While the big fashion brands have presented their thousands of euros costing transparent raincoats already years ago, like the Miu Miu raincoat pictured below, this trend now seems to get traction in the world outside of the catwalk and haute couture. The transparent and semi-transparent raincoats are available from many brands, in many different styles, colors, and price ranges.
Transparent raincoats have been popular for long already in Asia, not only as cheap emergency rainwear when you get caught off guard, but also as fashionable clothing still giving a clear indication of your status, function, or standing by revealing the uniform or business attire you wear under it.
But recently you see a push towards transparent rainwear by most brands producing fashionable coats and rainwear. Brands like Hunter, Helly Hansen, and Rains have transparent raincoats, just like the larger clothing stores. See below the Rains transparent raincoat recently shown on their Instagram.
There are basically 2 types of transparent raincoats: completely transparent and semi-transparent. The completely transparent raincoats are made out of clear PVC/vinyl and have in most cases the seams in either black or white, out of practical reasons for production but also to give the impression it is a real coat. The semi-transparent coats are made out of PVC/vinyl with a sort of “foggy” effect going on, meaning the coats can also have a color other than grey or white.
The completely transparent raincoats, especially the trench coat or a shorter coat as shown directly above, are perfect as fashion items for special use. When you dress up for a special occasion, where you put considerable effort and money in your outfit, and are afraid of a change in weather, this style of raincoat will give you the ability to show your completely outfit while simultaneously protecting you from the elements. In most other cases my preference would go to semi-transparent raincoats.
A semi-transparent raincoat is much closer to a normal raincoat, but still gives hints of what you wear below it. That is immediately also the reason why I would recommend going for a coat that either has a white or black/grey foggy effect: with any other color of effect you will run into problems with the clothing you wear under it. The picture below, from the Zara collection, shows this nicely: the white foggy effect of the coat does not interfere with the bright colors of the clothing you wear under the coat; it even gives an interesting effect and gives the outfit an extra dimension.
The price range of (semi-) transparent rainwear is often comparable to the price range of the brands producing the rainwear even though the materials require less research and innovation. While buying rainwear online is often not a problem, with transparent rainwear I would be extra cautious as pictures don’t do the coats much justice. You might be thinking you found a bargain only to realize later that the material feels cheap and wrinkles quickly destroying your overall look. Go to a store and feel the thickness, quality, and workmanship in the coat before buying it. Or stick to the bigger and well-known brands so you know the products will be up to par, like the Hunter coat shown below.
Finally I would like to point out that wearing transparent rainwear can be problematic in 2 ways. First you need to realize that transparent PVC/vinyl is not breathable and does not have an inner coating absorbing moist. When the weather changes for the better you might want to take off your coat immediately while other PVC rainwear, and normal rainwear, could be worn in different climates much easier. Second you need to realize you will need to be fully dressed before you can go outside for a quick grocery run. With a regular raincoat you can easily forget about the old unflattering shirt you are wearing, but with a transparent raincoat you need to be on your best at all time. The Stutterheim raincoat shown below would look a lot less nice when you image an old discolored orange shirt under it.
While I do see transparent rainwear as a type of rainwear that offers something new and different, it is not something I would consider buying myself. One of the things I like about a good raincoat is that it gives you a new look that you cannot accomplish easily in another way. Put on a heavy-duty PVC raincoat, for example the yellow Guy Cotton Rosbras raincoat, and you immediately look completely different from your daily attire, while with a transparent raincoat you try to extend your daily look to a rainy outdoor situation. Especially with a limited budget I would recommend sticking to normal rainwear and creating a fashionable look without mixing in the clothes you normally wear.
While I normally focus on a brand, it was interesting to take a look at a type of rainwear for a change. In this case I got a request to look a bit deeper into transparent rainwear, so if you have any requests for a brand or type of rainwear let me know in the comments or by email.