Make Your Own Rain Boots
With spring showers only a month away, it’s worth thinking about what kind of footwear one might need when the weather gets wet. My rainy day shoes of choice are shell cordovan boots. Shell cordovan, which is a leather taken from a horse’s rump, is so dense that it can effectively perform like rubber. I’ve trudged for miles on wet days without any snow or rain seeping in, and with a quick brushing once I get home, my shell boots look even better than the day they came. The only problem is that shell cordovan boots are quite expensive. Even on sale or on eBay, you’re looking at a neighborhood starting price of $500.
The alternative is to pick up a pair of SWIMS galoshes or LL Bean Boots. The upside to SWIMs is that they can be slipped over your normal dress shoes. The downside is that, frankly, sometimes you don’t want to bother with the hassle. LL Bean Boots are less fussy, but they can’t be worn with dressier garments such as suits and sport coats.
A happy medium is learn how to weatherproof the shoes you already own. For suede shoes, I recommend a waterproofing spray, such as this one from Allen Edmonds. Allen Edmonds’ version doesn’t contain any silicone, which is said by some to potentially damage to shoes. Each canister costs about seven bucks and can weatherproof something like five to seven pairs of shoes. I usually give my suede boots two coats before taking them out into the rain 24 hours later. Just be sure to only use this spray on suede shoes, as you can clog up the pores on calf, which would be bad.
For rugged boots, such as hiking boots or workboots, I recommend Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP or Montana Pitch Blend. I wrote a post last year about how to apply Obenauf’s, which readers might find useful. This thick, greasy cream both nourishes leather and helps keep moisture out. Don’t use it on anything besides rugged boots though. On a pair of dressy calf or shell cordovan shoes, this stuff can ruin your ability to ever get a proper shine.
For regular calf or shell, Steven Taffel at Leffot recommends Alden’s Leather Defender. It performs better than the minimal protection one might be able to give with a wax polish, and it won’t ruin your ability to give your shoes a proper shine. From a quick perusal of the online forums, some even say that it helps prevent the dreaded spotting shell cordovan can develop once it gets wet. That spotting goes away with a quick brushing, but it admittedly can be a bit of a hassle. I’m thinking of picking up some Leather Defender next month and trying it out on my shell boots. You can purchase it by calling Leffot and having them ship a bottle to you, or by going through J Crew’s online shop.
For $7 to $15, these all seem like great options, especially when compared to spending $500+ for shell boots, or even ~$100 for some SWIMs or LL Beans. Just have realistic expectations. Your shoes will be water resistant, but they won’t be waterproof. You can’t jump in any puddles or anything, but with some good preventive care, you can happily take your regular shoes out into the rain.
* Big thanks to Steven for help with this article. His store Leffot, by the way, is my favorite shoe shop in the US. Everyone ought to check out their store in NYC, if not at least their webshop.

Make Your Own Rain Boots

With spring showers only a month away, it’s worth thinking about what kind of footwear one might need when the weather gets wet. My rainy day shoes of choice are shell cordovan boots. Shell cordovan, which is a leather taken from a horse’s rump, is so dense that it can effectively perform like rubber. I’ve trudged for miles on wet days without any snow or rain seeping in, and with a quick brushing once I get home, my shell boots look even better than the day they came. The only problem is that shell cordovan boots are quite expensive. Even on sale or on eBay, you’re looking at a neighborhood starting price of $500.

The alternative is to pick up a pair of SWIMS galoshes or LL Bean Boots. The upside to SWIMs is that they can be slipped over your normal dress shoes. The downside is that, frankly, sometimes you don’t want to bother with the hassle. LL Bean Boots are less fussy, but they can’t be worn with dressier garments such as suits and sport coats.

A happy medium is learn how to weatherproof the shoes you already own. For suede shoes, I recommend a waterproofing spray, such as this one from Allen Edmonds. Allen Edmonds’ version doesn’t contain any silicone, which is said by some to potentially damage to shoes. Each canister costs about seven bucks and can weatherproof something like five to seven pairs of shoes. I usually give my suede boots two coats before taking them out into the rain 24 hours later. Just be sure to only use this spray on suede shoes, as you can clog up the pores on calf, which would be bad.

