Rain: Cap and cordovan, or felt and suede

Share
||- Begin Content -||

This may be a little niche, but it’s something that often stresses me out in the morning, so hopefully it will be of some use to others. 

My plans for what to wear on a particular day usually don’t account for rain. 

I might be going into town, and so be planning to wear a particular jacket; or I might simply be running errands locally, and wearing a particular sweatshirt. But either way, when I open the curtains and it’s pissing it down, I don’t want to rethink all of that just because of England’s unpredictable weather. 

So I’ve settled into the following pattern, in order to make a quick, practical decision when my children are shouting they don’t have a clean PE shirt, can’t find their reading record, or are simply swinging from the banisters, and we need to get out the door.

I dress the head and feet - the most important things in the rain - in either a cap and cordovan or felt and suede.

It sounds simplistic, but with something like the outfit above, this system means I can just swap the calf split-toes I was going to wear for a cordovan equivalent, and chuck a cap on my head. 

Cordovan is more weather-resistant than other leathers, as we’ve detailed before - most rain simply runs off, but even if you get water marks or spotting, these can be rubbed away. Unlike the salt stains you can get with calf leather. 

And I know baseball caps aren’t to everyone’s taste, particularly with smart clothing, but I like them with anything less formal than a dark overcoat - whether Donegal raglan, camel polo, or a cotton raincoat like the Drake’s one above. 

Then the alternative is felt and suede.

So if I’m wearing something smarter like grey flannels and a navy knit, I’ll switch those calf loafers or boots I was going to wear for suede ones. And I’ll plonk a felt fedora on my head, like the Optimo pictured above.

It’s probably worth repeating that suede isn’t the delicate, moisture-adverse material people think it is. It will get soaked, but if you just let it dry and then brush the nap back up, it will be fine. Use a protector spray too if you want. 

The important thing is that, unlike calf, they won’t develop those salt stains and welts that distort the upper of a shoe. 

Felt hats, meanwhile, put off some people because they’re so rare. But by God, they’re practical. When it’s raining, the looks of envy you get are as much down to others’ wet, cold heads as their appreciation of style. 

Of course, there are umbrellas. Thing is, I always seem to be carrying a large bag of clothes wherever I go, so it’s nice to have hands free. 

The coat to wear over everything does require some thought, but it’s also worth restating that you don’t need a waterproof outer layer just because it’s wet. 

A wool overcoat is absolutely, 100% fine in the rain. Just hang it up when you get your destination and let it dry. Gore-Tex is for long periods outside, like hikes; or for places you can’t dry things easily, like a tent. 

Even cotton is fine - like a vintage field jacket or parka perhaps. Again, just hang it up and it will dry. The only significant downside to cotton really is that it’s so much colder than wool when it's wet. 

 

Cap and cordovan, or felt and suede. 

Of course there’s nothing wrong with mixing those pairings, and going for a cap and suede. But having only two choices seems to help keep me calm when multiple people are screaming at me at 8am. 

This cap-and-cordovan outfit, by the way, is perhaps the most colourful I get: there’s a yellow oxford, green flannels, burgundy shoes. Plus the bright-red cap and gun-club jacket. 

But it’s how I like to wear colour most of the time: pale like the yellow, dark like the green, dark and even obscure like the shoes. 

Stronger, brighter colours are best kept for accessories to my mind - for things round the edge. Bags, hats or the cardigan on top of the shirt (rather than the shirt itself). 

Perhaps let’s say ‘easiest’ rather than best. Wearing colour like this is easier because one piece doesn’t drive the whole rest of the outfit. And it’s easy to change whenever you want to - as the situation changes, or simply how you’re feeling. Take off the cap, or the cardigan. Not something you can with a bright shirt. 

If you'd like to read more on preventing shoe damage in the rain, have a look at the previous article here. And for more on dealing with any damage that does occur, see this article.

