Before I get into today’s lecture, :P, I want to mention that Thanksgiving and the other holidays are totally messing with my time to costume….and also, my time to blog.  But I have gotten *some* stuff done on Idris, so I swear I will update that page soon!

Okay, so there are some costumes that are just easy to steampunk.  Anything that hails from the Victorian time period, for example.  But what if you want to make something steampunk that isn’t Victorian?  Funny enough, I was already planning to write about this subject, and then I went to this year’s Steamcon, and one of the panels was on how to “Steampunk your Fandom”.  Of course I went, and the panelist pretty much said everything that I had floating around in my brain!  But, for those of you that couldn’t attend *that* panel, here’s my take on the subject.

I’ve been steampunking my fandoms (and everything else) every since I discovered I was a steampunk.  Two of my upcoming costumes (just given their own pages to the left) are my Steampunk Hufflepuff and my Steampunk 10th Doctor.   Right now, I’m going to talk about the 10th Doctor costume.

This is the 10th Doctor, in case you aren’t a Doctor Who fan.

Basically, he’s just a man in suit and a long coat.  A very gorgously wonderful man.  In a wonderfully gorgeous coat.

The back of his coat has this fabulous buttoned flap:

When you steampunk something that isn’t visually in the steampunk aesthetic, there are two things you need to do.  You need to make it steampunk (obviously!) and you need to express enough of the original design/character so that people won’t just think “Oh that’s a cool steampunk outfit” and fail to realize who you are meant to be.  In my case, I also want to make my steampunk’d 10th Doctor a woman as well.

My first idea was to make his suit as an Edwardian woman’s suit, because the lines are quite similar.  His suit is very straight and skinny, and so were those Edwardian suits:

And this would have worked fine.  But I’ve worn this type of skirt, and I know how you have to move when you wear one!  The 10th Doctor’s physical trademark is his love of running and other exhausting activity…and that sort of thing is NOT going to happen in this kind of skirt.  I also considered making a Victorian bustle skirt, but that had nothing whatever in common with the look of the Doctor’s suit, and I just couldn’t settle my mind around it.

And then, I remembered this Victorian oufit:

It’s a Victorian cycling uniform, from the Kyoto Costume Institute.  Here is a Victorian woman’s outfit that is made for activity!  And it has similiar lines to that of a modern suit.  Oh, yes, I can see a female Doctor wearing this!

I googled a ton of different cycling uniforms, and I discovered that women frequently wore spats or gaiters with them  Such as this pair:

My other problem had been what to do about Ten’s shoes.  He wears red canvas sneakers…not exactly Victorian OR steampunk!  But…imagine a pair of red canvas spats, worn over a pair of white Victorian boots.  Yes.  That works.

The 10th Doctor is active and physical.  We’ll put my Ten in a blue pinstriped cycling suit, with white boots and red canvas spats.

Now for the coat.  This is the single most recognizable thing about the 10th Doctor, and if we take it away, our Ten will be just a woman in a cute cycling uniform.  But neither can we leave it exactly as it is, if we want to stay at all true to the “look” of the Victorian era. The back of it, with the buttoned flap, is easily its most distinctive detail.  That has to stay.  But the front…we can play with the front!

What about doing a tailcoat? Victorians wore them all the time.

Since this is steampunk, and doesn’t have to be historically accurate, we’ll have our Ten wear a modified tailcoat over her cycling uniform.  We’ll crop the front of the 10th Doctor’s coat, and make it more fitted to a woman’s body.  But we’ll leave the buttoned back flap pretty much as-is, creating a steampunk-y version of a tailcoat.

Instead of a tie, we’ll have her wear a cravat.  The 10th Doctor has a fabulous bit of tech, his sonic screwdriver, and we’ll maybe play with that bit to add a more steampunk feeling.  The 10th Doctor loves various props, and in one episode, he wears a pair of 3D glasses.

What is the steampunk equivalent of 3D glasses?  Goggles with one red lens and one blue lens, of course!  Yay goggles!  I like having an excuse to add them to a costume; goggles are cool.

