Despite living on an island plagued by constant rain (and constant lamenting said rain), dressing for wet weather is a skill that’s surprisingly hard to master.
Most men fall into one of two camps. There are those who put function first, making style play second fiddle to staying dry. For them, a solid North Face jacket is the only tool for the job – apart from maybe a pair of very fetching galoshes. Pair them up and bam! No more sodden clothes. The problem? They’ll stay as dry as a bone but won’t look remotely stylish anywhere outside of a ramblers route.
Then there are the diehard aesthetes, the guys who’d rather tread a mile in waterlogged brogues than sacrifice even so much as a droplet of style. For them, looking well-turned-out trumps beating hypothermia. The problem? Hypothermia.
“Rainwear needs to be able to withstand the forces of course, but it is almost equally important that it makes its user feel like they’re well-dressed, and that it goes well with their everyday outfits,” says Patric Wallertz, Head of Design at Swedish rainwear brand Stutterheim. “Great rainwear is rainwear that makes you wish for rain.”
No longer shall men be forced to choose between fashion and function, between warmth and well-dressed. Forget your umbrella (which you probably already literally have, again), forget your canary yellow sou’wester and forget that pair of wellies sat encrusted with mud in the boot of your car. Our guide to rainwear that works will arm you with the facts, brands and styling know-how to give even the deadliest of downpours the two fingers.
With more jargon to wade through than a digital marketing convention, finding a foothold in rainwear’s lexicon of tech specs can be tricky. So let’s keep it simple. Forget all those confusing frankenwords and abide by the holy trinity of precipitation protection instead: water-resistant, water-repellent and waterproof.
If what you’re wearing is marked water-resistant (or showerproof), it’ll withstand light rain for a short amount of time. Stay out any longer, or step out when mother nature’s assailing you with something stronger, and you’ll need to retreat indoors to rethink your strategy.
Want to bolster your defences against a good drenching? Upgrade from water-resistant to water-repellent. Like its name suggests, not only will it form a barrier between you and moisture, it’ll actively repel it too. Water-repellent garments have been fabricated so that their outer layer is hydrophobic (yes, that’s a real thing), meaning they’re just as keen as you to shake off the rain.
Absolutely cannot and will not stand for getting wet? Then acquaint yourself with the daddy of all rainwear accolades: waterproof. Waterproof clothing is tested for its ability to withstand penetration by driving rain (it shouldn’t let a single drop through, FYI), so unless your commute involves a stint on the bonnet of a car, you’ll be just fine.
It’s not just the swing tag properties you need to look out for – upping your materials knowledge can boost your chances of staying bone dry too. Nylon, it turns out, isn’t just the star of questionable 1980s workout videos, but also, like plastic, a synthetic polymer and therefore a key weapon in your anti-rain arsenal. Even more so if it’s Teflon-coated.
Is your menswear mantra more Mother Earth than man-made? Luckily there’s a swathe of naturally occurring rain-repelling materials at your disposal. Wax – most popularly used on jackets from the likes of Belstaff and Barbour – has a slicked surface that staves off rain, while rubber’s water-deflecting prowess has been helping children jump in puddles without fear of reprimand for generations.
With all of these materials, water molecules find it extremely difficult to penetrate their surfaces. Goodbye dampness, hello dryness.
Key Piece: The Waterproof Raincoat
Where else to start? Not since Paddington Bear has the raincoat been pulled off with such flair. Right now a whole host of designers are combining science with up-to-date style, with the weather-worn (but design-savvy) Scandinavians leading the charge.
“There is a certain design DNA that is infused in raincoats now,” says T-Michael, one half of new rainwear label Norwegian Rain, based in Bergen, Europe’s rainiest city. “We have stepped further away from the notion that raincoats are supposed to keep you dry and that’s it. For us, it’s a piece that adds an element of style to your wardrobe.”
