Steampunking: Adventures in Costuming

I'm working on a couple of steampunk costumes right now. I avoid the costuming bit, because I have no skills in putting them together, and it seems like a hella lot of work. However, I do find pieces here and there in ordinary stores which suit my purposes.

Right now, I'm working on a more Asian side of costume. I do have an ao-dai that my mother bought for me that looks remarkably like a cheongsam, but Ay-Leen's already got the steampunk'd ao-dai down, and she's actually Vietnamese too, unlike me, so I'd be totally unoriginal.

However! I do have a yellow, Chinese-esque blouse I bought in some second-hand store. And the soft white trouser piece of the ao-dai works well with it. Not only that, but if I add a sarong, the ensemble would look remarkably like the baju Melayu worn by men in Malaysia, for formal occasions. Not totally close, because the pants usually match the shirt, but there's only so much I can work with, ya'll.

I would prefer a more open collar, rather than the high formal collar, like in this clip:

That's a clip from an old P. Ramlee movie. I'll transcribe and translate another day, if you like. In some depictions I've seen, the men also wear vests, which is awesome, because I love vests!

I'm having trouble with the sarong piece, because I would love something similar to the songket material used, but songket is pretty expensive.

There are several reasons to use this outfit, too. For starters, it's really comfortable. The long sleeves may look counter-productive for a hot, humid place like Malaysia, but the long sleeves protect the skin from the sun. Secondly, unlike the baju kurung or the more colourful baju Kebaya, it's easy to run in, and for all intents and purposes, really practical, if I could add more pockets. Thirdly, as a Malaysian, I feel rather entitled to using the costume, even though I'm not Malay. If my fellow Malaysian minorities have to deal with ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy), I might as well mockingly assimilate, to show what an absurd idea it is. Finally, I just love a good genderfuck, and adopting a male form of dress sounds too good to pass up.

Wish me luck.


  1. I consider myself unoriginal in the sense that I'm going back to my roots, yo. ^-~

    I had a cheongsam when I first did steampunk, but later decided that didn't go with my personal style (And it was hard to run in. Not good while having a steamsona as an assassin.)

    Good luck with the genderbending cosplay. I love that myself too--I'd rather be wearing vests & tailcoats over corsets. :)

  2. In which case, I, too, am unoriginal! It's okay though, I'm sure we'll still be seen as completely new in some places! ^_~


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