Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Few Rainy Spring Essentials

We had a bright sunny 50 degree day here in Chicago over the weekend, so I think we can finally say that spring is starting to set in.  Unfortunately, the upcoming weather is likely to not be quite so pleasant. Hopefully it will stay warm, but I'm ready to bet on a lot of rain and overcast skies in the next few weeks. As we get through these transitional days, here are a few essentials to help you stay dry and stylish:

One of the first things you're going to need in order to maintain a sharp appearance is a waterproof (or at least water resistant) coat. Nothing puts a damper on a great outfit like, well, dampness. Plus, if you let a blazer get soaked in the raid, it will often rumple and bubble as it dries, and will never look the same again. Trends these days have made it perfectly acceptable (encouraged, actually) to wear even a bright parka-style jacket over your sharpest suit. Suit Supply just released this awesome raincoat, and if you have the budget for it, I'd look no further:
Yellow Rain Coat | Suit Supply
Sure, the yellow is bold and will draw attention, but true to form, Suit Supply made a piece of outerwear worth drawing attention to. The silhouette is trim, but built to fit over a suit, and the bright color is tempered by classic details and no wacky bells or whistles.

Understandably, a $300 rain coat is a bit steep for most, but J.Crew offers a surprisingly affordable alternative by Penfield. Added bonus: if the yellow is a bit much for you as well, this guy comes in a more neutral navy blue:
Penfield Gibson Jacket | J.Crew

Rain Boots and 'Drawer' Shoes:
Same lesson goes for your dress shoes. A sure way to kill a nice shine is to step in a few muddy puddles on your morning commute. You can opt for overshoes from a company like SWIMS, but they tend to be as expensive as a pair of shoes on their own. Personally, I just go for another pair of shoes. These Bean boots have been my go-to in the winter snow, and I was smart enough to get the unlined, uninsulated version, so I just use lighter socks and they're perfect for spring rain as well:
Men's Bean Boots | L.L. Bean
I love the northeastern, rugged prep style of Bean boots, but some guys will find them a little too rustic and outdoorsy. Hunter, along with their classic 'Wellies', offers a biker-inspired rain boot that is much more city-oriented:
Men's Shoreditch Moto Boot | Hunter
Of course, either of those options are fine for the commute, but you can't be wearing them with your suit or trousers during a day in the office. That's why I always keep a pair of shoes tucked in a desk drawer (hence, drawer shoes) to swap out after I get to work. The trick is to opt for something as versatile as possible. I usually stick with a pair of burgundy Weejuns loafers by G.H. Bass. They are dressy enough for dress trousers and chinos, but will still fit the bill with a pair of jeans on a casual Friday:
Larson Weejuns | G.H. Bass

Even better, the reddish hue is one of the leathers that (in my opinion, at least), is OK to wear with both brown and black belts alike. Again, versatility is the name of the game, and these keep all my bases covered.

If you don't have a shoe-shine in your office building, just bring these home over the weekends for a quick shine, and you'll be good to go.

Something Bright!
I'm looking at the 10-day forecast for Chicago right now, and the cheeriest day in the lineup is a lonely 'partly sunny' a week away that will probably turn into rain before it even comes. It's easy to get stuck in the greys of early spring, so I like to remind myself that all this rain is just a precursor to bright, sunny weather to come by rocking something bright every so often. If you're feeling truly bold, a pair of go-to-hell pants is just the trick. Chinos from Bonobos can be a bit pricey, but there are always some brighter colors to be found at a great price in their sale section. Right now I found these in what they call a dark teal:
Everglade Chinos | Bonobos
Like I said, this is not the subtlest of moves, but you can temper the look by grounding it with neutral colors up top (like a white shirt and navy tie).

One step down on the boldness-scale would be a brightly patterned shirt. I love this orange gingham from Banana Republic:
Tailored Slim-Fit Non-Iron Gingham Shirt | Banana Republic

Gingham is a great spring pattern to begin with, and I like it because the white checks kind of mute the bright orange, as opposed to something in solid orange. Again, you can tone down the boldness with some neutral slacks (grey or tan would work well), or covering up the color a bit with a blazer or cardigan.

Finally, for a much more subtle injection of color, rock a bright accessory, like some striped socks, a patterned pocket square, or a colorful tie. This time of year, you'll be able to find these things at pretty much any menswear store. Personally, I've had my eye on the knit ties at the Knottery for some time now, and they have some great spring colors available:
Solid Silk Knit Tie | The Knottery

I'm a big navy blue guy, with most of my neckwear being somehow grounded in that color. This brighter blue will play just as nicely with most of my wardrobe, but will add some seasonal punch.

How do you handle the rainy weather of early spring? Tell us in the comments!

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