Rain: Cap and cordovan, or felt and suede
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.
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:
- Felt fedora, made bespoke by Optimo hats, Chicago
- Navy trench coat, PS x Private White VC
- Grey flannels, by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in Fox Flannel
- Boots, Galway from Edward Green in mink suede
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt