The Secret to the Summer Raincoat

Take a cue from the British and find a gutted fall coat.

There are three subjects (and only three subjects) on which Americans should always defer to Brits: pop rock, gin, and rain jackets. The U.K. Is, after all, nothing more or less than 6,289 loud, intoxicated, sodden islands. That’s why, come summer, when Yanks struggle to stay stylish, dry, and sweat-free all at the same time, we turn toward the other side of the Atlantic for help. Fortunately, it’s a special relationship and our British brothers have us covered.

“Since it is mostly warmer when it rains we have taken a page from the more upscale European fashion houses and are making coats more light or mid weight in nature,” says Mia Rothstein, style director of the classic outwear label London Fog. ”Most men wear a rain coat over a suit, blazer or sweater, so by eliminating the big bulky zip out feature prevalent in a lot of rainwear in the past, we have gone with a coat that is much more functional and multi seasonal.”

Photo Courtesy of London Fog

But solving the problem of sunshowers wasn’t as simple as just gutting the coats. The other part of the solution was substitution of lighter fabrics. Skipping the heavy fabrics and thick lines, they went high tech, deploying a poly rayon spans bonded to a waterproof breathable layer. It all sounds very Patagonia, but Rothstein says the performance wear is camouflaged with “herringbones, window panes and birds eye twills.” And therein lies the trick to wearing a rain jacket in summer: The jacket should look the same as the jacket you wear in late fall, but it should be constructed differently.

Overcast style doesn’t change season to season. Fabrics do. Which is why we’re rocking Fog’s navy number during this year’s El Niño-fueled drizzles. It doesn’t look out of place at a barbecue or in the entranceway of an office building and we never sweat through our shirt, which is a very good thing because that sort of moisture comes with a smell. Better to look like you’re dressed for autumn than look like you’re overdressed for summer.

Photos by Pino Grossetti / Mondadori Portfolio / Getty Images