It’s Raining Again Boys!

Boy clothes - rainy days

Today it was a rainy, miserable winter day here in California and watching my co-workers come to work got me to thinking – just what do guys wear when it rains?  

Now this probably seems a silly question, especially coming from a woman born and raised in thePacific Northwest, but quite honestly I had never given it much thought or notice.  This probably says more about the camouflaging capabilities of typical raingear rather than a lack of attention on my part.  That and the fact that in the rain I tend to burrow into my coat, obscure my vision with an umbrella, and focus firmly on the ground…primarily to avoid shoe-destroying puddles.  

To answer my own question I took a good look around today from the comfort of my nice warm, dry car.  What did I discover?   Well, while women are fairly straightforward and predictable, men, bless them, pose something of a conundrum when they dress for wet weather.

For women rain gear is a question of both function and fashion.  Most women tend to have two types of raincoats – one sporty/weekend sort of raincoat and then some sort of variation on a trench coat for more dressed up/work day use. If you have a coat fixation like I do… well then you have probably have several variations depending on your mood, outfit, purpose, etc.  It goes without saying that women are very protective of their hair and make-up, so umbrellas or roomy hoods are preferred to avoid embarrassing hat-hair or, worse yet, wet hair and face.

For example, my sporty coat is a traditional yellow guide-style hooded number with nifty wind and waterproof features that make it ideal to wear on the boat – its hardly fashionable but it always keeps me DRY.  My two work day favorites are by Anna Scholz – a ruffle-skirted, steel gray for practical/sensible me, and a bright lumo-yellow ruffle trimmed confection for fun/fashiony me.  I prefer to carry an umbrella over having something else on my head, but I admit that I am notoriously bad about losing them (Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines must have at least a dozen I once owned!)

I discovered that most guys just wear some sort of generic, sporty raincoat available at outfitters like Eddie Bauer, The North Face, and the like.  Casual and practical.  I didn’t see many overcoats or trench coats, but then I work near a university and our own staff is very very casual so that is not unexpected – you would expect to see more of those on the suit-and-tie set.  The oddest thing was that I also didn’t see very many hoods, hats or umbrellas, even though it was pouring down rain.        

It not surprising that for most guys – if they bother at all – the functional aspects of their outerwear is far more important than the sartorial considerations.  What I did find surprising was many guys’ weird mix of practicality and utter disregard.  Some of them clearly don’t give a fig about fashion OR function!  Apparently there is some strange man-think that says it’s not manly to protect one’s self from the rain, at least not actively, or completely.   This sort of logic leads a guy to put on jacket and then run through the rain, hood flapping down their back with a newspaper or something over their heads.  Today I saw a guy running through the rain with his i-Pad over his head!  Now while it may have had a cover on it, let me just say, as someone who spends her days in the engineering side of electronics, this is ill-advised.  Electronics do not like water, not even a little…I just hope this rocket scientist doesn’t work at our company…ya’ know what I mean?

Mystified by this weird thinking I consulted my resident guy, Mr. Commando.  He clarified that yes, some guys genuinely believe that only girly-men need umbrellas or hats.  It is apparently hard to look “cool” carrying an umbrella or wearing a hat.  But I found it hard to believe that having a wet head was cool.  He agreed that there are better options than showing up to work with a wet head.  His personal preference is to use an umbrella.  How logical.  I do so love this man.

So what should the fashion-savvy guy wear in the rain?  Well I think the traditional trench coat is great – who couldn’t stand to look like Humphrey Bogart or Cary Grant?  I would strongly recommend getting a trench in a dark color as opposed to the traditional light tan/beige/khaki.  As great as the lighter color looks, it gets dirty very quickly and goes from looking sharp to shabby almost instantly.  Not ready to be quite so old-school?  I really like the look of this Burberry overcoat – fewer traditional details and a dark shade to give it a little modern edge.  On both of these options it is essential to flip up the collar for the ultimate in classic cool.  

If you are out mucking about and actually *doing* stuff in the rain then by all means get out your sporty jacket, ideally with a functional hood, and put on some Hunters or Wellies while you are at it and totally work that out-doorsy look.  (Women simply dig this look, but most of us won’t admit it to a man.) 

As for head gear – wet heads, soggy newspapers, and soaked i-Pads are soooo not good.  Why not put on an outback hat or a wide-brimmed fedora?  Now THAT is cool and kind of sexy.  Note I said wide brimmed fedora – none of those coy, hipster narrow brimmed ones, thank you very much, we are going for actually functional, “I am not trying” cool here.      

And last but certainly not least – an umbrella.  While the small foldy-uppy ones are great for stashing away, they do tend to be flimsy and they are decidedly NOT good for sharing.  There is nothing worse than being only partially covered by an umbrella – all the water that isn’t coming down on your head is being concentrated and channeled to the rest of you.  Instead, a golf umbrella or similar larger sized umbrella will be much studier and much more roomy.  Guys this is your chance to be chivalrous – carry a nice big brolly with room for two!  After all, chivalry is always in style.

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