Steampunk culture is one of the fastest growing ones out there at the moment, especially regarding cosplay and the creative boom of amazing outfit ideas. Steampunk looks are going off the charts with effective details and this is said in the most positive light possible. Pushing the boundaries of aesthetic is one of the greatest things we can see in steampunk and besides sunglasses and classic glasses, there are bold, innovative steampunk goggles that draw just as much attention and deserve more than few words of praise.
For those who are yet to explore their steampunk identities and are just falling in love with this sci-fi genre and all it has to offer, it is good to know that steampunk goggles are a bit different than classic glasses. Yes, the lenses are there and this is proper eyewear, but there are few details that are very typical for goggles.
Goggles or safety glasses have a real history. The curious thing is that these were invented during the industrial revolution and became quite popular in the Victorian era and this is where all the relation with steampunk comes from and why this type of eyewear has such a special place in steampunk culture. Back in the days, these had the function to protect the eyes from dangerous substances and particles. Nowadays, we see them become an important part of steampunk outfits, and these are some of the most effective industrial and Victorian elements there are. Blow Torch goggles are the finest example how seemingly simple protective eyewear can find such an important place in the steampunk world, as these are frequently used when creating mechanical gadgets and vehicles, but the list goes on and on.
Besides protective function, which was the primary function of goggles, another thing that differentiates these from other types of eyewear is the way these are adjusted, which is the ribbon. Unlike with other types of eyewear, goggles are always secured on the head by a ribbon and never a folding frame. Depending on a model, these are also very frequently slightly heavier, more complex and because of the size, offer a lot of possibility for a goggles designer to add extra details on them. While steampunk sunglasses can be pretty large and complex, the goggles are always detailed, really simple and minimalistic and more on the larger side.
These, just like sunglasses can be made for ladies, for gentlemen or both. The styles vary so much that choosing the right pair that fits all your criteria can be a long process, but it is all absolutely worthwhile.
So, you’ve decided that googles are the next must-have in your steampunk accessory collection. If you don’t have the time to focus too much on the details, but would like to get few tips on how to choose the ideal pair for you, here is what you should pay attention to:
- Chose goggles that have proper UV protection, polarized glass, and a dark filter if you are to expose yourself to bright light or welding sparks. If your look is more than just aesthetic, always choose plastic lenses.
- For the more aesthetic look, go for leather belt type adjusting instead of simple ribbons unless planning on wearing goggles for a longer period of time, as adjustable ribbons usually guarantee more comfort.
- If you are to wear goggles when welding, riding or operating with chemicals, make sure these are properly functional, have UV protection, anti-glare and are anti-fogging. I case you are opting for aesthetic only, just pick the type that suits your style the best.
- Always go for roundish bridges and padded goggles, especially if the goggles you are looking forward to buy are going to be worn frequently. This way, you will avoid weird marks and pressure traces around the eyes and won’t feel uncomfortable wearing them.
10 Main types of steampunk goggles available on the market
One of the most amazing things about steampunk is the variety it offers regarding accessories and interesting details and goggles are no excuse. The mere fact that this type of eyewear was worn during history, had many subtypes and functions speak words and explain how diverse these can be. Currently, on the market, there are 10 main categories of this eyewear and each category includes many different styles.
While the variety of models goes way beyond these types, in steampunk culture we can identify welding goggles, safety goggles, motorcycle goggles, different variations of goggles with a hat, miniature steampunk goggles, flip-up goggles, one lens goggles, goggles with additional details, gas mask goggles, and one eye goggles.
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One of the most common goggles types out there and those that enjoy quite a popularity are welding steampunk goggles. What makes these so distinctive is the classical round lens and extensive side shields around both lenses. These models usually have a simple elastic ribbon that can be adjusted, and have a plastic, metal or rarely a bridge made of firmer fabrics which separate rims. While styles usually vary in shield and lens colors, this one includes few other special subtypes and the best example are blow torch goggles. The most common models, regarding color, are those with black, silver, bronze and golden side shields, while lense can vary from simplistic black to kaleidoscopic. The most distinct details for these models are dragon skin-like elements on the side shields, which are the most common boosters of the aesthetic when it comes to welding goggles.
