When you watch US movies or TV shows about jail, eg: Orange is the new black, you might associate prison uniform as being bright orange. However, in Australia the prison uniform is green, not orange. The only orange you will see an inmate in Australia wear is hi-vis vests if they are at a working jail.

In this article I will discuss the various clothes that inmates wear in Australia, starting with the standard issue greens, to clothes that you can buy, and even clothes that get smuggled into jail from visitors.

Standard Issue Greens

Upon entry into an Australian correctional facility, inmates are typically issued about 3 green t-shirts, 2 green shorts, 1 green trackpants, 1 green jumper and 1 green jacket. You will also get about 2 pairs of socks and some underwear, as well as a pair of green shoes. The size may not fit you, as they will give you whatever they have in stock. For example, I am a medium, but I was given XXL trackpants as that was all they had left. In the picture below, you can see a picture of inmates making these clothes at Cessnock Correctional Centre in NSW.

Buying Additional Clothes

The number of clothes that the prison issues you is not enough to wear for a week without doing laundry. This means you will need to wash them quite often or wear them for more than a day. You can sometimes get clothes passed to you from other inmates who have plenty of spares that they have accumulated over time in jail, or from other inmates that are being released.

If these options are not available, or you want better items, you can buy clothes from the Activities Buy Up form. You can buy sports shoes with laces (standard issue has velcro straps only and doesn't provide good support), warmer jumpers (needed in winter), breathable t-shirts (great for gym or sport), polo shirts, caps, beanies, thongs, sunnies and more. You can see some of these items below.

In the image below, you can see a mix of different clothing items from prisoners in Australia. You will notice that there are various shades of green, even with the standard t-shirts. Some of the clothing has been passed down for years, and in the past, different shades of green was the standard colour. Other items of clothing may have faded over time, changing the colour.

Smuggled Clothing

Occasionally you will find clothes in jail that are not standard-issue, nor can they be bought on the activities buy-up. For example, I saw someone who owned a green Polo Ralph Lauren hoodie. 

These items are smuggled in during visits in minimum security jails and I'll explain how they are able to get around the system. When you go on a visit in minimum security, the screws will note down all the items you are wearing (including sunnies, watches and shoes) to ensure that you don't come out with fewer or more clothing. However, they will simply note 'green shirt, green shorts, green jacket', etc. If your visitor brings you a Polo Ralph Lauren hoodie, and you swap your jacket for their one during the visit, all you have to do is get it past the attention of the screws when you are leaving the visit. If they don't notice it is a different jumper, then you have successfully smuggled it into the prison system. The same can occur with sunnies, watches and sports shoes.

In maximum security this isn't possible, as you are not wearing your standard prison greens, but instead white overalls with nothing underneath except your underwear. This is to prevent contraband being smuggled into the prison.

Another way of get nice shoes into jail is by getting a medical certificate from the doctor stating that you need a specific sports shoe.

Altering Prison Clothing

Inmates get creative when they have limited resources and unlimited time. Some inmates will fashion their own items out of existing clothes. For example, they may take the legs off a few pairs of shorts and sew them together into long pants. They use the thread from the bedsheets in order to sew items together. I have also seen someone turn the pocket from a pair of track pants into a CD player holder. A more common and simple modification is to cut your t-shirt into a singlet (as seen in the image below). This is much more comfortable when you are exercising or playing sport in the heat.

Clothing for Work and Activities

If you work on the prison grounds then you will be given an orange hi-vis vest to wear on top of your greens. You may also get work boots depending on what type of work you are doing. If you work in the kitchen you will wear a white top instead of the usual green.

Clothing for Visits

If you are in a minimum security jail, then you can wear any of your prison clothes to visit your family and friends. However, if you are in maxo, you will be required to strip down to your underwear and wear white overalls instead. This is to minimise the chances of contraband being smuggled into the jail. In the pictures below you can see what is typically worn in maxo security visits. To learn more about jail visits, click to read this article.

Safety and Security Considerations

The design and distribution of prisoner clothes are heavily influenced by safety and security considerations. Clothing with drawstrings or easily torn materials is generally avoided to reduce the risk of self-harm or use in violent incidents. In high-risk scenarios, inmates may be required to wear specially designed non-removable garments.


I hope this gives you some insight into what prisoners wear in jail in Australia. If you have any other questions regarding jail, browse through the other pages on this site, or send me an email through the Contact Form below. If you are facing jail for the first time and you need more detailed information on how to survive, you can arrange a paid telephone consult.

Ask an ex-inmate any questions about jail

If you have any quick questions that you are curious about, or if you are facing imprisonment and need some more info, please leave me a message below with your details. 

I am also available for telephone consultations if you need to chat for longer.

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About the Author

I served a full-time custodial sentence in several prisons in NSW, and I hope that my experience can help others who are about to be sentenced. All the information provided on this site is based on my real personal experience, or experiences and anecdotes from inmates I have met during my incarceration.

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