Who's ready to get your cosplay on? There is literally no branch of cosplay more creative than steampunk - the possibilities for leather, gadgets, and guns over a puffy, lacy, frilly trunkful of ladylike goodness are almost unlimited. Here we'll take a look at some of the best-known ladies of steampunk and the artists who cosplay them. And when retrofuturism meets the Victorian Era in October, you're all set for a very steampunk Halloween. Get ready to take some skirts, goggles, wigs, gloves, boots, and a whole bunch of corsets to their maximum potential and rock the spookiest night of the year (or cosplay year round).
Chokomokko really nailed every aspect of Lady Mechanika's seriously sexy look from Joe Benitez' incredible comic book series. Here she used vertically striped tights or leggings with a short pleated skirt that falls to the floor in back, but you can also try a skirt that's long in front and back or even tightly fitting cargo pants for a different Lady Mechanika look. You'll notice that her lace-trimmed puff-sleeved shirt falls off the shoulders, which is essential to getting the look right; since it will be covered up by other parts of the costume, don't be too concerned with perfection, but do make sure it fits the way you want it too - Lady Mechanika's lower stomach is often bare, but Chokomokko covered hers and that's a great look as well. Cover it with a corset and pull on a pair of elbow-length black gloves. Now, lace-up boots are a given, and of course you'll need a gun - a shorter pistol or a longer rifle both do the trick. Ok, now the trickier stuff: the leather. You can purchase custom leather from Etsy sellers like this one or this one; if you're the first one to nab it, one artist has recreated Lady Mechanika's pouch in gorgeous detail. You can also make it yourself if you're crazy talented, and the rest of us will gaze on in worshipful awe. Put your hair in an updo, don't forget the goggles, and go get 'em.
Mina Harker (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)
And of course I do mean the comic by Alan Moore, not the movie. The idea, when cosplaying Mina Harker, is really very simple. First, be as pale as you possibly can. For some of us this will require absolutely no work at all other than continuing to be melanin challenged like we are every single day of our lives, in a "Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's vampirism" kind of way. For others a little white face paint will come in handy. Follow this up with a Victorian updo and some earrings ("dangly ones!") if desired. As to your clothing, you've got a wide variety of options. The model here has chosen a long-sleeved, high-collared ivory blouse and a burgundy velvet necktie, which is an excellent choice, with a floor-length black skirt topped with a leather waist cincher. Of course your Mina cosplay may differ; feel free to try a long black coat with a jaunty black hat and long, slim red scarf, or simply a classic Victorian dress with ruffles and a bustle. Whatever you choose, do start with the makeup and hair to show that you're thirsty for blood and ready to flaunt it.
Lady du Lac pulls off the classic Victorian look of Adèle Blanc-Sec with simple pieces, most of which you can find at home. Start with a tough floor-length brown skirt, the kind you could wear on adventures around the globe. Grab a long-sleeved, high-necked collared blouse in a neutral shade and add a khaki vest, the more pockets and buttons the better. Cinch with a brown leather belt at your natural waist. Feel free to tie a lightweight striped scarf around your neck, though I think the omission here isn't a problem. Tie up your hair into a Victorian style, but let some strands fly free (just little casualties of not being a proper lady). Now for the hat: here she's used a straw hat with a sheer, delicate ivory material tied around, which I think really nails Adèle Blanc-Sec's look without a lot of fuss. The tight-fitting leather gloves and a leather bag might be something you already have or something to look around for; either way, a great costume when you want an authentic character to cosplay without spending a lot of money.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The best thing about this spot-on Nausicaa cosplay by Witchiko (go check out all her amazing cosplays!) is that she gives us some details. YES!! Click that link and see her process laid out in a whole bunch of photos - if you can sew without a pattern already, you'll be whipping this one up in no time. Ok, maybe not NO time, because this is seriously one of the most detailed Nausicaa cosplays you're ever going to see, but it's not impossible. Some aspects are easy enough to pick up locally or order online, like the white leggings and gloves and the essential wig; others you'll have to create on your own. Whatever work goes into this is going to be worth it though when you get gasps of recognition as you walk on by.
Elizabeth Dewitt (Bioshock Infinite)
If you love Bioshock Infinite, cosplaying Elizabeth Dewitt is an obvious choice. It's a gorgeous, simple costume that's definitely within your reach. Start with a blue skirt, like April Gloria did here - she says "The skirt was made by sewing a large rectangle of fabric together at one end, and folding over fabric at the top, sewing it into a tube and using ribbon as a drawstring." Simple enough! You can make a lace-trimmed petticoat too if you're feeling ambitious, but it's not strictly necessary for a recognizable look. Add a corset - she cleverly turned a white one inside out and attached grey ribbon details. She outsourced the jacket to an Etsy seamstress, but it looks simple enough to try yourself if you're handy with a sewing machine (and you can use the same fabric from your skirt if you've done that on your own). The choker completes the look - you can create your own or purchase one like this. If your hair is close to the right length like April Gloria's, then just add some smoky eyes, a little blood here and there and you're ready to amaze.