“SAY CHEESE…!” And we did, the whole bloomin’ lot of us – snapped grinning away in our matching pac-a-macs like every other family in the ‘90s. Quite why anyone thought it was a good idea to wear plasticky raincoats that crumpled up into a tiny bag and came out looking like a car that’s been through a compressor, I don’t know. What I do know is that it was absolutely the norm. Many a Kodak moment was blighted by these undignified garments, with families up and down the country sporting various shades of purple and blue throughout the decade. Personally, I think these pac-a-mac childhoods have a lot to answer for. Mine was certainly the beginning of a difficult relationship with raincoats, one that continues to this day and that I’m sure is shared by many of you.
The whole problem really comes down to the eternal tussle between clothes that look nice and clothes that perform a function. Generally speaking, the more practical a garment the worse it looks, and the more stylish it is the worse it performs. Just try and find a nice walking shoe or try going for a walk in an elegant loafer!
Of course, as a grown-up wanting to look smart and presentable, the obvious choice is a trench coat. The classic comes from Burberry but will set you back around £1500. For me, though, the main problem isn’t actually the prohibitive pricing but the slippery nature of the trench coat. What I mean is that, yes, you can look like a sophisticated spy or ‘50s reporter – pop the collar on a wet day and you’re instantly in a world of appealingly shady goings-on. However, you can also look like a dismal old-time shopkeeper in a work coat – see Ronnie Corbett in his Four Candles sketch. Or failing that, you can look like an extra from “The Office” – drably attired for angst-ridden admin. I just can’t get on with trench coats, for all that people seem to think of them as a wardrobe essential. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t wear one in a summer rain shower over a pair of shorts… you’ll look like a streaker....
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