Survivor Styles: Navigating Post-Apocalyptic Men’s Clothing Trends

Clothing can be a true tangible representation of a person’s feelings, tendencies, characteristics, and necessities; sometimes, it is a compromise between all of those things materialized in a specific style of attire to project a unique expression or personal opinion toward the society, the environment, and the world at large. At the most basic level, however, clothing is a form of armor. There might be some cases where clothing is a hypothetical armor against others’ negative judgments, although its basic function as a protective layer to dull the harmful effects of the environment remains true. And when talking about clothing as a defensive measure in the face of harsh environments, post-apocalyptic fashion suddenly comes to mind. Post-apocalyptic fashion themes can manifest in many different ways from simple things like safety blankets and raincoats to such complex designs as breathable racing suits. In the real-world fashion industry, post-apocalyptic men’s clothing styles are often much more sophisticated and creative than one-piece fireproof overalls or turnout coats.

Post-Apocalyptic Men's Clothing

Like all fashion themes, popular culture exerts a good deal of influence on styles. Post-apocalyptic TV shows and films such as Mad Max, The Book of Eli, The Road, The 100, and The Walking Dead offer a glimpse at what people should typically wear in the aftermath of a doomsday event, if they survive at all. Even video games like Days Gone, The Division, Metro Exodus, and The Last of Us are often regarded as guidelines to post-apocalyptic fashion.

There is no post-apocalyptic era (yet), but it doesn’t mean you cannot find inspiration from actual historical events. Case in point: the trench coat. Although the clothing style was not exactly invented for the British Army and designed to be used in battlefields, the trench coat will be forever associated with the muddy and bloody trenches of Europe during the First World War. For any man who finds himself fond of post-apocalyptic fashion, few articles of clothing carry the promise of proper weather protection and camouflage as much as a long black leather trench coat does.

Post-Apocalyptic Men's Clothing

Of course, the most important element of post-apocalyptic clothing is functionality. In a hypothetical world where human civilization has been reduced to ruins, the society has collapsed, and a doomsday event leaves a trail of nothing but lethal contaminants, every man needs an outfit that offers both comfort and practicality.

It is therefore advisable to wear something that has plenty of pockets in which you can safely keep valuables, gadgets, and hand tools. More pockets also give room to carry small amounts of food and drink in an unobtrusive manner. With society in chaos, you never know what dangers lurk around the corner; you always need to protect yourself not only from contaminated air and water, but also blood-thirsty zombies and gangs of outlaws. Cargo pants and utility belts are the bare minimum, but it’s best to increase your carrying capacity with discreet holster bags, too.

While color may not seem important as it rarely affects functionality, black and earth tones are preferable or at least not as conspicuous as others. Fancy and bright colors can be fashionable, but attracting unnecessary attention to yourself is the last thing you want to do in a morally-corrupt post-apocalyptic society. Law and order are things of bygone days, so there is no such thing as being overprepared. Utility goggles, especially those with working seals around the eyes, will keep the grit at bay. Don’t forget to also wear a gas mask to avoid inhaling chemicals and polluted dust. Proceed with caution no matter where you go because anyone is a potential target for the uncivilized and the crazed.

Basic Styles

The overall aesthetic of post-apocalyptic men’s clothing trends never really strays too far from the amalgam of disaster-preparedness and elements of decay repurposed into rustic practicality. It should be function over form, but there is nothing wrong with going the other way around either because you are a privileged survivor after all. Some of the most common trends over the years include:

• Biker Fest: arguably the definitive tried-and-true fashion statement for the post-apocalyptic era is the menacing no-nonsense aesthetic of bikers. An all-around leather outfit is the norm, combined with protective accessories like shoulder and knee pads.

• Glam Metal: tight denim, headbands, hairstyles inspired by Tina Turner, and gaudy accessories. High boots and chainmail dresses are sought after. If you want to rock the style, think of the glory days of Mötley Crüe, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Poison, and Twisted Sister. When inspiration from the film industry is required, look no further than Snake Plissken.

• Surgical Attire: gas masks, gloves, and hazmat suits are inevitable when you’re dealing with biochemical threats everywhere. The attire might not be the most practical, but you just can’t be too careful against lethal viruses.

• Religious Zealots: the end of the world has different effects on survivors. Some probably don’t care at all and surrender to nature, while others make sure to fight back against all odds. For certain people, a doomsday event might be a real sign of God’s wrath. They find peace in religion and embrace clean white robes as their new uniforms.

We think post-apocalyptic men’s clothing trends can be effective ways for people to communicate a sense of anticipation of the actual imminent end of the world as we know it. And with infrastructures in a state of disrepair, several countries in constant war, the threats of mutually assured destruction, climate disasters, and the powerlessness of the world’s strongest military in the face of rumored extraterrestrial species infiltrations, no one can blame them for adorning themselves with post-apocalyptic clothing and ornaments.

Do you fancy post-apocalyptic fashion? Do you think there is a difference between post-apocalyptic and steampunk styles? We’d love to hear from you.

Other Things You Might Want to Know:

What about post-apocalyptic footwear?

The sturdiest pair of boots will do. In a post-apocalyptic world, chances are you will walk through the broken fragments of civilization, so it only makes sense to protect your feet from shattered glass, corroded metals, and germs crawling inside human corpses and animal carcasses. Bear in mind that you might not have reliable vehicles to take you from point A to B. Durability matters, but don’t forget that comfort is equally important. A pair of shoes with ample padding and waterproofing is preferable.

The Mad Max Debate: Steampunk vs. Post-Apocalyptic

It has been mentioned time and again. Mad Max: Fury Road is post-apocalyptic, not steampunk. Among the unique elements of steampunk fashion is a heavy influence from Victorian style and the industrial revolution, for example, tailcoats, corsets, bowler hats, steam engine parts, parasols, and mechanically overbuilt prostheses just to name a few. Fury Road has very few of such things.

What is the best way to avoid a post-apocalyptic style disaster?

An easy method to make sure that your style of choice actually makes sense is to be consistent with the kind of doomsday event you have in mind. If your doomsday is a zombie apocalypse, the Biker Fest option is an appropriate style because you need protection from bites and infections. Just remember not to mix it with a bare-chested attire inspired by Glam Metal or the flimsy robe of Religious Zealots attire.

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