You might know it by its more conventional name, the raincoat. Whatever you choose to call it, at this time of year you need it.
If you are not reading this blog in Britain you might not be aware that we have been inundated with rain in recent weeks, with widespread flooding in northern parts of the country. As of yesterday morning there were 33 flood warnings in force across Britain.
Particularly hard hit is the north of the country where I live. It’s been raining nearly non-stop for that last 4 days and 2 days ago the river burst its banks in Durham city. Not exactly a warm welcome back to work after the Christmas and New Year break.
However, we have not been flooded anything like Cumbria or York, where there has been widespread devastation.Our thoughts and prayers go out to those whose homes or businesses have been damaged by floodwaters. If you live in a flood hit spot you obviously need a lot more than a raincoat.
However, for those dealing with rain that is well short of a flood, a raincoat is not just a handy piece of outerwear, it is a near essential piece of equipment at this time of year. Over the last few days I’ve been grateful that I added a couple raincoats to my wardrobe in the summer when they were on sale. They’ve come in handy this week.
Clearly, if you need a raincoat you select it primarily for functionality, not for style. However, that is not to say that style is irrelevant for men like us. So what to look for?At least 5 questions need to be answered. First, how long? Second, how big? Third, how heavy? Fourth, how waterproof? Fifth, how expensive?
How long do you want your raincoat to be? If you are looking for ultimate functionality then you want a full length item. However, you run the risk of looking a bit like an extra from The Matrix or a wannabe Nick Fury from The Avengers.
A key question with coats, and raincoats are no exception, is how big? If you buy a raincoat that is roughly the same size as your jacket it will fit wonderfully as long as you don’t need to wear it over a suit. Then it will be too tight and buttoning up, a key feature to keep rain out, can be problematic.
If you go for a larger size you can easily go too large so that you look like you are wearing a small tent. The sweet spot is to find a coat that is just larger than your jacket so that you can wear it over a suit but which isn’t so large that it looks oversized, especially if you wear it whilst not wearing a suit jacket underneath. I have erred in both directions in the past so I know how difficult this can be to get right.
A rain coat is primarily for keeping dry rather than for keeping warm; but given that we need them primarily in autumn and winter keeping warm is not irrelevant. However, if you are going to wear a coat that is going to get wet you probably prefer it to be lightweight. But lightweight equals less warm in most cases. So there are some decisions to be made. My inclination is to go for a light raincoat so that it can also double as a light coat in spring and early autumn. It’s your call. Perhaps the best choice is a coat with a removable lining.
This might seem a silly question but not all raincoats are equally waterproof, nor do you need them to be. If you are going to wear a raincoat primarily for the short walk from the train station to your office then you probably don’t need the last word in weatherproofing. A coat which is is rain resistant will probably suffice.If on the other hand you live in a part of the world that is so windy that an umbrella is at best a hindrance and at worst a health risk you need your raincoat to be properly waterproof if you are going to keep the elements at bay. You are probably going to want one with an integrated rain hood as well.
Obviously, the more waterproof you need the coat to be the more pricey it is likely to be. But there is no point in getting a coat that can withstand a tropical typhoon if all you need to withstand is a light shower.
Clearly all of the prior questions relate to this ultimate question. “You pays your money and you takes your choice.” We all need, ideally, a range of outerwear for a range of circumstances. Your budget determines what you choose but the range can be huge. So proceed with caution.
Try Debenhams or M&S Man for a range of good quality raincoats. Charles Tyrwhitt produce the rather fetching green one above.
Let me know any of your own tips.