Use color. I’ve seen way too much brown and gray in steampunk. But what about pinks, reds, greens and blues? You don’t have to give them up to add steam to an outfit.
Look for vintage or handmade items. Steampunk doesn’t revolve around brands the way lolita does, so you want your outfit to have a one of a kind, aged feel. Search thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets and garage sales for hidden treasures. Then be creative with what you find! The world may see a beat up pair of boy scout uniform spats, but I see my brand new corset!
Remember gadgets. You can keep them small, and certainly don’t feel you need steamy guns or portable engines. Trying being creative and making a steampunk version of something that would be useful to you. I’m in the process of making a steampunk sewing box, for instance.
Have fun with the shoes! Spiky heeled boots with buttons or buckles might not work for normal lolita, but they’d be perfect for steampunk. Or find a pair of mary janes with over the top aged looking buckles. You can go with practically anything as long as it matched so pick out awesome shoes!
Try using sturdy fabrics. Steampunk is a bit rougher than typical lolita, so maybe add in a bit of leather. This isn’t to say you need to leave the delicate laces and such out entirely, but add in pieces that would be more practical for, say, and airship adventure.
Stick gears on things just to have gears on things. This is the equivalent of tacky cheap white lace on a costume quality too-short dress. It might resemble steampunk ever so slightly, but it isn’t anywhere near the real thing and you’ll be embarrassed about it later when you learn more. While a tasteful gear incorporated into a piece of jewelry can be just the right touch, plastic gears glued at random to things or prints with gears (rather than items that would have gears with perhaps a gear or two visible) normally come off as somebody trying to be steampunk without knowing much about it.
Treat it like a costume. It might be more of a special occasion wear than even lolita, but a lot of people get into the lifestyle the same way lolitas do. So even if it’s only something you do for cons or photo shoots, please be respectful. You wouldn’t like someone calling your favorite coordinate a cosplay, would you? Remember, we look just as strange to outsiders.
Forget to be yourself. A lot of steampunk revolves around uniqueness and creativity. If you want to rock your sweet style in a steampunk sort of way, don’t be afraid to try. Maybe it won’t work, but then again it just might be amazing.
Wear goggles without cause. I’ve seen a lot of people just throw a random pair of goggles on and call it steampunk. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE goggles. But if you want to wear them, make sure they work with the rest of your outfit and look good, ok?