Belle's Rainy Day Pet Peeves

When the heavens open and the rain pours down from the sky, we Hill staffers grumble through our morning commutes dreaming of sunny days that (hopefully) lie ahead.  But yesterday, as I traverse the wet cobblestones of Penn Quarter, I began compiling a mental list of my rainy day pet peeves.  So, I thought I’d break out my soap box and take it for a little spin.

Pet Peeve #1: The Giant Umbrella.  It can be difficult to navigate the District’s narrow sidewalks when every pedestrian on the street is carrying an umbrella, but the situation becomes especially precarious in the presence of the “Golf Umbrella.”  

Measuring five feet across, pedestrians prostrate themselves before the golf umbrella.  Mostly out of fear of decapitation.  Why these commuters require an umbrella wide enough to function as event space for a gathering of 300 is anyone’s guess. 

Unless your umbrella was a gift from Q and shoots blow darts designed to save your life in the event you’re attacked by Dr. No, there is no reason why you can’t just use a standard retractable umbrella.

Pet Peeve #2: Track Jackets.  Hey you!  You wearing a business suit and a windbreaker!  It is not 1992 and this is not a golf course.  Double bogey if you picked up your rain gear at a business conference

For goodness sake gentlemen, just buy a trench.

Pet Peeve #3: Ankle Wellies.  As I have stated before, I believe that colored and printed rain boots present a rare opportunity to inject a little whimsy into a staid rainy day wardrobe.  However, I will never understand why any woman would choose plastic ankle boots over knee-high wellies.  But I suppose this is more of a personal preference than a straight out faux pas.

Pet Peeve #4: Stop, Look, Listen.  It’s tough to have a good hair day on a humid, rainy Washington day.  So the last thing that I need is to be soaked by some jackass shaking out his umbrella like he’s having an epileptic fit. 

Please, Hill staffers, before you shake the drops from your sodden umbrella, step out of the security line.  The twenty people in line behind you would prefer not to be rained on while indoors.  Your compliance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Pet Peeve #5: Are You My Nana?  Yesterday, I saw a 22(?)-year-old woman entering a Georgetown home wearing a rain bonnet.  Like a full on old lady rain bonnet.  Do I need to even go into the reasons why this is unacceptable? 

Lose the rain bonnet until you’re old enough to get a wash and set three times per week and carry an AARP card.  Until then,  a clear umbrella is always in style.

What are your rainy day pet peeves?  Fashion or otherwise.


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  1. KN says:

    Hi Belle! I understand your concerns about the rain bonnet. Personally, I think they are a little hideous. But keep in mind that women with ethnic hair must protect their hair from the rain, by any means necessary. I usually opt for a cute rain hat (like Burberry). But if you’re caught without an umbrella, looking like a granny for a minute beats wearing frizzy hair for the entire day.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. D says:

    The golf umbrellas are bad, but the worst are the ones with 3 inch long spiky ends so you not only fear decapitation, but also getting stabbed in the eye.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  3. R says:

    Is it terrible that I want the rain bonnet to become acceptable for twenty-something women to wear? It just seems so practical, especially if I’m already wearing a trench to cover the rest of me! And really, is it so different from wearing a hat to shade my face from the sun? Designers should try to make a fashionable bonnet… but until then, I’ll stick to my retractable umbrella!

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  4. Garethforshort says:

    Speaking for myself only, my shoulders are wider than the diameter of one of those retractable umbrellas. So while they keep my head dry, my shoulders still get soaked. And to boot, all the water rolls of the umbrella and straight onto my back. So I do carry a large golf umbrella in order to keep my suit dry. I also compensate for that however by holding it up high so folks can pass under it unperturbed.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  5. anonymous says:

