I'm new to actually becoming steampunk, but I've loved the ideas behind it for years! I'm normally Otaku [a manga/anime fan], but ever since I saw Steamboy in the theater when it first came here to America, I've wanted to actually try to get in touch with my steampunk-ness.
Since Ohayocon, the anime con I volunteer at is going to have a steampunk theme in 2011, I figured that now's the best time to do it and let out my "steamy side!" ^_^
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Alter Ego Time Traveler Experience at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire - Not my event but only because he posted it first. I'm going on Sunday the 10th, it promises to be awesome! I was on the cast for two seasons so I know the layout and lots of people. Time for time-travel! This will serve as my July event.
Sometimes you can find great stuff at thrift stores, though they vary widely- some will just have boring stuff.
Sprockets and Lockets is also a good place to check. Her prices are very low, and you will know the size and condition of what you're buying. She is also on SPE and is an anime fan.
I get the impression that western dress was becoming more common in the Meiji period, so you could start out with that and add Japanese touches as you go along. If you don't look particularly Japanese, you could also be one of the O-yatoi gaikokujin that "went native" after your contract expired.