Shoes When The Weather Outside is Frightful
One of our most frequently received questions (three times just this week) is: “what shoes should I wear when it’s raining/snowing/shitty outside?”
We argue for a policy of proportional response - the level of your action should be directly proportional to the shittiness of the weather.
Code Yellow: Wet Streets
Shoes with rubber soles (or a rubber sole protector over a leather sole) will wear better in wet conditions.  You should have at least one pair of shoes that either has a rubber layer on its sole (many good shoe manufacturers offer Dainite soles, which are long-lasting and very low profile) or a Topy (or equivalent) layer.  The Topy, if you don’t know, is a thin layer of hard rubber that’s glued to your sole to increase its life and traction.  If your shoe is on the ground, it’s unlikely that either of these will be noticed.  With a slightly more casual outfit, you can probably get away with “commando" soles, which are slightly lugged.  I’d still strongly suggest against full rubber soles on dress shoes - blech.
Code Orange: Rain or Slight Snowiness
Depending on how far you have to walk, the above may still work in this situation, when paired with an umbrella.  Shell Cordovan is particularly resistant to wetness, as long as it’s allowed to dry after wear.  Still, you may need to bring in bigger guns.  In that case, I recommend overshoes like Swims or Tingleys.  These galoshes will go over your shoes (and in some cases ankles, as well), preventing them from getting wet.  Tingleys can be had for as little as $15, depending on the model. Swims are a bit more expensive but are also lined and a little more attractive.  Both will do the job.
Code Red: Heavy Rain or Snow
There should be no shame in wearing shoes that are appropriate to the season.  If you live somewhere cold enough to merit cold-weather footwear, then wear cold-weather footwear.  If you work in a business-clothing environment, bring a pair of shoes in your bag or leave one at work. 
When it’s raining heavily in Los Angeles, I break out my LL Bean Boots, which have served me quite well.  They’re very reasonably priced (less than a hundred dollars) and come in a variety of heights and levels of insulation.  Obviously, as a resident of Southern California, mine are unlined, but with a Thinsulate lining I’m told they’re quite warm.
Last year I took my first “snow trip” in years, to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  The heavens were dumping snow all over us pretty much continuously during our four-day visit.  Luckily, the kind folks at Sorel had offered me a review model, and after perusing their catalog, I settled on their classic model, the Caribou.  Frankly, most snow shoes are ugly (the Sorel catalog was no exception), but the Caribou is highly funtional and quite handsome.  They’re also pretty reasonably priced - just north of a hundred bucks.
I’m also a big fan of Wellingtons.  If you are too, you should just go ahead and get Hunters.  If you’re into them, you already know that you’ll look a little ridiculous, but in kind of an awesome way.  So I won’t really recommend them, because if you’re not sure, it’s definitely a no.  But know that if you do go with some pig-slop, English mud type boots, I’ve got your back.
(Photo by Peter Nettleton)

Shoes When The Weather Outside is Frightful

One of our most frequently received questions (three times just this week) is: “what shoes should I wear when it’s raining/snowing/shitty outside?”

We argue for a policy of proportional response - the level of your action should be directly proportional to the shittiness of the weather.

Code Yellow: Wet Streets

Shoes with rubber soles (or a rubber sole protector over a leather sole) will wear better in wet conditions.  You should have at least one pair of shoes that either has a rubber layer on its sole (many good shoe manufacturers offer Dainite soles, which are long-lasting and very low profile) or a Topy (or equivalent) layer.  The Topy, if you don’t know, is a thin layer of hard rubber that’s glued to your sole to increase its life and traction.  If your shoe is on the ground, it’s unlikely that either of these will be noticed.  With a slightly more casual outfit, you can probably get away with “commando" soles, which are slightly lugged.  I’d still strongly suggest against full rubber soles on dress shoes - blech.

Code Orange: Rain or Slight Snowiness

Depending on how far you have to walk, the above may still work in this situation, when paired with an umbrella.  Shell Cordovan is particularly resistant to wetness, as long as it’s allowed to dry after wear.  Still, you may need to bring in bigger guns.  In that case, I recommend overshoes like Swims or Tingleys.  These galoshes will go over your shoes (and in some cases ankles, as well), preventing them from getting wet.  Tingleys can be had for as little as $15, depending on the model. Swims are a bit more expensive but are also lined and a little more attractive.  Both will do the job.

Code Red: Heavy Rain or Snow

There should be no shame in wearing shoes that are appropriate to the season.  If you live somewhere cold enough to merit cold-weather footwear, then wear cold-weather footwear.  If you work in a business-clothing environment, bring a pair of shoes in your bag or leave one at work. 

When it’s raining heavily in Los Angeles, I break out my LL Bean Boots, which have served me quite well.  They’re very reasonably priced (less than a hundred dollars) and come in a variety of heights and levels of insulation.  Obviously, as a resident of Southern California, mine are unlined, but with a Thinsulate lining I’m told they’re quite warm.

Last year I took my first “snow trip” in years, to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  The heavens were dumping snow all over us pretty much continuously during our four-day visit.  Luckily, the kind folks at Sorel had offered me a review model, and after perusing their catalog, I settled on their classic model, the Caribou.  Frankly, most snow shoes are ugly (the Sorel catalog was no exception), but the Caribou is highly funtional and quite handsome.  They’re also pretty reasonably priced - just north of a hundred bucks.

I’m also a big fan of Wellingtons.  If you are too, you should just go ahead and get Hunters.  If you’re into them, you already know that you’ll look a little ridiculous, but in kind of an awesome way.  So I won’t really recommend them, because if you’re not sure, it’s definitely a no.  But know that if you do go with some pig-slop, English mud type boots, I’ve got your back.