    I have an answer to the reason for ankle boots…They are necessary when you have large calves. I am a very petite woman with very small feet…but my calves are extremely muscular, they have been my whole life. Muscular calves were a great asset when I was younger and did gymnastics and cheer leading – but now they are terrible because I can never find any boots that fit over my calves. Many times leather boots will come with a side zipper, but I can usually not wear any boot that I have to pull up over my calve (forget it if I’m trying to pull it over a pair of jeans as well). The only way I can find knee high boots that fit my calves are if I purchase a pair that is 3 sizes too large for my feet and wear 3 pairs extra thick socks. Boots that cut off below the calf are a lifesaver.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  6. restaurant refugee says:

    You should also count me among the gentlemen who carry a large umbrella without shame. I do so for the reasons that GarethforShort explained but also because they protect my lower legs and shoes and more importantly, a gentleman is obliged to have an umbrella large enough to share.

    Your ire for people who use the large umbrella inappropriately, however, is aptly placed.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  7. Belle says:

    If you have two people or three under your giant umbrella, then fine. But when it’s just you and you’re walking down the middle of the sidewalk, and I have to duck and dip to avoid being maimed it makes for a bad morning.

    Gareth, I appreciate that you raise it for others, but the jackass on K street this morning was oblivious to the fact that he was seriously inconveniencing everyone around him.

    So maybe I’m not against the umbrella just the oblivious morons who don’t take precautions not to disturb their fellow pedestrians?

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  8. Barbara says:

    A perfect point of departure to encourage men to (again) wear hats! And please, the appropriate hat for a suit- and (I hope) raintrenchwearing gentleman is a fedora, NOT a baseball cap.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  9. District Cut says:

    AGREE AGREE AGREE. Especially the windbreaker jab, although I admit to being a wee bit jealous of the windbreaker bunch this morning when it was raining. I forgot to put on my trench and my suit jacket got wet.

    May 18, 2010/Reply
  10. Bianca says:

    I am so upset that J Crew stopped selling their own wellies, the last time I asked about them they said they do sell some online, but they aren’t their own design. They used to have the cutest ones around! But I agree, wellies are the only thing that make rainy days livable.

    May 19, 2010/Reply
  11. At a loss says:

    Belle, what are your tips for protecting hair in the rain? My hair is very thick and so it expands in rain, cold, and wind. A simple umbrella doesn’t keep the strands from flying about.
    I can’t think of anything but tying up my hair and using a knit hat…

    May 19, 2010/Reply
  12. Ash says:

    I totally disagree about the windbreaker. My Marmot rain jacket is absolutely wonderful and I wouldn’t trade it for a hoodless trench anyday. The hood protects my unruly hair and keeps me as dry as when I walked out of the house.

    Perfectly fashionable? Maybe not. Totally dry and frizz free? You bet.

    May 19, 2010/Reply
  13. Jessica says:

    Can we also give a shout out to those lovely metro riders who insist on fully opening their umbrellas as they approach the top of the escalators? I was nearly taken out by an overzealous umbrella-opener on Monday…people – just wait until you’re clear of the escalator area. The dozen raindrops that may strike you in that 5 second window aren’t going to do permanent damage – unlike me, if your massive umbrella clocks me in the face.

    May 19, 2010/Reply
  14. KN says:

    Hi Belle! I understand your concerns about the rain bonnet. Personally, I think they are a little hideous. But keep in mind that women with ethnic hair must protect their hair from the rain, by any means necessary. I usually opt for a cute rain hat (like Burberry). But if you’re caught without an umbrella, looking like a granny for a minute beats wearing frizzy hair for the entire day.

    May 20, 2010/Reply
  15. pqresident says:

    little (even mid-sized) umbrellas are rarely constructed to withstand a good amount of wind for any length of time. this is why the large, golf umbrella is perfectly acceptable when maneuvered properly and with consideration towards other pedestrians.

    May 20, 2010/Reply
  16. anonymous says:

    Regarding the Rain Bonnet…I know they’re not fashionable among “Certain Circles” but they are quite popular now in parts of Europe with younger people…hey, if you don’t have an umbrella, and It’s raining cats & dogs,
    “Why Not Use One”? let’s get over the old lady hair bonnet thing!!!

    June 1, 2010/Reply