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Survivor producers put a lot of time and effort into making each season. Most of the time, the planning includes twists, challenges, puzzles, etc. And even though Survivor isn’t the most glamorous show, the cast and crew must also deliberate what the castaways will wear during the game. But can the Survivor players pick what clothing they bring to the island?

The castaways in the Soka tribe in 'Survivor 44' — Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, Josh Wilder, Danny Massa, Matt Blankinship, Claire Rafson, and Frannie Marin — stand on the beach wearing their tribe color — green — during the premiere.
Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, Josh Wilder, Danny Massa, Matt Blankinship, Claire Rafson, and Frannie Marin | Photo: Robert Voets/CBS

Castaways wear their original tribe colors in ‘Survivor’ on CBS

As Survivor fans have noticed over the seasons, each castaway’s wardrobe coordinates with their starting tribe’s color.

For example, producers gave the Soka tribe in Survivor 44 (pictured above) green buffs, so their color was green. As a result, they each brought with them green-colored clothing. So we know that producers at least inform the players what colors to focus on when deciding what to bring to Fiji.

But how much influence do the Survivor producers have over castaways’ attire? Thankfully, a couple of former contestants have shared how the show determines what they can and cannot wear over the years.

A former ‘Survivor’ cast member reveals behind-the-scenes secrets regarding clothes

Following the Survivor 44 premiere, Lauren O’Connell, a castaway from Edge of Extinction, answered one of her most-asked questions on TikTok — “Why do Survivor contestants wear such impractical clothing?”

“I didn’t really have a ton of say on what I was actually wearing while I was on the show,” Lauren shared. “I was asked to send in clothing that I would want to wear on the island that was either in a blue or a purple color. Within that color scheme, right? Because I started off on Manu, and Manu was the blue tribe.”

She continued, “I sent in three different sports bras. Then, I also sent in spandex. That’s what I sent in to wear as my bra and underwear. Now, unbeknownst to me at the time, Kelley [Wentworth] was going to be on my season. And Kelley’s go-to aesthetic was the sports bra and spandex vibe. And they’re very careful not to dress anyone similarly.”

“So I get an email that says, ‘This sports bra and spandex situation is not going to work. Please go find bra and underwear,'” Lauren said. “They actually sent me a link to the underwear they wanted me to get. So I get them, I try them on, I OK them. That’s what they decide they’re going to dress me in … When choosing what I wanted to send in, they told me they wanted me in a crop top and some joggers.”

The Survivor castaway concluded, “Long story short — Production pretty much picked everything that I wore, and I really didn’t get a choice.”

So while players sometimes have a say in their clothing, the final decision always falls in the producers’ hands.


‘Survivor 44’ Proves CBS Needs to Make 1 Format Change to the Show

Kelley Wentworth shared her wardrobe regrets

Back in 2021, Survivor fan-favorite castaway and Lauren’s tribemate in Edge of Extinction Kelley Wentworth also posted a TikTok where she touched upon the decisions surrounding her clothing choices.

“I wish I would have known that they have a full-on wardrobe department and that I would be submitting different clothes to be chosen for me to wear on the show,” Wentworth explained. “I wish I had known that if I submitted jean shorts, they would, of course, pick jean shorts because I was labeled ‘the farmer’s daughter’ and farmers only wear jean shorts.”

She added, “I would then also, in any returning seasons, have to wear the jean shorts so that people would recognize me. Had I known all of this, I wouldn’t have submitted jean shorts because they’re not a very good material. They don’t hold water well — they do actually hold water well. They don’t keep you warm, and they don’t protect against bugs.”

So Wentworth’s Survivor experience regarding wardrobe correlates with Lauren’s.

New episodes of Survivor 44 air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.