So, now that we covered the basics in Part 1, let’s tackle costuming. Let’s start by saying that having only one outfit for your persona is unnatural. People don’t typically have a closet filled with multiple pairs of the exact same outfit. So, why not make different, lighter, cooler costumes for your persona during the summer months? When you make a new costume, it’s bets to wear it for an hour before you take it to a convention, so you know it’s going to be what you planned.
Remember when we said no to be afraid to sweat? If you are going to wear layers, stick with light weight and breathable fabrics. In general, don’t wear heavy thick fabrics. Also, avoid tight clothing and wear loose breezy clothes. Darker colored clothing absorbs heat, so wear lighter colors, and remember that white reflects heat. Avoid dry clean only items. Machine washable clothing is easier to clean and generally isn’t ruined by sweat and water. It’s best to use natural fibers and thinner fabrics. User cloths, broadcloth, cotton, egyptian cotton, chemise, linen, flax, twill, and silk linings. Believe it or not, wool is recommended because is pull moisture away from the body, so if you’re going to use a coat, use a wool coat. Otherwise, it’s cooler not to use coats or jackets. Ladies can use shaws to cover up and protect again sun rays.
We mentioned in the Part 1 that you can overheat if you head and face isn’t kept cool, so let’s talk about hats. Don’t use felt hats or hats with an excessive amount of accessories on them. Wear hats that breath or have ventilation. An explorers hat usually has little venting holes around it, which is great for the summer. Long rim or wide rim hats provide shade for the face and ladies are encouraged to use Fascinaters instead of hats. Avoid leather aviator caps, as they can generate a lot of heat and usually cover the entire head. Besides, why wear a hat when a pair of goggles is much cooler?! Don’t worry, there are some creative ideas for hats in Part 3 of this article.
Ladies, we know you love your fancy dresses, bustles, and corsets, but you can sport some lovely summer attire without all that extra heat. For a cool summer, wear light dresses, short layered skirts (light thin fabric only), avoid bustles and petticoats, and hoop skirts provide breathing room for your southern regions. Wearing a vest is going to be much coolor than a corset; but if you insist, don’t tighten or cinch your corset and wear a half shirt or short sleeve/sleevless chemise (or light thin fabric) beneath it. Bloomers are great to keeping hiked skirts decent and they’re pretty! For us big girls, there’s a wonderful site that our Captain loves to shop at called Hips And Curves. You can get some quite lovely plus sized bloomers, chemise, and more.
Gentlemen, we know you love your armor, but that can be heavy, hot, and miserable in the summer. If you must wear armor, wear light built armor, wear less of it, and take it off from time to time to give yourself a break. Men can also wear kilts for a breezy alternative to pants and a tank top under the vest instead of a shirt. Everyone can wear sleeveless/short sleeved or rolled up sleeve shirts, and partially unbuttoned shirts.
Let’s talk about face masks. There are lots of persona’s who use face makes, such as the Order characters in the community. If you can’t will yourself to leave the mask off for the summer, then make sure it’s a well ventilated design. You body can’t cool properly if you’re breathing nothing but recycled air. Take a breath from the mask frequently and drink more water. There are more ideas for mask, but those will be mentioned in Part 3 of this article.
We don’t want to overlook the feet. It’s important to realize that feet expand when they get hot and they also sweat. Like we mentioned in Part 1, change your socks often to avoid fungal or bacterial infections on the feet. Since your feet will expand, don’t wear snug shoes. Don’t be afraid to wear sandals and don’t think you can’t steampunk sandals! Better yet, who’s going to walk around being judge mental of shoes anyway? Just wear something that will let your feet expand and breath and you’ll feet will be much happier at the end of the night.
Don’t be afraid to leave the accessories home for the summer, or wear minimal accessories at least. Try adding some steampunk flair to a Middle Eastern outfit. Middle Eastern clothing is actually designed for the heat. Design a Safari Explorer’s outfit with shorts, a light explorer’s hat, and the explorer’s hat which is well ventilated. A paperboy outfit can be pretty light – just ask Shea Alric. There was a gentleman that we met at Nightmare Machine – an outdoor event that was very hot and humid – that was wearing a simple pair of pants and a shirt, but his long rim hat had steampunk flair, as did his belt and holstered pistol. He’s persona was a western gunslinger and he chose very light costuming. On the last day of the event, our Captain fanned herself with her black fan even though it didn’t match her outfit because it was miserable hot. She wore copper googles on her head, a mini pocket watch necklace, loose brown pants, a white tank with small ruffles down the center, a brown shirt unbuttoned with the sleeves rolled up, and a tan and cream shaw to hide from the sun while walking between locations. It really wasn’t much clothing, it was very little in the way of accessories, and it was still steampunk. There are actually a lot of options for modifying your costume to be summer tolerable. Ask around for advise if you need help dressing down or coming up with a new outfit.