Waterproofing Your Work Wardrobe
Preparing For Spring
Excuses for being late to a meeting dont seem to wash quite as well when you arrive in a soggy suit with hair product seeping down your forehead. Nor are your colleagues particularly delighted when you leave a puddle in your wake after a quick early morning catch-up in their cubicle.
For the sake of both your style and job security, and with unpredictable spring showers on the horizon, its about time you gave some serious thought to waterproofing your work attire.
Follow the tips in this primer, and youll arrive at the office looking as cool and composed as the moment you left the house
You might not like it, but its in your best interest to let the weather dictate how you dress whether youre on- or off-duty. If the proverbial heavens have opened prior to your departure for the office, then make sure you dress accordingly and that, for one, means no suede.
Using suede protectors is important if you want to keep the fabric looking its finest, but no matter how sophisticated the formula, nothing defends suede from even the lightest of showers. If its already tipping it down outside, then give the suede Derbies a much-deserved day off and reach for something more durable in leather.
The same goes for warm-weather fabrics like linen and lightweight cotton, which when wet could lead to you being misidentified as a Chippendale rather than a corporate analyst. Use common sense.
Colour is worth considering, too. While brighter shades and even white can work in small doses, going all-out with bold hues isnt in your best interest. White-on-white tailoring has been welcomed back into the menswear fold, but for the sake of staving off any instances of indecent exposure, save it for summer.
Obviously, in wet weather, youre going to need a solid outer layer for coverage and no, your suit blazer is not an acceptable substitute. To staying looking as crisp and dry as possible, youll need a longer length jacket.
Both commuter classics, the trench coat and mac ward off the worst effects of wet weather while perfectly complementing tailoring. For the trend-conscious, or those who prefer a slightly more relaxed smart-casual finish, the parka also makes a good case. Finally, given the industrys focus on sports luxe over recent seasons, the raincoat or anorak is another option (check out our 10 stylish waterproof jackets article for recommendations) that can lend your tailoring a sleek, engineered edge or a bright pop of colour, while keeping you bone dry underneath.
Whichever style you opt for, you need to bear in mind a few things. Firstly, length is crucial: your chosen outerwear needs to, at the very least, cover your suit jacket any part of your blazer peeking out completely negates the benefit of wearing a top layer and, frankly, just looks poor.
Your second but all-important concern should be material. Wool is a top choice for a winter coat but the fabric has a propensity to smell once its absorbed moisture, so keep your classic overcoat for bright, cold days. If the forecast predicts anything heavier than drizzle, prioritise technical or waterproof materials theres little point in covering up if the rain is just going to seep through your outerwear anyway.
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
There are some great British heritage brands that specialise in waterproof outerwear, such as Burberry, Aquascutum and Mackintosh, while Nordic labels like Stutterheim and Rains also know a thing or two about dressing for inclement weather.
If youre after an advanced technical piece that performs as well as it looks, look no further than outdoor specialists such as The North Face, Patagonia, Canada Goose or Arcteryx, who are some of the leading brands in the sector.
At the slightly more affordable end of the scale, ASOS, Mango Man and Burton are stocking some excellent waterproof and shower-resistant examples this season.
Tip: Keep your eye out for Whistles superb upcoming collaboration with Stutterheim – the brands have produced a pair of exclusive unisex raincoats, which are set to be available in March.
- Rains Long Jacket
- Only Sons Parka With Fishtail Bonded Seams
- He By Mango Waterproof Feather Down Parka
- The North Face Zermatt Triclimate Mac
- Allsaints Datton Parka
- Burton Grey Funnel Neck Shower Resistant Mac
- He By Mango Water-repellent Nylon Trench Coat
- Stutterheim Stockholm Rubberised Raincoat
- Aquascutum Broadgate Single Breasted Raincoat
- Canada Goose Citadel Coyote-trimmed Down-filled Parka
- Mackintosh Laggan Cotton-twill Rain Coat
- Burberry London Cotton-gabardine Trench Coat
One of the biggest mistakes many of us are guilty of making is not choosing weather-appropriate shoes. Those beautifully crafted leather-soled brogues might look good, but slipping and falling on your behind is hardly the best way to show them off.
Plenty of the most esteemed mens footwear brands, including Oliver Sweeney, Loake and Hudson, are now producing superb shoes with rubber soles, which offer considerably better grip in the wet.
