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Dear Frank: How the Hell Do You Dress for Summer Rain Storms?

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Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Love Frank has returned as a weekly style advice column. Addressing a different reader's fashion glitch each and every week, it will tackle all the hard-hitting issues—like whether or not you can wear white to a wedding and where to find cute shoelaces.


Via Chris Mower

Dear Frank,

What the hell are you supposed to wear when it rains in summer? It's too hot for boots and a rain jacket, but it would be nice not to arrive at the office drenched in dirty water from head to toe. Please advise.

Love,
Soggy in Brooklyn

Dear Soggy,

Your problem is universal. And this spring, at least for us East Coasters, has been especially troublesome. The pounding rain and sometimes very steamy temperatures make for not only an extremely unpleasant commute—but it's a total outfit ruiner. I mean, you decide on a look built entirely around suede shoes or white pants on a Thursday night, and you wake up on Friday to the deluge. Fashion buzz kill.

When I wake up to the rain I often kind of phone in my outfit, to be honest. I wear canvas sneakers or boat shoes that look better once they've been run through the ringer a bit. And I skip the socks. You should do the same: Reserve a long-loved pair of Keds or Sperrys that are shabby enough to not worry about ruining but still, you know, cute. (Racked's National Editor recommends these). Wear throughout the day—or, if you're one of those women who can't store files at her desk because every drawer and closet is full of shoes you haven't taken home yet—well, you have a plethora of office options. Alternately, keep one pair of neutral, comfortable, versatile flats at your desk. Something you don't love enough to need at home.

I wear dark pants because they don't go see through when a city bus blowing through a huge puddle pummels you with questionable gray water. But I don't wear denim because jeans would still be wet at dinner. Ladies have it easy—just wear a dress or a skirt (this is not the day for your Rachel Zoe Collection maxi). Worst case scenario: You need a paper towel leg wipe-down once you make it in.

I often skip the umbrella all together because my commute involves a lot of walking and holding one up is a hindrance and slows me down while bum-rushing slower pedestrians and dazed tourists.

If you are an umbrella person humanity would really appreciate you're choosing one that isn't intended for a golf course or large enough for your patio. Also, just buy one—don't be the person advertising Fidelity Investments or Snapple via umbrella. Get one that doesn't look like it's from the bodega but is cheap enough that when you lose it—because you will lose it—you won't go into mourning. It should be neutral, simple, compact, and compatible with your general aesthetic. I keep a cobalt blue one or an olive green one on hand in my bag because I usually wear navy, brown, or tan (paired with ludicrous print and color). If you wear a lot of black, get a black one. Racked's Interim Editorial Director is partial to this one, from Muji.


Via Topshop

All said, I prefer just wearing a super lightweight rain jacket—almost a slicker, really. Buttoned to the neck, hood up, it keeps my top half dry and usually isn't too warm unless we're talking dog days of July and August.

I have a fleece-lined one from Uniqlo that keeps me driest but is a little too warm after, say, May. After that, I have an unlined yellow one from Ralph Lauren Rugby (RIP) that makes me look like a bearded ten year old—which is a look I can kind of get down with. I also have a bug-printed anorak from Duckie Brown that is basically a shirt weight cotton fabric and totally useless—but I intend to wax that shit, making it a useful item (and not just a ridiculous one). Right now Gap, Uniqlo, Topshop, and Club Monaco are stocking affordable options for men and women—get one. It's a good investment. You can use it year round if you wear it over a chunky sweater come November.

As for your bag, this is not the day for your finest leather purses or open beach totes. Go with bags that zip or snap closed and have some sort of protective layer over said zipper to keep out the wet. And, treat them with a water proofing spray or at least a leather protectant.


Via Kaufmann Mercantile

And, seriously—don't knock the wax. You can wax any garment or accessory composed of natural fibers: cotton, canvas, denim, even wool. Think of those perfectly weathered Barbour jackets all those J.Crew Liquor Store and A Continuous Lean dudes always look so great in. Those get waxed.

You can buy a wax made specifically for such purposes—this one is all natural and doesn't require you're heating it up. You can also double-boil any household wax and use that. Cure the garment in the dryer on low, with a hair dryer, or by just letting it hang for a bit. Unevenness and any tackiness generally eventually absorb with time—and you're left with a waterproof shoe or tote or anorak. Once you notice you're getting wet again—months later—reapply.

So, yeah—that's all I got. Otherwise, let's all hope for some sun.


Got a style question for Frank? Leave it in the comments or email one in here. Then buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, because it's going to be ? Something.

· Love, Frank [Racked]