The adventurer is crucial to steampunk, for he explores the boundaries of empires and brings back new and exiting things from his journeys into the previously unknown. Adventurers are brave, daring and, most importantly, looking the part, no matter where they go — be they the brave explorers of lost civilizations in deep jungles or underneath the mighty oceans, the gallant aviators that soar the skies or anything in between.
There is the servant of the empire, in his neat uniform coat and pith helmet, wearing his insignias with pride. Some wear goggles to protect their eyes, others prefer a monocle as a sign of elevated rank. If you wish to get authentic spats, eBay and Etsy are good places to look. Other spats are easy to make or have made with the many tutorials and patterns circulating the web and sewing supply stores.
As far as headwear is concerned, the pith helmet is not only popular with the imperialist, it is in fact a bit of a symbol for many adventurers of all ilk. Thus the exploring aristocrat will happily exchange his or her normal headwear for a pith helmet of choice and the more practically dressed adventurer will wear it because, well, it looks good and protects your head against the insidious heat at the same time.
For those who have no desire to wear uniforms, there are the beige and khakis of exploration garb. You can often find wonderful pieces for an outfit like that in stores specializing in outdoors activities or traveling. And even army supply stores tend to carry this sort of garment.
The actual wardrobe varies from very casual to very chique. Some favor the so-called safari garb, others go for comfortable skirts or cargo trousers or shorts. Yet others prefer to look as adventurously dressed aristocrats, wealthy ladies and gentlemen leading the expedition they have funded. Outfits range from historically accurate to contemporary with elements that could be real or made up.
Heck, if you want, you can even look like a steamed-up Indiana Jones, if that’s what rocks your boat!
Footwear also ranges from different kinds of styles but consists of comfortable yet sturdy and matching boots, often combined with spats.
A handy bag, notebook with pen and often belts to hang things from provide the finishing touches of this outfit. After all, reaching into your belt bag for your compass or being able to draw your gun from that hip holster makes life so much easier (not to mention the rising survival chances you get through easy access of essentials).
Equipment-wise, many more modern adventurers add a camera of some sort to their tools of the trade.
The adventurer look is one of the easiest types of steampunk to shop for. As mentioned above, traveling garb in the appropriate colors is easily purchased from speciality shops. Other parts and accessories can be gotten at a variety of shops or made via various DIY techniques, like the customizing for toy guns for the adventurer’s weaponry.
Also many stores that sell LARP supplies, as well as high-street shops and thrift stores, are a veritable treasure throve for the adventurer’s accessories.
This story first appeared in Gatehouse Gazette 5 (March 2009), p. 7, with the headline “The Steampunk Wardrobe: The Adventurer”.