Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thrifty Costume Design Part VII: Steampunk Hats

A big part of the Steampunk look is goggles.  More specifically, goggles perched on top of hats. Hat's were going to be the easy part of this equation. Goggles, not so much. It's probably the kind of thing that I should have been more on top of. However, I have a very strict policy of "prevent nudity first-worry about details later."

As we got through the dress parade and into dress rehearsals I slowly plugged away at the pages of notes I had left to do. "Goggles?" The Director would ask."Yes." I would say.  "Goggles?" The actors would ask.  "Soon." I would say. From where? Truthfully I had no idea, as I knew this isn't really the kind of thing Yale has many of lying around and I couldn't remember any being in any shows in the past few years. I asked a couple of friends who are into aviation stuff-no dice. I Googled "DIY steampunk goggles" and of course plenty of options came up. Now the question was: with time definitely not on my side how the hell am I going to make goggles with shit from the hardware store and hot glue?

On Opening day I still had visions in my head of gluing goggles together. (More than likely at around 7:30pm) I stopped into the costume shop so I could work on distressing a couple costume pieces and ran into Tom one of my Yale bosses and the costume shop manager. We chatted for a bit and then I noticed, there on a table, in the middle of the shop were these:

Oh snap, goggles.

Me: "What are these? Where did they come from?!"
Tom: "Oh we bought a few pairs for Romeo and Juliet. I think those came from Australia."
Me: "Can I HAVE THEM?!!!"
Tom: "Yes-are you OK?"
Me: "I am now. Do You have any more?"
Tom: "Well... I think I have some vintage ones in my stash..."
Me: "I'll take them, I'll take them all."

Once back at the Carriage House, in the space of an hour I completed the following hats:

For the silver goggles, I simply tightened the goggle band so it fit snugly on the hat and BAM! The safety pins are to add some extra shiny bits and to keep the goggles from accidentally sliding off.  I also had to spray the goggles down with a matte spray paint because they were waaaay shiny and reflected too much light.

These vintage brown resin driving goggles also had an elastic that simply fit over the brim and I was able to finally utilize the brass safety pins I bought at a flea market months ago. Again: fast, easy, bling that's oh-so punk.

These are vintage metal goggles that are green and came in a little tin. I painted them gold with acrylic craft paint so they can easily be restored back to green if need be. I stitched a chain to the hat brim and held things in place with more of the safety pins and I was done, with time to spare.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is how Tom saved my ass. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate his generosity at loaning me these. I'm sure I  could have made something happen in time, but it would not have been nearly as authentic or cool. Sometimes, as a costume designer, you just have to fly by the seat of your pants and have faith your friends will be there to help.


  1. So cool! I absolutely love the brown resin ones!

  2. wow. super cool! i love the goggles!