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Steampunk Costuming, Pt. 2 – A Personal Experience

As I said in yesterday’s post, I am no good at sewing. Or, really, anything involving a needle and thread. I just don’t have the patience for it. But I absolutely love Victorian, medieval, fantastical, and of course, steampunk costumes. And I always want to go for the real deal–authentic-feeling costumes that someone has really put some thought and effort into, not the cheap “sexy pirate” or “sexy whatever” outfits they sell at Halloween stores. So how do I acquire such a costume, without learning to sew (bleh!) or spending more than I can afford?

Well, it helps that I know a few people who are quite gifted at sewing. They’ve helped me with a couple Lord of the Rings costumes, but as I can’t ask them to make all my costumes for me, I’ve also had to become a somewhat creative shopper. I shop at thrift stores, mostly. This summer I went to a costume store for the first time to buy a wig, but it cost so much that I regretted not getting a washable hair dye instead. A good costume store can have lots of cool stuff, but if you’re trying to save money, thrift stores are the way to go.

It’s amazing what you can find in those places. But the thing with thrift stores is that you have to visit them a lot in order to find anything. And you can’t be looking for anything too specific. Usually I just have an overall “look” in mind, and then I modify my costume plans based on what I find. A few years ago I bought an old-fashioned, lacy shawl at a thrift store, and I’ll be using it for the first time this Halloween as part of a steampunk costume. I still have a rather shapeless piece of velvety blue fabric that I’m not sure I’ll ever use. But you never know! That’s why I hesitate to throw anything away, even if I bought it for a specific costume.

For this Halloween’s steampunk outfit, which will be my first, I didn’t have a lot of time to look for or make a costume. So I’ll be using a lot of recycled garments. I have three skirts which layer nicely to form a full skirt, and a white blouse, all left over from a well-worn hobbit costume. With those, I’ll wear my old black leather riding boots (which still have real mudstains!), a black belt with metal studs (that are now covered in real rust!), that lacy shawl, and a wooden sword sheath (I also have a real sword to put in it, but sharp blades tend to be frowned upon at college campuses). I don’t have a corset, unfortunately, but I do have a bodice that laces pretty tightly (again, left over from an LOTR costume), and I may wear that underneath the blouse. All I need to buy are one or two pieces of steampunk jewelry, and I’m set! I’ll probably post a picture later on so you can see how it turns out.

What are your favorite costuming strategies? Remember to represent steampunk this Halloween! Namarie!

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