On "Stripey Socks" and Steampunk Fashion

Friday, January 11, 2013

I am a great fan of Steampunk costumes.
Doesn't matter whether the costumes are complex, simple, elegant, racy or straitlaced.
That is why I've been collecting photos of Steampunk costumes from all over the web on my companion Pinterest board, the latest images from which are automatically displayed on the left side panel of this blog.

Several people have mentioned that I tend to concentrate on Ladies costumes and that many of them are pretty sexy looking.  Guilty as charged I'm afraid
Partly that is simply the result of availability of images, photographers seem more likely to post images of ladies in Steampunk fashion than gentlemen. But there is also a much wider range of ladies costumes compared to mens.  Why is that?

Looking over the 1450 photos on my Pinterest board, some common themes appear.  The costumes can be broken down into several broad categories based on contrasting themes.

  1. Elegant and Formal / Whimsical and Exotic
  2. Upper class / Urchin
  3. Straitlaced / Racy
  4. Technical / Organic
  5. Male / Female
  6. Historical / Fantasy. 
  7. Young / Old(er)
The majority seem to fall into the Straitlaced/Racy category.
Now I will be honest and say that I LIKE the racy versions, with a particular fondness for "Stripey Socks" and long legs... (and as my alter ego on the book of  faces would proclaim...)

The odd thing about this is that such things are not really historical at all.  The Victorians are notorious for being, at least in public, exceptionally straitlaced when it came to exposing the body!
Steampunk often looks at the lower and darker side of the society, the dirty, smoggy, oil coated side. Along with that comes the slightly seedier, forbidden side of the "Ladies of Questionable Virtue". Now of course not even these working ladies would have been caught dead in many of the more racy outfits that modern Steampunk Ladies exhibit.

But I certainly am not going to complain!

This post from

Leggy Victorians and the Quandary of Steampunk Fashions  
If one is an astute observer of history, particularly historical costume (which I confess to being), one notices that the key statement made by Victorian fashions is a complete rejection that any part of the body below the neckline exists.  Coverage is key, and although fashions are fitted, they are rarely close fitted.  The legendary Prince Albert piercing, for example, was said to exist solely to keep a man from spoiling the lines of his pants.  Women’s fashions, in particular, seemed to deny the existence of the leg.  To show one’s ankles was scandalous; American merchants on the Santa Fe Trail were shocked to find ankle length skirts on Mexican women, skirts that rose up to the calf while dancing.  The horror, the horror.  With that in mind, I always find it interesting that today’s steampunk fashions so clearly display the women’s legs.  We celebrate both the buttoned up Victorian fashions and a fetish approach to lingerie with seemingly no contradiction- quite a feat.
To which I must heartily say AMEN Brother!

Keep your sightglass full, your firebox trimmed and your water iced.


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