When The Zombies Came

I really enjoy horror movies.

Actually, let me clarify that statement. I really enjoy some horror movies, as not all are created equal. I like the slow-burn type of horror as opposed to jump scares or gratuitous gore. I have never been a huge fan of slashers (Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, Scream) or that torture porn crap (Saw, Hostel).

If I had to list my top five favorite horror movies, they would be (in no particular order)…

  • Psycho
  • The Shining
  • The Exorcist
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Night Of The Living Dead

I know The Texas Chainsaw Massacre kind of falls into the slasher genre, but it’s too good to not have on the list.

All of these movies execute the creeping kind of terror I find so effective, but none so perfectly as the last one on the list: Night Of The Living Dead.

Has there ever been a scarier or more foreboding line than “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”?

I’ve always found the concept of zombies to be especially terrifying. And I’m talking about the slow, shambling ones, not the Olympic sprinters from movies like 28 Days Later. The slow ones are the scariest. It’s the inevitability. The hopelessness. The futility. Knowing that no matter how fast or how far you run, they’re always coming for you. That’s what’s really scary.

Those fears tap into uncertainty around much more real-life scenarios. War. Pandemic. Home invasion. Things that I think we dads think about a lot. I can’t be the only one who thinks about how I would fare in apocalyptic scenarios.

It makes you think about what you would do in those situations. What would you do if you had to hunker down and defend your family? Or venture out at a few moments notice? What if you had to travel a long distance or flee to another country? What would you bring?

Most importantly, what would you wear?

Thinking about what I would wear if I had to leave my house abruptly stemmed from me thinking about what my most practical articles of clothing were. I like utility in my clothing so I get a kick out of looking at a piece and saying “Yup, this would be the thing I would grab on my way out the door.”

Obviously, it goes without saying that this is a light-hearted exercise. I understand that there are plenty of people out there RIGHT NOW who are experiencing strife the likes of which I can, thankfully, only imagine. This is in no way intended to be disrespectful of the very real challenges some are facing at the moment. It’s all just in good fun.

Also, contrary to the title of this article, I’m not making selections based off a hypothetical zombie attack. If that were the case, every selection would be purely utilitarian and would need to include things like weapons. There a ton of articles out there about that already. This article is more about if some sort of extreme, yet vague, circumstance caused you to have to leave your house for an indeterminant period of time.

Now, in thinking about what to grab when you’re forced to head out the door, you need to consider the time of year. Since it’s early autumn at the moment, I will go with that.

I always think it’s better to be dressed more warmly than not, so I would likely wear heavier layers than the weather initially calls for. It gets cold here at night, even now, and will get much colder soon.

Also, even though utility and comfort are the name of the game here, it’s important to still look respectable.

Maybe you’ll need to cross a border into another country. Maybe you’ll need to rely on a stranger for a ride or food. Maybe you’ll need to garner the trust or sympathy of law enforcement. People treat you better when you’re dressed well and in (totally made-up) situations like these you can’t afford to be disregarded in favor of someone who looks more put-together and therefore less threatening. You need people to trust you and want to help you (and your family).

Here is the list of things I would wear if some sort of unexpected turn of events necessitated going on the run…

Base Layer-

Denim Shirt –

You guys are probably wondering by now how many articles I can go without mentioning my denim shirt. Answer: not many. That’s simply because the denim shirt is an almost perfect shirt in any situation, including this one. It’s casual, sure, but still looks great under a tweed jacket (remember, respectability!). In this scenario, the durability is what’s most important. Mine is from J. Crew.

Cotton Twill 5-Pocket Pants –

A mid-weight cotton or wool pant is all you need here, even when the temperatures dip, given the selections for socks and overcoat (which are detailed below). Just make sure they are thick enough to hold up to whatever comes your way (which pretty much every cotton pant is). I find the 5-pocket styling superior in functionality to the slash pocket style since I find that my EDC like my pocket knife tends to slip out more easily with slash pockets. Also, it’s easier to be pickpocketed with slash pockets, as opposed to 5-pockets. Mine are the Knockabout chinos from Lands’ End. It appears they don’t have the 5-pocket styling at the moment, but I am sure they will at some point.

Wool Socks-

I choose wool socks over cotton socks because wool insulates better, breathes better, and dries quicker than cotton. I’m actually choosing thinner wool dress socks for this exercise given the fact that my boots are shearling-lined already and thin socks fit better inside them. Also, make sure the socks are over-the-calf length. This provides another layer underneath your pants which is more useful the colder it gets. Mine are Gold Toe. As for underwear… I don’t care. Wear whatever you want.