For rugged boots, such as hiking boots or workboots, I recommend Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP or Montana Pitch Blend. I wrote a post last year about how to apply Obenauf’s, which readers might find useful. This thick, greasy cream both nourishes leather and helps keep moisture out. Don’t use it on anything besides rugged boots though. On a pair of dressy calf or shell cordovan shoes, this stuff can ruin your ability to ever get a proper shine.

For regular calf or shell, Steven Taffel at Leffot recommends Alden’s Leather Defender. It performs better than the minimal protection one might be able to give with a wax polish, and it won’t ruin your ability to give your shoes a proper shine. From a quick perusal of the online forums, some even say that it helps prevent the dreaded spotting shell cordovan can develop once it gets wet. That spotting goes away with a quick brushing, but it admittedly can be a bit of a hassle. I’m thinking of picking up some Leather Defender next month and trying it out on my shell boots. You can purchase it by calling Leffot and having them ship a bottle to you, or by going through J Crew’s online shop.

For $7 to $15, these all seem like great options, especially when compared to spending $500+ for shell boots, or even ~$100 for some SWIMs or LL Beans. Just have realistic expectations. Your shoes will be water resistant, but they won’t be waterproof. You can’t jump in any puddles or anything, but with some good preventive care, you can happily take your regular shoes out into the rain.

* Big thanks to Steven for help with this article. His store Leffot, by the way, is my favorite shoe shop in the US. Everyone ought to check out their store in NYC, if not at least their webshop.

It’s On Sale: SWIMS Overshoes
If you’re willing to wait until mid-December for a delivery, Orvis will sell you a pair of SWIMS overshoes for $64 (compared to $100 at most other locations). Mid-December might seem too far away, but most areas get their rainy season in the Spring anyway. Plus, these would make for a great Christmas present, so consider it early shopping. 
To read more about SWIMS overshoes, check out this review by The Silentist. 
Use the coupon code 113377 at check out. It expires on July 30th. 

It’s On Sale: SWIMS Overshoes

If you’re willing to wait until mid-December for a delivery, Orvis will sell you a pair of SWIMS overshoes for $64 (compared to $100 at most other locations). Mid-December might seem too far away, but most areas get their rainy season in the Spring anyway. Plus, these would make for a great Christmas present, so consider it early shopping. 

To read more about SWIMS overshoes, check out this review by The Silentist

Use the coupon code 113377 at check out. It expires on July 30th. 

About two months ago, I wrote about Francesco Maglia, a bespoke umbrella maker based out of Milan. After my post, a few people sent me messages asking if I had suggestions for more affordable options. Buying a $700-1,000 umbrella isn’t practical for most people, after all. So, I wrote this piece, which covered four different umbrellas at various price tiers, and I thought it was received with some success. 

A month after I wrote that round up, I came across a Totes umbrella at a local boutique. It was $16, full-sized, and looked handsome enough. I already have four umbrellas, but I decided to purchase this Totes just so I could write about whether there was a good $16 option to be had. 

So for the past month, I’ve been using this Totes, and I can say - it’s surprisingly good. At $16, most of the options you’ll find are crappy, compact umbrellas that neither cover very much of you or last for very long. This Totes, on the other hand, is big enough to cover your back and sturdy enough to last a few seasons. 

Belt Outlet is selling it for $14.40. Punch in belt10 for a 10% off discount, and with shipping, the total will be $17.  Now, I still think the upper tier umbrellas I wrote about in my original round up are better. If you live in a very windy area, I recommend you opt for one of those instead. However, if you’re not suffering through high winds, or if you’re prone to constantly losing things, this $17 Totes might be your best option. 

If you decide to get one, read this article by The Armoury on how to properly furl a full-sized umbrella. Doing it the right way will not only help keep your umbrella intact, but also look infinitely better.