Regardless of the subtype, welding steampunk goggles, including blow torch goggles, are a type of power tools and have a highly protective function, helping their owners stay safe when welding sparks that could damage eyesight or the gentle area around the eyes. Blow Torch goggles are too used exclusively to protect the eyes from flying sparks and heated metal particles, and the only distinction is that these are more plain circular, have fewer details and narrower side shields.
Safety steampunk goggles
While all goggles models vary in lens color, safety steampunk goggles are probably the only type that always comes with transparent lenses. Similarly to welding steampunk goggles, this model also has a highly protective function and the only difference here is that these are used to protect the eyes from harmful chemicals or toxic steam. The glass is transparent as these are used in labs and cover a solid ground regarding steampunk scientist and lab assistant roles and cosplay looks.
Besides transparent protective lenses, which is the most distinctive feature of safety goggles, these are also adjusted by a ribbon and have side shields. With this model, side shields are made of metal, plastic and sometimes lather, are more frequently black or simply transparent, although there are color variations available on the market as well. While leading goggles are slightly on the heavier side and usually have more details, these are very simplistic and belong to one of the most minimal goggles models in the steampunk world. The reason behind is lab conditions, where there is a high emphasis on attention to detail, focus and light equipment.
Here comes one of the classic steampunk goggle models. Streaming directly from the end of the Victorian era, this model was widely used at the beginning of the 20th century, when the first motorbikes emerged. There are few variations of this type, but what remains the same is the function, which is protection from the wind, rain, bright light and particles on the road. The most classic model is the one that is a bit larger, has a slightly irregular elliptical shape of the lense, is padded around rims to ensure comfort and has no defined bridge, if none at all.
Other variations include rims that are more of a rectangular shape with wider upper and narrow lower part and those that remind of welding goggles in style and shape and have a bridge. Regardless of the style, the padding is usually made of leather or in cases of models that resemble of welding goggles, of rubber and in rare cases, of metal. This type of goggles is meant to ensure full comfort while riding and is used in a variety of steampunk costumes, from classic motorbike rebel look to more futuristic ones. The color of the lens, the rubber, the padding or shields varies from brown shades to shiny golden elements.
A special variation of motorcycle steampunk goggles is aviator goggles, which are very similar in design and are used for the same purpose as motorcycle ones - which is protection, just in different conditions. With padding to ensure maximum comfort and protective lenses which are oftentimes anti-glare, aviator steampunk goggles have served during the history for pilots and parachute lovers and are continued to be used today for the same purpose. The style, with padding and all, remains the same.
A very special and very dear to steampunk fans are goggles that come with a hat or a helmet. While this is not your typical steampunk goggles as these are not worn over eyes, it is a style a type so mesmerizing and worshiped by steampunk fans it deserves a legit place on this list. These extremely creative goggles ideas are the perfect combination of two probably the most favorite steampunk accessory details, which are a powerfully effective hat and goggles. This is the type that probably includes the widest range of styles, as it includes not only one, but two key elements and this very fact distinguishes this type from all others.
While almost all types of goggles can be part of this model, the most common we see are classic welding models, but the creativity of steampunk culture extends much further and includes one eye models, motorcycle goggles, one lens goggles, miniature ones and those with plenty of additional details. These goggles frequently include spikes, gears and differ in size and color.The hat part varies from elegant, Lincoln-like top hats and very Victorian vibes, to wild west cowboy hats, aviator padded hats, bowler hats, and Breton hats, all made of different materials in different sizes and colors. The interesting part about this model is that the very hat can include all kinds of tiny gears, chains, ribbons, spikes, feathers and bullets which adds even more extravagance to the whole look.
Similarly to steampunk sunglasses, we have steampunk goggles with flip-up lens element that distinguishes this type from others. Unlike with regular glasses, the flip-up element is attached to a much more solid base. The rims on this model are usually much heavier and include more or less massive side shields which keep the whole piece of eyewear together. Usually, the lenses are round and with these models we see two types of lenses combined, the flip-up lenses which can be darker or in a different color, and the lense that’s fixated on the rims which can be transparent or simply different in color from the flip-up ones.
