Being a relative newcomer to the world of Steampunk, I’m not sure I am the best qualified to talk about clothing but I have picked up a few tricks from re-enactment, camping and general outdoor life that might have some value.

First of all is “getting the look”. In re-enactment this is crucially important to the point that most groups will have authenticity officers patrolling around to make sure everything looks just right. In Steampunk things are rather different.

For a start ”the look” is based upon fantasy and no one knows better than anyone else what “the look” should be. For some it might be Vintage or Victorian, for others some kind of airship pirate complete with goggles and a flying helmet. Perhaps it’s a Mad Professor, an explorer or a steam powered robot. You choose and nobody can say you are wrong.

You don’t have to spend a fortune either, charity shops, vintage markets and boot sales can be a great source of stuff you can start with. Carefully cutting round the collar of a modern shirt can turn it into an old Grandad shirt. removing the sleeves from an old jacket can produce a serviceable waist coat. Many fashion items can soon be adapted to give you a completly different look once you get your eye in.

Practical vintage clothing for the outdoors. - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -
A more eccentric Victorian Explorer look - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -

Invention and creativity are greatly respected here but practicality may also be something to consider.

Out door life and camping provide their own set of challenges, not least of which in this country is the weather.

 Although we will always endeavour to work with sites that don’t become swamps after the lightest of showers, our wonderful British climate can result in mud and puddles on the best of sites. Nobody is going to criticise you for having a sensible pair of boots or shoes for such conditions. Stiletto heels however, you might have to hope for a very long, dry summer. ( But don’t hold your breath. )

At events where we have Scout Huts or the like, we will be responsible for keeping them reasonably clean, so having a pair of indoor shoes that you can change into is a very sensible idea.

Clothing that trails about on the ground will soon get wet, even if it is just from dew in the mornings. Loose flowing clothing can also be a hazard working or walking near to open fires. Areas around fires and sometimes lanterns can also be sooty, greasy or ashy. Not ideal for your most splendid attire.

Nobody is saying you cannot wear your best clothing but be prepared for it to get a bit grubby from time to time..

On the subject of fires, it is worth being aware that some fabrics are more fire resistant than others. Silks, satins and most synthetic fabrics can ignite very quickly. Some synthetics will melt as they do so, coating the wearer in molten residues that leave very nasty burns. Heavier weight cottons are better, wools are usually the safest. But care and attention is always the best protection.

If you see someone’s clothing in danger or actually starting to burn, intervene quickly. Sometimes it will only need a word but a quick pat with a hand or in extreme cases, that cold drink in you are holding could save someone from a serious injury. ( Not gin or other spirits of course.)

Practical Vintage Clothing for the Outdoors - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -

Even sitting around the fire, it can still get rather chilly at night. A few extra layers to put on can be very welcome in the evening.

Although we occasionally have some form of cover over the fire circle, a parachute canopy will not keep off heavy or sustained rain completely, so think about that as well. If things get very bad, we might have to retreat indoors if we have that option.

A thick woollen blanket is a thing to treasure on camp. Folded up and draped across your chair it will keep the chill from your back. Wrapped around your shoulders it can be one of those extra layers of clothing for warmth. In your tent it can conceal almost anything and at night it adds warmth to your bedding. It can even protect you from the rain for a while too.

Charity shops are well worth checking out for them. (Often sold as dog blankets.)

Here are a few pictures of outfits people have worn at our events to give you some inspiration.

Working near open fires requires practical clothing - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -

There should always be a bucket of water positioned near to the communal fire place, do not use that water for anything other than safety, it’s there for a reason.

I’m sure this section will get longer as I think of new things to add but I hope it has given you a few ideas at least.


Our Steampunk Halloween camp - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Roy and Debbie - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Stella - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Debs - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Josie - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Colin - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Wayland - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Deborah - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Pete - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © James Howarth -
Wayland - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -
Colin - The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -
The Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson - www.Steamtent.ukThe Steam Tent Co-operative. © Gary Waidson -