The term "steampunk" describes a genre of science fiction that originated in the 1980s. Characteristics of the genre include an alternate society that still uses steam power, predominantly. Settings for the stories seem to be nineteenth century, the Victorian period. The science of the stories parallels that described by such authors as H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. Mr. Verne's Time Machine is a prime example of the scientific anachronism found in this type of fiction. Futuristic machinery and fantastic inventions are powered by clockwork or steam. Steampunk costumes for women, like our Victorian Lady costume, appear to be historical gowns, but with a scientific or mechanical twist.
Although the term wasn't coined until 1980, there are examples of the genre that preceded the trend. From 1965-1969, CBS aired what is now considered a classic example of Western Steampunk. "The Wild, Wild West" frequently featured both mechanical marvels and industrial costumes and accessories. Set in the same time period, the late nineteenth century, this version of the genre is played out in the American West. Some ideas for women's costumes of this type would be the saloon girl or can-can or the Renegade costume. Note that they included in this category may, at first, look like traditional period clothing. Including mechanical or industrial-looking accessories provides the perfect finishing touch and make it truly steampunk.
Steampunk fashion is a fun combination of Victorian propriety and mechanical innovation. Think of the look as a cross between Victorian and Industrial fashion. Women's costumes may include a corset, bustle, and petticoats. Some are inspired by military uniforms. Expect a look to include pieces that have gears, or machine parts. They are often accessorized with goggles, parasols, leather aviator caps, ray guns and other modern devices that appear to be antique.