Taylor’d With Style
By JeanAnn Taylor
Wonder why I thought of writing about rainy day fashion? Because it’s been raining nearly every day lately. The average rainfall in Western North Carolina is 43 inches. The old rainfall record was set in 2013 with 75.22 inches.
In 2018, that amount was beaten with some areas getting over 80 inches. Now it looks like 2019 is off to a good competitive start. As I look outside my window, the yard is completely saturated, and rain water is creeping onto my patio.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I adore rain. I love cloudy, cold, rainy days. Some people think I’m an “odd duck,” but there is a cozy element to gloomy days that is very appealing to me. When I sing, “It’s raining, it’s pouring . . .” I change the lyrics to “Rain, rain, please stay.” Why not? I can wear rain boots, rain jackets, and carry cute umbrellas. I do, however, believe the best way to keep a positive attitude on a soggy day is to be prepared.
Admittedly, getting drenched in a downpour and ending up with soaking wet clothes is not appealing. Thanks to science, we usually know if a rainstorm is on its way, about what time and about how much. So, on these days, it’s smart to plan ahead.
First, you need a waterproof coat, or “slicker." Raincoats come in many functional and fashionable styles with the most popular being the trench. This double-breasted military style coat is belted and usually has deep pockets. The elements that set a “rain shower trench coat” apart from a classic trench coat is the hood and waterproof fabric.
The rain shower trench typically falls at mid-calf and has a zipper instead of buttons to offer more secure protection from water seepage. Rain jackets are similar to rain coats with the difference being in the length. The length of the jacket usually falls at the hip line. When rain jackets are paired with rain pants, you have a rain suit.
Hooded rain ponchos are basically a piece of waterproof fabric that can completely cover you from your head to your knees. Ponchos slip over your head and can also protect your belongings by wearing them over everything you are carrying. They are easily scrunched into a small pouch making them very convenient to carry on hikes or sight-seeing adventures.
You can find ponchos in many stylish colors and fun patterns. Some cheap varieties are made from thin material and are designed for one-time use only. Others are made from heavier plastic and can be used multiple times. Take care to let the poncho dry completely before putting it back into its pouch.
Anoraks were originally created for hunting in the Arctic. The traditional wind-, cold-, and water-proof jacket was a hooded pullover. It had drawstrings at the waist and cuffs and no front opening. The material used was seal or caribou skin.
Today, “anoraks” are making a huge fashion statement, but they have little resemblance to their original design. Most of the new creations have front openings, some don’t have hoods, they’re available in sherbet colors, and some even have elbow-length sleeves. This leaves me to wonder why they are considered anoraks at all.
When making your decision about which style of rain gear to purchase, consider the end use. If you are likely to find yourself hiking in a downpour, a waterproof jacket is your best choice. If you are only dashing from your car to the office, a water resistant coat may suffice.
You also need to consider the breathability factor. If you plan to wear your jacket while jogging, it needs to breathe so perspiration can pass through while keeping raindrops out.
Some rain coats have layers to withstand cold temperatures; others are lighter weight and only suitable for warm weather wear. High quality rain coats are “taped.” This means the tiny holes made by the sewing machine needle during construction are sealed. Pockets are also an important feature to consider. Think about what you want to carry and how big the pockets need to be to accommodate these items.
As demonstrated by my favorite two-year-old, puddle-jumping requires cute rain boots. Waterproof rubber boots will keep your feet dry, and when worn with thick, fuzzy socks they’ll also keep your toes toasty. Rain boots should be purchased one size larger than your normal shoe size to accommodate chunky socks and to give your toes room to breathe and wiggle.
Once a practical-only item, they are now a fashionable accessory available in a plethora of colors and patterns. They look best when worn with casual clothing rather than dressy or business attire. If you need to dress your best and walk in the rain, carry your regular shoes in a waterproof bag to change into when you reach your destination.
It’s been reported that Queen Elizabeth has an umbrella to match every one of her ensembles. Her preferred style is the “birdcage” or “bubble” design, with the garment-matching color on the handle and trim. The dome-shape offers rain protection while allowing her to see out—and us to see in.
For coordination perfection, swatches of fabric from her clothing collection are sent to a creative team who design umbrella colors to match her outfits. Bespoke bumbershoots in key lime green, canary yellow, strawberry pink, ruby red, mint, lilac, violet, aqua, and every color in between are then delivered to the Queen. This surprising style setter looks so chic carrying her fashionable umbrellas—we all want one.
In fact, the bubble has become so popular, it is now a New York City Fashion Week trend. Along with style, an umbrella should be sturdy enough to withstand wind gusts and have a handle that is easy to grasp and hold on to. The parasol, which is similar to an umbrella, is used to protect from the rays of the sun and not always made with waterproof material.
Sensible clothing choices help to ease rainy day blues. White and light colored pastels show muddy splashes and water marks, and can easily become see-through. Darker colors hide these splatters and remain opaque. Choose wisely. Your clothing will need to be laundered after a walk in the rain, so you may want to avoid dry clean only items.
Rainy days frequently feel cooler so layering can keep you comfortable as the temperatures fluctuate. The more fabric a garment has, the greater chance of it getting wet. A full skirt or flared jeans will simply be harder to contain than a pencil skirt or pair of slim-fitting pants. Also remember that rain showers often come with wind, so to sidestep the Marilyn Monroe look, choose skirts that won’t billow when the breeze blows.
Choice of fabric is also an important consideration. Silk will dry fast, but it will also spot easily. Denim, velvet, and wool will hold moisture for a long time and become very heavy to wear. Cotton will absorb water, but dries relatively quickly with few lingering consequences. Your best choice is a synthetic fabric such as Lycra or nylon. These fabrics won’t absorb as much water and will dry faster than natural fibers.
Cheerful colors are one of the most appealing aspects of wet weather essentials. You may not always feel that adding a bright, neon color to your ensemble is appropriate, but what can brighten a dreary day more than wearing a mermaid-blue raincoat with sunbeam yellow polka-dot teal rain boots? Who can’t smile while carrying an umbrella bedecked with pink flamingos and cherry blossoms?
With so many options. rainy day fashion can be fun, stylish, and functional. You may even begin wishing for more storm clouds on the horizon so you can wear those new lime green rain boots. Like they say, “Some people dance in the rain, others just get wet.” I say, “Put on your slicker and let’s dance!”