The Armor of Apathy
The Armor of Apathy is the de facto uniform of the Whatever Warriors, a militia based out of the Free City of Chelmsdale. But while the outfits of this outfit were indeed inspired by the pre-apocalyptic fashion trend known as “grunge”—as non-threatening and un-militaristic a style as there ever has been—you would do well not to write this organization off as a bunch of slackers. Looks, as they say, can be deceiving.
“How so?” you might ask. Well, you see, each piece of the Whatever Warriors’ ensemble has been washed in the River Chelmer—a waterway rich in magic. And this simple act has granted, to all those who don this panoply of passivity, unlimited access to the insane power of absolute indifference.
Like: they could shoot at you and stuff. And then you could shoot back at them, or whatever. But, like, why bother? Y’know?
While there are several variations of the armor that’ll keep you from looking like a poser, a hoser, or worse, the most tried-and-true version of this ensemble consists of: A) an oversized flannel; B) a pair of authentically ripped jeans; and C) a pair of combat boots you either stole from your dad or bought for wicked cheap from a thrift store.
The Oversized Flannel
Traditionally worn unbuttoned over a graphic t-shirt of some sort, this core component of the Armor of Apathy may also be worn tied around the waist. (Like if it’s too hot out or something?) It may also be, in rare cases, worn buttoned. But unlike the lumberjack who used to own it, you should never tuck this baby in. Loose and haphazard are the name of the game here.
The Ripped Jeans
A tear in at least one knee is a must—and sometimes even better than a tear in both, if you’re confident enough to pull off the asymmetry. Tears elsewhere are optional, though rips near the underside of the buttocks or the crotch can help to telegraph how few fucks you have left to give. But regardless of where the damage has been done, the damage should’ve been caused by you or the person who used to own the piece—never by the hand of a sweatshop worker employed by the Gap to “pre-rip” things in an effort to capitalize on the latest craze.
The Combat Boots
These should be big and black and chunky. If they look like they’re too big for your feet, good. If they are too big for your feet, even better. What’s life without a little suffering, man? The key here is that they should look like you could kick the shit out of someone at any moment… if only you could get motivated enough to do so.
As befits a fashion born out of the contrarian 1990s, there are several alternatives to this alternative:
- For the topmost layer, cardigan sweaters may be used in place of the otherwise ubiqutious flannel. Leather jackets are also acceptable, but only if worn together with a flannel or a cardigan. Otherwise, you’ll look too punk or too metal.
- Babydoll dresses and slips are acceptable substitutes for the traditional graphic tee. It’s your choice what you wear for a bottom with this variation, if anything.
- Shorts and fishnet stockings can serve as suitable replacements for the ripped jeans, either in warmer climates or in colder environs as an implicit “kiss my ass” to Mother Nature.
- When it comes to footwear, high-top Chuck Taylor sneakers—Chucks—have become nearly as common as combat boots.
And these are just a few examples. So long as your ensemble is layered and loose, you can get away with just about anything. After all, the heart of the aesthetic is nonchalance.
So long as you remember to wash your threads in the River Chelmer on the regular, the Whatever Warriors will be happy to call you one of their own. If, like, that’s something you’d be interested in or something.
Completing the Look
The key to completing the look is, as Affliction Clothing puts it, “an all-around unkempt vibe.” Whether you keep your hair long, tousled, and unwashed or you trim it down to a pixie cut because you just can’t be bothered with anything longer, try always to project an aura of carelessness. It helps the magic of the river do its thing.
Atop your noggin, you might wear a beanie or a bandana or an absurdly floppy hat of some sort. But never wear such things to try and hide how ridiculous your bedhead is. Always remember: you don’t care.
The Armor of Apathy was patterned after fashions from the pre-calamitous 1990s, particularly the pre-1994 period. Having discovered an April 1995 copy of the Chelmsford High School newspaper The Voice in the archives of the town library, Chelmsdalians marveled at photographs of their forebears in their grungy twentieth-century garb. The young Chelmsdalians were particularly enamored of the cover image of that issue, which featured an illustration of a long-haired slacker backed up by an army of carbon-copy clones.
Weary from constant wars with the nearby Ninth Empire of Oz, in particular the recent Emerald Rebellion, the citizens of Chelmsdale decided to try outfitting their militia in the attire of the ancestors. They already knew that washing clothing in the waters of their prized River Chelmer would render said clothing impervious to damage from most Ozite weaponry, so they figured: “why not dress like we feel, like we couldn’t care less what you throw at us?”
The experiment, it turned out, was a success. Combined with sanctions enforced upon Oz by The Council of Five, the formation of a Chelmsdalian militia clad in this new Armor of Apathy led to a long-lasting peace.
Chelmsdalian elders, inspired by the efforts of the younger generations, adopted purple flannels as the standard regalia of the town council—purple being viewed, thanks to the elders passing knowledge of the Romans, as the color of royalty. And though this angered anti-establishment forces within Chelmsdale’s fellow Free Cities, the youth of the town couldn’t be bothered to get upset.
The People Who Wear It
Frustrated by the excesses of the 1980s and “annoyed by the idea of human value being defined by money and property,” the so-called Generation X created the look which inspired the Armor of Apathy altogether accidentally. They shopped exclusively at thrift stores, and otherwise wore only what they had lying around. And somehow, this anti-look became a look of its own.
Sadly for them, Earth ain’t nearly as magical as the post-apocalyptic world of Eden is. And so, if they wanted protection from anything—even just the jeering of folks who called them “slackers”—their clothes weren’t going to cut it. Instead, they had to, as the saying goes, “suck it up, buttercup,” and bear the brunt of any abuse that came their way.
The Whatever Warriors
Contrarywise, the Whatever Warriors of Chelmsdale are as invincible and intimidating a force as any in Eden. They’re even respected by the fearsome Rangers of the Reek, a group not known to back down to anyone. And they’re doing this while wearing the exact same shit as their hapless forebears!
The Whatever Warriors know this, of course. And that makes them sad. It’s the one thing they can’t help caring about. Their one great hope for the next iteration of reality is that their alt-rock ancestors won’t get shit on for their sensitivity and sensibilities the next time around.
All art by E. Christopher Clark