Getting leather soles wet doesnt spell disaster, but its not ideal either. Not only are you more at risk of taking a tumble on slippy surfaces, excess moisture can damage the sole, ultimately reducing the lifespan of your footwear.
If your leather shoes do end up getting a bit wet, follow these simple steps to preserve them for as long as possible:
- Wipe the shoes with a damp cloth and then let them dry naturally; this will help prevent white marks forming on them once theyve dried.
- Dont give in to the temptation to place them next to a radiator or go to the effort of drying them with a hair dryer (we admire the dedication though). As weve said, let them dry naturally over a couple of days.
- Place wooden shoetrees, or some bundled newspaper, in the shoes once youve taken them off; it helps absorb moisture and maintain their shape.
- Give them a day off, preferably two, and treat them with a wax-based polish or waterproofing product to bolster protection for wear in the future.
- If you really want to keep them away from the water, then consider a galosh. Sometimes style has to take a bit of a back seat; its only for the occasional commute after all.
Modern Lookbook Inspiration
Key Styles & Products
Key Brands: Oliver Sweeney, Paul Smith, Churchs, Grenson, Cheaney, Mark McNairy, Kurt Geiger, ASOS, Ted Baker
- Asos Brogue Boots In Leather
- Ted Baker Guri7 Oxford Brogue Shoes
- Ted Baker Sealls Brogue Ankle Boots
- Kg Kurt Geiger Sterling Shoe
- Kg Kurt Geiger Oxton
- River Island Red Leather Chunky Sole Monk Strap Shoes
- Loake 209
- Oliver Sweeney Dunwich Chestnut Oxford Brogue
- Cheaney Tenterden Pebble-grain Leather Derby Shoes
- Churchs Enmore Leather Brogues
- Grenson Joseph Country-grain Leather Boots
- Cheaney Leather Chelsea Boots
- Churchs Norfolk Wood And Metal Shoe Trees
- Protector Spray 100ml
- Loakes Leather Shoe Shine Travel Kit
A Sturdy Umbrella
Sure, taking an umbrella with you when its raining is basic common sense, but how many times have you found yourself out and about without one?
Thought so. They may be annoying to have to carry around along with your briefcase/folio and gym bag, but a well-made umbrella is at the core of any solid anti-rain arsenal. A coat, even a technical, hooded style, just isnt an adequate replacement. Think of it this way: your outerwear is extra protection from the elements, while an umbrella is your main shield.
Full-length, wooden-handled styles are arguably the most stylish, though their size can be a little cumbersome if youre on and off public transport. If thats the case, a good foldaway design comes highly recommended.
Whatever you do, dont skimp on quality; you may be prone to misplacing umbrellas but buying a cheap one for that reason isnt as sound an idea as you might think.
Top Tip: Carry an umbrella sleeve with smaller styles to save you dripping your way through a crowded bar/restaurant/train carriage or, even worse, having to place your umbrella in your bag and soaking it through.
Image: Ramsey AW13
Key Brands: London Undercover, Fulton, James Smith and Sons, Barbour
- Barbour Tartan Tele Umbrella Olive Barbour
- Totes Miniflat 5-section Thin Umbrella Black
- Fulton Cross Printed Umbrella
- James Smith Sons Best Folding With A Whangee Cane Crook
- Fulton Commissioner Wooden Crook Umbrella
- Francesco Maglia Chestnut Wood-handle Umbrella
- Ms Collection New Checked Umbrella With Flexirib
- London Undercover Maple-handle Collapsible Umbrella
- London Undercover Premium Premium Plaid Umbrella Green
Further Helpful Tips & Tricks
- Wear a featherweight gilet (try Uniqlos excellent ultralight down range) between your suit jacket and outer layer to ensure your shirt and tie stay dry, while also adding some much-needed insulation.
- Waterproof your leather accessories. The majority of us will have invested good money in a leather folio or briefcase, so its imperative to keep this in good nick once the weather takes a turn for the worse. Some waterproofing spray will do the trick, ensuring the contents of your bag arent unwittingly ruined by the time you get to work. The same goes for leather gloves.
Wet weather neednt mean sacrificing your style standards in order to stay dry. By taking heed of these essential pointers, youll realise theres no need for ugly ski jackets and plastic shoe coverings to keep composed.
What are your wet-weather sartorial weapons? How do you keep dry in style as you make your way to the office?
Let us know in the comments section