Ask Belle: Rainy Day Edition

Sep 15, 2011

Given that most of the Eastern Seaboard was locked in a torrential downpour for five days straight last week, I received a number of inquiries about appropriate rain attire.  So I thought that I would answer those in preparation for what will no doubt be a wet Fall and wet Winter.  But before I do, let’s talk about a rainy day faux pas…

I cannot count the number of people who I saw walking through the streets of D.C. sopping wet because they were caught without an umbrella. Ri-dic-u-lous numbers of men in suits drenched through to the lining.  Un-real numbers of women with dripping-wet hair.  It was just incomprehensible to me how many people were caught without cover even two or three days into a week long weather pattern.

So please, ladies and gentlemen, invest in a travel size umbrella.  Put it in your car.  Keep it in your desk.  Toss it in your purse.  And then, use it.  Because I don’t care how well dressed or powerful you are, everyone looks like a drowned rat if they walk through the rain with no umbrella.

Polyvore Set Here.

I’ve mentioned in this space before that I own a pair of checked Burberry rain boots.  I love them.  They might be the best money I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes, but I’m thinking about replacing them.  Why?  Because they have two serious downsides.

1) The pattern is highly visible.  Sometimes, I don’t want to take my rain boots off.  They’re comfortable and toasty warm.  And if I had a pair of boots like the second pair above, I wouldn’t have to switch shoes because those look just like regular riding boots.

2) Whenever I wear them, I fell like I have to wear black.  Yes, that’s really more of a personal issue, but I am seemingly incapable of pairing them with any other color.

As for what kind of boots you should buy, I would encourage you to invest in a good quality pair.  Hunter makes a good boot as does Aigle.  But if you live in a place that isn’t particularly rainy, a pair from Target will probably suit you just fine.

As for color and pattern, if you want to wear a fun pattern, I think rain boots are the one item of clothing where you can get away with being a bit avant garde.  Within reason, of course.  I wouldn’t bust out a pair of rubber ducky-printed boots, but dots, checks or bright colors should all be fine.

Doing your hair can be a futile exercise when the skies open up and the rain plays knick-knack-paddy-whack with your follicles.  For those of you who wrote in look for hairstyles for humid, rainy days, I have just one thing to say to you: Updo.

From twists to low buns to braids, if it’s raining my hair is going up.  Anything other style would be a complete waste of my time.  

For rainy day hair, I like to skip the wash and blowout and just coat my locks with Pssst dry shampoo.  Once they’re clean, I usually pin my hair into a Gibson roll, but any of the tutorials on Joanna Goddard’s site will do. Just remember to pack a few extra bobby pins in your purse for touch ups.

Several of you wrote in asking for advice about rain coats.  Now, I don’t personally own a rain coat–I have a trench, it’s close enough–but I do have some thoughts on how to pick a good one.

Unless you live in Seattle or some place where it rains hundreds of days per year, it’s probably not necessary for you to spend hundreds of dollars on a raincoat.  Most of us can spend less than $100 for a decent-quality raincoat, since you won’t be wearing it very often.

The best place to buy a rain coat is at an outdoor retailer.  Think, Land’s End, Patagonia or TravelSmith.  Even though they deal in camping equipment, their clientele have jobs too, so you can find something sleek and waterproof.

Being stylish and chic when it’s raining takes extra effort, so invest in a tube of water proof mascara, a card of bobby pins and a good pair of rain boots. 

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  1. Monica says:

    Love this post! I'm in So Cal so we don't get that much rain, but it's better to not look like a total idiot when it does happen!

    Love the hair tutorials you linked to, I never know what to do with my hair, those are all amazing updos.

    I actually bought a pair of Keen rainboots last year when I got sick of tromping around in the mud, if it rains enough this year (cross my fingers?) they're cute enough, black with diamond outines, to wear out with some skinny jeans and a casual rain coat.

  2. BCN says:

    I have a pair of the sperry low-rise duck boots and I like them a lot. They provide enough coverage that I can walk through puddles, but don't give me the chafing I find (even with tights) I get in the shin with higher boots.

  3. Ellie says:

    Annd Hunter is on Gilt today. Perfect.

  4. Lauren says:

    I bought a Spiewak raincoat when I moved to the East Coast 2 years ago. It's been very helpful during spring/fall. It looks nice and doesn't really scream raincoat either.

  5. Phoebe says:

    I have a pair of grey and black Nine West rain boots with faux laces that I love, love, love. They were less than $75 on sale. I'll throw a pair of wool socks on underneath to avoid the chafe. You can keep them on inside in winter, or switch to heels at the office.

  6. Rachel says:

    Belle,

    do you have any recs for fashionable winter boots for those of us outside DC?

  7. Amelia Bedelia says:

    THANK YOU for the PSA about Hunter Boots on Gild today. Have hovered around buying, but couldn't get past the $200 price tag. finally pulled the trigger today.

  8. H. says:

    Sadly, my calves are too big for Hunter boots! (I never thought that I had weirdly large calves until I bought a pair and had to return them.) Any recommendations of slightly wider boots?

  9. B says:

    H – I have the same calf problem, so I ordered the Hunter wide calf “Huntress” style from Piperlime last fall. They are a little wide in the ankles, and lack in color options, but they fit my calves well!

  10. Charleigh says:

    I own a pair of Burberry rainboots too! When I moved into my new place, my roommates all had their lines up inside the door so I added mine to the line. Two of my roommates liked mine so much they went and bought their own pair of Burberry rainboots. All three have different patterns though so don't look exactly the same, but I love seeing them all lined up. Ah Burberry. Never a bad idea. Now if only I could get my hands on the Burberry trench with the ruffled bottom that Kate Middleton wore in Ireland. Sold out everywhere within days.

  11. calf-tastic says:

    My calves are too big even for the Huntress (which, frankly, is almost insultingly narrow for something billed as “wide calf”), but the Tretorn Langta is perfect. The buckle is key.

  12. M says:

    Question about tall rainboots – are you supposed to wear these tall ones with slacks to work? They'd look great with a skirt, but I can't imagine they would look good with slacks (or really do that much).

  13. Kim says:

    I found that the Hunter Huntress had a wider calf circumference than the Tretorn Langta and Zappos confirms. Perhaps they've changed them recently, as I tried both pairs just a few months ago.

  14. g says:

    Belle,

    A search for the perfect rain coat for my mom has been as elusive as your search for the perfect handbag for your mom. However, the rain jacket you posted from TravelSmith is perfect and my Mom loves it! The search is now over, thank you!

    G

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