Something as practical as a raincoat tends to weather trends – rain comes every season, after all. But all that function can often be at the expense of form. Whether you’re wearing a Sunny Delight-bright slicker, or a clingy anorak, looking good in a raincoat is tough.
Perhaps the raincoat owes its slapdash aesthetic to the fact that its inventor was not a designer, but a chemist. In 1823, Scot Charles Macintosh invented the first modern raincoat by merging two fabrics of different thicknesses, and coating them in liquid rubber. After partnering with Thomas Hancock to scale up production, the waterproof coat became known as the Mackintosh.
The ‘mac’ was soon adopted by police forces, the military and businessmen, all of whom valued being dry more than fire ‘fits. But as Mackintosh’s recent hook-ups with Louis Vuitton and Hyke prove, these days, you can have both. Fusing function and fashion is key to any wet-weather brand’s survival (and yours).
“Thanks to our grey skies, raincoats are a staple of every British man’s wardrobe,” says Brooke Philips, stylist at Thread. “They’re inherently practical, but this definitely doesn’t have to mean boring.” She points to Scandinavian brands like Stutterheim, who experiment with colours and structured silhouettes, and Norse Projects’ collaboration with Danish rainwear brand Elka. But it’s not just about colour play. Waterproof fabric developments, and a move towards casualwear, mean you can stay protected in everything from a trench to a packaway jacket.
Don’t be deceived, though. Not everything that looks waterproof actually is waterproof, so check the label and be stringent on quality. “Innovative technical fabrics are very popular,” says Phillips. “Check out Private White VC’s ECOSEAM, which, they say, is the world’s first environmentally friendly fabric finish. It can be applied to any textiles to make them water-resistant.”
The way you style your raincoat will make the difference between drab and trendy. “Structured styles, thicker fabrics and details like finished sleeves are perfect for styling smarter looks,” says Phillips. “They give a contemporary feel in place of the traditional trench coat when worn over suits or smart separates.”
If you are actually out on the hills, then you can get away with the hiker look; but if you’re city bound, bring the timeless essential into 2016 by keeping it minimal. “If you’re wearing a brightly-coloured raincoat or one that’s very structured, it’s best to keep the rest of your outfit pared-back,” says Phillips. “Minimal trainers with a head-to-toe clean aesthetic are a match made in heaven.”
Here are 10 of our favourites on the current market.
Off-White Camel Raincoat
This stiff, cotton-blend trench coat is classic luxury, until you flick the transparent plastic hood up; fitting for the modern brand behind it.
Available at Off White, priced £1,318.
Boglioli Classic Raincoat
Made in Italy from green virgin wool, this trench coat screams good taste. Slightly bunched at the back, with embellished shoulders, it strikes the balance between minimal and interesting.
Available at Farfetch, priced £695.
Belstaff Roadmaster Jacket
This is Belstaff’s signature jacket, with 6oz waxed cotton to protect you on the bike of a bike – or train platform squalls.
Available at Belstaff, priced £595.
Private White Cotton Ventile Raincoat
Private White’s no-nonsense mac is simple, slick and effective, with copper-taped seams and the brand’s signature water-repelling fibre.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £575.
Fusalp Technical Jacket
With inbuilt thumb holes to keep your hands warm, and water- and wind-resistant Perfortex fabric to do the same for the rest of you, the technical jacket has never looked so neat.
Available at Matches, priced £340.
Barbour Hooded Jacket
Barbour has earned its rep as one of Britain’s most trusted outerwear brands. The tartan lining and mustard shell might nod to Paddington, but the heat-trapping fabric and cropped cut are rather more modern.
Available at Barbour, priced £279.
Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat
The eye-catching orange is a mood lifter, but the simple, sleek cut keeps you out of trainspotter territory.
Available at Farfetch, priced £209.56.
Pretty Green Sevenoaks Jacket
The rust tones in this technical rain jacket are trending this season, but the high neck and drawstring waist perform a function that never dates – keeping you dry.
Available at Pretty Green, priced £95.
River Island Water-Resistant Mac
Not one to break out for hurricanes, but when you don’t know if those clouds will break before you’re at your desk, this mac-cum-trench is a commute-ready solution.
Available at River Island, priced £75.
Bellfield Rain Mac
Bellfield’s traditional coated mac is simple in design (navy, cropped) and simple in function: keeps rain on the outside. Perfect for quickly throwing on in the city.
Available at Asos, priced £45.