After an unconscionably warm September, it would be easy to be lulled into thinking that autumn is not yet upon us, but don’t be fooled. The rain will surely dump when our wardrobes least expect it.
Autumn and winter provide ample opportunities to take a soaking if you’re not prepped, so we’ve curated some essential wet-weather kit so that you can still go about your day looking stylish, but more importantly, protected from precipitation.
From the key outerwear pieces to waterproof accessories you can’t do without, this stuff will have your back through light showers to biblical downpours.
Technical Shell Jacket
There are many different levels of outerwear designed for wet weather and not all are created equally. There are two terms you need to look out for: water-resistant and waterproof. While they sound similar, they are very much different.
Water-resistant garments (fabrics such as treated cotton) will be adequate for protecting you in showers, even pretty heavy ones, but if you need a coat or jacket to be impervious to the rain, ‘waterproof’ is the only option.
These types of coats used to be the exclusive domain of hikers and ramblers, but the rise of fashionable techwear has meant that garments such as the shell jacket are now very much integrated into modern wardrobes.
These lightweight, super-technical jackets constructed from materials such as Gore-Tex provide an impenetrable barrier from the rain, but equally as important is that they are now being designed with style in mind. Brands such as Arc’teryx Veilance, ACRONYM and The North Face have all developed shell jacket styles that slide straight into streetwear-leaning wardrobes, featuring edgy pocket configurations and unique hardware details.
Boots are not everyone’s cup of style tea when it comes to wet-weather footwear, but that doesn’t matter because there are a host of sneaker-inspired shoes that do just as good a job of keeping your feet dry when puddles abound.
Once again, the influence of techwear on fashion has brought the outdoors indoors so to speak, with sneakers originally designed for pursuits such as hiking and climbing getting an urban style makeover.
Besides, ‘ugly’ sneakers look like they’re here to stay so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see outdoorsy designs infiltrating fashion. The likes of Salomon, On Running, Nike, Asics and Hoka all produce excellent sneakers designed for running in the wet, while brands such as Keen offer a more rugged outdoor shoe that pairs well with workwear-inspired wardrobes.
Keep an eye out for Gore-Tex membranes, which set the bar for keeping your feet dry. Some brands will use a treated polyester which is effective but not in the same league as Gore-Tex.
The ultimate wet-weather boot without going the whole rubberised hog, hiking boots come in two distinct categories: the traditional leather style, and the more modern technical fabric option.
Leather boots are naturally waterproof and can be treated with coatings too, while technical hiking boots rely on waterproof membranes and treated polyester layers to keep the water out. Of course, they both have inherent style differences too, with the technical styles being more versatile with contemporary streetwear wardrobes.
Brands such as Hoka and Salomon produce top-end hiking boots with Gore-Tex membranes that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern sneaker collection. That said, leather hiking boots shouldn’t be underestimated, with brands such as Fracap and Diemme producing some stunning iterations that can be worn with any number of menswear genres.
An umbrella might not get you as excited as Gene Kelly in Singin’ In The Rain but you’ll be mighty thankful you’ve got one when everyone else is caught short in a downpour.
The umbrella comes in many different guises, and while the short telescopic variety is super handy to carry, nothing beats a sturdy, handmade version as a smart sartorial accessory.
While many labels will produce their own branded designs, do yourself a favour and give them a swerve. Instead, head straight to one of the few umbrella specialists left: Messrs James Smith & Sons, Fox Umbrellas or Milanese atelier Pasotti, all of whom handcraft exquisite and unique umbrellas that will really elevate your wet-weather game.
Keeping your body dry in the rain is one thing, but protecting your belongings is quite another. How many times on a rainy commute have you got to work feeling pretty dry, only to find your backpack as damp as a sponge?
Waterproof bags are paramount these days, given the number of electronic devices we taxi around with us, but thankfully there are a plethora of interesting brands producing carry-alls that guarantee safe and dry contents without compromising style.
Wet-weather specialist Rains has an amazing waterproof bag collection, with roll tops, rucksacks, totes and holdalls all treated with a rubberised PU coating to ensure the rain bounces off them like water off a duck’s back.
There are a plethora of innovative new upstarts to consider too, including Groundtruth, whose water-repellent bags are constructed from plastic bottles.
If you’ve ever worn a pair of waterproof overtrousers, then you’ll know that they’re not the flashiest (read: stylish) of garments. They sound like you’re walking on tin foil for a start, and having two layers over your legs is just not comfortable.
Instead, if you want your pins to stay dry in a downpour, lightweight technical trousers are the solution. Most of the genuinely waterproof styles are made by outdoors specialists – brands such as Musto, Patagonia, Rab and Berghaus.
These types of pants are often made from 2-ply nylon with an additional waterproofing treatment added, so they’re still breathable while being extremely effective at repelling rain. Of course, they’re not going to replace a smart pair of tailored wool trousers, but if your wardrobe leans on a techwear/streetwear aesthetic, then they are an excellent addition to your wardrobe, especially in versatile tones such as black or khaki green.
If you want fashion-forward styles then Rains will again be right up your street. The label’s wide-leg cargo rain pants with a metallic finish are cut from its signature PU fabric and feature ultrasonically welded seams. It doesn’t get more technical than that.
A waterproof hat might seem superfluous if you carry an umbrella, but let’s face it, you’re bound to leave it on the train so you may as well invest in some wet-weather headwear.
Most countryside brands produce wide-brimmed waxed cotton and leather styles (which are not so easy to incorporate into your Monday-Friday commuter wardrobe), but many contemporary labels are now also offering a slick and diverse collection of waterproof toppers, from Nike and Adidas’ sporty bucket hats and baseball caps through to mountain ready trappers and even beanies at the likes of Canada Goose and the North Face.
While your average smart pair of leather gloves will give you some protection from the rain, you can’t dry them out using exogenous heat sources, and there’s nothing worse than having to put your hands into cold, wet gloves.
This is where Gore-Tex versions are non-negotiable since they offer an impermeable membrane. This super material is lightweight too, so you don’t have to opt for full-on padded ski glove types – in fact, the Gore-Tex styles created for cyclists are also optimum for commuters, being slim and easy to put in a pocket when indoors.
Gore Wear’s Infinium collection stands out from the pack, thanks to them being sleek, low-key and completely windproof. They are available in clean black tones as well as more striking neon options.