Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Hi, my name is Topher. I've been interested in the Steampunk (More specifically Dieselpunk) for years, but I've only just started taking interest in going deeper into the culture and fashion of it. (Recent being for a few months now.) Since I've been researching, some questions and concerns have popped into my head - things that can't just be simply answered by articles and tutorials. So, I would like to ask a few people who have been into it for longer than I have.

I hope you guys can bare through my long paragraphs to help me out, I'd be pretty darn grateful.

First off, since I've been looking into it, I've noticed that while many people have their individual views on what "steampunk" is, the overall look seems to either favor a function and purpose mentality, or a "I'm gonna glue as much gears and brass onto this jacket as possible" mentality. The ladder being something I can't really get into.

To be more specific: Take the Rocketeer.(I know it's more diesel, but bare with me.) Despite his over the top appearance, everything on him has purpose. The helmet protects his head, the jet pack allows him to fly, and the leather jacket protects his skin from minor injuries.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was a video released not long ago by the band "Panic! At the Disco", where it had steampunk influences.

It looks like he (or the costume designer for the video) just glued a bunch of things onto the suit to try and make it look cool. To me, it comes off as a bit silly and unnecessary. I've seen a few pictures like this.

Now, I'm not trying to knock people who prefer look over purpose. If that's what they like, that's totally cool. This is just me stating my opinion.

But where my question comes in is that I really have no creative inspiration at the moment. I have something in mind for a first time suit, but I've no idea where to go with it. Kind of like a conflicting artistic vision of how I want it to turn out. On one hand, I would like something over the top and er.."steam punky", but I'd also like to have a more subtle and thought out. I'm kind of scared that when I get down to it, it's either going to look completely silly or it will be more of a historical reenactment than actual steampunk.

So, do you guys prefer look over purpose, vice versa, or try to have a mix? Am I just worrying for nothing? Do you think my stance on this is hindering me from being more creative? I'd like to hear some opinions on this, and I'm open to some criticism and what you think I should do.

I mean, browsing this site alone has kind of shattered my idea of what Steampunk and Diesel Punk can be. One user caught me off guard with the way he dresses (Think his name is Jerry? The dude with the Fedora). It's so awesome, yet I wouldn't have ever thought of that as Dieselpunk.

Another question is that I do have an idea on what I want, which involves using a Confederate style frock coat. My only problem with this is people might take it the wrong way, which is something I don't want. (Trust me, being a southerner I get enough people from all over America thinking some crazy things about me and anyone from where I live. Last thing I wanna do is  give people the wrong impression.)

I also notice that there's a lot of styles and fashions from the 1900's that have been picked up by radical racial groups - The white shirt and suspenders is a common look for skinheads, as well as the use of a aviation flight jacket. (To name a few.)

Does anyone have problems with this? If you do, how do you design your wares without giving the wrong impression?

That's about it for now. I think that should be enough, but if anything isn't totally clear, I'll try to elaborate as best as possible. For now, I think I'll browse the forums for bit and see what I can find.

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Hi Mr. Brown.

First off, I want to thank you for joining Dieselpunks.  We're glad to have you aboard!

While I have absolutely no authority to tell you what is or isn't steampunk, I'll share my opinion here in the hopes that it gets your wheels spinning.

The first thing I find important is to differentiate the two genres.  There's just so many differences in how they've evolved that it muddies the waters when you lump them together.

To me, steampunk attempts to bring modern ideas back into the Victorian era.  What would an iPod look like if it was crafted by an Art Nouveau artisan?  What would I wear if a mad scientist was attacking my favorite nickelodeon with telepathic squids?  It's much more sci-fi than normal.

On the other hand, dieselpunk is best described as bringing pieces of the past - specifically from the years encapsulating WWI to WWII - into today.  What would happen if WWII didn't end?  How would that shape my life today?  What would a 2012 Ford Model T hybrid look like if it went into production today?  What would my life be like if the ideas from the 1930s "World of the Future" weren't put on hold to fight the war?

For me, it's not so much about cramming modern ideas into yesterday as it is extrapolating "what if" scenarios into today.  

Why is this important to note?  It's important because the steampunk aesthetic is rooted in the fantastical while dieselpunk can be more realistic in nature.  We may not be able to build steam-powered ornithopters, but a 2012 Ford Model T could be brought into reality by someone with enough talent (and money).

Why is there such a gap between the two styles?

Steampunk takes its cues from Victorian ideas of technology, but those ideas seem fanciful, because they're so far removed from where we are today.  That's why some of the tropes of the aesthetic seem so non-utilitarian.  For a lot of people, since the ideas they draw inspiration from are so impossible, they give up trying to make it look or feel like it could work.  That's why IMHO the best steampunk art comes from those who haven't given up, and I feel you're coming from a similar opinion.

