There comes a point in a person’s life when they can no longer put off buying a good raincoat — especially if that person lives in the British Isles, where it rains around 165 days a year. Indeed, those living in the UK might find it necessary to invest in a variety of raincoats — one for warm weather and one for the chillier days (remember while it rains all year round, it does tend to be rainier during the winter months).
But how do you choose a raincoat that’s actually stylish? We spoke to ten well-dressed women, including stylists, performers, and fashion writers from the UK and Ireland, to get their raincoat recommendations. From a light poncho that’s perfect for a music festival to a sturdy jacket that will keep you protected when you’re cycling in a downpour, there’s a raincoat for everyone. Read on for the best parkas, belted macs, and hooded jackets.
Best overall raincoat
London-based stylist and creative director Rhona Ezuma advises that “if you want a decent-quality version of anything, it’s never a bad idea to go to a specialist.” Danish brand Rains specialises in waterproof and rain-friendly outerwear — there are a variety of styles and colours and most of their raincoats come in at just under £100. Ezuma likes the brand’s Jacket in shiny black, a style that she says is a “great trans-seasonal companion, working well in wet-and-warm spring and damp-and-dull autumn.” It’s a practical choice — the cuffs are adjustable and the hood comes with a built-in cap (like almost all Rains coats) — but the shiny black gives it a fashionable edge.
Actor and writer Rosie Kellett admits that until recently she didn’t own a raincoat. The situation was rectified when her boyfriend “very sweetly” bought her one she loves — “he was sick of me going on walks and complaining of getting drenched,” Kellett admits. So where would a raincoat newbie go for their first major waterproof purchase? To Rains, of course. The newly acquired raincoat is the brand’s versatile black Short Hooded Coat. It has “good-sized pockets” and is “very lightweight,” says Kellett. Like most Rains coats, it is fastened with poppers — so it’s not the best for “hard-core outdoor activities”, says Kellett, but it’s perfect for surviving drizzly walks.
[Editor’s note: This coat is currently sold out; however, Rains confirmed that it will be restocked before the end of January.]
Writer and social media editor Niamh O’Donoghue is also a fan of Rains and opts for the brand’s Belt Jacket in black when she wants a raincoat that feels a little smart. “The belt gives an otherwise ordinary raincoat chutzpah,” O’Donoghue says. Meanwhile, the just-above-the-knee length is practical and elegant. It has large front pockets and the brand’s signature drawstring hood with built-in cap.
[Editor’s note: As with the above entry, this coat is currently unavailable, but Rains will be restocking the style by the end of January.]
Best (more expensive) raincoat
Writer and performer Jess Latowicki says she prefers Swedish brand Stutterheim to Rains: The jackets, which are more expensive, last longer, she contends. “Stutterheim is the ultimate Scandi raincoat,” she says. “It’s heavy and durable and comes in any colour you could think of.” She went with white, “which is surprisingly easy to clean and looks very chic considering it’s made of rubber.” Latowicki is evangelical about the brand, she admits: “My friend in Liverpool bought one on my suggestion and wore it all last winter and said it’s the best coat she’s ever owned.” Now Latowicki is considering buying another in a different colour: “I need another coat like I need a hole in my head but that’s never stopped me before.”
Jessica Morgan, senior editor at Bustle UK, is also a fan of the raincoat from Stutterheim — she wears hers in khaki green. After admiring the jacket from afar for years, she finally sprung for her own after being caught in a downpour in Stockholm. “It’s a light raincoat, so only suitable during spring or autumn downpours,” she says. “But it also means you can wear plenty of layers underneath.” Like Latowicki, Morgan has her eye on another colour of the coat, lamenting having not bought one in yellow. “But I love mine and wear it all the time,” she added.
Strategist writer Dominique Pariso also purchased a Stutterheim raincoat during a trip to Scandinavia. Instead of the classic raincoat, Pariso gravitated toward the Moseback. “The sweetest store attendant I have ever met said he found it better for ‘women with shape,’” she recalls. “I agree. The slight A-line flare leaves some much-appreciated wiggle room.” As seems to be inevitable with Stutterheim jackets, Pariso bought the packet in camel, but daydreams about purchasing another in sky blue.
