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It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fashionable

in Potpourri by

Fashion probably isn’t the first word you think of when you hear “post-apocalyptic.” Most films and television portray life after Armageddon with ripped T-shirts, lots of dusty leather and functional boots. But it took watching Snowpiercer , a new film by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, to remind me that apocalypse movies can still be stylish and visually arresting – even when that style is used to show the disparities in class and status in a dystopian world. Snowpiercer depicts a future where all of society has been reduced to a globe-traveling train, while the world outside is trapped in an ice age. The “haves” live in the front, with hairdressers and schools, and the “have-nots” are regulated to the tail, living in constant poverty and oppression. The movie centers on Curtis as he leads a revolution from the tail to the front:


This highly stylized film is violent, exciting, and thought-provoking – just the way a good post-apocalyptic tale should be. And, yes, it is oddly fashionable. While the poor are stuck in rags, the elite all wear furs, retro-suits, or adorable 1940s style dresses, like Alison Pill’s character, Teacher:But Snowpiercer isn’t the only stylish dystopian film. Here are nine other examples of how an apocalypse can still look good even as the world is falling apart:

The Hunger Games

Based on the book series by Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Games are as stylish as they are disturbing. Well, not quite. But from the over-the-top looks of the Capitol, to Katniss’s fire-catching gown, to the simple blue lottery-day dress, you can’t deny that fashion plays a huge part in these stories.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

All of the Mad Max movies are stylish in a lost-in-the-desert-wearing-leather kind of way, but Beyond Thunderdome with Tina Turner really takes it to a whole other level. I mean just look at her earrings! Epic.

Tank Girl


Speaking of the desert, remember Tank Girl? This movie is so 90s it’s ridiculous. Unnecessary safety pin placement, bras shaped like bombs, cropped T-shirts, bleached out hair – Tank Girl had it all.


Sure, the look is mostly skintight black combat gear, but they wear it so well. Based on another young adult series,  this one by Veronica Roth, clothing is almost as important here as it is in the Hunger Games. Color determines what faction you belong to, while the cut speaks to how active you need to be. Tris and Four spend most of the movie jumping around in awesomely simple black leather. Stylish and sleek.

Resident Evil

Nothing says badass like a warrior chick in a red dress holding a gun. The Resident Evil movies might not be as good as the video games, but they’re certainly stylish.

The Tribe

Growing up, my sisters and loved this obscure New Zealand television show. The premise was crazy – a virus wipes out all the adults in the world and children have to fend for themselves. They end up forming gangs, wearing crazy make up, and living in abandoned shopping malls (of course). The styles were even crazier – bizarre face-paint, tons of latex outfits, hairstyles with a lot of mini-buns. It was like a 90s rave come to life.

On The Beach

This 1959 movie is as stylish as it is depressing. Based on a Nevil Shute novel, it tells the story of nuclear holocaust survivors in Australia waiting to die from radiation poisoning. Cheerful, right? At least the 1950s outfits are nice to look at.

The Walking Dead

I’m not going to lie, The Walking Dead made the cut solely because of Darryl. Look at how well that man wears sleeveless leather! I’m so blinded by biceps I can’t even remember the other fashions on the show. Someone dresses like a sheriff, right? Whatever. Who cares? Remember when Darryl wore that leather vest with angel wings? He’s the best.

How I Live Now

Based on a young adult novel by Meg Rosoff, this British movie flew under the radar when it came out last year. Which is a shame as it’s beautifully shot, intense, heartbreaking, and just generally awesome. It tells the story of angsty teen Daisy who travels to England to stay with her cousins. While there, an unnamed war breaks out. For awhile the kids manage to live on their idyllic farm in the countryside, but soon they’re forced to face the reality of the violence and destruction around them. Not only do I love the story, I love the fashion in this film – it’s all punk teen, over-sized wool sweaters, and tiny sundresses.

Are there any stylish dystopian movies we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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