store (or from a local Filson dealer, if you want to spend real money), and the latter from a place that sells welding supplies. Accent with gold paint for that real "Steampunk" look.

make me not be an embarrassment

This may be more difficult. It's steampunk.
posted by dersins at 11:07 AM on April 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

My two-minute outfit for not looking out of place at steampunk parties is just dress pants, a nice dress shirt, and (this is the key bit) a vest. You can get vests (the sort that were once part of a three-piece suit) at pretty much any thrift store. A bow tie or plain-looking necktie is good as well.

That's the basic outfit to ensure that you don't look too anachronistic. From there you can accessorize with whatever else you can get your hands on: goggles, pocket watch, hat, period-appropriate facial hair, cuff links, long dress coat, random gears stuck onto your outfit, brass ray gun, et cetera.
posted by fermion at 11:10 AM on April 3, 2009

Go as Cory Doctorow. There will definitely be someone there who gets it.
posted by bcwinters at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Right then, go to the Salvation army and get a waistcoast/vest, and cravat, or scarf that you can tuck into the vest like a cravat. Wear dress pants that match your vest, a crisp white shirt, dress shoes. Suspenders rather than a belt if you have them. Suitjacket and gloves if they look right.
A length of small chain from your hardware store can approximate a pocket watch-pin one end into a vest pocket, weave it through the second or third button hole from the bottom, and pin it into the other vest pocket.

Part your hair down the middle and slick down, if possible.
Walking stick, top hat, --great if you can find them.
The goggles are tough..go to a novelty store and see if you can find anything--i've seen some goggle-y Harry Potter type glasses at such places.
posted by stray at 11:30 AM on April 3, 2009

Depends very much on the look you want to have - steampunk is a bit more stereotyped and caricatured, and there's plenty of popular media to help you style yourself. Waistcoat, monocle, long tailed coat and black boots would be a fairly quick and easy one.

Personally I like Gilgamesh von Wulfenbach style [/shameless plug] but the whole mad mechanical genius outfit is a bit trickier to get together.
posted by fearnothing at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2009

I've always liked how Charlie Chaplin dressed, aside from the moustache. Gloves without fingertips are pretty cheap.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:36 AM on April 3, 2009

Cover one of the lenses of a pair of glasses (you can get cheap no prescription readers at the drugstore) with a piece of colored plastic (holiday saran wrap will work--it's Easter you can find it in the grocery store.

Attach something that looks vaguely like a tool, but a perplexing one, to your belt. Think "the Gouger" from the Lisa Needs Braces episode of the Simpsons.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:12 PM on April 3, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks folks. Good ideas all around.
posted by chairface at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2009

Sock suspenders are a nice extra that you can show off and shouldn't be too expensive.
posted by ODiV at 7:00 PM on April 3, 2009

Sock suspenders

Your search for sock suspenders may be aided by the knowledge that they are more commonly referred to as garters (although sock suspenders is a less-common-but-still-acceptablee term).
posted by dersins at 9:07 AM on April 6, 2009

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