Waterproof Boots-

One of the most important items is your choice of footwear. They need to be comfortable in case you’re walking for a long period of time. They need to be warm enough in case you find yourself outside for an extended period of time. They also need to be waterproof, or water-resistant to a reasonable degree. Don’t laugh, but my boots are Ugg Hannens. It appears they no longer offer that style, but there are plenty of other totally normal looking boots to choose from. Because I’m not a nineteen-year-old college girl, I was not on the Ugg Train until I experienced their slippers some years ago. Once I had dipped my toe in the water, I felt comfortable taking the plunge on a pair of their be-seen-out-in-public footwear. Let me tell you, these boots are stellar. They are extraordinarily comfortable given their fur lining and squishy soles. One doesn’t actually need to wear socks with them, but I choose to anyway since it feels weird not having a sock extend up my leg while wearing a boot. These boots are warm and absolutely waterproof. They also don’t look like your typical Ugg boot, which is a plus.

Automatic Watch-

Sure, quartz watches are more accurate, but I don’t want to have to rely on the longevity of a battery in this scenario. If your watch battery craps out on you five minutes after you leave the house, that would be a huge bummer. So leave your Apple watches and G-Shocks at home and strap on an automatic/mechanical watch. Just make sure it has a suitable level of water resistance. Mine is a Bulova automatic (linked to a similar style).

Second Layer-

Cashmere Sweater-

I’m not choosing a cashmere sweater for its luxury, even though that’s definitely a plus. I’m choosing it because it’s lightweight, can be rolled up and stowed in a pocket, and is much warmer than other sweaters of mine given its size. It definitely punches above its weight class. Also, we all know that wool/cashmere is superior to cotton in just about every way (unless you have a wool allergy), except machine washability. But you probably won’t be washing your clothes much in this scenario so you need things that don’t need to be laundered much. I can’t remember the last time I cleaned any of my sweaters. Also, I would go with a crew neck style as opposed to V-neck simply because the crew neck offers more coverage, which could be important in cold weather. Mine is from Charles Tyrwhitt.

Tweed Jacket-

Leave it to the internet weirdo who writes about clothes to bring along his tweed jacket when the shit hits the fan. Hear me out. Not only does a sport coat make you look more respectable (which is critical in this scenario), a thick tweed jacket is pretty much the perfect outdoor layer. The wool is insulating and protects you from the wind. It’s meant for active pursuits so you know it’s durable enough to hold up to whatever you’re doing. It also has a ton of pockets which can hold your pocket knife, lighter, handkerchief, personal documents, and whatever else you need to keep close. Mine is from Aran Sweater Market.


Wool Overcoat-

Behind your selection of footwear, your coat is the next most important item. It should be warm, water-resistant, and long enough to protect the majority of your body. A coat that hits at your waist just doesn’t offer the same level of protection from the elements as a coat that hits at around your knees. Also, a long coat means you can wrap up family members like kids or dogs, or be used as a makeshift mat for sitting or sleeping. I always opt for a double-breasted style for my overcoats, as the overlapping layers in the front provide more warmth. Most overcoats have large pockets, too, which makes it easy to carry your sweater or scarf if you need to shed some layers in the warmer weather. Just wrap up everything and chuck it into your overcoat pockets and toss the coat over your arm. It’s almost like having a backpack. Also…respectability. My overcoat is a wool and cashmere blend from J. Crew.


A scarf is essential and incredibly versatile. Not only can it be worn in the usual fashion, but it can be wrapped around the head to warm cold ears, or easily wrapped about the chilly hands of children. When you don’t need it, simply ball it up and stuff it into your coat pocket. Mine is a wool plaid from the Blarney Woollen Mills in Dublin, Ireland.


I bet you’re thinking “It was all fine and then he had to go and mention an effing fedora!”. Sorry, but the fedora is another essential. Ever been caught in a cold rain? Sucks, doesn’t it. With a stout fedora it sucks a whole lot less. Grab one with a man’s brim like my Akubra Federation IV and you’ll stay dry as a bone. Other perks: it’s tall crown not only traps the heat from your head, keeping you warm, but the inside of the top of the crown is actually lined with plastic which makes it completely impermeable. And don’t worry about your ears getting cold. You can just wrap the scarf around your head in that case. In this scenario, remember the words from Marty McFly’s Irish ancestor: “How could you forget a thing like your hat?!”

I think that I think about oddball situations like this because I like feeling prepared. I like knowing that at the drop of a hat I can spring into action (in a tweed jacket)!

Fortunately, I’ll never find myself in these scenarios. But don’t we all play these things out in our minds? Don’t we all get a little thrill imagining ourselves in the middle of our own hero story? Maybe your hero story involves weapons or MREs. Mine involves clothes.

Maybe it’s just fatherhood that makes our minds travel to these weird, dark places. Maybe it’s the desire to think through each situation so that we can be the best husbands and fathers no matter what comes our way. A lot of what I discuss on this site deals with exerting control where we can, so it’s possible that this is all a manifestation of that impulse.

Maybe it’s our natural desire to protect and provide. Maybe thinking about this stuff reveals an insecurity around those things.

I get that this was kind of a weird divergence from our regularly scheduled programming, but I think that, as dads, it’s important to recognize where our thoughts are coming from. I know that when I became a dad I attained a level of self-understanding and self-reflection I thought was impossible before.

I am sure many of you feel the same way.

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