Right as rain

There are many more pressing matters, but few things bend a woman out of shape more than needing something and not being able to find it.  

For around four years, I looked for a functional "city" raincoat. I searched from boutiques to department stores, e-tailers to eBay. Some looked good but didn't breathe. When I walk in a non-breathable raincoat, I feel like I'm in a Ziploc bag.

Last spring, I gave up. Then I remembered advice from Geneviève Dariaux in "A Guide to Elegance": Don't buy a raincoat; wear a light coat and carry an umbrella. (In case of a deluge, just nip into Ladurée and wait it out.)

I bought a can of Scotchguard, sprayed my J. Crew cotton twill peacoat, and voilà! If you have a soft field jacket or light cotton coat that you already own and enjoy, you might do the same. Re-spray after laundering, or once a year. (Similar fabric waterproofing products are made by Nikwax, Wood, and Rust-Oleum.) I was thrilled when raindrops fell off the peacoat.

The peacoat suits our cool Montreal spring, but for upcoming jaunts to milder locales, I needed a light, breathable layer to stash in a day pack. I found some useful choices by Montréal-based performance-wear label, Lolë.

Lolë's "Piper" is light (like a softshell), breathes, packs into a pouch: ticked all the boxes. I chose "Riverstone", a luminous pearl grey. The "Rainey" has a partial overlayer  at the chest and upper back, so it's warmer, and has a two-way zipper, too.  (It would fold into a suitcase but I wouldn't want to carry it all day.) I also tried the jacket length, the "Lainey", sportier but packable.

Sizing runs from XS to XL; the cut is not skimpy and tight. I also like Lolë's quality zippers and fastenings. Free shipping and returns, too.

I looked at many candidates, including two hip Swedish brands whose pieces cost two to four times Lolë's, but they were too heavy. Several models were "unisex" cuts which make me look like I'm in those raincoats provided on the "Maid of the Mist", to chug right up to the Niagara Falls.

When I visited the boutique on a quiet Monday morning, a woman about my age was buying a capsule wardrobe for a mid-May trip. I could see the sense: everything co-ordinated and washable. She told me about her walking tour in Italy; seventeen days of easy hikes, great meals, charming hotels, shoe shopping.

I wanted to book on the spot and test that raincoat in Ravello!



Laura J said…
Lole does have nice things; umbrellas don't work in windy Halifax so will see if Piper works for me! Thank you for this !
Umbrellas are stunning useless in Chicago - I'm going to try this!
Lolë has beautiful "practical" clothing and is reasonably priced for the quality; I only wish they had a bit more colour choice. The Rainey looks perfect for someone cycling to work; it would be bulky to carry around though.

I don't wear such pale tones; if they made a red Rainey I'd buy it tomorrow!

A red Rainey in Ravello...
I find umbrella's awkward because I'm already holding a cane with the other hand. I currently have a Fall/Spring 3.4 jacket with hood that works better for me but it does need to be laundered (not to be dry cleaned) and I was worrying about how waterproof it would be afterwards 0 someone had mentioned that Nikwax - but Scotchguard is easier to find so I think I will pick some up this weekend - thank you for he tip.
PS - I'd love a Pink Coat!
Margie, in Amsterdam, I've seen many people holding umbrellas while cycling - and Amsterdam is EXTREMELY windy, as well as very wet - however, I've never seen a visibly disabled cyclist doing so (the only way I'd know that they are somewhat disabled is if they are riding an adult tricycle, or if I can see that they are carrying a cane).

You can find Scotchguard and similar items at Canadian Tire. Here's hoping you find a cheery pink coat - and I find my red one! I think that even in Toronto it has been very chilly and grey this spring.
Duchesse said…
Margie from Toronto and Janice: The Scotchguard fix only makes things •water repellant•, not waterproof. For waterproofing you need sealed seams and a technical fabric such as you find from Arctery'x. But, if you only need the coat to shed water, AND you can use an umbrella, the Scotchguard gives you a lot more range in the coat you can wear.

If you can't use an umbrella, guess you only have a hood. Sometimes my umbrella blows inside out, but I find a good strong one does well in all but really gusty weather.

Waxing, in our family's experience, as you find on a Barbour or other more ruggedly made outerwear, lasts for awhile and must be renewed, either by the owner using a wax product, or by the manufacturer. That is a more "country" look than I wanted for this coat.

lagatta: IMO the Riverstone colour would look beautiful, given your hair; it's not a flat, "dead" gray. You could wear a scarf, too.

LauraH said…
Thanks for this post. I love Lole but struggle with their often too-slim fit at the hips. Will check out these options soon.
The Rainey looks plenty wide in the hips. Cyclists, even slim ones, need room there in raincoats. And skirts. I'll certainly check it out now that it is finally weather to cycle or stroll down there - it is a pleasant walk. The cycle lane there is on rue Laval, a couple of streets west of St-Denis.

I also liked this one: https://ca-en.lolewomen.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/piper-jacket-luw0600?variant=1419460050963

The prices are comparable to MEC - Mountain Equipment Coop - which is much less stylish. I checked. Lolë garments are beautifully finished.

And I pretty much always wear a scarf.
Beth said…
My venerable and nearly perfect Patagonia travel shell is perfect for Montreal, London, Berlin...but too hot for warmer climes and seasons. I've had the same dilemma and search as you. I bought a light, packable, affordable shell raincoat from EMS in a beautiful red, and have worn it a lot, but last fall I also found a cotton utility jacket in khaki, with four pockets, on sale at Kohl's and bought it immediately, thinking it would be perfect for Mexico City. It was -- but I wish I'd read your Scotchgard trick before we went! I wouldn't have needed to carry my umbrella as much! The Lol coat you got looks great, too.
I see that the Piper, unlike the Rainey, DOES come in several colours, including one that looks like a pretty, soft cherry red (as long as it doesn't tend to fuchsia). I'll look at that one too. I don't want to default to black because I want it above all for the bicycle so need to be visible. The dove grey is very pretty now that my hair is mostly white on top (and much darker underneath), but I never wear white and rarely light colours. I own five red bérets in different shades and degrees of warmth!

The weather has turned so much better - sun - a bit more warmth. It is supposed to warm up enough for such rainwear to be appropriate for a spring shower.
LisaP said…
I always wonder about toxicity of waterproofing sprays--for the person doing the spraying who might inhale it and also the wearer who touches the garment repeatedly over time. I looked around for some credible sources to find out more about it. According to what I read, it's complicated chemistry and not black and white.
At a minimum, I think a person should wear a proper mask (not a dust mask) when spraying, and do it in an area where the overspray won't be hanging in the air for family members to breathe in.
Once it's dry, the new formula doesn't build up in the body over time the way the old formulas did, but it is absorbed through the skin and some of its effects are not known. So as with many things, it's a question of balancing risks and benefits.
Some people might want to look up what the safety experts say. By the way, I have no vested interest in this, but I do have a family member with asthma so am somewhat cautious about this kind of thing.
Duchesse said…
LisaP: Thank you; I spray that coat (which is the only thing on which I use Scotchguard) outdoors, and do it twice a year.It is outerwear, so barely touches my skin. Neither the person with whom I live nor I have have any respiratory or skin problems, but it is something to consider one does.

A related issue is pollution, which is another think to think about- from any chemical product.
Duchesse said…
LisaP: correction: "it is something to consider IF one does."

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