Dressing for the deluge
Short trenchcoat, £260, trousers, £99, both Jaeger
Please think of this week's pages as less a fashion story and more a public service. Working on the principle that the official announcement that most of the UK was in drought instantly brought forth a deluge that has barely ceased, I firmly believe that by offering advice on how to look passably fashionable in the rain (let's not exaggerate the charm of a trenchcoat and a pair of wellies) I may help to bring about sunshine and an end to the kind of weather that would make ark-building a serious option.
In case that plan fails and the torrential downpours do actually continue - as forecast - throughout May, we have found the most on-trend and wearable clothing for you, appropriate for a real British spring, as opposed to the fantasy springs of planet fashion…
We're actually rather good at dressing for the rain in this country. It is why we spawned not one but two heritage raincoat brands, Burberry and Aquascutum, the latter of which is in grave danger of vanishing unless some deep-pocketed entrepreneur in China or Russia wishes to add a heritage fashion label to his brand portfolio by, ooh, the end of next week.
Obviously, if you already own a Burberry or an Aquascutum raincoat, you will have been rocking it a lot recently and telling yourself how clever you were to invest in one. If you don't, but fancy splashing out (pun intended), the Burberry collection of trenchcoats demonstrates perfectly why the brand has triumphed.
Christopher Bailey, who presides over the über-directional Prorsum label has also put his stamp on the Burberry Brit and "London" collections, narrowing the silhouette and cutting them high under the arms and wider on the shoulders so that any wearer bigger than a size 8 doesn't resemble a badly tied sack of potatoes. Prices start at around £695 for the mid-length trenches in the "London" and Brit collections, rising to £1,995 for current season Burberry Prorsum. But while the latter are divinely beautiful, they are - albeit in a very up-scale way - one-season wonders, in that fashion cognoscenti will recognise a 2012 Prorsum by the details (orange tipping, raffia collar, blanket stitching, since you ask). So if you are going to bend the plastic, buy one that is less recognisably from a specific season. (Unless you are married to an oligarch or anyone who featured in the Sunday Times Rich List, in which case, buy one in each style; we need you to rescue the British economy).
Trenchcoat, £125, blouse, £45, skirt, £49.50, bag £150, sandals £99.50, all Banana Republic
Still among the pricey raincoats, Junya Watanabe has a beautiful, storm-collar baby in pale toffee gaberdine (£1,490) while Marc Jacobs' coated silk trench in gingham is so desirable you may pray for rain (£1,390); both at Browns.
For those with a less oligarchal budget, Banana Republic, Gap and Jaeger, Aquascutum's former sibling, all offer dependable well-cut trenchcoats, while Gerard Darel's scarlet and Luisa Cerano's geranium pink would lift the most weather-depressed soul.
Parkas (except mine from Uniqlo, which is about as showerproof as a paper bag), are another way to keep dry and stay on-trend. Our favourites include a crease-effect one by Moncler (£510) at Browns; an out-there leopard-print by Sonia Rykiel (£269, Fenwick, W1), a long, lime baby (£179, Hobbs Unlimited) and a navy-blue one with military styling and chunky zips
(£85 J by Jasper Conran at Debenhams).
I am assuming savvy JC readers don't need to be told to avoid palazzo trousers and maxi skirts in the rain, on the grounds that anything floor-sweeping will, um, sweep the floor and thus finish up exceedingly soggy. On-the-knee skirts can work if you are content to wear opaques with them in May, since bare legs in the rain are tragic. Midi skirts work in a deluge, since they can be paired with boots or wellies. Ankle skimming trousers are way too summery in the rain, but skinny jeans remain the fashion work-horse for all weathers and most occasions.
With pavements partially underwater, a pair of wellies is a good investment. We especially love the clever (very unwelly looking) Posh Wellies (from £59, lotusshoes.co.uk), which fuse wellies with regular boots; Ted Baker's matte black with bow (£75); contrast trim Havianas (£45) and baby blue with straps, (£20, Linzi). And even if (thanks entirely to the JC fashion pages), the rain abates, you will have your wellies ready for this summer's festival season…