Today’s Forecast: Stormy Day Clothes You Can Wear Rain or Shine
I remember when Rihanna’s “Umbrella” came out. I was living in Nanjing, China and when it would rain I'd pull out my clear bubble umbrella and quietly sing, “You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella” on the walk to work. By the time I’d get to my destination, everything from my elbows down would be wet because I hadn’t dressed properly. And while I no longer sing “Umbrella” (most of the time), I still find rainy days a challenge to dress for. Either I’m overwhelmed by too much rain gear (which becomes a problem if it stops raining or is hot), or I don’t wear the right attire and end up damp. Now living in New York, I still have to walk through the rain for significant amounts of time as I commute, so the proper gear is essential.
As global average annual precipitation and heavy downpours increase in frequency and intensity, I think it’s time to finally address fashion and function in the pestersome precipitation. To help me sort out how to dress for both, I’ve enlisted our fashion editor, Meggie. Fortuitously, the athleisure craze has delivered us from frou-frou this spring. Functional windbreakers, anoraks, and trenches were sported on the runways (including Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show), giving us lots of rainy day inspiration.
Below is Meggie’s advice along with secondhand or sustainable options to add to your wet weather wardrobe.
Don’t: Let the precipitation get you down
Though it’s dreary out, you can still have fun with fashion choices. Meggie explains, “I tend to hold on to the energy of the environment around me; letting my wardrobe stand out from the the sad weather really helps me to not be bogged down by those late season mists.”
Do: Use color
Meggie again: “I think my best advice for this spring is to keep it colorful, whether it be throughout your whole attire, or with a simple pop. Don’t match the view with your rainy day attire.” We New Yorkers love wearing black, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
If I’m not feeling a whole outfit of color, I might experiment with a brighter umbrella. Meggie told me, “Umbrellas are always something that are fun to play around with. They can get so colorful and creative, don’t shy away from this!” Too many umbrellas are poorly made and blow out at the first gust of wind, so please invest in a durable and sustainable brolly, if you can.
Do: Wear appropriate footwear
Walking in soggy shoes is never fun. Avoid the inconvenience altogether by choosing the appropriate footwear when it rains. Rain boots are the obvious choice. However, if you’re expecting only light rain or it’s a hot summer day, they might be overkill. Meggie’s suggestion is, “Literally anything jelly.” These materials are problematic new, but if you buy them secondhand and intend to keep them for many years, I say go for it. Materials like plastic, patent leather, and polyurethane (PU) last a long time and can repel water to keep your feet dry.
Croslite is another rugged material. Meggie says, “We can all thank the runways this season for the return of the Crocs. They’re amazing for all weather, but the material is perfect for those spring drizzles during your busy commute.” You can always change when you get to work, but hopefully we've made you a Crocs believer.
Don’t: Wear precious fabrics
Please don’t wear materials like suede, silk, or velvet that don’t fare well when they get wet. In the name of longevity, save them for sunnier skies.
Do: Pile on water resistant materials
Materials like nylon, PU, patent leather, and waxed cotton are great choices for rainy day fashion — but avoid PVC as it off-gasses endocrine disruptors. Meggie says, “Rain-resistant scarves will be your best friend.” I didn’t know about these nifty, retro items but think they would be handy to have in my bag for an unexpected drizzle.
She also advises, “Water resistant bags don’t have to be dull and colorless. Bags and accessories are a simple way to add some color. I recommend getting a bag that you’ll want to sport even when it’s not pouring outside. Find items that you can use rain or shine — this will cut costs, clutter, and save time so you’re not having to switch belongings to another bag right before hopping out the door.”
Do: Keep your raincoat versatile
An all-weather trench or anorak is probably the most useful option. Meggie’s suggestion: “When shopping for a raincoat, try to get one that’s not too bulky. For one, those late spring/early summer showers tend to get a bit hot and humid, depending on your location. Limiting your rain wear to a heavy, bulky fabric may keep you dry from the rain but can cause a little personal perspiration. Go with something that has enough room for layers underneath, but won’t completely knock your shape to the curb.”
If you are looking for a new raincoat, Meggie found this very cool brand called Terra New York, which makes coats of 80% recycled materials and claims they are biodegradable.