Take one look at the low-slung waists and belled cuffs of teens' jeans, and you know retro is in. But as you gear up for the rainy season, there's an opportunity to take retro back a bit farther, to a style that conveyed a crisp, scholastic air (even at the expense of having to cover that cute modern midriff).
Picture the venerable schoolteacher, circa 1940, sloshing along his drizzly walk to work. Upon arriving, he serenely closes his full-size umbrella, peels off his actually waterproof raincoat, and swaps his impermeable boots for loafers, and there he is -- dry, the picture of composure. The classic inclement-weather armory exudes a bright-eyed dignity that can make rainy days a little less dreary. Even better: Unlike the trendy Ugg-boots-with-short-wool-skirts look students are sporting, rain or shine, the old faithful fashions won't have you clasping your head in your hands five years from now, exclaiming, "What were we wearing!" So, here's to the tried and true rain gear that won't let you down . . . or drown.
Sanyo microfiber 3/4 rain coat,$129.95; dark taupe or black;www.sierratradingpost.com
Sky umbrella $48; www.momastore.org
Gore-Tex has sent the classic rubberized slicker the way of the rotary-dial telephone. But you can't keep a good style down, and the present-day incarnations have definite perks -- such as breathability, packability, and style -- even if they lack the seaworthy air of the Captain Ahab slicker.
Lands' End packable AquaCheck jacket$69.50; many colors;www.landsend.com
Orvis women's rain slicker,with corduroy accents, $149; yellow,red, black, or orange; www.orvis.com
The brawny Wellington boot, first created for the famous duke, is nearing its 200th birthday. Two centuries ago, as gentlemen's knee breeches went out of style and trousers came in, the new, close-cut boot was just the thing. Since then, designers without duke-doms have put their own spin on the original. The duke might not have had aerodynamics in mind, but his boot breakthrough also gave rise to a new pastime: wellie wanging. When they're feeling silly, the good folks of Yorkshire, England, are known to wang their wellies (throw them, that is) as far as possible. Before you take up the sport, however, beware: In his tune, "If It Wasnae for Your Wellies," comedian Billy Connolly warns that wellies "keep out the water and they keep in the smell." So, don't leave them on all day, and may the best wanger win.
J. Crew women's textured-wool rubber wellies$78;chocolate or navy; www.jcrew.com
Hunter original Wellington$94;original green, blue, or red; www.wellie-boots.com