The clothes shown are:

  • Cotton cap, Holiday Boileau
  • Shirt in yellow PS Oxford cloth, bespoke by Luca Avitabile
  • Jacket in vintage gun-club check wool, bespoke by Sartoria Ciardi
  • Trousers in dark-olive Drapers flannel, bespoke by Pommella
  • Split-toe shoes in Color 8 cordovan, Alden (9D, via Trunk)
  • Grey cotton socks, Anderson & Sheppard
  • ‘Large working tote’ in chestnut leather, Frank Clegg

And the felt/suede shots:

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
92 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anonymous

How about rain in warm weather? Boots, cordovan or long raincoat might be too hot for the warm weather.

Dan James

Very topical as it will be rainy and around 20 Celsius here in Japan tomorrow and the rest of the week. Suede boots, chinos, merino t-shirt and thin cotton raincoat. Only problem is shortness of the raincoat means any trousers get wetter than is necessary.
The P.S. Trench Coat gets more and more enticing the more I look.

JE

Thanks Simon. For someone not too fond of wearing caps (and too young for hats!) the umbrella is still the go-to. It covers more, which also makes the choice of outerwear easier independent of season -for example avoiding a heavier coat getting soaked or allowing for a light overshirt in warm weather.
By the way, where is that beige raincoat from? It wasn’t mentioned in the article I think, but looks really nice.
JE

Matrix.RX2

Simon, do you mind sharing the details of the other trench? Thanks

Ed

Just wondering where the beige raincoat is from? Thanks!

Eric Michel

A red baseball cap is not possible for me. I do not have much hair, then I wear caps frequently, but only with casual clothes (jean, chinos, no jackets) and with no logo, in navy or charcoal in winter or light grey in summer, most of the time with classy sneakers, working boots in winter or summer loafers. A baseball cap means casual to me. With cordovan I would pick a nice flat cap/Ivy cap, brown with brown shoes, charcoal with black shoes.

Eric Michel

Many thanks for the answer. You may know Varsity headwear, they are my favourites baseball caps: no logo but not dull.

Robin

Reading this it occurred to me that you need to add to your series of articles on “5 things to wear” ….

5 shoes to have for variable weather
5 coats to have for variable weather
5 ‘head-coverings’ for variable weather

Dressing for warm weather and cold weather is easy (take off or put on layers) but variable weather , particularly British weather , now there’s a job and a half !

“I dress the head and feet ” ……beautifully put.
Dressing the head and the feet seem to be often neglected and yet are the most important attire .

Robin

Maybe, I’m wrong, but I don’t think weather and clothes is mentioned much in style / fashion blogs.
Everybody seems to be photographed (particularly on instagram) in clothes as if they don’t have a care in the world about needing clothes to cope with the ;
commute(overcrowded train, underground, bus….. seat-belted car seat…. walk etc ),
office,
air conditioning,
outdoors,
weather etc
It’s as if on the internet people are only ever static in their clothes .
So in that regard this is a welcome piece .

Nico

Waxed cap it is for me. Completely functional and I like the style.

When it’s really cats and dogs, I reach out for a wide – brimmed hybrid between a Stetson and an Outback I got from Barbour many years ago. Waxed too. You could stand under a drain pipe like Gene Kelly in that.

JJ Katz

A good and useful article about the possibility of looking good despite some rain.

Chancellor

I understand cordovan is sometimes coated in a shellac which would obviously help is waterproof properties. I take it that even cordovan without this coating is fairly water resistant due to the oils from the tanning process?

Colin

Hi Simon….you mention that you prefer caps with logos but it would be highly useful to understand good MTM/bespoke baseball cap makers worthy of trying. Whether cotton, linen or wool a baseball cap in the right muted colours can be both practical and stylish, when fitted very well…and there in lies the problem, for me at least!

Colin

I think generically fit can be ok, but like any item of clothing more attention to it will look better especially as baseball caps are often one size

Andy Parker

I have never come across a company that makes bespoke or MTM baseball caps, but Hatstore have a huge variety of different styles and fits, and you can personalise your chosen cap in a wide variety of different ways.

FLW

Love the practical advice and, as a fellow father, particularly enjoyed the little asides about the daily circus that is the morning school run.
I’m curious about leather bags in rain. How much can leather bags (such as your tote) withstand when being carried through the weather? Do you ever swap out bags because of rain? Thanks in advance.

Not

It looks fantastic, but the MAGA hat might trigger some people. I’d change that color in Photoshop and repost the photos.

