Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

This is something I wrote on our group page, just before Dieselpunk SA had our first picnic. 

"With the picnic only days away, I thought I might say a few words about Dieselpunk costuming. I know that a lot of us came to know Dieselpunk through Steampunk, so I ask a favour. 
Forget it all.While both being "punkified", if you will, versions of history, this is where the similarities end. 
So, when thinking about a costume just remember; Dieselpunk is 1920's-1940's (some say early 50's too). This includes the aftermath of WWI, the entirety of WWII, the great depression, prohibition (in the US) and "the six o'clock swill" or alcohol curfew in Aust and NZ. It includes the age of the flapper, film noir, gangsters, working women, vaudeville, burlesque. Also, girls, think of jobs women were doing; Rosie the riveter, housewives, secretaries or glamorous actresses like Katharine Hepburn. 
I guess the reason I am writing this is because when I was thinking about what costume to make, the first thing that came to mind was a nazi out of Indiana Jones. While that is a viable option, it isn't the only one. 
I hope this was food for thought."

I'd really just love any notes or thoughts


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Thanks Tome. Yes, I agree that the conversation is focussing way too heavily on uniforms. That was the ENTIRE point of my post :P Because there is so much more than just WWII era for us to draw on. Personally I am a huge fan of late 40's housewife fashions.

On the steampunk point, to be honest, I always had the problem that my outfits were closer to Victoriana and not steampunk enough :P

Your point about adding diesel flair to everyday wardrobes is a pertinent one. For us girls it's also easy to throw our hair in a hairstyle that fits any of the 3 eras. The 20's was the era of the flapper, so think pincurls which are great for short hair, but can work for long too. The 30's was the era of the finger wave, which can be great for short or long hair, it just looks a little different, depending. The 40's were a time of victory rolls, which scaled down are something so easy, i can do on the bus, or at my desk at work without a mirror :P

Thanks again Tome, your post was great.

Hear hear, Tome! Couldn't say it any better, so I won't try.

Tome Wilson said:

My take on dieselpunk fashion isn't one of costuming, but of finding a way to blend that historical style in with something contemporary.  Otherwise, you're just running with a fad and it will burn out as soon as it's overplayed, just like every other fringe fashion movement (anyone remember their Grunge flannel days?).

I think a lot of steampunks go over the top, because they don't have the accurate physical records of what Victorians actually wore, nor do they have easy access to clothing from that era.  So, the historical gaps are filled in with "whatever works" and the outfits are over-accessorized to the point of being cosplay.

Since I don't work on a movie set or at science-fiction convention, it's up to me to be responsible with where my money goes.  This means I favor more "street legal" fashions that lean toward our beloved Jazz age.  A simple fedora, a stylish overcoat, a pin-stripe waistcoat, or a pair of two-tone dress shoes can do a lot to put contemporary style on the edge.  

To me, dieselpunk isn't about living in the past, nor is it about living in a fantasy world.  Instead, it's about facing the bleak landscape of our now and future world and saying, "I know what I like and I'm tired of consuming the bland, disposable half-hearted bullshit I've been fed all my life.  I live in the god-damned land of tomorrow, and if people could build awesome works of art with their primitive tools 90 years ago, I should be able to do the same thing ten times better thanks to today's technology."

Atterton said:

My question would probably more be about what you might term accessories. How to show the technological and scientific advancements of dieselpunk. When you see steampunks they have fancy monocles, big mechanical arms and such. What could you wear while dressed in 1940s wear, to give that same impression of being not just historical reenactment?

I agree with Cap'n. Well said, Tome.

Yes I agree to an extent. The philosophy is sound, putting it across in a style of clothing is tricky however. I would agree that a lot of Steampunk style seems like ott cosplay, but to more than a small degree it's been developed by cosplayers and often showcased at Sci Fi conventions so that would make some sense.

It's a little bit different here in the UK, because the Sci Fi con scene is nowhere near as huge, and Steampunk is largely becoming known through other channels. Some people will dress to the max for the rare big events such as the Asylum or Whitby Gothic weekend. But many of us do wear more toned down sensible outfits all the time.

I tend to have a more practical work a day Steam and Diesel clothing style, which blend quite easily together. Though often not associated with these periods, my top hat and one of my frockcoats were both made in the thirties. The other one made even later but still to the traditional not modern pattern. These things were still worn back then, but as occasional wear as indeed they are by me. I have 8 panel flat caps, Fedoras and Trilbies, single and double breasted suits, waistcoats, overcoats, pea coats and pretty sturdy dress boots etc for everyday. Plenty of linens for summer. My most flashy accessory is a pocketwatch and trench lighter on a double Albert chain.

I'll confess to owning goggles too, but again only for occasional wear. I think the idea of adapting these styles for every day is very sound. My work would be pretty hard to do wearing a fake prosthetic brass arm and a mechanical monocle lol.

But of course, we're neither the first nor the only ones to have that idea.


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