(Photo by Peter Nettleton)

Q and Answer: How Should I Dress in the Rain?
Steve writes: I live in Vancouver; can you suggest how I should dress for the rain?
The answer is yes.  We can suggest how you should dress in the rain.
You’ll want to start with an umbrella.  I really love the ones at Howard Yount, which are lovely, with solid wood handles and beautiful hand-sewn canopies.  They also cost $165.  If that’s out of your range, there are plenty of other options, just go with something simple.  There are usually good choices at a luggage shop.
On your head, you can wear a hat.  A wool flat cap is a great choice.  If you’re going to wear a proper hat with a brim, this is a good time to do it, especially if it’s not too blustery.
You’ll want some kind of covering for your body, of course.  A classic trench coat or Mackintosh is a good option here for pairing with more formal clothes.  Khaki is the traditional color.  There are plenty of choices for more casual wear - I like waxed cotton, and own a Barbour Beaufort, which I bought on UK eBay for about a hundred dollars.  A number of companies also make lightweight, packable rain coats, which are very useful for climates like Vancouver where rain and cold do not always go hand in hand. 
For your shoes, you’ll want to avoid leather soles.  When leather soles get wet, they wear much faster.  Shoes with rubber or dainite soles are best.  Alternately, you can wear rain-specific shoes like Bean Boots and switch them when you get where you’re going, or cover your dress shoes with galoshes.

Q and Answer: How Should I Dress in the Rain?

Steve writes: I live in Vancouver; can you suggest how I should dress for the rain?

The answer is yes.  We can suggest how you should dress in the rain.

You’ll want to start with an umbrella.  I really love the ones at Howard Yount, which are lovely, with solid wood handles and beautiful hand-sewn canopies.  They also cost $165.  If that’s out of your range, there are plenty of other options, just go with something simple.  There are usually good choices at a luggage shop.

On your head, you can wear a hat.  A wool flat cap is a great choice.  If you’re going to wear a proper hat with a brim, this is a good time to do it, especially if it’s not too blustery.

You’ll want some kind of covering for your body, of course.  A classic trench coat or Mackintosh is a good option here for pairing with more formal clothes.  Khaki is the traditional color.  There are plenty of choices for more casual wear - I like waxed cotton, and own a Barbour Beaufort, which I bought on UK eBay for about a hundred dollars.  A number of companies also make lightweight, packable rain coats, which are very useful for climates like Vancouver where rain and cold do not always go hand in hand. 

For your shoes, you’ll want to avoid leather soles.  When leather soles get wet, they wear much faster.  Shoes with rubber or dainite soles are best.  Alternately, you can wear rain-specific shoes like Bean Boots and switch them when you get where you’re going, or cover your dress shoes with galoshes.

da-i-net:

SWIMS

A lot of folks email me to ask what to do when circumstances demand dress shoes, but weather demands rain shoes.  Galoshes, like these Swims, are a great solution.

Q and Answer: Shoes in the Rain
Andrew writes:  Here is my problem: Corporate casual dress code.  Leather soled shoes.  Rain.  What is a good choice to prevent the ruination of good shoes?  Rubber soles?  If so, what are good ones?
Well, we’re pretty ambivalent about rubber-soled dress shoes generally.  It can be done well, but it often isn’t.  For that reason, we’re hesitant to steer you in that direction.
If you have dress shoes you like, you can buy a pair of Swims or Tingley’s overshoes.  These slip over your dress shoes, protecting them from the rain.  We live in Los Angeles, so we don’t have much use for them, but we kind of want a pair because they’re really neat.  Swims have the added benefit of being lined, so they won’t dull the finish of your shoes.
Many folks also simply wear rain shoes to and from work, which we’re not opposed to, either.  You can either lug your good shoes with you, or leave a pair in your desk during rainy weeks.  When it rains outside, I get so excited that I get to wear my duck boots that it’s a non-issue.

Q and Answer: Shoes in the Rain

Andrew writes:  Here is my problem: Corporate casual dress code.  Leather soled shoes.  Rain.  What is a good choice to prevent the ruination of good shoes?  Rubber soles?  If so, what are good ones?

Well, we’re pretty ambivalent about rubber-soled dress shoes generally.  It can be done well, but it often isn’t.  For that reason, we’re hesitant to steer you in that direction.

If you have dress shoes you like, you can buy a pair of Swims or Tingley’s overshoes.  These slip over your dress shoes, protecting them from the rain.  We live in Los Angeles, so we don’t have much use for them, but we kind of want a pair because they’re really neat.  Swims have the added benefit of being lined, so they won’t dull the finish of your shoes.

Many folks also simply wear rain shoes to and from work, which we’re not opposed to, either.  You can either lug your good shoes with you, or leave a pair in your desk during rainy weeks.  When it rains outside, I get so excited that I get to wear my duck boots that it’s a non-issue.

It’s On Ebay
Vintage Rubber Overshoes
You don’t need vintage overshoes (and these ones are a bit steep, neat though they are), but if you live somewhere wet or snowy, overshoes are an excellent way to protect your good shoes from the bad elements.  We live in Los Angeles, but are lead to believe that Swims are the creme de la creme in this department.
Starting at $49, ends Tuesday

It’s On Ebay

Vintage Rubber Overshoes

You don’t need vintage overshoes (and these ones are a bit steep, neat though they are), but if you live somewhere wet or snowy, overshoes are an excellent way to protect your good shoes from the bad elements.  We live in Los Angeles, but are lead to believe that Swims are the creme de la creme in this department.

Starting at $49, ends Tuesday