Okay, so, um. Yeah. Steampunk. I was going to be writing something about that. As of late… well, huh. I follow a lot of steampunk boards. And there have been some things I wanted to make mention here. Maybe a list will work better than a rant. There have been a few elements in steampunk culture/writing/fashion, whathaveyou that have been rubbing me the wrong way recently. So. Here’s five comments.

1.) Just because you slap some gears on something doesn’t make it steampunk. Sure, it can reflect a bit of the aesthetic, but people. Listen to me. Gears serve a purpose. They’re part of a working machine, like a clock. Sure, exposed machinery is neat, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Gluing a gear to the top of some felt and slapping it on a hat does not steampunk make. I think the ultimate steampunk jewelery/fashion is the sort that actually makes use, real or imagined, of the object. Like, the gears function, y’know? Or at least there’s a story behind it. It’s about craft, not crap.

2.) The goggles, they do not do everything. As most makers will tell you, the purpose of goggles is to keep things out of your eyes. Not every outfit, not every character should wear goggles. They ought to serve a purpose, or at least make the effort to incorporate it into your persona. I love goggles, personally; they’re iconic. But iconic also borders on totally cliche if not done correctly. Make your goggles your own! (See Jake von Slatt’s comment below in regards to the etiquette involved if you also wear glasses.)

3.) Read a little. Just a little. As I mentioned in my Steampunk fashion vs. fiction piece a few weeks ago, the fashion of steampunk is by and large overpowering the literary contribution. More and more I see people that are “into” steampunk, but have never heard of Verne or Stevenson, or considered picking some of the wonderful publications out there. Do yourselves a favor, eh? Try the Gatehouse Gazette, the Willows, and Steampunk Magazine for starters. These publications will inspire those who follow the fashion, but they’re also great for folks who like the movement, but aren’t into the whole costume aspect.

4.) Stop pretending you know the definition of steampunk, and that you embody it. So, okay. Steampunk isn’t real in the sense that the actual Victorian Period is real. And the aesthetic is as plastic and pliable as any other genre. It mixes with a multitude of flavors, real and imagined. It doesn’t have to be historically accurate, doesn’t have to include corsets, etc. It’s, at heart, a philosophy (hence the whole PUNK aspect, eh?). And that’s extremely important to keep in mind.

5.) Please, please, please, PLEASE I beg you, beware of the corset. Darlings, darlings. Corsets may appear beautiful, but their steel-enforced sides can pose real hazards both in the physical and in the fashion sense. First, corsets are intended (if you’re going for the Victorian look anyway) to keep things in, not spill things out. If your, um, assets are flowing over to the point that you need scaffolding to keep it in place, consider getting a new measurement. Just because you can cinch it, doesn’t mean you should. And that’s not to mention, if you’re serious about corsetry please read up about it. I recently read about an enthusiastic steampunk young lady who broke two ribs in a car accident because she’d laced a borrowed corset too tight. This is no laughing matter. Honestly, the issue of corsetry is… well, another post altogether. But consider that when women finally got rid of them, it was considered a huge leap toward feminism, toward reclaiming our own bodies. So if you’re going to wear a corset, read. READ! Research. Get one for you, specifically. Don’t hurt yourself. It isn’t worth it, k?

Ahem, so that’s over. You can go back to your other reading now. Your unsolicited advice for the day has come to an end.

CorsetOne of the things I frequently encounter in the Aldersgate is the garments my ladies must wear beneath their dresses. A quick Google search will bring you to gateways of information about corsets, and perusing a few pages you can see a veritable history of the female form. But with this beauty comes great pain!

You’ll see the Victorians had a particular flare for corset, propelling the wasp-waist to a new era. Forty years later, in the 20s, this would be all but vanished in favor of a much more boyish form which, for the most part, still pervades the fashion of today.

So, Cora and her sister Denna, as well as the rest of the gals in my book must suffer the fate of corset wearers. Though this does not take place in THE 1880s, it’s 1880s-like. So I’m pulling the fashion from that period to flavor the story better. Although I can’t help but feel a little sorry for them, having to go off on adventures in such garb!

I absolutely adore clothing, especially from the Victorian era. The materials, embroidery, design… it’s astonishing to see these garments up close and certainly makes me wish we took as much pride today in our craftsmanship.

At any rate, if you’re particularly interested in Victorian corsets–whether you’re a steampunk fashion hound or just curious–you can check out a few of the links below. Lots of fun stuff to look at! Now, if I could just find one with gears on it… hrm…

Antique Corset Gallery – Late Victorian Corsets

A History of Corsets at Wikipedia

Victoriana’s Corset Hub