The versatile trench coat

The versatile trench coat

Q. What is currently in style as rainwear in a non-dressy situation, meaning not a trench-coat? 

A. Most of your options are determined by what purpose you want your rainwear to serve. Is it to take you on local errands; to take you to simple social events; or to serve as a versatile all-weather coat that you can wear for work, for weekends, and even for black-tie occasions?

Does it only need to cover you when you are wearing jeans? Or does it also need to fit over your blazers and business suits? For a suit, including black tie, the trench cost would be the best choice, so we will look at the other settings.

Let us begin with what constitutes rainwear?

Fabric is the first element to consider. The oldest and most classic rainwear fabric is 100 percent cotton, but in recent years far more raincoats and jackets are made of man-made fibers or blends of cotton and synthetic. And some of the most casual garments are super lightweight nylon “puffers.”

Length is what defines the garment as either a rain jacket or raincoat. The vast number of variations range from short cropped jackets that barely cover the waist, through the many hip-lengths, down to the longer to-the-knee styles.

Closures go from zip-front and over-the-head pull-on poncho styles to pea coat (and trench coat) single- and double-breasted button closures.

Water repellency is, oddly, often not a qualification at all. Most rainwear is water repellent or water resistant; fewer of them are actually waterproof (Gore-Tex, rubberized slickers, treated fabrics).

Weight is a variable that is tied to the season. Most rainwear is lightweight, with spring’s warm weather in mind. Some is heavier for colder days. A few of the most classic styles are those with year-round removable linings.

Fit matters whether you are buying a wear-everywhere jacket or a dressier long coat. When you go shopping for a raincoat, wear a suit jacket to be sure the fit will be right. And when shopping for a jacket, take a sweater along if you plan to wear one under your jacket. If you are shopping online, try the garment on as soon as it arrives so, if you need to return it, you can do so right away.

Cost is perhaps the greatest variable. Lightweight nylon jackets can be found for under $20, compared to a traditional Burberry trench coat with button-in lining may cost around $2,000.

So, with these variables, some of your best choices are lightweight, breathable, and packable jackets and coats from such brands as Lands’ End, “32 Degrees Heat,” Patagonia, Adidas, The North Face and Old Navy.

Incidentally, now is a good time to shop for rain outerwear; many are currently “on sale” at incredibly reduced prices.

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