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Don’t know the first thing about post-apocalyptic costuming? This no-nonsense post is for you and anyone else who is looking for ideas and inspiration.

And don’t forget, you can also purchase accessories and costumes from vendors at many events. Find that perfect finishing touch for your costume, or get yourself a whole other outfit. You’ll find everything from hand-made knives to military surplus gas masks and clothing for sale. Just remember to bring your good old pre-apocalyptic cash, because many vendors at post-apocalyptic events won’t accept anything else.

Basics of Post-Apocalyptic Costuming

Your costume should look like you’ve been wandering out in the desert for years.  It should be worn, dusty, grungy, dirty, stained. It should show how a lack of resources has led you to re-purpose clothing and materials that you have found. Put it all together in a cool or interesting package that gives you a unique look, identifies you with a group, or says something about your past.

Costume Part Suggestion Lists

There are a lot of common parts used on post-apocalyptic costumes. You can start by combining some of the suggested items in these lists to make your own. Copy & paste the keywords to start your search on Pinterest, Google Images or eBay.


Bald, mohawk, red, blue, pink, or purple-dyed hair, the “I haven’t gotten a haircut in a while” look, or the “I gave myself a haircut” look.


Hockey helmet, headband, military cold weather mask, military officers cap, military helmet, paintball mask, airsoft mask, gas mask, respirator, leather motorcycle mask, cloth mask, rag bandanna or head scarf, leather tanker helmet, leather aviator helmet, improvised helmet, coolie hat, umbrella hat.


Aviator sunglasses, military goggles, motorcycle goggles, lacrosse eye mask, swimming goggles, eyepatch.


Leather collar, plain red bandanna.


Football pads, military overcoat, metal or chainmail bra, worn out t-shirt with holes, black or brown leather garment (especially with studs, spikes and buckles) such as jackets, dresses, bras, bustiers, vests, and armor, kidney belt, studded waist belt, custom garment made out of re-purposed rubber materials (eg. inner-tube, tires), motocross chest protector (aka roost deflector) or protective jacket, mesh shirt, improvised armor and/or shoulder armor made out of plastic parts, leather, tire tread.


Leather pants or chaps or leather skirt or hot pants, vintage motocross pants, torn fishnet stockings or tights, military pants, black, gray, or earth-tone pants, riding pants (aka jodhpurs), leather studded codpiece, baseball shin guards, knee pads.


Boots! Motorcycle (engineer), combat, motocross, New Rock, Demonia, or others. Classic, punky Converse All-Stars can work too.


Elbow pads, leather studded bracelets, gauntlets and armbands, junk jewelry, baseball shin guards or other guards for the forearms, fur, car emblems, red-lens marker lights or reflectors, leather or sports gloves (motorcycle, police, paintball, lacrosse), leather ammo belt or bandolier, other ammo pouches and belts and military webbing, bullet belts. Think about tools or utensils you might need during the weekend. Can opener? Mountain bike tires are a great material to work with: easy to cut and they look like motorcycle tires.


Bow, crossbow, baseball bat, hammer, glaive, mace, saw-blade ax.


Road sign, garbage can cover, pot lid, hubcap.


Stick with black, red, and earth tones like army greens, browns, and tans.  Use purple, red or silver (or other metallic colors) as accents.  Use bright yellows and blues sparingly, if at all.  To summon the spirit of the good guys in The Road Warrior, use faded yellows, off-whites and lavenders.


Don’t make the all too common mistake of having a costume that looks too new, freshly-laundered, or shiny! (And don’t expect to get all that dusty when you come out to the event.) Follow these tips to distress your costume: