Although the many books, comics, movies and video games about the post-apocalypse era are all different, they share a similar clothing aesthetic that favors functionality over fashion. Resources are limited after the collapse of society, so a post-apocalyptic costume can be cobbled together with the items you have around your house — making it a cheap and simple costume to assemble in a short amount of time. With few extra flourishes, you can transform into a mutated gang leader, flesh-eating zombie or scrappy survivor.
Gather the clothing for your basic outfit. Select clothing items that are dull and weathered. Avoid bright colors except for the occasional accessory. Choose items that would serve a function in a post-apocalyptic setting, such as leather jackets, camouflage pants or military uniforms. Wear multiple layers, such as a skirt over pants, or a coat over a vest and shirt.
Dirty your clothing items to give them a weathered look. Burn holes, make tears or sew on makeshift patches to age the items. Add fake blood ahead of time and allow it to set in to look like stains from old wounds. If you are portraying a zombie, mutant or other post-apocalyptic creature, you should make large tears, and add copious amounts of fake blood and other gore.
Add functional accessories to further develop your look. Create makeshift armor from bike helmets, football pads and shin guards. Wear goggles, a gas mask or paintball mask for post-apocalyptic face protection. Other accessories might include a bandoleer, studded gloves, steel-toed boots, eye patch or bandana.
Style your hair to fit the post-apocalyptic setting. Spray temporary dye for a funky gang member hairdo or tease it to look unkempt. Use a generous amount of hair gel to make your hair look greasy and unwashed. If you are committed enough, consider a wild hairstyle like a Mohawk, punk spikes or dreadlocks.
Apply makeup to complete your look. Use dark foundation to add a layer of grime to your skin and red costume makeup to apply cuts, scrapes and other wounds. If you are portraying a zombie, make your skin look pale and add fake blood or prosthetic wounds. For a mutant, consider an unusual skin tone like green or red, and add prosthetic costume makeup to simulate deformations.
Your clothing items and accessories will change depending on the type of character you want to portray. A normal survivor should look weathered and reserved, while a gang member should have more flamboyant accessories like spikes, studs and war paint. Zombies can wear normal outfits or dress like specific types of people, such as a zombie nurse, zombie soldier or zombie athlete. Developing a character allows you to better plan your outfit accordingly.