Steam Hitting the Mainstream

By: Karly Hood

What do Twiggy, historic science fiction books, and young women in Japan dressing to look like Victorian dolls have in common?Picture3 No, this isn’t the beginning of some elaborate riddle; they all represent style tribes that have influenced mainstream culture. Style tribes are groups that adopt a specific look that is unique and distinctly different from the rest of the population. What binds these groups together could be mutual interests, beliefs, political movements, or just their desire to be different.

The vibrant Mod style is easily recognizable today, but it all began in the 1950s with a group of rebellious youth in Britain. The Mods wanted to break free from tradition by embracing anything youthful, sexy, and most importantly, modern. They flocked to bold colors, Picture7geometric prints, extremely short hemlines, and shift dresses. Carefree mods could be seen riding around town on Vespa motor scootersPicture5, going to clubs, and listening to jazz music. Their scooters served as both fashion accessory and the perfect mode of transportation to escape the oppressive adults. Cool girl Twiggy claims she was a Mod before she was a model and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to look as adorably youthful as Twiggy was?

Speaking of adorably youthful, the Lolita style tribe is just that. Beginning in the 1980s, teenage girls in Japan began wearing Victorian-inspired clothing that resembles a child’s ensemble. Picture2What draws these young women to this fashion? Picture1Many just want to dress cute and elegant, but some have even gone so far as to adopt the “Lolita lifestyle,” which includes surrounding yourself with beautiful things and engaging in “proper female” hobbies such as sewing, baking, and embroidering. Rest assured though, Lolitas don’t bring out their over-the-top, frilly dresses everyday, but rather save them for times when they want to be noticed. And it would be impossible not to be noticed when dressed like this.

Like Lolitas, members of the Steampunk Picture9style tribe have an appreciation for Victorian style, but with a twist. The origin of this group comes from a subgenre of science fiction that is set in the Victorian or Old Western eras. This group particularly loves old technology because of the simplicity of how it functioned. Their passion for vintage technology and clothing from Steampunk literature converges to create a Victorian style of corsets and top hats mixed with metal goggles and pocket watches. True Steampunk members can even attend the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey. What’s the easiest way to make a Steampunk member mad? Turn their beloved style mainstream. Justin Bieber thoroughly upset Steampunk members by basing his 2011 music video “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” off of Steampunk style.Picture6

I knoPicture8w what you’re thinking; surely none of these groups have ever affected MY style. Well have you ever worn a shift dress or a color blocked print? What about a corset type dress or knee high socks? Or even bought something vintage just for its charm? If that answer is yes, and I know it is, the Mods, Lolitas, and Steampunks have affected you.


Characteristics Of Mod Style. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from

Community Post: The 6 Rules Of Steampunk Fashion. (2013, January 17). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

The Fashion. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from

Twiggy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2015, from

Weise, E. (2012, July 15). Justin Bieber, Hollywood drawn to steampunk movement. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

Images Gathered From:

Coole, G. (2014, October 29). Choosing a Baby Doll Dress. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Twiggy picture in pink dress

Erian, E. (n.d.). Steampunk style 2. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Woman on street in Steampunk clothing

June, S. (2012, December 5). 1977 Vespa Rally 200 Wiring Diagram VSE1T. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Yellow scooter picture

Lace Bow Side Knee High Lace Boot Socks – Light Grey from Sandysshop. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Socks

Lolita Fashion. (2014, December 30). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Group picture of Lolitas

Mod Squad: The Ladies of 1960s Fashion. (2013, March 3). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Group photo of Mods

Sweet Lolita Fashion. (2013, April 25). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Two Lolitas on street

Vintage Wallpaper. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Vintage compass

What Is Steampunk Fashion? (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

  • Group photo of Steampunk