While flip-ups in regular sunglasses usually have thin frames in order to be lifted with ease, with goggles, which can be on the more massive sides, the rims of a flip-up part can include thicker rims and sometimes can be shaped as caps. In general, observed from a frontal perspective, this type reminds of binoculars in its shape, especially because the bridge is usually conjoined with rims, making these the ideal mix of historical and futuristic. The most commonly used material for the, usually very elongated and massive frame with extensive side shields is plastic, which varies in colors and goes from black to green, blue and bronze.
One of the most complex steampunk accessory details one can wear is one lens goggles. The shape of the goggles varies, but in general, these most commonly have side shields and resemble the most of welding goggles. The size of each rim differs and it is not uncommon to see that the rim with the lens is much smaller or much larger compared to the one that holds no lense. This type frequently includes details that are made of different shades of gold, bronze, silver and combine many different materials, so it is not uncommon to see one lens goggles made of metal, plastic and leather all together.
The most the most unique element that helps differ this type from all the others is one rim that has no lens at all. These are the typical goggles that have two rims, but one has a proper lens, be it colored, transparent or kaleidoscopic glass. However, it is the other rim that makes these really stand out. Here we see many creative ideas, from a metal net, interchangeable element, engraved metal caps and decorative caps to completely closed rim which looks like an imitation of microscope objective lenses. With this model, in particular, there are so many possibilities of decorating and adding gears, spikes, tiny chains, magnifying glasses and other elements that will boost the look even more.
The most common details we see on steampunk goggles are spikes, tiny lamps, gears, and magnifying glass and all are equally common, with spikes enjoying just slightly more popular among steampunk goggles designers. These details may or may not come together on one model, depending on its complexity, but are classified as a steampunk goggles-type on their own because of how much steampunk uniqueness these bring up.
Usually, there are few spikes on the upper part of the rims and if there are any on the lower part these are proportionally smaller than those attached to the top of the rims. The color can match side shields if there are any, but as far as color goes, we see silver, golden, black and bronze spikes which vary in numbers from pairs to four, eight, ten or even more spikes on the rims.
Tiny lamps are another interesting detail we see on steampunk goggles very often and what’s more interesting is that these are very frequently fully functional lamps that glow in the dark. These elements add futuristic vibes to the whole look and make goggles look more complex and usable in the dark.
Concerning gears, another aesthetic enhancer on steampunk goggles, we see everything, from tiny eight to forty teeth gears usually in gold and silver variants. A magnifying glass is usually miniature and is attached to the owner of goggles can move them clockwise or counterclockwise when needed.
Gas mask steampunk goggles are, besides steampunk goggles with a hat variations, probably the most complex and the most extravagant steampunk accessory element one can own. These models are a combination or what is typically recognized as welding, flip-up or motorcycle goggles and a gas mask that is attached and conjoined with them, creating a large, usually heavier goggles that extend into a properly functioning gas mask.
What we see are very detailed elements where the gas mask and goggles pat are connected with elastic ribbon. These can be full face masks, cover whole head, like ninja models and those that are full face metal masks in shape of a helmet, or are focused only on eyes, mouth and nose area. The functionality here is huge, like goggles, especially if welding style ones, are connected with gas protection, which adds an element of power, domination, and mysteriousness to even the most minimal steampunk look.
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The accent is on nose area, as it is where goggles become the gas mask and these two parts are connected where the bridge of regular glasses goes. These are made of metals, quality plastic, lather, and sometimes stronger fabrics, the color of the lens and the shape of them varies, and while colors and styles differ, but what remains is always the combination of goggles with gas protection.
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Goggles can sometimes take a more unexpected form and because steampunk is full of surprises and creative ideas, one has gained a particularly interesting spot on this list and that are one eye steampunk goggles, mono goggles or cyclops goggles. What obviously makes this model stand out from all other is the single lens or sometimes single rim, meaning these are meant for one eye only. Here, not only the design is not a typical two lens design, but we also have cyclops goggles for left and those model for the right eye.
