Nature has quite a sense of humor at times. It never fails that on days when we need to look our best, the skies open up and seem to challenge our mission of arriving to our destination in perfect condition. Be it a job interview, special date, important business meeting, or friend's wedding... nature seems to test just how much we want something by pitting us against inclement weather at the most inconvenient times.
Okay, so maybe I exaggerate about the universe's sense of humor, but whether you have a special occasion to attend or not, the victor in the man versus weather showdown is the guy who's prepared to stay dry by having the necessary "wet weather" artillery in his wardrobe arsenal.
Most of us realize the value of a rain coat and umbrella, but do we know that foul weather gear is not created equal? It's surprising how few men are adequately prepared to face a storm under any circumstance, let alone doing it stylishly with appropriate outerwear that compliments their outfit. The way we pay attention to detail when dressing by coordinating clothing and accessories, so should we give consideration to the outerwear we put on to protect our fashion efforts. Keeping the "theme" in mind will ensure looking sharp regardless of what the heavens have in store.
By "theme", I'm referring to keeping your entire ensemble within the same mode. If you're dressed up, keep outerwear dressy. If you're knocking around in a casual outfit, bundle up with casual outer garb. I'm sure you get the idea. Fortunately, there is outerwear, like the trench coat, that knows no boundaries and crosses over into each arena; reducing the need for excessive gear. The following items are suggestions for building a basic "weatherproof" wardrobe that will leave you high and dry no matter what.
If you missed my article on trench coats, check it out and see why the trench is the perfect coat for wet, dry, warm and cool weather. Designed to be universal, the trench coat's classic style makes it suitable to be worn with all outfits. The coat's knee-length length is ideal when dressed in a suit or dress clothes, for it lends the sophistication a dressy outfit commands, while accommodating a suit or sport jacket. Yet, it also adds a sense of coolness and style to the most casual of outfits, whether you're sporting a pair of jeans or khakis.
The trench coat is versatile beyond style, for most trench coats come with a removable liner. This liner allows it to convert from a cold weather coat to a warm weather one through the quick and convenient use of a zipper. Traditional trench coats are waterproof, making them a great choice if you're looking for a multipurpose coat. Need a raincoat or lightweight overcoat that doubles as a warm winter coat that repels snow? Try a trench coat on for size!
These original coats were worn by sailors who battled severe weather while out to sea. Made of 100% wool, these coats repelled water, and kept these men dry and warm. Still today, a pea coat, or any top coat made of wool, should resist the elements and keep us comfortable. It's difficult and often impossible to waterproof wool, so be sure to dry it properly when it gets wet. Keep a wool coat out of the drier, since it will probably shrink from high heat. Pea coats can be worn with suits and office attire; however, their sporty look seems more suitable for casual wear.
These do give a great deal of protection from the elements provided the leather has been conditioned and waterproofed. Probably a more suitable dry, cold weather coat or jacket, leather outerwear repels rain and snow better than fabric coats (excluding the trench or raincoat), so if this is your inclement weather option, prepare the leather for it.
Possibly the most neglected accessory, hats are invaluable for preserving a hair style during a downpour. Styles like the fedora and flat cap add tons of chic to any outfit, so take advantage of these timeless hats by wearing one when it's wet or cold outside. Typically, these hats are not waterproof; however, waterproof varieties are available.
If you're into wearing pull-on winter caps that protect from the cold, save these for days when you're not headed to the office or a date... unless the big date includes a toboggan. We all know what these head huggers do to hair, so avoid wearing one when hair presentation matters.
Whoever invented the glove deserves a metal! If you've ever experienced frigid temperatures without the protection of a pair of gloves, you understand what I'm talking about. Glove styles have come far over the years, and what was once just a utilitarian accessory, can now be found in countless styles, colors, and fabrics. They're practical and stylish, and I recommend having more than one pair. Opt for a sophisticated pair of sleek leather ones to compliment dressy outerwear. Choose colors that match shoes and other leather accessories, in order to be color coordinated down to your gloves. Leather gloves typically aren't very warm, so choose heavier, casual gloves for times when it's about the warmth.
Whether you're off to the opera or a ballgame, make sure hats and gloves match – not only in color, but style, as well.
Shoes & Boots
You don't have to skimp on fashion just because it's wet outside. Many manufacturers offer "weather boots" that keep feet dry. Some footwear are lined with an inner-liner for added protection. If you prefer wearing shoes, opt for rubber soled shoes that will weather the storm much better than leather soled ones. Regardless of what you choose, dry shoes or boots off when you get indoors, in order to preserve the leather.
If rubber shoes and boots are your thing and you're headed to the office, bring a pair of work shoes along to change into once you get there. Even if your job permits wearing duck shoes, you might want to slip into something more breathable that won't make your feet hot and sweaty.
And what about galoshes? Ok, so maybe my mind jumps to memories of my grandfather and past generations struggling to get these bad boys on, but don't let that stop you. Galoshes are a great alternative to keeping shoes and boots dry, and come in various styles. Sure, you can still find the generic men's "rubbers", as my grandfather used to call them, but now there are fashionable styles that match and compliment most shoe and boot styles.
What's up with umbrellas? Have you noticed how few guys carry one? It's as though we'd rather get wet than look like an old man. Well, that's just stinkin thinkin! Like the cardigan sweater, umbrellas have taken a hard hit, but no more. Umbrellas not only show a level of sensibility, but they actually add a touch of class and elegance to the user. They're smart to use even if you're wearing a coat and hat. Not only are they practical, but they're a great prop when looking to meet a damsel in distress. "Hello. You're welcome to walk with me under my umbrella if you'd like." Gentlemen, work it!
Some use the excuse that an umbrella is too awkward to carry. Don't let the image of Fred Astaire dancing in the rain scare you off. Today's umbrellas are compact, and when closed, can fit into most briefcases and bags. Opt for a black, manly umbrella that works with all outfits and attire.
It often takes a very humbling experience to make us realize the need for bad weather garb. To avoid showing up at the party looking like you swam there, plan ahead and arm yourself with gear that says you're on top of your game no matter what the weather is doing. Outer wear is expensive, but if taken care of properly, should last many years. Choose quality apparel that will keep you singing in the rain!
by Aaron Marino