While the term “Steampunk” was coined by author K.W. Jeter in 1987, the genre is based on the much earlier Victorian era (1837–1901). The 19th century paved the way for the modern world we know today. It was the time of significant inventions and industrial advancements – telephone, telegraph, photography, light bulb, and, undoubtedly the most important, steam technology. That perhaps explains the two most central elements of the genre, Victorian-era fashion and steam-powered machinery.
Steampunk costumes are a marriage of Victorian romance and industrial invention. You can take 19th-century bustles, corsets, gowns, petticoats, and top hats and accessorize them with timepieces and flying or driving goggles. (Yes, what’s the deal with Steampunk and goggles anyway?) When in doubt about the steampunk look, adopt Victorian fashion and then add to it.
A steampunk costume quickens the pulse, entertains the one wearing it, and absorbs the viewer. So, when you wear it, do so with confidence. Don’t be drawn into a box. Here, you are talking about a genre that boggles the mind, defies all convention and based on something that is not even real!! That should give you license to experiment.
Also, there is no particular steampunk color/s. There is this notion going around that steampunk colors are straightforward light or dark or black, white and brown. Well, they all are wrong. It’s a world of advanced technology; you’d assume they will not take offence with vibrant colors.
The punk of “Steampunk” seems indicative of the genre’s character of going against established fashion perimeters. However, it has nothing to do with that or any punk culture. Rather it was Jeter’s tongue in cheek reference to the prevailing cyberpunk genre of the 1980s, when describing his and his contemporaries’ works based on the Victorian period.