One good way to understand the difference between Victorian culture and steampunk is to examine the exposure of the corset. Underwear or outerwear? The historical use of the corset was to serve as a foundation garment to be wore under the costume of the wearer, whether a woman or a man. The steampunk expectation of the constricted waist is to show off not only the shape of the squeezed victim but also the corset itself. After all, a key part of steampunk is visible technology. Along with all the gears and gizmos stands the well-engineered corset.
Hand-tooled leather corset, Amy Lamphere, 2014.
Early 29th century Royal Navy sailors singing while off duty. Wikipedia.
Woman's corset, France, c. 1730-1740. Los Angeles County Museum of
1880’s: Woman with Tea Cups on Chest. PD-US.