Staying Business-Ready in Unpredictable Weather

It’s that time of year again: crisp, bright mornings; fall foliage in a stunning palette of gold, red, and orange; the freshest picks of the fall harvest. Autumn has so much to offer – yet here in Toronto, I already felt the first pangs of longing for the recent summer when the weather turned bitter, wet and windy last week. Navigating through that harsh weather is certainly an adjustment – not to mention, a major hazard to your business attire if you have to confront rainy city streets on your way to work or a meeting! Not to worry: there are many ways to stay stylish – and protected from the elements – even in the wet weather’s worst.

My first go-to piece when the conditions turn cool is a classic trench coat. These heavy-duty coats are timeless for both men and women, and will work well with almost any outfit underneath. Women, if you usually wear dresses, look for a longer trench; a shorter cut coat will go well if you prefer to wear pants. This double-breasted tan trench coat from Burberry is a classic, but there are many variations on this model to add a bit of panache: many designers (including Burberry) offer the trench coat in a variety of colours, with an extra fur trim on the collar or lining, or with a single breasted cut instead of the standard double. I also like the creativity that the belt on a trench allows: you can choose to fasten the buckle, tie the belt into a knot or a bow, or even replace the cloth belt entirely with a leather one of your own.

If you would rather stay dry under a traditional raincoat, there are many great styles that you can choose from without wearing a one-size-fits-all plastic poncho to the office. Finding a fitted raincoat isn’t hard: I love this French twill raincoat from London Fog. The cinched waist is key in an elegant raincoat, and the interesting silver buckles embellish the jacket without going over the top.

Let’s discuss footwear. Do you walk to work everyday, or spend time walking between your home and your means of transportation? If so, you probably want to wear a different pair of shoes or boots than you would wear in the office – it will keep your heels or dress shoes in better condition for a much longer time if you wear them outside as little as possible. In an upcoming post I will discuss some of my favourite styles of leather boots for fall, but on those awful rainy days, consider a pair of chic Wellington boots or rain boots for full protection from messy puddles. In the past couple of years, rain boots have become a trendy option for everyday footwear with brands like Hunter and Tretorn, available in a range of colours and heights. I recommend wearing them only for transit between work and home on wet days – they might look great on a casual day on the street but are inappropriate for the office. Be sure to have a pair of work shoes either in storage under your desk or in the closet of your office, or carry a pair with you in your bag.

And it may seem obvious, but a good umbrella is fundamental – I always keep a spare under my desk for those unpredictable weather days. How often have you been caught in a downpour and have gotten soaked to the skin when merely catching a cab or heading to a meeting off-site? Avoid those frustrating moments of having your professional appearance go from composed to chaotic in just moments by keeping a reliable umbrella in both your home and your office. You never know when you might need it.

That’s the dilemma with this season: one day, the weather is bright, sunny and refreshing; the next, the drastic difference threatens to rain on your parade. But, as you can see, it’s easy to stay prepared and polished – even in the worst the weather has to offer!