So You’ve Never Heard of Steampunk?

Posted on October 27, 2014


So there was Lila, invited to a Halloween party at the last minute, and not a thing to wear. What to do, what to do…


Ebola, from the Giant Microbes company.

Aha! For Christmas a few years ago, some wonderfully strange friends had given Lila Ebola and Plague. No, no, not the actual diseases; these were somewhat cute, plush, giant microbe toys from a company called… wait for it… Giant Microbes (Ebola is currently sold out). So I figured I would just pin the Ebola to my lapel and go as an Ebola carrier, ha, get it?

But then I started to worry that someone would be offended. I could hear it in my head already: “Thousands dead, and you’re making a joke of this?” Well, yes, because Halloween traditions hark back to those days when people dressed up as ghouls to disguise themselves from the real ghouls who would walk the Earth that night… Ebola is simply one of our many 21st-century ghouls, so why not?

But just in case… if I had to stash my bug in my purse out of deference to the Overly Sensitive, I wanted a backup. Back to Square One: what to do, what to do…

Aha! Lila has a funky sense of style and has amassed several rather Victorian-looking items over the past few years; why, this means Lila could go in Steampunk attire!

Perhaps an explanation is in order. Steampunk is a fantasy/science fiction genre which manages to be simultaneously retro and futuristic; the clothing is usually Victorian-era-inspired, but laced with all kinds of advanced technological gadgets and weapons that Victorians could scarcely have envisioned. And yet, this advanced tech is all mechanical or steam-powered, with lots of brass and leather, rivets and gears… hence the name, Steampunk. Think H.G. Wells on steroids. Or, think Will Smith’s Wild Wild West,


or Sean Connery’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, especially Captain Nemo and the submarine Nautilus.


But Steampunk fans don’t sit around waiting for movies to come out; they make up and outfit their own characters, and get together for Steampunk-themed events ranging from conventions to book clubs and anything else where you can wear weird Victorian-inspired attire and accessories (especially the accessories!).


All righty then! All I needed to do was throw together a skirt with hemline pleats, a jacket with a peplum, and some lace-up ankle boots, and voila! …something was missing. Did I mention the accessories? So off to the craft store, and a few feathers, gears and gadgets later, Lila had a Victorian-inspired, gadgety, Steampunk-worthy hat to top off the outfit. With my Ebola bug pinned to my lapel, off I went to the party…

Where I was mistaken for Mary Poppins, and Ebola was mistaken for a snake.

At least we didn’t offend anyone.