Outdoor expert Holly Johnson likes the waterproof options from Arc’teryx. The SL jacket (short for superlight) is made from Gore-Tex, “which means it’s not only waterproof, but windproof,” says Johnson. The jacket is available in six colours, including Tatsu (a pale grey) and Ephemere (an eye-catching orange).
Best waterproof parkas
Lawyer and Strategist contributor Thandi Maqubela says that living in London makes her an “immediate expert on raincoats” and her current favourite comes from Arket. The Oversized Fishtail Parka is available in blue, black, and brown. There are large pockets and a drawstring hood, making it a practical choice. Best of all, says Maqubela, it is roomy and comes with internal snap buttons to attach extra padding, meaning it is “ideal for layering” when it’s especially cold.
DJ and podcaster Tara Stewart loves the Nike Sportswear Marble EcoDown Parka as it’s warm and cosy, making it a brilliant option for day-to-day wear during the colder months. The filling is made from 100 percent recycled fibres and the Repel finish helps to shake off wind and rain. Stewart’s favourite thing about this parka is its length. “It’s LONG!” she exclaims. “As someone who has lived in Ireland a long time, I am confident that a raincoat is best when it goes past your knees.” She admits that “it’s not cheap” — “but investing in a jacket that is good quality works out for your pocket in the long run.” Unfortunately, Stewart’s coat is no longer available. We did, however, spot this similar longline down coat (also from Nike, also with a Repel finish).
Best pack-away raincoats
The Ponch Raincoat in the 111-111 print from designer Leif Podhajský is almost ostentatiously cheerful. “This is a waterproof that will make you glad it’s raining,” says Niamh O’Donoghue optimistically. The jaunty pattern is only one part of this foldaway raincoat’s appeal, however — it is also wonderfully practical, featuring elasticated sleeve cuffs and a capped hood that O’Donoghue says will “keep your face and hair dry, even if, like me, you have an abnormally small head.” Perhaps best of all, it’s made from 100 percent recycled material — there are approximately 45 recycled plastic bottles in each coat. The 111-111 print coat is currently sold out, but Ponch says it will be back soon. In the meantime, this coat from the same collection is available to shop now.
Rhona Ezuma loves this colourful Hay Mono rain poncho for those days when “the rain is like a teacher in a playground threatening to stop all your fun at playtime.” The lightweight, foldable (the front pocket doubles as a pouch) item is exactly what you need if a sudden shower turns up to upset an otherwise nice day. It is a “brilliant poncho for a festival weekend,” says Ezuma, noting its nifty hood and the stylish shade of lilac. Most important, it allows plenty of room for dancing, she says.
Best raincoat for cycling
“This raincoat is really not cute,” says Jess Latowicki bluntly. “But it is dry and light.” She bought the Patagonia Torrentshell 3L jacket as a practical alternative to the Stutterheim after “umming and ahhhing for six months.” Now she’s a convert: “It’s great for walking and cycling and it’s completely windproof. The hood is amazing. It’s just so dry.” Another benefit of buying Patagonia, she says, is the brand’s commitment to driving social and environmental change: “They get extra points for being so ecofriendly. They use recycled materials to make their clothing and help you recycle your old bits and bobs if you don’t want them anymore.” The Torrentshell 3L jacket comes in men’s and women’s styles but Latowicki opted for the men’s version: “The men’s are a nicer shape than the women’s, I think — they are boxier so it’s easier to fit a jumper or a gilet under it.”
Best luxury raincoats
Food writer and co-founder of Lens & Larder Cliodhna Prendergast lives on the west coast of Ireland, one of the rainiest places in Europe. “I know far more than I would like to about rain and raincoats,” she says. “A raincoat for me has to be an all-rounder; it has to work in summer and winter as we have cloud bursts year-round. It needs to be light enough to throw over a T-shirt on a summer day yet provide a layer of warmth and windproofing in winter.” So what is the raincoat that can do it all? It’s the Mack Trench from Stable of Ireland. Made from waterproof Mackintosh material, it is lined with Irish linen and has a removable woollen layer to keep you warm in winter. It comes with a hefty price tag but Prendergast says she hopes that her trench “will last a lifetime.”
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