Wouter de Clerck

Of course – but I had the same knee jerk when opening the PS homepage. It may be because you are both tapping into Ivy-league style here with the jacket and baseball hat combination (and that’s where the similarities end!). Funny how the eyes and mind work.
Good advice on dealing with rain, which I can second. I bought Anglo-Italian’s Vibram-soled suede desert boots specifically for this purpose.

RKM

As pointed out many times in this blog, pulling off looks is all about cultural references and connotations. Unfortunately, the bright red caps with white text have been so central in the MAGA campaign, that many people’s first reaction will be just that. Regardless if it’s just similar.

Larry David even made an episode of Curb… centered around the MAGA hat. NY Times also ran a piece on sports fans being weary of wearing their teams’ red caps.

Kevin

So what if it triggers people? If Mr. Crompton wants to wear a MAGA hat that´s his business.

Dario

I felt the need to second this comment.

Tim

I had the exact same reaction when I saw the red cap. Sorry, it’s just an editorial comment about the extreme political environment that we live in now.

Olly

Are your split toe cordovans leather soled? What are your thoughts on wearing leather soles on wet streets in terms of possible damage to the shoes?

Dario

I have a pair of black Meermin oxfords, Goodyear welted with “city” (I guess that means “not chunky”) rubber soles, and I still get water up the shoe and salt marks. I bought them as a rainy day shoe, but every time I take them in the rain I end up having to deal with the salt marks and then applying cream and wax from scratch.
I decided to stick to suede from now on for rainy day shoes but sometimes you do need the formality of the black Oxford.
Any advice? From products to shoes with city soles that actually prevent water going up, everything helps.

Dario

I have read those, but somehow I had forgotten the advice about applying polish on the welt!
Tomorrow I’ve got one of those rainy days calling for Oxfords so I’ll give it a try.

Martins

Remember that simons definition of ‘rain’ is “its barely misting and i will be out for 10 minutes.” (No insult intended). when i think most people are bothered by rain when stuff you wear under non waterproof layer gets wet.

Maybe you, just like me expect too much from shoes? Leather in itself is not waterproof, and i was really surprised when my goodyear welted shoes kept my feet less dry than 30£ clarks. Water going in trough leather and welt.

As for advice, try to step where is less water?

Also storm welt lets in a bit less water unless you walk trough puddles.

Suede with waterproof spray is good too.

In the end if i know ill be soaked, i either wear suede with stormwelt or some cheap shoes i dont really care about.

Steve B

Hi Simon, I also find leather soles in rain can become slippery & yes eventually the wet comes up from below despite a well proofed upper.

Magnus

Hello Simon, which size Frank Clegg tote do you find yourself reaching for most often?

Petronio

Simon, what about putting a Barbour or a military field jacket on a formal grey or blue suit ?

Stephen

Hi Simon,
Useful article. I concur about rain on woollen coats. I have a Coherence tweed (special order from Clutch Cafe – thanks Scott) and that recovers from getting wet.
My ‘go to’ in the circumstances you describe is my beige/ brown Coherence mac from Michael Jondral. Light enough and recovers from a drenching and a simple brown felt cap. Sorry to say I generally go for NB trainers (!) just a matter of grip really – but at least ‘hi-low’ dressing and myself have come together!
As you say a a simple – off the shelf plan – is good when dealing with a sudden change in the weather. An umbrella whilst the most practical does make for another thing to carry.
Quick question, my Coherence tweed and a Drakes jacket have 3% nylon in the fabric. Is there a technical reason of which you are aware?
All the best.

Bilkish

Simon, the beige Drake raincoat is really lovely. Perfect, chic details. I assume it’s cotton.. and would like to know – 1. Is getting dirty a big problem? 2. Being cotton, does it crease “offensively” like when sitting ? Thank you.

OP

It’s not niche. It’s methodology. And most helpful, at that.

Craig

Simon, what type of soles do you prefer on your rainy day shoes?

I completely agree on the necessity of a couple of hats. Umbrellas aren’t always practical, or necessary unless you’re taking a real walk in the rain; most of the time I’m going less than a block.