The style of mono goggles includes welding goggles style or aviator style of rims and different colors of lenses, but can sometimes completely exclude lenses altogether. In these cases, we see mono goggles with gears attached to the rim, decorative or engraved metal or tiny microscope objectives. As far as details go, these can include all the extra details, such as magnifying glass or spikes.
Miniature steampunk goggles
Another curious type that deserves attention is mini steampunk goggles. They are usually not wearable but are frequently a part of the outfit when used as special details attached to the belt, hat or simply a coat. While these are used for collections, what makes them so specific is obvious, which is the size. These can be worn as bracelets, rings or a brooch, but the most common use is for steampunk collectionaires. The most common type are welding glasses and the more miniature the model gets, the fewer details it has. Therefore, the main distinction for this model is, besides size, the use, which is usually for decorative, collection, or accessory purposes and excludes the possibility of wearing them over eyes.
What kind of lenses are you looking for?
One of the first factors to look for when choosing the perfect steampunk goggles for you are lenses. Goggles in the steampunk world are much more than just a nice detail, as these have some extra to offer regarding safety and functionality. Many of the mentioned goggles have a highly protective function and can be used as safety measurements in the day to day life, as much as a part of a well thought out costume. Few things to consider when choosing the perfect lenses are the general safety for your eyes, the color of lenses, lens tint, and polarized glass.
For those who are planning to embrace the full functionality of welding glasses, it is important to consider how safe their goggles are. What many do not know is that welding, cutting, and brazing can expose to UV radiation which can be harmful to eyes and skin, which is why goggles, especially if used in daily life, need to have a proper UV protection.
Another thing to consider is the brightness, and this applies to all goggles if you plan to wear them in much lighter conditions. This is why many welding and aviator glasses have a dark filter lens, as this prevents the extremely bright light, but all the other types too do need to have proper UV protection. Polarized glass is also important, as polarization blocks glare, so if you are to wear your goggles on daily basis or even for a longer period of time during the day, opt for those who have polarized glass. Sun rays reflecting brightly can harm your eyes and make the whole experience when wearing goggles very unpleasant. Be extra careful to opt for lenses that give you maximum protection in cases when you plan to wear them when welding or dealing with chemicals. In cases you are dealing with gasses and exposing yourself to foggy weather, go for these with anti-fogging features that are ideally made of polycarbonate.
The color of lenses
The steampunk culture is very rich when it comes to little details and lenses are used as an important factor to boost the look of goggles. Regarding lens tint, lens colors go from very dark filtered black lenses like those that are used for welding to brighter for motorcycle and aviator models to very and clear lenses for safety goggles. The most common shades of lenses are brown, green and blue shades, but there are also red, purple, orange and other lens color variants available.
What is also gains a decent amount of attention are kaleidoscopic lenses, which combine rainbow-like colors and prism diffraction for the very sci-fi feeling, ideal for those who love light play. These have the power to aesthetically enhance the whole steampunk experience both for those who wear them and those who admire the outfit.
Plastic or glass lenses
As for the vast majority of eyewear, there are two main materials lense are made off and these are glass and plastic. Goggles are no exception when it comes to choosing the right material for you, and when properly coated and with a decent UV protection, plastic ones are the option to look for. Because most steampunk goggles are more on the heavier side because of all the elements they include, going for plastic lenses is a good choice as these are much lighter than glass ones.
If you are to wear your pair anywhere where the chances of getting injured are highlighted, like riding a motorbike or trying out a new parachute, glass lenses, which break easily can even put your life at risk. However, if you are going for just a steampunk cosplay look, glass won’t be that much of a trouble, and it’s top benefits are less scratching marks for better look and longevity of the goggles and naturally, a better quality of vision.
How to wear them?
One thing all goggles have in common is that all are adjusted by some sort of ribbon or a belt. These types never have temples and are exclusively worn secured on the head. Whether these are connected by special perforations on the frame and side shields or by special metal and plastic pieces, there are two main ways goggles are adjusted, and both have pros and cons and both are unique. These are ribbons and belts.
