A friend texted me yesterday morning, asking, "Can you please write something on how people deal with footwear in this weather? I spent way too long figuring out what to wear today because I cannot responsibly do the Glastonbury look at the office."
This friend does not work at a law firm or in corporate finance. She runs a fashion startup. So I figured that, if she's struggling, so are a lot of other people.
Here's why hot and wet weather is the worst: If it's just hot outside, you can wear a skimpy dress and bring along a blazer that'll make it more suitable for meetings. (And even if you have to wear stockings to work, they can be added once you've already landed in air conditioning.) If it's just wet outside, you can wear your wellies and a Barbour -- or Bean boots and a trench -- and then change into more appropriate shoes at the office. But when it's hot and wet, rain gear is uncomfortable. And maybe more importantly, it looks uncomfortable.
So what's my friend to do? "Chic and desirable waterproof footwear is really hard to come by," says West Coast-based stylist (and longtime Fashionista contributor) Sally Lyndley. "After years of living in London and New York and ruining multiple pairs of ridiculously expensive shoes, I opt for a couple of different safety nets."
Lyndley suggests ponying up for a pair of designer sandals from Chanel or Valentino. (This season, she likes Gucci's "Katrina" rubber thong, $195.) "They usually have a little more fashion flair than a flip flop and are a bit more work friendly. And of course they won’t get ruined in the rain."
Lucky Market Editor Laurel Pantin -- who hates wearing open-toe sandals in New York City when it's not only grimy but also wet -- opts for water-resistant alternatives to traditional shoes. "Bally makes styles that are totally waterproof but look like regular pumps," she says. The leather on the Rathilda heel, on sale for $298, is resistant to both water and scratching. "Sometimes, I'll just wear my boat shoes, because they're meant to get a little wet anyway. And if I'm not on the city, I'll wear Tevas."
As for protecting the rest of yourself -- and your clothes -- from the rain? "I try not to wear anything that goes below the knees, or what I like to call the 'umbrella no-go zone,'" says Pantin. If it's raining so hard that you absolutely must wear a topper, a classic trench is one option. "I tend to wear my ski shell because it has zipper vents, which helps it to breath a little better. But it does, uh, look like I'm going skiing. Joe Fresh has some great, packable anoraks that are pretty light." Adds Lyndley, "I stay away from silks, and try to stick to cotton -- it doesn’t dry fast but it does keep you cool. Linen dries fast and keeps you cool. I wear men's linen button-downs from Uniqlo or Brooks Brothers and linen tees from Isabel Marant."
If you absolutely must wear a pair of wellies, opt for something that's not too cluncky. Lyndley likes Le Chemeau's riding boot, $550. "They give you the fashion vibe instead the festival vibe," she says. Pantin is into Native's rubber boots, $90: "They look cool, but they're super light and it's easy to move in them."
Hopefully you're now feeling a bit more prepared for a summer of rain and sweat. Click through to shop some options, recommended by Pantin, Lyndley and Steff, our market editor: