Steampunk Carmen Sandiego - newbie could use advice/ feedback

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#1 threestories on 6 years ago

Hello all, while I've been researching and reading about Steampunk for about a year, I've never attempted to make or put together any Steampunk outfits before. However, the idea of doing a Steampunk version of Carmen Sandiego has been niggling away at me for a few months. I have a traditional version of her [URL=""]"new school" costume[/URL] (Black and red, instead of yellow and red) which I'm planning to wear for DragonCon. I was planning to have a black and red Victorian walking outfit custom made for me afterwards/ for next year/ etc. that I could work on adding Steampunk elements to over time.

However, I am participating in a lot of Steampunk/ Alternative History panels this year, and thought what if I could put something together fairly decently in the next couple of weeks? So I thought I could get some advice from y'all about how to get there. Please keep in mind the following:

[*]I'm not a great seamstress. I can hot-glue and sew elements such as lace and buttons and trim, but can't make whole outfits or pieces.
[*]I'm in my early 30s (yes, I got into this very late), and while I'm continually told I don't look anywhere near my age, I don't want to be too cutesy.
[*]I have less than 2 weeks to put this together, so I can only order things that can arrive very fast or have things made locally.

Here's what I have so far. This is the coat and petticoat I have. As you can see, it already pushes the "too cutesy" envelope. It comes to just below my knee with the petticoat; the coat itself is just below mid-thigh.


I have black leather knee-high boots that are plain and have a chunky 2" heel. Unfortunately, I cannot wear stilettos to DragonCon this year, as I have a soft-tissue injury from jogging in one of my feet, and I would be in tears within the hour.) I don't know if there's anything I could do to make them more Steampunk. I thought about adding a few straps with buckles.

I am planning to wear them with sheer ribbed/striped black tights OR opaque black leggings/ riding pants, which is more Edwardian than Victorian, but I was also thinking of taking off the black petticoat and getting a long black Victorian skirt instead, to make it less Lolitaish.

I've also got black lace cuffs, black Victorian opera gloves, a large vintage map ring in a copper base, a working vintage compass on a choker, and I'm planning to replace all the buttons with some large antique brass ones. I am well-versed in not wanting to throw on gears and stuff without a purpose.

Finally, there's the question of the hat. This is the hat I have:


It's very Traditional Carmen Sandiego and right now has a plain 1" black ribbon around the base. I was thinking of replacing that with a long piece of lace that I could tie into a bow in the back with trails, then adding goggles with lenses (Carmen would need them! She's a jewel thief! I have a small black pair that are perfect) and perhaps a few black silk flowers with some small feathers. I thought about getting a little red top hat with black accents on it instead, but her hat is so iconic that I wanted to keep it and maybe make it look like a more Steampunk version of [URL=""]this[/URL].

Some other ideas I had were a little brass retractable telescope in a black holster I saw on Etsy, and maybe some kind of purse or Victorian equivalent of Carmen's ubiquitous briefcase. I could also, to make her more recognizable, do her hat accents in gold instead and wear a gold scarf or Victorian collar (something like [URL=""]this[/URL]), since that's the color palette a lot of people are more familiar with for the original character. I'm not great at accessorizing and I'm sorry this is so long, but any advice or feedback would be so welcome.

#2 nathancarter on 6 years ago

A tool belt would be very in-character. Perhaps make it out of two belts - one that's a little snug and rides at your waist over your hips - (for support and positioning, maybe between the middle and bottom buttons) and a second one that's way too big, attached to the small belt on one side of your waist, and allowed to sag about halfway down the skirt on the other side. But you couldn't put any tools on the low side of the lower belt, or it would squish the skirt (depending on how supporting your petticoats are). Here's some inspiration:

I'll occasionally go to the thrift store or Goodwill and buy a half-dozen assorted belts (^_^)

If there's a military surplus store near you, definitely check them out for little bits and trinkets and connectors and such.

How about a radio antenna coming up out of your hat? Got to be in contact with the rest of V.I.L.E., right?

One last thought: It's gonna be hot in Atlanta. That coat looks pretty toasty. I hope it's not thick felt like the picture looks... stay hydrated. (not that I'm one to talk, last year I walked around all Sunday in a full Nomex race suit)

#3 threestories on 6 years ago

I love the toolbelt idea, thank you so much! I had a few odds and ends for her (a retractable telescope in a holster, a pocket compass, magnifying glass, etc. - plus would need stuff like my cellphone, cash and camera ;) - that this would be perfect for! The antennae idea is so cute, too.

I was thinking a parasol might be cute, but a walking cane might be better for Carmen. And I already know I'm going to be melting with at least 2 of my costumes this year. I won't be wearing anything under the trenchcoat up top, since it buttons fairly high, so that should help. It's not that heavy, but it is indeed a lightweight wool coat and a hat. At least I won't have a wig with this one.

My main issue right now, aside from my total accessorizing!fail, is the color scheme. I think she might be more "recognizable" with a gold scarf and gold/yellow accents in the hat instead of black. (But the black is sooo pretty...) Also still deciding between the more Edwardian riding pants vs. a big full Victorian skirt. (I have both.) Thanks again for all the feedback and ideas!

#4 Nerdy2Shoes on 5 years ago

Where did you get the coat?! I just kinda want it to wear everyday, all day. Also, almost went to PAX as Pinup Carmen, but rumor was there was another, who was an actual pinup model doing it, so I chickened out, and am now going steampunk (not Carmen). I love the original idea! Could you do the riding pants with a detachable bustle? I always liked the look of it...