East Coast weather reports often pose 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 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 12 fashion directors, editors, boutique owners, stylists, 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.
Best rain jackets for men
“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. While sizing is limited for the navy blue, it is also available in more sizes in forest green and bright yellow.
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.”
Best rain jackets for women
“I’m as fickle as the British weather when it comes to how my clothes fit, so I appreciate an adjustable drawstring allowing me to nip in or loosen the waist,” says Sara McAlpine, fashion features editor at Elle U.K. It is made from a lightweight hammered technical fabric, so you’ll stay cool and dry. Also, “this style has adjustable pulls at the hem and cuffs, too, so you can play with your silhouette (they’re also practical; can’t knock a ‘storm cuff’).”
And if you’re looking for a Patagonia rain jacket, fashion stylist and brand consultant Rachael Wang likes this “cool, techie” option that is “fair trade, made from 100 percent recycled nylon, completely waterproof, and packable.”
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.”
Glassman 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.
For a chic, all-black take on the trench, McAlpine also recommends this jacket “because it has the creative kudos of Paco Rabanne and all the technical expertise of Guy Cotten.” Guy Cotten provides industrial fisherman with their gear, so you’re guaranteed to stay dry. And “the hood is detachable, so you have a pretty chic flasher mac when it quits raining. Ticks all boxes.”
Another trench because it’s by Hunter, which makes boots and coats that can withstand monsoon-level downpours. There’s zero reason every rain parka needs to be black, navy, or gray — which is why we like this sea-foam-colored piece, and the cinched waist gives it a nice feminine spin.
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.”
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.
Stylist and designer Lindsey Shores recommends this bell-sleeved, translucent rain jacket from Ganni that has a floral pattern. Plus, it’s on sale.
Best unisex rain jackets
This knife-pleated, knee-skimming style comes recommended by Phillip Picardi, editor-in-chief of Out Magazine. “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.”
“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.
If you prefer an un-cinched rain jacket: fashion writer Jessica Schiffer recommends this clear parka from Levi’s.
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