So, how to strike the balance? “The hi-tech aspects; the fact that our coat is 100 per cent waterproof, windproof, breathable and made from eco-friendly recycled polyester, is hidden,” explains T-Michael. “Our raincoats are function camouflaged as tailoring.”
Speaking of function, it’s not just performance materials raincoats need, but watertight construction methods too: “All of our styles are hand-sewn in the Stutterheim signature waterproof rubberised cotton,” says Wallertz. “All seams are either heat-welded or sewn, taped and then sealed to ensure full rain protection. Great attention to detail and smart additions such as a double-seamed hood, which allows for sideways glances, keeps the wearer dry and looking good.”
It’s this best-of-both-worlds design you should bear in mind when buying. Check your prospective purchase’s specs; waterproof is a must for a raincoat (bonus points for heat-bonded seams), as is a sleek and slim cut.
- Topman Navy 2 Tone Jacket By Rains
- Rains Short Waterproof Jacket
- Rains Waterproof Long Jacket
- Norwegian Rain Single-Breasted Raincoat
- Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat Yellow
- Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat Red
- Barbour Hooded Bedale Jacket Fern
- Norse Projects Regnar Sport Jacket Navy
- Elka Morum Mac
- Private White Vc Mens Single-breasted Unlined Ventile Mac
- Knutsford Mens Made In England Single-breasted Raincoat
- Maison Kitsune Mens Waterproof Parka
There’s a special place in hell for soggy socks. So, instead of squelching your way through the rest of your life, swap your suede and canvas styles for footwear that fuses protection with on-point design.
For a take-no-prisoners approach, steer traditional: you can’t put a step wrong with a pair of Hunter Wellington boots. Under the creative stewardship of Alasdhair Willis, the British heritage brand has capitalised on the box-ticking appeal of the wellies, which have enjoyed airtime at every festival and country fair up and down the nation.
Prefer a path less trodden? Consider Gallic brand Le Chameau whose hand-crafted boots require a whopping 150 steps to manufacture. This is puddle-dodging at its most exclusive. Yes, they’re a little pricier, but a good pair of wellies will last you for years. Cost per wear calculations = very favourable.
If you’d only be found in wellies lying six feet under, then, firstly, we get it, and secondly, there’s an array of more wearable alternatives. Like Converse’s and Nike’s sneakerboots, which combine classic streetwear silhouettes with uppers and soles made of stronger stuff. Or Sorel’s Cheyanne duck boots constructed from leather and vulcanised rubber and lined with toasty Thinsulate.
- Nike Zoom Kynsi Jacquard Waterproof Boots
- Nike Air Max 90 Sneakerboot Winter Dark Loden & Black
- Adidas Adidas Originals Pro Model Gore-tex Boot
- Timberland Rugged Waterproof Plain Toe Boot
- Sorel Cheyanne Leather And Rubber Boots
- Ugg Australia Mens Seton Waterproof Leather Boots – Black
- Hunter Original Tall Wellies
- Hunter Original Tall Black Boot
- Le Chameau – Vierzon – Mens – Vert Chameau
It’s not all about rainwear’s big hitters, your wet weather wardrobe could benefit from a couple more everyday additions.
Take, for example, Under Armour’s Storm hoody. Finished with a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, it’s ideal for hauling ass to the gym and staying dry. Before you start sweating all over the treadmill at least.
For men who like their rain-ready style a little more refined, outdoors outfitters Timberland offers a range of blazers designed with the sharply dressed man caught in a shower in mind. Cut like wool and cotton blazers, they’re made from Hyvent-coated polyester. Which means you can look dapper without having to make yet another trip to the dry cleaners.
And, as anyone who’s had their smartphone or laptop submerged in a sudden downpour, overlook the resistant properties of your bag at your own peril. Leading the market in bags that look good and perform in persistent precipitation is Danish label Rains, whose designs make a handsome choice for their slick appearance alone.
Do you have dressing for the rain all wrapped up? Which brands do you count on to keep you bone dry and looking boss?
Let us know below.