wearable waterproof materials
February 26, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

I always wear/use leather in rain but they always tell me it's wrong for the material. This is a bit naive but I'm wondering what high quality good looking materials work for coats and bags in rain? I don't mean plastic or nylon looking stuff (although if they're technically the best I'd like to know) but more stylish.. let's say upto $1k/coat
posted by the mad poster! to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well the classic Burberry trench would be the go-to outwear. It comes in a range of colours; camel is the classic choice but I am partial to the grey blend. I'd worry less about the bag; leather bags can be waterproofed and/or dried off. If you want specific all-weather bag suggestions, I'm sure Ask can deliver but it would help to know what style of bag you want (briefcase, messenger, laptop, manbag, etc) and how and for what you use it.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:08 PM on February 26, 2011

I believe that what you are looking for is an Oilskin or waxed cotton product. These can come in a range of prices depending on manufacturer's reputation and quality.

The classic standard is an Oilskin duster, which you might expect a "cowboy" to wear.

Waxed cotton will come on a wider variety of products, I first heard of it for headwear, but there are hats, coats and bags (and more) that come made out of waxed cotton.

These are natural materials that are coated with a water-repellent product (oil and wax respectively), not fabrics or synthetics that are water repellent on their own.
posted by Mahogne at 3:09 PM on February 26, 2011

If you also want warmth, I would go with loden for a coat. I had a loden coat; it was waterproof, windproof, and very warm.
posted by fifilaru at 3:22 PM on February 26, 2011

Response by poster: thx for the responses so far. The kinda bag I use is a messenger bag with a shoulder strap for misc stuff and occasionally a laptop.. one could call it a manbag I suppose. Yea I'm not particularly looking to buy a bag anytime soon cause the brand I have in mind is well beyond affordable to me for now..
posted by the mad poster! at 3:25 PM on February 26, 2011

Leather can be finished and treated to be water resistant, if you're worried about damage to the leather. It depends on the finish, and you'll have to make that part of the elimination process; you know, ask the salesfolk how the item in question will hold up to rain. A waxed or oiled leather should be fine; a dry, very soft or thin, or sueded leather will not. Goods that claim to be made from saddle or bridle leather *may* be fine; it all depends on the accuracy of the claim :)
posted by galadriel at 4:08 PM on February 26, 2011

I was coming here to recommend waxed canvas or cotton as well. The English make beautiful jackets.
posted by Gusaroo at 5:30 PM on February 26, 2011

As a motorcyclist who wears leather for protection, from both the pavement and the elements, I am confused. Who is "they"? What kind of leather are you referring to? Because my leather saddle-bags are over 5 years old, and are as good as new. Saddle bags, on a motorcycle. My leather jacket is good at keeping me dry for at least 45 minutes at 100 kmh, before water starts to seep through the zipper. I treat the jacket and bags with saddle-soap every couple of months, and they remain buttery soft and stain-free.

That said, Nthing the Oilskin thing. Here on the Wet Coast, I've been using them for years. I'm gonna take a shot in the dark though, and guess that you wouldn't want to rock the Cowpuncher look, in which case you might want to look into a Pea Coat.

Note that proper outerwear tends to emphasize function over form, so its difficult to find weather resistant clothing that screams "fashion" .
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:11 PM on February 26, 2011

I'm with PareidoliaticBoy. Whoever "they" are do not know what they are talking about. Treat the leather and you'll be fine.
posted by zombieApoc at 7:22 PM on February 26, 2011

Note that proper outerwear tends to emphasize function over form, so its difficult to find weather resistant clothing that screams "fashion" .

Not true, with one of the exceptions being the aforementioned waxed cotton, particularly jackets/coats made by Barbour, which have been quite in vogue for the past few years (see, for example, this post from Metafilter's Own Jesse Thorn). For more (slightly) more formal occasions, there's always the traditional Mackintosh made of rubberized fabric. True Mackintoshes are really gorgeously made and the feel in your hands is really a unique thing.
posted by The Michael The at 7:26 PM on February 26, 2011

Response by poster: Sure, all I meant about fashionable is that I'm not looking to buy from North Face but something that may be a bit more versatile as a wardrobe piece. These days I'm basically looking at stuff that's made by companies est. pre-1900 or considered well-made over the long term for other reasons (like a cashmere coat) so not necessarily stuff you'd see people on campus wearing all the time

I've also been discovering the remarkable ability of wool and so forth to keep one warm so was interested in what other things people alternate for leather in cold or wet situations. That said leather definitely seems like a very suitable choice to me (works wonders in icy cold air) and you may be right that the "water+leather don't mix" messages I stumble upon all the time may be dependent on the types of leathers and how you maintain it and so forth. Mine are definitely still soft although the white jacket is stained despite cleaning by the original company :( :( I suppose quick wiping down once indoors would have helped there.
posted by the mad poster! at 9:59 PM on February 26, 2011

Response by poster: I'm not sure I can get a hold of Barbour stuff where I'm at but I'll definitely check the Burberry store sometime soon, now that I know that trench coats are their specialty. I know that their pattern/monogram had become a joke in the UK but if the items are good then they're good regardless
posted by the mad poster! at 10:05 PM on February 26, 2011

In the US, the place to go for old-school weatherwear is Filson's of Seattle. Waxed cotton in three different weights and two or three colors. Styles range from strictly utilitarian basic to fancy hunting gear with lots of pockets. Most models can be worn with wool or polypro fleece liners, either just a vest or a an inner wool sleeved jacket. They can custom fit if necessary. Proces start at about $250 and go to $800 for a recreated and customized coat.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:34 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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