The Victorian era ended over 100 years ago, but the styles that sprouted during that time managed to live on. Actually, it’s still going strong today. It’s hardly a surprise, because the Victorian era produced styles that commanded elegance, class, and timelessness. The Victorian-inspired styles we use today are so popular that we’ve given it a new name: neo-Victorian.
Neo-Victorian is an aesthetic movement where we take Victorian styles and apply modern principles and technologies to them. The phenomenon is found in art, architecture, popular culture, literature, mannerisms, and fashion.
Yes, people today still wear Victorian dresses, tailcoats, and lace-up boots. While some people like to add a splash of neo-Victorian fashion to their wardrobes, others have completely embraced it. So many people are so fervid about neo-Victorian fashion that there are actually sub-cultures associated with it. Let’s take a look at 5 of them.
This is the most widespread neo-Victorian fashion subculture. A lot of people associate gothic fashion with spiky collars, long black fingernails, and six-inch platforms adorned with cartoon skulls and blood. The truth is that gothic fashion is so much more than that. There’s actually a different type of gothic fashion called elegant gothic, which means people who have adopted that type of fashion dress in glamorous Victorian-inspired clothes.
The gothic subculture draws inspiration from the upper-class society during the Victorian era. A typical elegant gothic woman imitates the wealthy women during that era by wearing lace dresses, ruffle corsets, elaborate mini hats, and parasols. Elegant gothic men follow in the footsteps of aristocrats by imitating their tailcoats, vests, breeches, and top hats.
American author Jess Nevins once said, “Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.”
That’s actually not quite true. While steampunk fashion is similar to gothic fashion, it’s actually more casual. Steampunk takes after the working class during the Victorian era. Steampunkers draw their inspiration from steam-powered machinery and, fashion-wise, they mimic the people who had blue-collar jobs over 100 years ago.
Female steampunkers are partial to corsets, simple Victorian dresses, capelets, ruffle skirts, and lace gloves. Male steampunkers are often seen wearing airship pants, buckled-up boots, twirly mustaches, top hats, and aviator goggles. Due to this subculture’s fondness for old maps, funky buttons, scrap leather, and numerous different kinds of touch-ups to normal attire, steampunk allows for a lot of DIY projects. Run a search online and you’ll find many tutorials on how to make your own steampunk glasses, Victorian-inspired handbag, or fingerless gloves.
Dieselpunk is a more modern version of steampunk. This subculture draws inspiration from the diesel era (the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II).
Popular articles of clothing among women in this subculture include military-style waistcoats, lace hosiery, military hats, and classic pumps. Male dieselpunkers are partial to suspenders, airship pants, aviator sunglasses, and military-style coats.
Biopunk fashion is basically a fusion between Victorian-era clothing and science-related clothing, such as jumpsuits and hazmat suits. This subculture emerged during the 1990s and it’s still going strong today.
Clockpunk fashion is probably the oldest neo-Victorian fashion subculture listed here. It’s based off the late 1700s, and it consists of black, white, and grey clothes. The fashion is French-inspired but kept simple. Clockpunkers take after poor folks who lived before the very beginning of the Victorian era. They shy away from handbags, puffy sleeves, satin, lace, and parasols.
Typical clockpunk clothing include overalls, striped button-ups, buckled vests, simple jewelry, knit boots, round top hats, and pocket watches.
Simon is a professional guest writer working for Higherclick.com and Macy’s.com.