Here is my finished concept sketch (and forgive the fact that I cannot draw the back of a buttoned-flap tailcoat to save my life):

So here are my tips for how to steampunk anything:

1) Think about your character/thing/person.  What are her/his abilities, strengths, likes, and favorites?  What does s/he value in his/her costume? Comfort? Fashion? Does he have an item of clothing that he is never without?  Make a list of the things that he has to have in order to be “him”, and then modify those into Steampunk equivalents.

2) Try to think of what a Victorian version of his work/job/hobby would be.  If he has a profession, what would his profession have worn in the Victorian age?  If it’s a profession that’s been around for a hundred + years, that’s a simple thing to google.  If it’s something new to our age, you’ll have to look for a more ancient equivalent.  A computer tech today might have been an engineer in the past.

3) Look at the cut and style of his costume and props/gear.  What does it LOOK like?  What does it do?  Could be made tooperate with steam?  If he does magic in his real world, could he do the exact same things using mad inventions and Victorian-age tech in a steampunk version?

4) Don’t fret about being too “historical”.  If there is no Victorian equivalent to what you want to do, then just do it anyway.  Steampunk is about having fun, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!

5) Don’t fret about it not being “steampunk” enough.  I cannot stress this enough.  For every steampunk costume I’ve made, there has been at least one person who commented that she doesn’t see what makes it steampunk.  Don’t get scared and start hot-gluing gears all over or stick a pair of goggles onto your hat just to “make it steampunk” – unless you want goggles on your hat and a lot of gears.  :)  Steampunk is one part aestetic, one part attitude, and a whole airship full of whimsy.  In a world that embraces mad invention and time travel, there is no way there isn’t justification for your vision of steampunk.   I don’t care how “big” a person is in the steampunk community, don’t let them convince you that they have the only legal definition of steampunk, and if you aren’t playing by their rules, you’re doing steampunk wrong.  I’ve heard one Really Big Name say that (among a bunch of other things) anything post-apocalyptic can’t be steampunk.  In my opinion that’s load of hooey.  We aren’t recreating the past, we’re imagining a new future for that past.  Who’s to say that  some evil inventor didn’t destroy most of the known world in my version of 1885?  Who’s to say that the world in 2085 wasn’t destroyed, and the only books that survived were a Victorian etiquette manuel and a textbook on steampowered technology?  What do you think the world the few surviving people created might be like?  My view on steampunk is, if you can figure out a story to go with it, and you’re having fun, you’re absolutely doing it right.

And with that, I’ve been meaning to say that, while I absolutely adore comments left on my blog, any of you can also feel free to email me as well, with suggestions, pleas for help (I don’t promise to actually be ABLE to help, mind you!) or whatever else you’d like to say.  Bear in mind that I don’t do costuming for people other than myself (although I plan to make a few pairs of spats to sell, and embroidered purses as well, so if you’re interested in either of those….)  Also, I’d love links to your own costuming blogs if you have one, or photos of what you’ve done – especially if something I did/said inspired you to make it!  Also, I am not one of those people who jealously guards my photos/designs, so if you want to post pictures of mine on your own blogs, have at it.  And I get a TON of people asking if I’ll sell my airship pirate jacket.  I don’t plan to, but feel free to copy the design for yourself, or find a professional to copy it for you.  I don’t mind, honest, and if the professional costumer says she won’t because copying someone else’s work would be unethical, tell her that isn’t true in my case, and refer her to this post!  :)  Anything cool I post or make is there to be shared with you – I just appreciate all the praise and enthusiasm for my costuming!

My email is

If you email me, please put something in the subject line so I will know you’re not a spammer.  I have a very active spam filter, and while I do check my spam folder for things that accidentally slipped into it, subject lines of just “hi” make me think you might be a ‘lonely sexy woman’ who wants to show me pictures I’d prefer not to see, or else some kind of Nigerian royalty!  *grin*