A few years ago I had lunch with a coworker who is now a dear friend. Steampunk and costuming came up in the conversation, and I clearly remember her telling me that she’d been collecting pieces, but couldn’t dress up in steampunk because she didn’t have any goggles yet.
I remember how surprised I was by the concept that you “must” have certain things in order to participate, and we ended up having a great conversation about building our own unique characters who fit into what we wanted to wear or what we had.
For people who are new to costuming fitting into an expectation or a certain character profile can be staggering. If you’ve been to a convention you’ve seen that irritating but vocal minority of fans who enjoy picking apart costumes. I’ve overheard things like “Your cape isn’t the right shade of red” and “your hair isn’t blonde enough to be that character.” While most people in the cosplay community are not like that at all, it only takes one jerk to intimidate a new or an aspiring costumer into feeling insecure.
I think one of the coolest things about steampunk, and steampunk costuming is that there is no true right or wrong. Imitating a specific comic or movie means that the character you’re cosplaying has already been designed by someone else. In steampunk you have the freedom to make your own character, and dress that character however you like. What is steampunk cannon? It’s a genre that’s been inspired so by many different authors and artists, and new steampunk material is being written, drawn and filmed every day. Each of these steampunk inspirations is different, and have their own versions of the world. With that in mind, there’s no way to do it wrong, just an unlimited number of ways to do it your way.
If you want to wear a classy skirt and military jacket, do it. Think of a character who might need to use both. If you want to incorporate something a little more modern into your outfit, do it. You’re from a world that’s more technologically advanced, or you’re a character who can travel through time or dimensions. If you want to wear a tutu, do it. A steampunk ballerina would be beautiful.
It’s all about creating a costume that works for YOU, and that you feel comfortable in. In an environment based on fiction, there’s no way your story can be wrong.
Amanda Groulx is an avid fan of many genres whose favourite way of showing her passion is through cosplay. She loves to spend time working on new pieces with her friends, and is part of an award winning group of costumers. When she’s not participating in Fandoms, Amanda is employed in Broadcasting and enjoys cooking and writing. You can find Amanda’s cosplay on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/