This whole search began when I found out I was moving to the wet Pacific Northwest just over a year ago. I’m originally from a pretty dry region and if it rained you just stayed inside until it stopped raining 15 minutes later. I’ve seen enough Grey’s Anatomy and The Killing, however, to know that it rains nonstop on the West Coast.
I already owned a bright-orange Gore-Tex shell that functioned well for hiking and skiing, but what I wanted in this case was something that didn’t feel like I was wearing a garbage bag or look like I was Bear Grylls in the city. What follows is my roadmap of jackets that I tried in my quest to find the perfect combination of waterproofing and stylishness.
As you will read this was a long and convoluted journey filled with returns, exchanges, and sizing issues. It served as a good lesson in online shopping and to really pay close attention to size charts. And then, even if size charts are accurate there is still plenty of variation between a flat garment measurement and how that fits your three dimensional body.
For sizing reference I am 5’11”, 180 lbs, 18.5″ across the shoulders, and 41″ across the chest.
Outlier: The Supermarine Anorak
The first coat that caught my eye was Outlier’s Anorak. The thing that really intrigued me was their use of Ventile (or their equivalent, EtaProof Supermarine cotton) in a slick pullover design. If you haven’t already read about Ventile it is a tightly knit long staple cotton that swells when wet to seal out moisture. It is effectively waterproof, but is also very breathable and has a soft hand; making it one of the best fabrics I’ve ever come across for a casual rain jacket.
At the time I couldn’t get sizing nailed down and was having a hard time figuring out if a pullover raincoat would be a pain so I didn’t move fast enough to get one before they sold out. In hindsight I think this was probably for the best, as although I’ve yet to see an anorak design as cool as this one, it would still be an awkward jacket to get on and off that doesn’t exactly fit the look I am going for.
Outlier has built some other interesting pieces out of their Supermarine fabric, including a zip-up shell. For me it was a little too similar in look to other outdoorsy shells, but it’s nice to see some simple logo-free designs.
SEH Kelly: The Seam Jacket
My second stop in my raincoat search was at SEH Kelly’s Ventile Seam jacket. Made in the UK out of the same waterproof cotton, this jacket has a removable hood and beautiful finishing details like full seam taping and oversized corozo buttons.
I loved this jacket so much that I actually purchased it twice, unfortunately both times the sizes I tried didn’t fit me quite right.
The medium and even the large were too tight across the back with sleeves on the short side. I have a fairly triangular build with broad shoulders and a large drop from chest to waist so I decided that sizing up any more would leave too much fabric around the waist.
For the right frame this jacket would be an excellent option if it fits your look. The brand has some really fantastic designs with unique details that I feel make this Britain’s more refined answer to the Americana workwear look. If you’re on the fence about sizing then spend some time chatting with Paul, one of the brand’s owners, he knows his stuff and is always helpful.