The current East Coast weather report poses a considerable wardrobe challenge: How does one get dressed for a combination of constant rain showers and warm temperatures and high humidity? The weatherproof gear you already own might be too insulated and plasticky for the mugginess ahead. That means some standbys like Stutterheim are out, as are the PVC Vetements rain jackets, if you went there.
On the other hand, that trusty REI performance shell might be great at a campsite, but too rugged for a business lunch. Same for your trusty poncho. To sort through this conundrum, we asked 14 fashion directors, editors, boutique owners, and style writers about the rain gear they rely on for springtime showers. Below, a taxonomy of raincoats, for men, women, and in unisex styles, that won’t make you sweat.
“I’m actually not someone who keeps rain jackets standing by at all times, but if it’s around, I will always turn to my navy Tretorn to keep me dry,” says Eddie Roche, deputy editor at Daily Front Row, of this nautical navy style with white buttons and toggles. “It’s a cute look and does the job.” Tretorn’s jacket is PVC-free, meaning it should have better breathability than other rubberized slickers.
This knife-pleated, knee-skimming style comes recommended by Phillip Picardi, chief content officer of Teen Vogue. “The silhouette is just incredible — the pleats everywhere and the way it drapes give the coat a futuristic feel that elevates pretty much any outfit,” says Picardi, who bought the water-repellent style in bright yellow “on a total whim” while in Paris. “As with all Homme Plissé, it’s bulletproof; I rolled it up into a ball and popped it into my carry-on, only to unravel it 10 hours later without a wrinkle in sight. It actually makes me excited for the rain.”
Yes, this is a splurge, but it’s a flattering (not frumpy) shape that can be cinched at the waist, and it’s Prada. “I love this hooded, lightweight nylon style, or anything with a hood because I have very unruly hair,” says Karla Martinez de Salas, editor-in-chief of Vogue Mexico. “It’s impossible to calm my hair if its been wet in the rain.”
“Last summer, I got caught in the kind of downpour that has 12 people huddled under the tiniest sliver of awning, and my friend — who is apparently a genius — had an extra Patagonia Houdini Jacket in his bag that he lent me,” says Erica Cerulo, co-founder of indie online retailer Of a Kind. “I bought myself one basically the moment I dried off.” The extreme portability makes it easier to schlep around than an umbrella. “It’s so light that it practically disappears when you fold it into its teeny pouch, hence its name,” Cerulo says.
Because umbrellas tend to get lost, Connie Wang, senior features writer at Refinery29, switched to raincoats a couple of years ago, and likes this reversible Vans parka for summer storms. Hers is from a special collaboration between Vans and Eley Kishimoto. “It’s totally durable (won’t rip or peel or flake like some other nylon situations I’ve owned), and it’s reversible, which means double the fun,” Wang says. “The hood, too, is deep and stiff, and actually covers everything.” The coat’s only caveat is that it’s unlined, so “on the hottest days, I have to experience that sensation of my skin sticking to the plasticky sides of its own greenhouse,” Wang notes, though lined styles can be too heavy and sweat-eliciting anyway.
There isn’t a swoosh or trace of neon and reflective trim to be found anywhere on this Nike jacket. “I love the versatility, techiness, and cool factor of this parka: It’s super lightweight, water-repellent, and packable,” says Olivia Kim, VP of creative projects at Nordstrom. “Best of all, it has a detachable hood and a wearable strap,” she says, making it ideal for transitional weather, when showers and hot sunniness occur in a single day. “It looks sleek with black jeans and a sweater, and transforms to street with a skirt and sneakers. It’s Sporty Spice meets Posh Spice meets Neo from The Matrix.”
This jacket is tricked out with performance details, like sealed zippers and taped seams to prevent leaks, but also works for fancier functions. “It has a streamlined design, so it looks equally chic paired with jeans and cords, or with more dressy trousers,” says Adam Glassman, creative director at O, The Oprah Magazine. “It even works over a suit or tuxedo.”
Adam Glassman, creative director at O, The Oprah Magazine, wore a Canada Goose Hayward shell jacket throughout a trip to Alaska, and calls it lightweight and perfect. “Plus, it takes up almost no space in your bag for easy packing.” Once you’ve made it to your destination, it’s equally good for business-y things, or downtime. “It’s also long enough to work over a blazer for a work trip,” Glassman says. The Hayward isn’t widely available this season, but this Canada Goose water-resistant windbreaker for women checks all the same boxes.
There’s zero reason every rain parka needs to be black, navy, or gray — which is why we like this sunrise-colored gradient piece from Stella McCartney’s collaboration with Adidas. It comes with shoulder straps inside the jacket, so you can drape it off your arms if it gets too hot.
If you decide to handle the rain like a Brit, trench coats generally work in balmy weather, since they come with no insulation and cotton breathes. Everlane makes a killer Burberry alternative for women that comes with a storm flap and a weather-resistant finish.
Many of the parkas featured in this list could work for men or women, but trench coats have a more specific, tailored cut. This one for men is by French Connection, waterproof, and mid-weight, so you won’t be sweltering in warmer temperatures. Plus, it’s on sale.
But if you want the original: This slim, long style is great for layering over skirts and dresses, says Ray Siegel, a freelance writer and brand consultant. “Burberry may be the obvious choice, but it isn’t the premier heritage rainwear brand for nothing.”
A rain bomber
“Rainwear is odd — it’s one of those categories that most men don’t really think about these days. Until they’re already wet, that is,” says Nick Sullivan, fashion director at Esquire. For more polished situations, this tailored style from British swim brand Orlebar Brown. It really keeps you dry, Sullivan says, comes complete with a concealed hood zipped into the collar. “Its cut is trim and minimal, so it has rather the look of a 1960s bomber.
Transparent bags and see-through rain jackets are in. “The toggle cords give it a more modern take to your traditional raincoat,” says Caroline Maguire, fashion director of Shopbop. “I love that this raincoat is sheer, so you can still see your outfit underneath.” Try cinching the bottom of the jacket “to give it more shape; it’ll look like a cool anorak,” says Maguire. Slightly more opaque, but still translucent, pink and blue versions can be had at Nordstrom.
Another way to go: a tinted transparent style in a slightly roomier shape. “I love that the sporty classic silhouette is juxtaposed by the feminine color,” says Chriselle Lim, entrepreneur and founder of CINCstudios, of this Topshop style. Her ideal pairings for the sheer peach-hued coat include white denim shorts or jeans.
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