During a talk I did recently I was asked if I had any advice on how best to do a Steampunk mashup costume. For those who don’t know, a mashup is two different genres in the same costume, say steampunk and super hero. If you don’t do enough of both it can often be confusing to the viewer. Ask yourself what would “your character” look like if they were in a Steampunk story. The thing to remember is that costuming is a visual medium. You are storytelling visually and while you may have a great reason for everything you did, it needs to clearly read to the viewer. You are generally not going to get a chance to explain yourself. I feel there are three steps to doing a great Steampunk mashup costume.
- Victorianizing it.
- Characterizing it.
- Steampunking it.
First you should add elements of clothing that clearly look Victorian/Edwardian. Hair styles, hats, corsets, bustle skirts, gloves, parasols, laceup boots, etc. Having this silhouette will create a great base for your costume.
Secondly, take a good look at the original character you are planning on creating. What are their primary unique visual cues? Choose at least three to ensure a clear interpretation; the three visual things that most convey that character to an audience. I did a Poison Ivy costume once and for her I feel that you need ivy and or plants in abundance, her clothing should be shades of green and she should always have red hair.
For the third step, you need to add elements of Steampunk. This is where you can get creative. Have some fun. Steampunk is essentially a science fiction genre, so add some science fiction or even fantasy. Some people feel that simply adding a corset makes it Steampunk, but it really isn’t quite enough in my opinion. While some feel they are cliché, adding goggles is a good start if it makes sense for you character to wear them. Again, just adding goggles to a costume is not going far enough either. You should try and incorporate two or three elements of steampunk if possible. Gadgets are generally the best visual cue for a Steampunk costume, so try to incorporate a few. Full disclosure, I often feel that I am weak in adding steampunk gadgets, and gizmos. It can truly be the most important and most difficult part. My favorite creation so far was the robotic Zipper on Monty’s shoulder that I created for our Rescue Rangers at ECCC. He is pretty fragile though.
I try to add only one hand held prop per costume so you don’t have to constantly put things down and potentially lose or break them. The next great place for a prop is on a belt. I often will have a brass compass or cosmolabe hanging from my belt. Also, belts don’t just have to be at your waist. You can use them across your chest, around your hat or as a collar.
So there is my two cents about what you can do to make a great Steampunk Mashup costume. I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing your endeavors.
I have created a Flickr group for Steampunk Mashup Costumes. If you need inspiration go and take a look HERE!