The Walking Dead: Do clothes make the man?


On The Walking Dead some of the characters seem to have an attachment to their uniforms from their careers pre-apocalypse. Is the clothing an indication of the survivor’s level of acceptance of the situation? Is it helpful to cling to the clothing, or do the survivors need to abandon their pre-apocalypse roles in order to increase their survival odds?

Not every job or occupation has a uniform, but there is usually a dress code of some kind. I was a teacher, but in the apocalypse I don’t see myself dressing for the classroom. I would dress for the apocalypse.

It seems that some of the characters who had actual uniforms for their jobs cling to those uniforms even after the world has gone to heck and they are no longer on the payroll. At the beginning, it could be that these were the only clothes they had, but it seems deeper than that.

When Rick first came out of his coma, he had access to his home and some clothes, but he dressed in his sheriff’s uniform. He wore it daily at the camp. Is it his identity? Does he need to help? To lead. Did his uniform have any effect on the group at the quarry? They certainly deferred to him quite quickly.

In Alexandria, Rick and Michonne became constables of the community. They wore police officer uniforms. Was that important? Did the Alexandrians not know who they were? Did they need the uniforms to distinguish themselves as authorities?

Father Gabriel Stokes and Carl Grimes, The Walking Dead - AMC
Father Gabriel Stokes and Carl Grimes, The Walking Dead – AMC /

Father Gabriel wore his collar every day for a year and a half while living alone. Who was he wearing it for? Who was he reminding that he was a priest? Did that help him to try to gain forgiveness from God? Was it his penance?

He took it off after Maggie chastised him and told him he couldn’t help her. She stripped him of his only identity so he took of the representation of that. He wore regular clothes when he tried to face his fears with the walker and possibly kill himself.  Now he’s wearing it again. He wants to try to help. He thinks that the priest is the helper. I think if he takes it off, he can become a survivor who helps as himself, not as a priest.

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Abraham has been fond of camouflage. It represented his military mission to get to Washington. The camo represented strength. A fighter.  Last week he found a dress uniform jacket. He wore it proudly to display to Sasha and himself a man worthy of love and respect.

At Grady Memorial the cops still wore uniforms and the detainees wore scrubs. The uniforms represented the order that Dawn was trying to maintain.

I wonder about clothes and uniforms. Are jobs with uniforms more susceptible to the uniform and the job being a bigger part of the identity of the person? How would the uniform help when the job is no longer there? Is it important to shed the identity of your former self in order to survive in this new world?  Do we need to hold onto some of who we were? How do clothes figure into that?