I'm new to actually becoming steampunk, but I've loved the ideas behind it for years! I'm also an Otaku [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. One of my Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls (BJD) is also steampunk, so I'd love to be steampunk together. (^_^)
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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.