It’s October already (yes, really!) and Halloween is right around the corner. If you don’t already have a costume idea in the works, you might be in panic mode right about now. But we can help!
Post-apocalyptic costumes are all the rage these days, especially thanks to popular video games like the Fallout series and TV shows like The Walking Dead. But with less than three weeks left until the big day, that big elaborate costume plan you had 12 months ago might have to wait another 12 months.
So let’s take a look at a few costume ideas that you could throw together RIGHT NOW with cheap stuff you find at Amazon, Walmart, Spirit Halloween, or even your closet.
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Zombie or Mutant
This one’s fairly easy. The hard part is deciding whether you’re a fast or slow zombie. For clothing, just rip up some modern clothes and get them as dirty as if you’d just crawled out of a grave. Then you can either do your own gory face makeup or grab a pre-made mask like the ones below.
If you’re going to Mutant route, you could easily throw on a functional gas mask that will help with those costume parties that have a mask requirement.
The Wasteland Raider is the bad guy/girl you see in every good post-apocalyptic movie. They have football pad shoulder armor, black leather, and lots of spikes everywhere. The idea here is to make someone similar to Wez from The Road Warrior but with more dirt and distressing on the armor. Shoulder pads can be picked up cheaply at most thrift stores and for black leather scraps with chrome buckles, look at taking apart old purses from those same thrift stores.
When I think of post-apocalyptic desert dweller, I think of lots of long, flowing cloth covering the whole body. The desert is hot and keeping covered is key to survival. You should also have lots of old, worn leather bags and water skins hanging around. Tribal imagery is also perfect for this one. Think Tusken Raiders from Star Wars but with some added flair and more dirt. Heck, you could even turn a Jedi costume into a desert dweller outfit with enough distressing.
You can easily turn old scraps of white, tan, and off-white cloth into most of this costume’s base with little to no sewing. I’ve used Barge cement (the stuff they use for shoe soles) in the past to join material together and it lasts a long time. You could also pick up old tan leather bags from a thrift store to distress and attach around your costume. Goggle are also an important addition to keep the wasteland dust out of your eyes.
Mercenary For Hire
For this one, think former military with either lots of worn camo fatigues or black for stealth. You could also go the trench-coat gunslinger route, which is fun. A big part of this costume is the guns. You’ll want pistols on your hip and a big long rifle for those distance sniper shots.
I made a video a few years back for methods of distressing a plastic toy gun to make it look weathered and more realistic (see below). It’s really not as difficult as it may sound and the results are great. You can pick up a plastic toy gun from Walmart, but I find that if you spend a few dollars more for an airsoft gun, the quality and realism is really leaps and bounds ahead.
This is really up for interpretation, but if you were the last survivor of your family or group of comrades, how would you look? Probably pretty pissed off. Now bottle that up, throw on a bunch of bags and survival gear, and you’re set.
The main thing to remember with the lone survivor costume is that you’re showing how you would survive years after an apocalypse. So probably lots of bag storage, old guns, and dirt. Always more dirt.
Your Favorite Video Game Character
The easy ones here are Fallout or The Last of Us, but it might be fun to see how many of your friends are real post-apocalyptic gamers by dressing as an NPC from Wasteland 3’s Downtown Colorado Springs.
If you’re sticking with the old classic Fallout characters, you can find a whole lot of great accessories. The vault suit is available everywhere, as well as the Pip Boy, Nuka bottle caps, and even the New Vegas trenchcoat and helmet.
Your Favorite TV/Movie Character
You could dress like Daryl or Rick Grimes this Halloween as those costumes are readily available in most costume stores. But it might also be fun to try something less recognizable like Negan or Maggie, too. You could even pick up a realistic Lucille from Amazon! We did a whole article on this a few years back, and it still applies today. Check it out here!
Post-Apocalyptic Version of Pop Culture Character – Crossover
What do the post-apocalyptic Avengers, post-apocalyptic Scooby Doo gang, and post-apocalyptic Charlie Brown have in common? They’re all real costumes that people have done or illustrated. So while the idea might not be revolutionary, you can really have fun with this one.
Think of something recognizable that could do with a post-apocalyptic treatment. Post-apocalyptic Harry Potter? It could definitely work if you buy the normal robe costume and tear it all up.
This one has the heaviest armor you can find and one big spiky melee weapon for that ultimate one-on-one arena battle. Think Juggers from Wasteland Weekend.
This is another one that could utilize those cheap used sports pads and helmets from the thrift store easily. You might even find a cheap knockoff sports jersey to tear up and use over the pads to make yourself look like the ultimate post-apocalyptic arena sports fan.
This costume is made up of all the little treasures one would find scattered throughout the wasteland. Any shiny trinkets or old-world tech would be a nice addition to this costume, while still maintaining a normal desert dweller.
Your best bet here is to find trinkets around the house to attach to your costume, or look in the cheap clearance aisles or dollar stores for things to add. There’s no wrong way to make a scavenger costume.
Hopefully these quick tips will help you get an idea for a costume or fine-tune the one you’re already creating. If you end up using one of these ideas, or come up with your own post-apocalyptic costume, show it off on our Discord!
[Photo by Bane Grimm Photography. Used with Permission]