There's also the fact that the wheel of fashion hasn't turned that far since the 1920s.

Take a look at what we're describing as "dieselpunk" fashion.  Even today, there are normal settings where this type of look is acceptable, even preferred for formal occasions.  Sure, specific colors and fabric patterns may fall out of style, but the "classics" are still around.

We can still bring pieces of fashion from our favorite era a lot easier than steampunks, because dieselpunk fashion can still pass as "acceptable" in contemporary company.  Sure, you're not always blending in with the crowd 100% in your fedora or pin-stripe suits, but you're also not wearing something so ridiculous that it comes off as a costume.*

I'll cap this off by restating that this is just my opinion and I'm just some guy on the internet, so take it with a grain of salt.

 

 

*One of my biggest rules is, I won't buy or make any clothing that I can't wear on a regular basis.  So, while steampunk fashion is generally confined to places where costumes are acceptable, the vast majority of my dieselpunk wardrobe is street legal.

If I understand you correctly, Tom, Steam punk is taking the modern technology, and making them fit within a Victorian "Steam" era, while Dieselpunk is about almost modernizing the Diesel Era. I hope I'm understanding that correctly.

I honestly haven't thought of it in that manner, but that is informative.  Since I figured out about Steam and Dieselpunk, I always thought it was about stylizing something from that era and making it something fantastical, or taking the era and blending in elements of Speculative fiction.

To me, the differences between the styles was due to the era they represent. There's a completely different flavor when dealing with both times.

That's how I looked at it, anyway. I believe what you say is pretty cool, as well.

Also, one of my biggest concerns was wearing something steampunky outside of something like a con or a certain social event. Although, I don't believe it's too hard to pull off as long as you can tone down the brass a bit. (I don't think you implied this, though. I just felt like I should state it.) Dieselpunk does seem easier to pull off in a normal social setting, though.

But I think a lot of my concerns come from me and my background in art. I was taught traditionally, and when I focus on creating something on paper, I can usually create it with ease. But when it comes to doing this - such as creating objects from other objects, or sewing, I get discouraged from it if I think I messed it up. not to mention, you can't just erase or paint over a mistake when it comes to these sort of things, and you could end up wasting money.

 

It's all part of the learning process, I suppose. I guess I should just try to create something and hope something cool comes out.

Welcome, Topher. Good to have you with us. You mentioned that DIeselpunk fashion appears "easier to pull off in a normal social setting." That's very true. I wear Dieselpunk to work all of the time and have a reputation for being the best dressed person in the office. Hell, I dress better than my managers. :)

 

Something else you wrote in your last post I think is a very good way of understanding the difference between Steampunk.

Topher Brown said:

If I understand you correctly, Tom, Steam punk is taking the modern technology, and making them fit within a Victorian "Steam" era, while Dieselpunk is about almost modernizing the Diesel Era. I hope I'm understanding that correctly.

Aw! Larry! I knew it was one of those. (Sorry for getting your name wrong, by the way. Still a little new to forums.)

 

The Diesel era fashion does seem to not only be easier to wear in public, but a lot less of a hassle too. I know from my days in highschool when I was a little metal head, that having a bunch of pointless accessories was not only tedious, but in the end, just felt plain silly.

 

Hopefully when I get paid this week, I'll be able to afford to go to the local Goodwill and hobbyshops to browse around. I think I have an idea of what I want now. (For a first time thing, at least.) This thread actually helped more than I thought.

Thanks Tom, for giving me a better understanding.

Also, didn't say thanks for welcoming me. So, thanks guys, for the welcome.

There is a branch of speculative fiction within the *punk genres, it's just not my personal style or interpretation of it.

I hear what you're saying about the fashion, however.  Despite what we want to believe and regardless to the parallels people will try to make between *punk and Punk Rock proper, *punk truly is a hobby for the privileged.

If you're feeling trepidation towards the fashion end of things (especially towards getting it "right"), do you feel it necessary to build outfits to be a steampunk?  Although it is the most apparent form of expression in the community, you really have to give yourself a hard look in the mirror before you open your wallet.  Is it something that you want to do, or something that you feel you should do to fit in?

Before you answer, take a look at the back of your closet.  If you're like me, you still have a pair of electric blue pants that are baggy enough to fit a family of midgets inside while still leaving room for your glow sticks.  Why did I buy them?  Because they were the style of the time and really damn comfy.  Am I embarrassed I spent XX amount of money on them? Looking back at how many times I actually wore them... yes.