Hans

The semi-casual outfit is really nice and would be perfect for work, travel and visits to a café, restaurant, bar/pub etc. Also pretty easy to swap the shirt for a rollneck or polo. Texture and color are well put together. Nice!

SVT

Yes, Simon, this is the time we all loved the Nirvana;)
But, as it seems to me, a tweed jacket is superfluous here, a navy crew-neck lambswool\shetland sweater is better.
ps: the bag draws too much attention too – in terms of size, color and wearing, I think it’s better to just hold the strap with your hand or over (in) the shoulder.

M

That Drakes raincoat is absolutely beautiful, I love the colour and all the wonderful details on it. I’ve been looking for a stone/pale beige raincoat like that for a few years now but no luck. Coherence coats come close but I want single breasted and also the details aren’t quite right to my tastes. Perhaps someone has a suggestion on where to look?

Andreas

Baseball caps really are great in rainy weather, as the bill keeps the rain off my glasses. Although I then have to choose: Do I want the baseball cap to mess up my hair, or the rain?

As for the coat and shoes, I think wet weather is one of the few situations where it’s ok to embrace the advantages offered by artificial fiber; when it’s really pouring, the wool and suede stays in the closet, and I bring out the bright orange raincoat and the hiking boots. I’d really hate to walk around in soggy clothing, and then hang it all up to dry and check up on it every couple of hours, like an ICU doctor checking up on a patient.

William Kazak

An umbrella in downtown Chicago will not last long because of the winds. AKA ; the windy city. Burberry trench coats are wonderful.

Rob

For me it is the flannels which cause the “oh no” moment when I see rain in the morning. I worry they will absorb water, lose shape, maybe “bag” a bit. Maybe I am worrying too much, though?

Zach S

Haven’t worn a baseball cap in years, maybe I should. Very useful both in rain and sun. I’ve found the same in terms of carrying a lot – I’m much less fond of carrying an umbrella, although based on what I have I tend to reach more for a hoodie or a wool raglan coat and beanie with whichever suede shoes are in reach, which despite any peak or brim makes a pretty substantial difference compared to nothing at all.
Loving these rather more practical insights & tips

Martins

Actually i find it a bit strange reading about your opinion on cordovan in rain, at one point i was considering splurging on a pair, but what put me off was exactly water stains after rain. Everywhere i read, biggest reason for people to give up on cordovan was, if you want shoes to look good, wear them once in rain, and spend 30min polishing them to get rid of water marks…

Something along the lines of this

https://putthison.com/preventing-spotting-on-shell-cordovan-im-a-big/#:~:text=The%20only%20problem%3A%20shell%20can,with%20a%20soft%2C%20horsehair%20brush.

Jim Bainbridge

“…Thing is, I always seem to be carrying a large bag of clothes wherever I go…”

A fun little insight into the lifestyle that informs the clothing and accessory choices. Makes complete sense really!

For me, a cap like that needs to be a little worn looking, but not too much. I like how you’ve echoed some of the looks you’ve done with the red watch cap.

Noel

This resonates with me Simon. I have a simple PVVC raincoat that I tend to throw on top when it’s raining. I wear a beanie also. I should try a cap during the warmer months.

Regarding wool, it’s true that it’s usually fine when raining, however you have to be careful with water running down from buildings as it’s usually quite dirty and can easily stain a wool coat.

Staffan

Love your work simon! Would you dare wearing white pants/denim on rainy days? Is yes, any tips on how to remove asphalt stains?

Stephan

Overall a useful and practical go-to plan, something to consider.
While not too fond of baseball caps with tailoring, I think the pairing could work if the cap was not an obvious trucker in a bright colour like yours, but something in a subtler colour (closer to the coat or its collar, so e.g. something on the brown spectrum) and in a more ‘tailored’ material, e.g. cord, perhaps even felt. With this bright red colour and big letters I think it’s a bit of a mismatch, and not in a high-low manner. Perhaps a subtler colour and logo/text would’ve been better?

