Preparing For Spring

Excuses for being late to a meeting don’t seem to wash quite as well when you arrive in a soggy suit with hair product seeping down your forehead. Nor are your colleagues particularly delighted when you leave a puddle in your wake after a quick early morning catch-up in their cubicle.

For the sake of both your style and job security, and with unpredictable spring showers on the horizon, it’s about time you gave some serious thought to waterproofing your work attire.

Follow the tips in this primer, and you’ll arrive at the office looking as cool and composed as the moment you left the house…

The Fundamentals

You might not like it, but it’s in your best interest to let the weather dictate how you dress whether you’re on- or off-duty. If the proverbial heavens have opened prior to your departure for the office, then make sure you dress accordingly – and that, for one, means no suede.

Using suede protectors is important if you want to keep the fabric looking its finest, but no matter how sophisticated the formula, nothing defends suede from even the lightest of showers. If it’s already tipping it down outside, then give the suede Derbies a much-deserved day off and reach for something more durable in leather.

The same goes for warm-weather fabrics like linen and lightweight cotton, which when wet could lead to you being misidentified as a Chippendale rather than a corporate analyst. Use common sense.

Colour is worth considering, too. While brighter shades and even white can work in small doses, going all-out with bold hues isn’t in your best interest. White-on-white tailoring has been welcomed back into the menswear fold, but for the sake of staving off any instances of indecent exposure, save it for summer.

Outerwear Options

Obviously, in wet weather, you’re going to need a solid outer layer for coverage – and no, your suit blazer is not an acceptable substitute. To staying looking as crisp and dry as possible, you’ll need a longer length jacket.

Both commuter classics, the trench coat and mac ward off the worst effects of wet weather while perfectly complementing tailoring. For the trend-conscious, or those who prefer a slightly more relaxed smart-casual finish, the parka also makes a good case. Finally, given the industry’s focus on sports luxe over recent seasons, the raincoat or anorak is another option (check out our 10 stylish waterproof jackets article for recommendations) that can lend your tailoring a sleek, engineered edge or a bright pop of colour, while keeping you bone dry underneath.

Whichever style you opt for, you need to bear in mind a few things. Firstly, length is crucial: your chosen outerwear needs to, at the very least, cover your suit jacket – any part of your blazer peeking out completely negates the benefit of wearing a top layer and, frankly, just looks poor.

Your second but all-important concern should be material. Wool is a top choice for a winter coat but the fabric has a propensity to smell once it’s absorbed moisture, so keep your classic overcoat for bright, cold days. If the forecast predicts anything heavier than drizzle, prioritise technical or waterproof materials – there’s little point in covering up if the rain is just going to seep through your outerwear anyway.

Modern Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Waterproof Outerwear - Smart/Professional/Formal Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

de fursac ss14h&m 2011windsor ss15sarar aw14corneliani ss15mango man fall 2014joop aw14windsor ss15windsor aw14hugo boss aw14next spring 2015brooks brothers aw14reiss aw14sanahunt ss13Aquascutum aw14
Key Styles

There are some great British heritage brands that specialise in waterproof outerwear, such as Burberry, Aquascutum and Mackintosh, while Nordic labels like Stutterheim and Rains also know a thing or two about dressing for inclement weather.

If you’re after an advanced technical piece that performs as well as it looks, look no further than outdoor specialists such as The North Face, Patagonia, Canada Goose or Arc’teryx, who are some of the leading brands in the sector.

At the slightly more affordable end of the scale, ASOS, Mango Man and Burton are stocking some excellent waterproof and shower-resistant examples this season.

Tip: Keep your eye out for Whistles’ superb upcoming collaboration with Stutterheim – the brands have produced a pair of exclusive unisex raincoats, which are set to be available in March.

  • Rains Long JacketRains Long Jacket
  • Only & Sons Parka With Fishtail & Bonded SeamsOnly & Sons Parka With Fishtail & Bonded Seams
  • He By Mango Waterproof Feather Down ParkaHe By Mango Waterproof Feather Down Parka
  • The North Face Zermatt Triclimate MacThe North Face Zermatt Triclimate Mac
  • Allsaints Datton ParkaAllsaints Datton Parka
  • Burton Grey Funnel Neck Shower Resistant MacBurton Grey Funnel Neck Shower Resistant Mac
  • He By Mango Water-repellent Nylon Trench CoatHe By Mango Water-repellent Nylon Trench Coat
  • Stutterheim Stockholm Rubberised RaincoatStutterheim Stockholm Rubberised Raincoat
  • Aquascutum Broadgate Single Breasted RaincoatAquascutum Broadgate Single Breasted Raincoat
  • Canada Goose Citadel Coyote-trimmed Down-filled ParkaCanada Goose Citadel Coyote-trimmed Down-filled Parka
  • Mackintosh Laggan Cotton-twill Rain CoatMackintosh Laggan Cotton-twill Rain Coat
  • Burberry London Cotton-gabardine Trench CoatBurberry London Cotton-gabardine Trench Coat
Wet-Weather Essentials
Rubber-Soled Footwear

One of the biggest mistakes many of us are guilty of making is not choosing weather-appropriate shoes. Those beautifully crafted leather-soled brogues might look good, but slipping and falling on your behind is hardly the best way to show them off.

Plenty of the most esteemed men’s footwear brands, including Oliver Sweeney, Loake and Hudson, are now producing superb shoes with rubber soles, which offer considerably better grip in the wet.

Getting leather soles wet doesn’t spell disaster, but it’s not ideal either. Not only are you more at risk of taking a tumble on slippy surfaces, excess moisture can damage the sole, ultimately reducing the lifespan of your footwear.

