Seven Overdone Steampunk Fashions at the Wild Wild West Con

The first Wild Wild West Con took over the Hotel Tucson and Old Tucson Studios over the weekend, highlighting the world of steampunk, which combines the technology of the Industrial Revolution with Victorian Fashion (and American Western wear and military uniforms).

Lots of people dressed up for Wild Wild West Con, and many folks were decked out in elaborate, jaw-dropping costumes.

Others, however, went with the most basic motifs and obvious accessories. There were lots of weird déjà vu moments walking the convention, as numerous people were essentially wearing the same thing.

Here's our list of the seven most overdone fashions at this year's Wild Wild West Con:

1. Top hats. We get it -- top hats were popular in the Victorian era. An overhead view of Wild Wild West Con was probably like looking down on hundreds of black circles, usually decorated with feathers or little brass and copper gears. Abraham Lincoln would so not wear that.

2. Decorative gears with no purpose. Steampunkers go gaga for gears, whether they're cheap accessories from a costume shop or real gears pilfered from watches and clocks. It's cool when the gears are used in movable props (more on that in our upcoming how-to post on steampunk props), but when the gears are just glued to a top hat, vest, or shoes, it looks like you're trying to imitate a human magnet.

3. Anachronistic goggles.
Lots of people showed up to Wild Wild West Con in the goggles they wore to Burning Man. Goggles are good for steampunk "airship crew" costumes when they're at least somewhat true to the period. But wearing a pair of plastic goggles painted with copper-colored paint to a steampunk convention is like bringing a pack of Circle K matches to a Zippo lighter festival.

4. Short bustle dresses with striped tights. Bustle dresses abounded at Wild Wild West Con, but emerged with a new, trendy twist: mini-bustles that allowed the ladies to show off their legs -- usually in striped tights. Black and white and purple and black stripes seemed to be the most popular combinations. These were the same ladies often carrying parasols or pushing baby prams.

5. Leather arm cuffs. There was some amazing leather work among convention goers and vendors at WWWC, from hand-stitched back packs to shin guards. But leather arm cuffs were the most prominent cow-hide products on hand, and it looked like lots of people wore arm cuffs left over from the Renaissance Festival.

6. Hair extensions. Synthetic hair is so not steampunk. Brightly colored hair extensions in dreadlocks or braids were all the rage at goth clubs eight years ago. But really, can you picture Captain Nemo with silvery pink cyber-hair?

7. Mad Max-style boots. Again, something typically seen at a goth club. WWWC was filled with New Rocks, combat, and platform boots -- usually decorated with (what else?) gears.

Important note: If you're even thinking about bringing a gun to your next steampunk showdown, take a few pointers from the experts before spray painting a supersoaker.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea