In advance of the 4th Steampunk in Cambridge event at the Cambridge Museum of Technology on Saturday 18 June 2016, organiser Sharon Cannings of the Ermine Street Project explained how to prepare with sartorial tips and etiquette ...
New to Steampunk?
If attending a Steampunk event for the first time, please don't feel daunted! In fact, you don't need to dress up to feel welcome. Curiosity and a friendly smile is all you need!
Steampunks are always happy to talk about how they their put their outfits together- as very often it is a good story of lucky charity shop finds and a willingness to pick up a glue gun or a needle and thread and modify bits of their own wardrobe.
So What Should I Wear?
If you do want to dress up for the day, remember there is no right or wrong. Steampunk has many threads from other genres and, after all, it is a made up "alternate history" so there is no point in anyone saying "that's not Steampunk!" Who's to say that your Steampunk character didn't travel to the future in their time machine and pick up a few bits from contemporary retail outlets...?
Easy ways to "look-the-part":
Ladies: skirt, lacy blouse, goggles, lace up boots, hat
Men: Mix and match from these options: Waistcoat, bowler hat or top hat, goggles, braces, cravat.
Where to Find Your Oufit?
Emmaus in Cambridge is a good place to start. You can also try local car-boot sales and online markets such as eBay.
Accessories are where Steampunks are their most inventive. These will often be inventions and outlandish creations, crafted from brass, wood and anything interesting from a local junk shop. Give it a name like "Tea-powered discombobulator" or "Airship captain's dimensional-navigational device" and you're in business!
Often these items can be picked up in charity shops for just a few pounds. Colours such as browns or beige are popular, but a splash of any colour is great.
The main thing to remember at Steampunk is your manners. Steampunks will always be polite and good natured. Although if you put the tea in before the milk, you might get a raised eyebrow....!
Looking to Find Out More?
Steampunk is a genre that takes its inspiration from Victorian science fiction with its outlandish inventions and stories. Devotees clothe themselves in all manner of Victorian dress; from explorer to scientist to airship pilot and take great pride in constructing their own gadgets from junk shops and just about anything they can get their hands on. It harks back to an era of good manners, tea and biscuits and a good helping of self deprecating humour. A steampunk is always friendly, polite and eager to chat about what they do. You can see steampunk influences in Dr Who and in films such as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hugo.
Join a local Steampunk group if you can find one. Social media is alive with real and virtual groups under the #Steampunk hashtag. The largest national festival is in Lincoln (Asylum, run by the Victorian Steampunk Society) but Cambridgeshire has its own events too.
Steampunk groups often meet up informally at a pub (where Steampunk dress is optional) to plan larger jaunts to local places of interest where a good time is guaranteed by all!