If your leather shoes do end up getting a bit wet, follow these simple steps to preserve them for as long as possible:

  • Wipe the shoes with a damp cloth and then let them dry naturally; this will help prevent white marks forming on them once they’ve dried.
  • Don’t give in to the temptation to place them next to a radiator or go to the effort of drying them with a hair dryer (we admire the dedication though). As we’ve said, let them dry naturally over a couple of days.
  • Place wooden shoetrees, or some bundled newspaper, in the shoes once you’ve taken them off; it helps absorb moisture and maintain their shape.
  • Give them a day off, preferably two, and treat them with a wax-based polish or waterproofing product to bolster protection for wear in the future.
  • If you really want to keep them away from the water, then consider a galosh. Sometimes style has to take a bit of a back seat; it’s only for the occasional commute after all.
Modern Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Rubber Soled Shoes/Boots/Footwear - Smart/Professional/Formal Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

suitsupply aw14suitsupply aw14zara aw13digel aw14river island ss15next spring 2015mango man winter 2014florentino aw14windsor aw14ami aw13sarar aw14strellson aw14
Key Styles & Products

Key Brands: Oliver Sweeney, Paul Smith, Church’s, Grenson, Cheaney, Mark McNairy, Kurt Geiger, ASOS, Ted Baker

  • Asos Brogue Boots In LeatherAsos Brogue Boots In Leather
  • Ted Baker Guri7 Oxford Brogue ShoesTed Baker Guri7 Oxford Brogue Shoes
  • Ted Baker Sealls Brogue Ankle BootsTed Baker Sealls Brogue Ankle Boots
  • Kg Kurt Geiger Sterling ShoeKg Kurt Geiger Sterling Shoe
  • Kg Kurt Geiger OxtonKg Kurt Geiger Oxton
  • River Island Red Leather Chunky Sole Monk Strap ShoesRiver Island Red Leather Chunky Sole Monk Strap Shoes
  • Loake 209Loake 209
  • Oliver Sweeney Dunwich Chestnut Oxford BrogueOliver Sweeney Dunwich Chestnut Oxford Brogue
  • Cheaney Tenterden Pebble-grain Leather Derby ShoesCheaney Tenterden Pebble-grain Leather Derby Shoes
  • Churchs Enmore Leather BroguesChurchs Enmore Leather Brogues
  • Grenson Joseph Country-grain Leather BootsGrenson Joseph Country-grain Leather Boots
  • Cheaney Leather Chelsea BootsCheaney Leather Chelsea Boots
  • Churchs Norfolk Wood And Metal Shoe TreesChurchs Norfolk Wood And Metal Shoe Trees
  • Protector Spray – 100mlProtector Spray - 100ml
  • Loakes Leather Shoe Shine Travel KitLoakes Leather Shoe Shine Travel Kit
A Sturdy Umbrella

Sure, taking an umbrella with you when it’s raining is basic common sense, but how many times have you found yourself out and about without one?

Thought so. They may be annoying to have to carry around along with your briefcase/folio and gym bag, but a well-made umbrella is at the core of any solid anti-rain arsenal. A coat, even a technical, hooded style, just isn’t an adequate replacement. Think of it this way: your outerwear is extra protection from the elements, while an umbrella is your main shield.

Full-length, wooden-handled styles are arguably the most stylish, though their size can be a little cumbersome if you’re on and off public transport. If that’s the case, a good foldaway design comes highly recommended.

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on quality; you may be prone to misplacing umbrellas but buying a cheap one for that reason isn’t as sound an idea as you might think.

Top Tip: Carry an umbrella sleeve with smaller styles to save you dripping your way through a crowded bar/restaurant/train carriage or, even worse, having to place your umbrella in your bag and soaking it through.

An Umbrella is an essential wet-weather investment

Key Pieces

Key Brands: London Undercover, Fulton, James Smith and Sons, Barbour

  • Barbour Tartan Tele Umbrella Olive BarbourBarbour Tartan Tele Umbrella Olive Barbour
  • Totes Miniflat 5-section Thin Umbrella BlackTotes Miniflat 5-section Thin Umbrella Black
  • Fulton Cross Printed UmbrellaFulton Cross Printed Umbrella
  • James Smith & Sons Best Folding With A Whangee Cane CrookJames Smith & Sons Best Folding With A Whangee Cane Crook
  • Fulton Commissioner Wooden Crook UmbrellaFulton Commissioner Wooden Crook Umbrella
  • Francesco Maglia Chestnut Wood-handle UmbrellaFrancesco Maglia Chestnut Wood-handle Umbrella
  • M&s Collection New Checked Umbrella With FlexiribM&s Collection New Checked Umbrella With Flexirib
  • London Undercover Maple-handle Collapsible UmbrellaLondon Undercover Maple-handle Collapsible Umbrella
  • London Undercover Premium Premium Plaid Umbrella GreenLondon Undercover Premium Premium Plaid Umbrella Green
Further Helpful Tips & Tricks
  • Wear a featherweight gilet (try Uniqlo’s excellent ultralight down range) between your suit jacket and outer layer to ensure your shirt and tie stay dry, while also adding some much-needed insulation.
  • Waterproof your leather accessories. The majority of us will have invested good money in a leather folio or briefcase, so it’s imperative to keep this in good nick once the weather takes a turn for the worse. Some waterproofing spray will do the trick, ensuring the contents of your bag aren’t unwittingly ruined by the time you get to work. The same goes for leather gloves.
Final Word

Wet weather needn’t mean sacrificing your style standards in order to stay dry. By taking heed of these essential pointers, you’ll realise there’s no need for ugly ski jackets and plastic shoe coverings to keep composed.

What are your wet-weather sartorial weapons? How do you keep dry in style as you make your way to the office?

Let us know in the comments section…