Why do steampunks wear goggles? A most excellent question! I came across a fascinating discussion of the issue, and would like to share a few of the best answers and of course ask for your ideas on the matter. Though there could exist as many answers as there are individuals who love steampunk, essentially the central reasons seem to boil down to two - protection and identification. The first is why people do/did wear goggles out of practicality, and the second is why steampunks wear goggles today, though some people have cited examples of when their 'costume' goggles came in quite handy. Here are some of the reasons given to answer the question, "Why do steampunks wear goggles?" broken down into practical considerations and less practical but more imaginative ones. (I wanted a more descriptive word than 'fantasy'.)
-Goggles are a trademark/icon/symbol of the Victorian age, even if workers in industry did not often have or wear much protective gear, it screams industry. Aviators and drivers often did wear goggles. When worn, they keep dirt, oil, sparks, wind and steam out of one's eyes. Other activities in which goggles are useful are welding and woodworking, etc.
-An example of this: those who used their era's vast array of new mechanical inventions needed to protect their eyes from objects and substances, such as those who worked on rotary engines (end of Victorian period), who would wear them for protection from castor oil spray. Steam from steam engines/machines could also cause serious eye (and other) injury.
-They can enhance vision (prescription goggles, perhaps?)
-Because steampunk has roots in literature and images of makers of things who could use the eye protection
-They are an affordable accessory (sometimes!)
-Goggles are a part of the steampunk "uniform". (They are also have roots as a fashion statement in cyberpunk, manga, anime settings.)
-One of my favorite lists: "Spitting cobras, metal shavings, ray guns, changewinds during time travel, actinic glare from metalworking, ectoplasmic observations, sandstorms on Mars. Seriously, where are goggles NOT useful?" - Dr. Fidelius
-Just because they have a distinguished air about them (they 'look cool'!)
To find your own answer, imagine that someone you know has confronted you with that very same question, and you have to formulate a reply. Whatever the reason, the flair goggles bring to an outfit is reason enough to wear them, isn't it?
Why do you think steampunks wear goggles?
If you wear goggles as a steampunk accessory, why do you wear them?
Please leave a comment to let us know!