Style / November 2017

A Rakish Guide to Wearing Raincoats

How does one brave the winter rain? Here are The Rake‘s instructions for weathering inclement conditions in immaculate style.

Whilst Humphrey Bogart is more well-known for his trench coat in Casablanca, he also wore one in 1951 film Sirocco.

Rain has played a key role in numerous seminal movies. Aliens. American Beauty. Blade Runner. Breakfast at Tiffany's. Casablanca. Say Anything. The Shawshank Redemption. Highlander. Road to Perdition. The Public Enemy. Pleasantville. Unbreakable. Unforgiven. Seven Samurai. Se7en. Singin’ In The Rain (of course). The list goes on. Why do directors so love rain as an aesthetic device? Moody, brooding, glistening… It just looks cool. But what plays on the screen doesn’t necessarily work in everyday life, and however straightforward Bogie made it seem, maintaining your sartorial composure in a real downpour ain’t so simple. Here are some key raincoat suggestions that’ll help you weather any storm in style.

First, you’ll want a raincoat that’s trim and slim-fitting, just capacious enough to accommodate a suit underneath. It should fit you like a slightly upsized version of your tailored garments, and not — as Raymond Chandler once memorably wrote — “like a stall fits a horse”. A belted waist will help keep it fastened when you’re facing the elements, and also provide a sleek, cinched silhouette. A hood (detachable, preferably) will keep your quiff spiffy. Length wise, the Platonic ideal is to have the skirt falling around the knee, providing good coverage for the majority of your body while keeping your legs mobile. Although the longer the raincoat, the greater its puddle proximity; ergo, the more soiled it’ll get. 

This isn’t a cozy overcoat (look here for those). The cloth should be relatively lightweight and as impermeable as possible. Burberry innovated the water-resistant gabardine trench coat more than a century ago, and though that brand is now more for the fashion conscious than the functionality focussed, Grenfell still produces rugged trench coats that would’ve served any Great War trooper handsomely on the Somme. The densely woven cotton cloth trademarked as Ventile — developed by Mancunian scientists for RAF flyboys in 1943 — remains in use with the British military and brands such as Private White V.C. to this day. That same label (helmed by James Eden, the namesake soldier’s great-grandson, and designed by Nick Ashley) also does a fine line in the gamekeeper’s favourite rainproof garment, the old-school waxed cotton jacket. 

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Christian Barker

Christian Barker is The Rake's Asia editor-at-large, a frequent contributor to this site, and an enthusiastic consumer of fine whiskies, sashimi and classic disco music - ideally in unison.