Halloween is coming up fast and it is always a great occasion to show off some Steampunk fashion. Of course, not all of us have a complete neo-Victorian ensemble just waiting to be doffed. Over the next week, we’ll be looking at how to put together your perfect Steampunk Halloween costume.

Other than a parasol, nothing is higher on a Steampunk trick-of-treater than the hat. Now, there are lots of ways to go, depending on the look you want and how much you can spend, so let’s take a look at some examples of the more common genera.

Decorated Top Hats

Praxinoscope Hat by Ramon MartinThe embellished top hat is right up there with goggles in terms of screaming “Steampunk” when you see it. They come with everything from the aforementioned goggles, to intricate mechanisms, to the ubiquitous glued-on-gears (don’t go there, please).

At the very high end, there is the leather top hat with Zoetrope praxinoscope movie player made by Steampunk milliner Ramon Martin. This hat is not only a great looking piece of leatherwork, but the domed lens on the front provides a view to a working praxinoscope. The praxinoscope was a successor to the Zeotrope moving picture machine, invented by Charles-Émile Reynaud in 1877 and the effect here is spectacular. This is a hat the Mad Hatter himself would be proud of, with the technofetishism built right in. Of course, such hand-crafted coolness comes at a price: $499.00.

Here’s a (poorly lit) look at it in action:

Faux Wool Homburg

Going down a bit in price, but not in elegance, we can head over to Clockwork Couture to peruse the “Faux Wool Homburg for Lasses”. This style of hat didn’t become popular until the Edwardian era, so Victorian purists may wish to eschew it. On the other hand, Steampunk isn’t Steampunk without anachronism, so I’d say go for it if it fits your style and budget.

The look is elegant and aristocratic, but could also a bit less fussy than a fascinator or something more floral. You could imagine a female adventurer wearing this is a flechete shootout more easily than a miniature cocktail top hat, no? Here you are looking at $195.

Classic Bowler

Classic Derby BowlerPerhaps you want a more refined austere look. In this case, what you might want is a traditional bowler. If this seems unexciting, you might want to know that this was actually the most commonly worn hat in the old west. It is also the headwear of choice for Steampunk heroes such as Wellington Books from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

The bowler also has a distinct advantage over the top hat, in that it is less likely to fall off. In fact, this was exactly why the Bowler was designed and why it was such a success. Here the Village Hat Shop can set you up for $88.

Pith Helmets

British Empire Pith HelmetAlmost nothing says “19th century European explorer” like a pith helmet. Unfortunately, almost nothing says “19th century European imperialist” like it either. Whether this is a concern is, of course, up to you. Some relish the memories of glorious empire, the days of Burton and Speake and other intrepid adventurers. Others prefer to imagine a Steampunk past without quite so much oppression and exploitation, even if it comes at the expense of such Royal Society legends.

In any case, a pith helmet can be word plain, as seen here ($29.95 from the Gentleman’s Emporium), or embellished with insignia, military or otherwise. The former look is more appropriate for a civilian traveler, while the latter would indicate that the wearer was acting in a more official capacity.

Miniature Hats

Olive Miniature Top HatI must confess my ignorance as to the origin of the miniature hat craze. I suspect it is a hybrid of hats and fascinators, with the appearance of the former and the function of the latter. In any case, a miniature hat can be a great topper for a woman’s Steampunk outfit.

When they first started appearing, the miniature top hat was the most common form, such as the olive green burlesque hat shown here ($20 on etsy, so we’re getting down to mortal pricing). These remain, I think, the dominant type of miniature hat, but others have appeared as well.

For example, and in keeping with the idea of Halloween, you can now get a miniature witch hat, such as the one shown here from etsy ($44.95).

I’ve even seen miniature hats at such mainstream establishments as Target, so these are an easy grab if it fits your look. There is, of course, an argument to be made for hand-made vs mass produced, but hand-made items do not always fit every budget, especially in financially trying times.

And if you budget is tight and you want to avoid mass-produced items, you could make your own miniature hat from a coffee cup, as shown here:

Tune in tomorrow for more Halloween Steampunk suggestions.