Most types of steampunk goggles are adjusted by elastic ribbons. Whether these are made of superelastic band, a firm fabric or a rubber band, these can be adjustable and non-adjustable. The adjustable ones have sliding bar buckles which can be made of plastic or metal and these allow the owner of goggles to adjust the width of the ribbon to their head width and shape. These are usually those made of firm and strong fabrics and sometimes elastic bends. The biggest pro of these types is that these goggles ensure comfort, while the biggest con is that bands like these, especially elastic ones can get easily worn out. Bar buckles can also sometimes loosen up, meaning there will be a need for constant adjustments after some time.
Another type of ribbons are the non-adjustable ones, meaning there are no sliding bar buckles that help the owner adjust the width to their head size. However, instead of these elements, ribbons like this are usually made or thick rubber or quality elastic bend with no adjustment elements which helps the goggles stay in place and don’t move around. The biggest pro with this type is that once adjusted, especially if made of quality rubber these will stay in place without readjustments. However, because there is no possibility for these to be fully adjusted to owners head shape and width, with such models there is always a risk them being too tight or too loose and not comfortable wearing them.
Belts are another way steampunk goggles can be adjusted and although not as common as previous types, these too have their pros. What is typical for these types of goggles is that they are secured on the head by belts with a certain amount of holes and a buckle. The belt is of different thickness, is made of leather in different colors and rarely of other firm material. The biggest pro with this model is undoubtedly the aesthetic, as a belt, especially if a top quality leather one can add a lot to the whole look and make goggles look more of a top class model. Compared to the previous group, the durability is here is far better which is another pro, but this one also has some flaws, and discomfort is one of them. However, this happens mostly if the holes on the belt are too wide apart which can make it difficult for the owner to set the perfect width, which is why the difficulty regarding adjustment can be another flaw seen with this particular model.
Functionality or aesthetic?
What makes steampunk goggles stand out from the other eyewear is not only the way these are adjusted, but all the functions these can have. While it is very common for goggles to have UV protection or polarized lenses, which is something we typically see with sunglasses, these models go way beyond simple UV protection and are used for safety matters, can be worn in bad weather conditions and some have a pure aesthetic function. So when buying your pair, think about how important functionality is to you and whether you are going to wear them when welding, dealing with substances or foggy weather.
Protection and safety function of steampunk goggles
Some steampunk goggles types have been used during the history and hold a legit reason why they have been designed in the first place, which is for safety purposes and the protection of sensitive area around the eyes. Regarding safety and protection welding goggles, safety goggles, motorcycle, and aviator goggles earn the first place on the functionality list.
These goggles are designed not only to make a cosplay costume look perfect, but are also practical and can be used in day to day life. Top quality welding goggles are made of plastic with dark tint and have a decent UV protection in order to protect the eyes from flying sparks and particles that could damage the sight. As the name implies, even outside of cosplay world, these can be used for welding and plasma cutting, as the dark tink will protect the eyes and area around the eyes from extremely bright light when dealing with metals.
Similarly can be said for safety goggles as these models are also made to protect the eyes from harmful things, but in this case that are chemicals and vapors. Motorcycle and aviator goggles are to keep you safe when riding or piloting if that is your cup of tea. These should have polarized lenses, be windproof, deal with glare and have anti-fogging properties.
The aesthetic function of steampunk goggles
All steampunk goggles, regardless of how functional or practical they are, have one thing in common and that is the aesthetic function. While models welding, safety, and motorcycle goggles have some extra functions, all 10 types of goggles are designed to level up your steampunk look and can be worn as a part of powerful cosplay outfit any time of the day. These three are classics regarding aesthetic and will always add steampunk vibes to any outfit, giving the owner a more adventurous, industrial look.
