I have always had one, niggling, little problem with women’s steampunk fashion: I’m not exactly the most, uh, conservative of dressers, and the Victorian obsession with high buttoned collars has never really worked for me. (Read: yes, you can usually see at least a little bit of my boobs… or a lot…).
The sci-fi, airship pirate, more-punk-than-steam, corsets & short skirts look is definitely more my thing, but it’s not an easy look to bring to the office. My office is pretty casual (I might have come to work in yoga pants once or twice in the middle of the winter while I was PMSing…), so I can come to work in jeans a few times a week and no one even blinks. So here’s what I wore to work one day this fall:
The steampunky aspects of this outfit are primarily the vest & the shoes. The vest was an improvised item that I made for a friend’s wedding in the spring. It’s made from dark purple jersey and a (thrifted!) grey-purple (Donna Karan!) men’s shirt that I cut up. I kept the back of the shirt, cut off the sleeves, front, and collar, and kept the scoop bottom of the shirt. I drafted out the front vest pattern based on my measurements (didn’t get it bang on, the vest is approximately a size or two too big!), with two pieces of dark purple jersey for each side of the vest.*
I got to use the nifty button hole maker attachment on my sewing machine, but as I could have predicted (and the instruction booklet warned me), it’s tricky to use/get good results on stretch knits. Under the tension of the presser foot, the fabric stretches and the stitches don’t do that nice, lined up, close together, actually looking like a button hole thing. The auto button hole maker still held together the rough edges so the jersey won’t fray, but it’s not super purdy. The suggestion is to run a cord around the button hole maker that somehow gets sewn into button hole – it didn’t work for me, and I’m not super clear on how it’s supposed to be accomplished, but some interfacing would probably have done the trick…
The buttons on the vest don’t match, because I bought a giant bag of buttons and it had 5 PERFECT buttons, and had to find a different, unmatching, one to finish off the vest. But that’s ok, because I really like it when things like buttons and stripes don’t match exactly!
My shoes were an awesome find from a Sears outlet at the end of the summer, they’re a really comfy 1 1/2″ heel, and have a little bit of a granny boot/oxford/black-on-black saddle shoe look. They’re grown up shoes! I wear faux-suede slip-on practically-slippers penny-loafers at work most of the time, which is perfectly appropriate for our office, but it’s nice to have something a little fancy sometimes!
*I made use of the left side front of the shirt as well! I cut out a long, narrow rectangle with the breast pocket centred in the top half. Sew up the sides of the rectangle, and a simple fold-over hem around the top, and you’ve got a cute mini purse with a little front pocket! I made straps out of left over strips of the purple jersey, so that I could wear it over my shoulder, or tied to around my waist like a hip pocket/sporran/fanny pack. The straps were sewn into the side seams of the bag.