this thing's incredible

This $4 Rain Hat Always Keeps My Hair Dry (and Makes Me Feel Like the Queen)

The writer in her rain bonnet. Photo: Courtesy of the author

If you live in New York, you may recall that about two weeks ago, on the eve of summer’s official start, it rained for several days straight. On the first rainy day, I forgot my umbrella. On the second, I remembered my umbrella and my too-heavy raincoat, and subsequently spent a lot of the day sweating in the high humidity. On the third, I left my umbrella and raincoat behind (the early forecast looked promising) and chose to wear a pair of leather penny loafers, which got soaked through to the sole when Mother Nature decided she hadn’t had enough. On the fourth, feeling particularly at a loss, I just walked around coated in mist.

And on the fifth day, I bought a SelfTek Plastic Rain Bonnet.

Rain bonnets had long been on my radar. My grandmother has always worn them; even on slightly rainy days, she’ll often whip out a translucent pink, yellow, or clear number from her purse to walk from her car to the grocery store. The Queen also wears them. And I suspect Jackie O and Little and Big Edie probably had one or two of their own. I consider the bonnets as the rainwear equivalent of a dowdy nightgown — fusty and old-fashioned, but still somehow stylish when worn with a commitment to practicality and a devil-may-care attitude (you are, after all, wearing what is essentially a plastic bag with straps on your head).

Whether or not you agree on their aesthetic appeal, there’s no disagreeing that rain bonnets are extremely practical. They’re lightweight, can be bunched up to fit inside any purse or tote, and, because they’re reusable, are one of the few things that I don’t revile for being plastic. Bonnets are especially ideal for days like the third one in my recent very rainy week, when the forecast predicts a chance of downpours, and you want protection on hand but don’t want to lug around an umbrella. As my grandmother has shown, they come equally in handy for spells of light rain or mist, keeping your head dry (and hands conveniently umbrella-free) as you move from car to store or subway to office. And, though they do not profess to offer as much protection as an umbrella or a hooded rain slicker, rain bonnets can even be useful in a full-on downpour, when you can throw one on for extra shielding beneath your umbrella or hood (because there are always those drops that manage to sneak past).

Putting one on is also as easy (if not easier) than opening an umbrella — just place it on your head and tie the straps beneath your chin. I like that the SelfTek bonnet is roomy enough that it doesn’t feel like its pressing down on my hair, the way a more fitted rain hat or baseball cap would. Plus, it has a visor-like brim, a design detail that glasses-wearers like myself can appreciate, because it minimizes the number of raindrops that land on your lenses. Perhaps my favorite thing about the SelfTek bonnet, though, is that it comes in a two-pack. No matter how generous or cute the idea of sharing an umbrella with a friend is, we all know that never really works. But running around the city with a friend in matching rain bonnets, looking like queens? Well, that’s a different story.

More Strat-approved rain hats

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This $4 Rain Hat Always Keeps My Hair Dry