Depending on how effective and extreme you want to go, there are different kinds of aesthetic elements to each type and probably those who will help you pull off the dangerous, mysterious, utopistic, dark, powerful or even dominant vibes, are the gas mask goggles and those models of goggles with a hat. These are the most aesthetically extravagant ones as frequently they are the most complex and details of all the goggles in the steampunk world. The first covering most of the face, and the second giving you an aura of aristocracy, these two types are supreme, authoritative and commanding. One eye goggles or mono goggles can too give off the same effects but can also enhance the aesthetic or brave, experienced warrior or military personnel, adding more fictional personal history to your steampunk role.
The more delicate steampunk goggles with additional details and peculiar one lense steampunk goggles will follow this pair of extravagance, but unlike those two types, these are more exuberant types that do not exude as much dominance, but more of a fun loving, curious explorer type, especially with those where one rim is a tiny microscopic objective or a magnifying glass. Similarly to these, flip-up goggles have an element of curiosity to them but also have both working class and upper-class vibes to them, depending on a model.
Mini steampunk goggles are not only meant for collectionaires and this is not their only function. However, regarding steampunk looks, these are on completely different level aesthetically from all other types and because these can be worn as a band, brooch, or a ring. These tiny details can be attached to any part of the outfit, enhancing the more softer, dreamy, childlike or detail-oriented look.
In the end, steampunk culture is very fluid and all these can be combined the way you like and to fit the role you want to play. Each aesthetic function can get a whole new dimension based on how the goggles owner combines this accessory detail with other parts of their look.
Other parts of goggles you should take into consideration when buying
We saw what kind of lenses there are and how goggles can be adjusted. Steampunk goggles are more on the heavier side in general, especially when compared to sunglasses. These accessory details can be made of plastic, metal and metal derivatives, have leather or fabric details, but are always a bit more on the complex side, unless we are talking about miniature ones or mono goggles, which are the simplest models of goggles out there. While the material goggles are made of plays a larger role in whether the model will be lightweight or heavy, it is almost a general rule that all models are complex. When buying your pair of ideal goggles, there are few things other than lenses and ribbons to consider regarding model’s weight and different parts of them, as these are very important factors for comfort.
The bridge is a part of eyewear that connects two rims and can differ in materials, color, shape, and size.When it comes to steampunk goggles, the bridge is not always the classical one we see on glasses, especially because no goggles have nose pads and the bridge is not as nearly as simple and thin. The bridge on goggles varies largely in size, thickness, and shapes. It can be very thin to thick as we see with welding, one lens and sometimes safety goggles or it can predominate the model, connecting the rims along the vertical line completely and creating a shield shape as we see with aviator, motorcycle and flip-up models. In cases of cyclops goggles, the bridge does not exist at all.
Bridges are usually made of plastic, metal and sometimes quality fabric, elastic material, and rubber. The shapes vary and we see geometric and angular models, extensive padded bridges that are fully interconnected with rims, completely straight and very sleek, roundish ones. This bridge can plan an important role when it comes to comfort, and unless going for padded models, opt for a bridge that has a bit of a curve to it as completely straight bridges can put the pressure on nasal bridge and cause discomfort.
When it comes to the frame rims, these parts of goggles, compared to more simple, regular eyewear, are much more complex. Regardless of what type of goggles we are talking, frame rims are always heavier and frequently some extra details. In general, rims are far from simple, are much thicker and wider than what we see with sunglasses, and frequently extend as side shields or the bridge part. Almost all steampunk goggle models can be padded around rims to ensure maximum comfort when wearing, especially if the model is heavier. When it comes to models such as motorcycle and aviator ones, safety goggles, welding goggles or flip-up goggles, the padding can be thinner or thicker, with motorcycle and aviator ones usually having the thickest padding. The padding part, in this case, is usually made of leather or other comfortable material, varying in colors from black, to shades of brown, green or gray.
The last thing to consider when buying your steampunk goggles is side shields and how comfortable these are. Side shields are usually made of plastic and metal and vary in thickness, width, and length. What needs to be considered is how comfortable these are and that can be judged by how rounded the edges of shields are. Luckily, most goggles models are made to be comfortable, but there are some that put too much pressure around the eyes if the shield piece is to sharp. Some have rubber padding to ensure more comfort which is always a plus to look for.