Living in the city, actually downtown, means I walk a lot, and I walk no matter the weather. One of the biggest changes in my wardrobe since I moved from the suburbs is my selection of rain gear.
Rain gear helps keep me dry, of course. That’s what it’s designed to do. Or so I thought. There are different levels of protection. I this found out the hard way, and kind of in slow motion. Standing outside during a medium rain shower it slowly dawned on me that my jacket was starting to take on water. The jacket, it turned out, was water repellent, not waterproof. As the jacket and me got wetter I realized the difference.
I have a nice dressy raincoat (water repellent) that I bought years ago as part of my work wardrobe, and it hardly gets worn. When casual dress became the norm for work, the jacket slowly moved to the back of the closet, where I suppose, I will wear it in a pinch. (Like at a rainy day funeral for someone I’m not close to.) The rain jacket I use most is just for tooling about. It is a waterproof, eye-popping neon green coat that is a bit too big on me and the hood does not work with my skull. I own it because the $100 jacket was on sale for $20 with free shipping. I look like a replacement worker in a nuclear facility who had to grab the first coat on the rack. Key fact: it keeps my top half, including butt, dry!
I own rain boots for the first time since 1st grade. Well, the manufacturer’s tag said rain boots, but they look suspiciously like snow boots, to me. The outside is the color of dark green bile, but inside is festive black with white polka dots. Let me just say this: They are not pretty boots. But, they allow me to splash in a puddle or two as I walk around town, which I do because it’s kind of great. I feel like I’m in Singing in the Rain with proper attire.
My final piece of gear is most important…the umbrella. My suburban umbrellas were always small and manageable. I needed just enough coverage to get from a building to my car. My urban umbrella is larger as I try to create an island of dryness for myself. Wind and gutter car splashes can put the kibosh on that plan in hurry, (“surprise side wet,” I call it) but at least I try. I don’t lose umbrellas as much as wear them out. The wind tunnels that form between city buildings can turn an umbrella inside out in a hurry, and they don’t always want to come back into shape. I have literally walked home holding the fabric of an umbrella over my head like a pizza box.
If the rain is coming down, and I’m outside in my bright green coat, dark green boots, and over-sized umbrella making a statement for function over style.