Looking stylish in the rain is advanced-level, letters-after-your-name level chic. Audrey Hepburn manages it in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Humphrey Bogart pulls it off in Casablanca. It is worth noting that these are both essentially divine beings. “Look like Audrey Hepburn” is sadly not a realistic style strategy for most of us.
When it rains in Hollywood, the chic response is all blithe, carefree oblivion. No huddling, no shivering. Instead, it is Fred Astaire singing, Andie MacDowell not-even-noticing. Fashion rain is even less realistic, fairytale, diamond-shaped-droplets kind of rain. In a perfume advert, you might get a girl in a strapless ballgown laughing gaily as her gallant beau holds his tux over her head. Probably on a bridge in Paris at night.
In real life, though, that’s not how rain works. Rain is squally and splashy, rendering hems soggy and shoes squelchy. Umbrellas are not just tap dancing props. Dressing for rain begins with damage limitation. Practicality is not optional. You need a coat with a hood, or a hat, or an umbrella that has a waterproof cover and is small enough to go in your bag, otherwise you will leave it the first place you put it down and be back to square one. You need to work out how to avoid helmet hair, how to stop your clothes clinging, and how to keep from catching a snivelly nosed cold. (The least chic part of all.)
However, this does not justify the full coast-path-hike look every time it looks like it may rain. A showerproof outfit doesn’t need to relinquish all style. It can’t, really, in Britain: it rains too much for only being stylish on reliably dry days to be a thing. We need a workaround, a middle ground between the movie-set type of rain and the scenario that involves unflattering waxed fabrics that take on a pungent, dog-basket-under-the-stairs whiff as soon as they get wet. Thankfully, waterproof options are improving. We have streetwear to thank, so if you have dismissed it as overpriced, ugly trainers for kids, think again. Streetwear has elevated the anorak. Waterproof coats now come with stylistic ambition. A coat like this one, for instance, has airs and graces – in a good way. You can be practical without being a martyr to the weather. A snazzier, more grown-up raincoat lends itself to a more sophisticated outfit underneath, the kind that would look absolutely stupid with an anorak on top. Rain can be quite a good look, if you are dressed for it.
• Jess wears anorak, £59.99, hm.com. Shirt, £99, by Mix/Isa Arfen, from next.co.uk. Joggers, £185, by Yeezy Season 5, from harveynichols.com. Heels, £139, kurtgeiger.com. Watch and jewellery, Jess’s own.
Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Samantha Cooper at Carol Hayes Management