Some things never change, and one of the great features of the Victorian era was the enthusiasm for fancy dress. Fancy dress was the precursor of cosplay, and I am entertained by the concept that my great granny probably liked dressing up in costumes just as much as I do. Modern cosplayers can be inspired by some of the famous costumes from the Victorian era, like the Bat Girl costume. Both a photograph and an illustration of the costume is shown above.
Bat costumes seem to be a favourite of the Victorians. I can understand why … bat costumes are mysterious and dramatic, and much more exciting and sexy than a fairy costume. Bats have a sinister connection to vampires and we all know how popular vampires were in Victorian-era Gothic fiction.
Just think of the implications in the characterization of your protagonist (or antagonist) in choosing a bat costume for a fancy dress party in a Steampunk narrative. What does it say about her motivations? Is she secretly longing to play the part of a ‘bad girl’? Is she longing for the freedom that wings would provide?
Of course, gentlemen also had their own version of the bat costume. The image above; I can never quite figure out if this image is photoshopped or not. But where a Batman might be scary, a Batgirl tends to be sophisticated. Edgy. And, as a zoologist, I love bats. A girl in a bat costume is confident and in control!