Stephan

Agreed it’s best when deliberate as a trucker cap is always going to be a statement and a deliberate choice with tailoring so no point in hiding it behind a luxe fabric. But surely neither cord nor felt are luxe? I know the caps you have in mind and yeah they’re odd, I wasn’t suggesting those. I was suggesting that a more subtle version of a trucker’s hat is still a clear style statement but one that works better. The red beanie you have worn in such combos works better in my view (I do love Steve Zissou and Jacques Cousteau yes :D).
And in my view a bright cardigan or socks are much more understated than an accessory from a different category such as a very casual cap.

Stephan

Now that you put it that way, I see what you mean about felt, yeah, agreed! Glad I wasn’t wrong in my views on cord at least, you had me scratching my head there if you will excuse the pun 🙂
Interesting point on caps/bags vs cardigans/socks, for me it’s the opposite even though you’re totally right a hat is much more easily replaced or simply taken off if you find it’s too much. I guess for me socks and cardigans are easier as they make me less self-conscious than headwear and they show less. Could be personal! Thinking on bags, you’re right they can more easily be bold too. It might be my general self-consciousness when it comes to hats!

Stephen

For information. The cap is still available from Holiday Boileau. Link below.
https://www.holiday-paris.fr/collections/hats

BespokeNYC

Really enjoy the baseball cap with tailoring look so it’s nice to see it well done. Regarding the colour, I’m sure a red baseball cap won’t have such strong MAGA associations at some point in the future. Sadly I’m not quite sure we’re there yet…

Brian

For those interested in bright casual caps but with a more subtle logo, Trunk stock them in red, green & yellow.
https://www.trunkclothiers.com/products/trunk-washed-cotton-baseball-cap-red

Steve B

Hi Simon,
Interesting to have a quick substitute should it rain just as you’re about to go out. As you say lots of coats although I prefer a trench if heavier, otherwise lighter shower proof like my shooter or wax jacket. But I’m no fan of baseball caps with smart or smart/casual, far too sporty & colourful to my mind – for colour leave that for scarf, knitwear or pocket square. I prefer a waterproof bucket hat. As for shoes, unless it is absolutely pouring for some time, we’ll polished leather, rubber soles are fine, then let them dry naturally, clean & polish. Not too keen on cordovan either which looks to my mind cheap & lacks the same character of leather. Why not get a collapsible brolly for that bag to hold?

Steve B

Hi Simon, yes they are relatively cheap but useful when it’s ‘cats & dogs’ & no one cares but for keeping dry. The Knirps range are well engineered & come in black, but as with all umbrellas not for windy cities – proofed bucket hats & a trench are made for the rain.

Steve B

Yes I’m not in favour of synthetics – except Goretex on the fells – but going back to cordovan they look like synthetic despite being organic, that’s my take on it, I’d rather have a waxed or polished boot. A waterproof bucket hat must be waxed too.

Steve B

Oh wellI may investigate further if the uppers are waterproof, I maybe tempted although years & number of shoes I have maybe against me. We

Charlie W

Whenever I think of dressing this way I am haunted by The Libertines lyric, “ there’s fewer more distressing sights than that
Of an Englishman in a baseball cap” and I get spooked.

We’ve had a couple of very wet years in Australia and I’ve resorted to a telescopic umbrella made by Fox in a Black Watch Check that fits neatly in my briefcase but has a beautiful handcrafted wooden handle.

All other combinations are just too hot.

Anonymous

Simon,
Long ago I read that one should not use neutral polish with cordovan. I had some Lobb polish but have never dared it’s use. Is this advice correct?

YIXIANG

Love this article, thank you simon. Dressing well in colder climate is quite rather easy than tropical, especially in rainy days.
By the way, just share my experience.
Most important thing is check the weather forecast before you go out.
Last wednesday,when I just leaving my home for work, it was lightly raining.So I wore my umbrella, linen chore jacket, linen-cotton blend chino and suede chelsea boot with waterproofing spray,It was my typical summer rainy day wear. But when I exited the MRT station.I found that It became storm,and puddles everywhere. After 10 minutes walked to my office, my chino all got wet, whats worst is the water fall into my boot. I had to wear slipper in my office, felt so bad.
I check the hourly rainfall,it was up to 100mm…
The only choice in such storm rain is to wear my Gore-tex hiking boot I think.