You said that you're a visual artist, and I can relate because that's the field I was trained in as well.  Before you slip down the fashion slope, try expressing your punk on paper.  It's a hell of a lot cheaper, and if you don't like what you come up with, the trash can is just a paper-toss away.  On the other hand, if you have a great idea and want to express yourself through fashion, then by all means run full steam ahead and damn those who would get in your way.

I understand what you're saying, and it has come across my mind a lot. I have an old hoodie that I wore from when I was 15 to about 18. It was an old Wal-mart jacket I "punked" out by putting patches and studs on it (Which kind of made it ineffective as a jacket, but hey, I was young and wanted to look cool.)

I'm 24 now (Well, nearly.) , and I look back at that jacket saying "eh, I can't believe I wore this". But at the same time, I do still feel accomplished with the jacket, as it was one of the first things I made as far as fashion and clothing goes, and you wouldn't believe how many people asked me where I got it.

But aside from that, which I kept mostly because I modified it, the rest of my old clothing I either gave away to friends or Goodwill. A lot of what I have left are old band shirts, and some old bracelets I had made. None of which I wear now.

So, on one hand, I feel like I'm mature enough to know what I like, and what will appeal throughout the rest of my life. And what I like about both Steam and Diesel is not only that it looks cool, but it encourages creativity and expression via DIY. That's something I would totally put on a Dieselpunk (Or a Steampunk) suit to represent.

 

But, on the other hand, there is that problem, especially with Steampunk, where I ask myself "Will I do this in five years?". I'm in my college years now, and once I get out, could an employer really take me seriously if I'm walking around like I'm from some H.G. Wells novel?

I will admit, you do make Diesel punk sound a bit better, though. You can be *punk AND not look like a total crazy man during everyday social encounters.

But I digress...

What I would really like to do is try my hand at least making something of my own to test it out. Maybe a simple Diesel punk thing and see how it looks and feels. I know I can get something simple for under 20 dollars if I shop carefully, under 10 if I'm lucky.

So, if I start to like it more, then I'll slowly progress to that point. If I don't feel like it's an everyday me, however, I'll save that sort of thing for cons and events.

essentially, baby steps. I might try that "steampunk artwork" idea, though. I already love drawing ink busts of famous dead people. (I love the contrast of ink, but this isn't about my obsession with ink.) 

 

 

 

 

One of the first things I bought that helped me expand my wardrobe in the dieselpunk direction was a fitted vest.  I think I found it on the rack at Target for $11 when vests fell out of mainstream fashion last year, but when I combine it with a pair of black slacks and a matching dress shirt/tie, suddenly I'm the best dressed guy in the office.

It's funny how one little piece can really change a bland office uniform into a fashionable outfit.  From there, I was able to build my wardrobe with nicer jackets, hats, shoes, etc., but it all started with an off-the-rack vest.

That's similar to what I was thinking. Getting a small wardrobe together both from what I have now and what I can find won't be difficult, I don't think.


For me, the hardest thing to find was a reasonably priced fedora that didn't look like it came from a Halloween store.  I finally found one on Amazon that I liked (and subsequently added to the Dieselpunk shop).

If you're interested, and don't know what your hat size is, I recommend finding a hat store at your local mall.  I went to a place named Lids that specializes in baseball caps.  Once I tried on a few different sizes, I found the one that fit just right, said "thanks" and left.  When it comes to hat sizes, they go by the 1/8 inch and that little bit can really make the difference between a good hat and a skull crusher, so it's important to get it right before you order.

Not a problem! :)

Topher Brown said:

Aw! Larry! I knew it was one of those. (Sorry for getting your name wrong, by the way. Still a little new to forums.)

 

I actually have a fedora (I bought it for a halloween costume).Unfortunately, it's a modern fedora you usually see hipsters run around with. Also, thanks for the advice, we have a lids here, so I'll probably go ahead and do that sometime within the week whenever I'm off work.

Tome Wilson said:

For me, the hardest thing to find was a reasonably priced fedora that didn't look like it came from a Halloween store.  I finally found one on Amazon that I liked (and subsequently added to the Dieselpunk shop).

If you're interested, and don't know what your hat size is, I recommend finding a hat store at your local mall.  I went to a place named Lids that specializes in baseball caps.  Once I tried on a few different sizes, I found the one that fit just right, said "thanks" and left.  When it comes to hat sizes, they go by the 1/8 inch and that little bit can really make the difference between a good hat and a skull crusher, so it's important to get it right before you order.

You probably have what's called a "Trilby."  

 

A fedora is somewhat bigger, like the precursor to a cowboy hat.

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