Coming up with 'skeleton outfits' was one challenge of being the Fallout show's costume designer: 'We dressed skeletons right and left'

Image for Coming up with 'skeleton outfits' was one challenge of being the Fallout show's costume designer: 'We dressed skeletons right and left'
(Image credit: Prime Video)

While watching the Fallout show, I wondered whose job it had been to dress up all the Environmental Storytelling Skeletons—is that a props thing or a costumes thing? In an interview with PC Gamer last week, costume designer Amy Westcott affirmed that Fallout's costume department "dressed skeletons right and left."

"We put together all sorts of skeleton outfits," she said, including on location in the Namib Desert. What the skeletons were wearing depended on, among other things, how long they were supposed to have been decaying, and what led to their skeletonification.

The effects of time on Fallout's post-apocalyptic USA don't always feel consistent to me, but it's complicated—bombs, radiation, inconsistent upkeep, and videogame conventions all factor into the deterioration levels of Wasteland stuff. For their part, Westcott says the show's costume department did "a ton of research" to figure out how and how much to age each garment. 

When designing Lucy's wedding dress, for instance, they considered how many generations had used it before her, and what specifically would happen to it after being worn so many times. "You're pulling it on, so you get, maybe, oil from your fingers [in particular places]," Westcott said. "So it was all about traveling through real situations."

Out in the Wasteland, they wondered what would happen to textiles that were left in a box for a century or two, or worn out in the sun. 

"If they found an old warehouse that made jeans, OK, so they're gonna look new, but maybe they were in here for so long that it's like, what do they look like, and then what would these people do with them?" said Westcott. "So it was this sort of knock on effect of, what would you find, what would it look like, and then what would you do with it?"

The costumers did take some artistic license: I'm not convinced that The Ghoul's cowboy costume could really have survived 200 years of rugged use in the Wasteland, for instance, but it's a fun detail. I didn't actually notice that he was still wearing his pre-bombs costume until it was pointed out to me, and that was the idea.

Fallout TV show - The Ghoul

(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

"I pitched that idea early on to [the producers] that we could use his cowboy costume as The Ghoul, and just age it to such a degree that people wouldn't recognize it at first glance," said Westcott. "You wouldn't see that it was the same guy unless you were really, really, really looking. And that was all about our textile department just aging it so much, to such a degree—they're an insanely talented group of people."

The distressing required "a lot of trial and error," Westcott says, because, for example, a certain technique might accidentally change the color of a fabric.

During our chat, Westcott also revealed to me one secret to making utility jumpsuits look good: Italian four-way-stretch fabric. I also recently spoke to Fallout's production designer about the fabrication of the show's wearable power armor, which turned out remarkably faithful even though Bethesda never told them they had to stick to the games.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.