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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I agree with Tome. You probably have a Trilby. Here's a classic fedora:


I thought I'd chime in with a few angles to your post that no one has touched on much, yet. 

First let me say that I'm 100% Diesel, as that is the era an style that I love. I feel that the Thirties and Forties was a time when men dressed like men, women like women, and when manufactured objects were made to last forever. I wouldn't really say that I dress diesel every day. On most days, I'm just a T-shirt and jeans type. But when I feel the need to dress it up a bit, well, let's just say that I have a zoot suit that actually gets used.

I believe in function, then form. I've put together a military dieselpunk costume for occasions when costumes are appropriate, and I tend to lean almost too far in the direction of "historical reenactment," as you put it. I've made some changes to it recently to bling it up, but if there's no justifiable reason for it, it doesn't go. 

I made a raygun rifle for the costume (reminds me, I need to post some pictures of it on this site), and it's almost too simple looking, because I treated it like a real rifle. No unnecessary parts or attachments. 

As to the confederate frock coat question, I'll be honest, and say that yes, I do think about what I might be mistaken for when putting these things together. For example, my latest version of the military costume for the upcoming Bay Area Maker Faire is mostly black, with gold/brass accessories such as rank insignias, cap device, etc. It was in my mind the whole time to walk the line of not looking too fascist. I don't want someone asking if I'm a Nazi, or something. So, this is when you use your imagination to vary it enough with other fun dieselpunk touches. My military uniform has black suspenders and a black tie on my black shirt. What military did that? None, but it sells the diesel, and makes it less reenactment. You could use the coat, but change the color scheme for the rest of the outfit to a neutral color, such as black, or red. It could be very cool.

Welcome aboard, Topher!

Rather than reiterate what others have said I'll agree and add my touches:

The Confederate Frock: I understand the dilema. I live in Fredericksburg, VA, an old Civil War tourist town where you routinely see men dressed like CS soldiers walking down the street. Anything CS is controversial, particularly the CSA flag. I once kicked around the idea, if I ever had the time or opportunity to make a Steam outfit, to take advantage of the CW uniforms and make a CS-themed outfit, but with "subversive" elements to make sure everyone knew I wasn't advocating Hate. Wearing a CSA belt or insignia upside-down, for example, could go as a symbol of a "renegade CS soldier" disafected with the "Slavocracy" and gain you "punk" points.

Dressing Diesel: Yes, not only can you wear Diesel every day, but you usually get the rep as the sharp dresser. I went to my interview for my last job in a fedora and got complements from the prospective bosses. I think it helped me get the job out of literally hundred of applicants. I have an Article on my experiences here somewhere. Tome had great points on building your look and wardrobe in stages. Consider also removable hat bands. At about $7-10 each you can buy a set of different colors/patterns to adapt a hat to any outfit without buying a whole new hat; I even surprised a co-worker when he asked how many hats I owned and I said "three". He assumed I had a closet full, all thanks to cheap cotton hat bands! PS: there's a great hat store with a wide selection of Fedoras here in Fredericksburg if you're over on this side of the country where you can try on and wear out.

Also, forgot to add: form vs. function: That's a question only you can answer for you, but as an engineer I definately fall on the "function" side of things. IMO even the most outlandish Steampunk outfit is far cooler when the wearer can describe exactly what each bauble is "for". "That's the phlogoston expansion chamber and that's the actuator arm". Extra poins if the function of the gearing is considered rather than just "paste where it looks cool".

-Tome and Larry : Thanks for clearing that up for me. I knew what a Fedora looked like, but I didn't know what I had wasn't one. They have similar looks, so I assumed the Trillby was a modern Fedora.

Although I love the look and feel of Fedora's (and the awesome suits to go with them.), I've had some interest in a more "commoners" look. but I think I'll save exploring fashion for when I decide to go deeper into Diesel Punk.


-Deven: While I like your idea of changing the Frock coat, my main thing with it was that I loved to the colors and look of it. XD    I'll look into doing that, though. Maybe do something similar to what Tony was suggesting. But again, gonna put that on hold until the future.

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