Not too long ago raingear was mostly practical: you wore it only when it was absolutely necessary and as a temporary outfit you didn’t put too much time and effort in how it looked. But in the past decade this perception has changed dramatically with many wardrobes now containing a pair of stylish rainboots and a fashionable PVC raincoat. And even when there is only little chance of some drops coming down you will make a great appearance in a nice looking raincoat. On this site I often try to give some clothing ideas on how to combine raingear with regular clothing, or how to combine different raingear items, but so far it is mostly focused on raincoats, rainpants, and rainboots only. And while these combinations are the most obvious, they are surely not the only things you should be looking at. In the picture below a vintage SBR raincoat combined with a pair of black gloves that really finishes this outfit. Over time I am building a liking to these Macintosh raincoats and combining them with gloves and a hat in similar material adds more than just protection.
Accessories can make or break your outfit, and a raingear outfit is no different. One of the most obvious accessories for raingear, not counting rainboots, is a pair of gloves which can give some nice contrast, an interesting twist, a completer look, or just more comfort for the wearer. Below I will try to go through some of the materials and types of gloves available and what will work well with rainwear.
One of my favorite looks for a colder climate is a combination of PVC rainwear with some woolen gloves or mittens. This combination works so well because it gives a clear contrast in materials: the rainwear is perfectly smooth, shiny, and cold, with an industrial and heavy-duty look, while the woolen gloves are fuzzy, cozy, and warm. To accentuate the contrast between the materials I would go for hand-made woolen products with lots of fuzziness going on as opposed to the mechanically knitted products that are relatively smooth.
This look is something you see coming back in many Scandinavian countries where woolen scarfs, sweaters, and gloves are combined with fisherman’s rainwear on outdoor festivals. The picture above from Benzo.is (now a defunct link) shows party-goers in Iceland in Icelandic woolen products combined with PVC rainwear.
Have some patterns in your woolen products, get them in lighter colors to not lose fuzzy details which become harder to see on black, and wear them as much as possible as they are extremely comfortable. Hand-made woolen items are readily available online these days, you can order mittens, scarfs, headbands, socks, and many more woolen products from all over the world without much effort. Or you can even try knitting something yourself if you are looking for a new hobby. The picture below is from Etsy where PureIceland sells hand-made woolen products to order. The contrast in materials comes out nicely in this picture and that is exactly what I would recommend you try to go for.
Much less contrasting, but still stylish and practical, are leather gloves. With leather gloves it is important to get them in the right size to perfectly fit your hands, but once you got a match they can really positively influence your rainwear look. In my opinion leather does not work well with PVC (or PU) heavy-duty style rainwear, but for women it goes together perfectly with a stylish long raincoats accentuating the feminine forms.
In this case the gloves often add that bit extra to the outfit making it more interesting overall. Unfortunately leather gloves are often not waterproof but that should not make much of a difference when on foot. A slim fit, no unneccesary bells and whistles, and the color black would be my advice as it makes them easy to combine with almost any rainwear outfit.
PVC / PU GLOVES
In some exceptional cases you can find special raingloves which can match the materials and colors of your raincoat or rainsuit exactly. This is not available for every piece of rainwear or every brand, so I don’t think it is a very popular item seeing many sales. On the website of Farmerrain you can find some examples of these gloves and a picture from their website can be seen below showing the match in materials.
My main problem with these gloves is that they don’t really add anything to the raincoat or rainsuit you are wearing as it is just a continuation of the material and color. Getting a nice pair of gloves is an opportunity to add something to your outfit and this way you make it even more of what it already is. While they can be of practical use and perfect for not drawing attention, they would not be my first choice.
Rubber gloves seem to be an extremely popular choice if you can believe the amount of pictures of nice rainwear in combination with rubber gloves online. But in reality rubber gloves are mostly picked for their absolute waterproofness and low price, and not for being very fashionable. You will probably have a hard time spotting anyone using a pair of rubber gloves just to keep their hands dry in a non-work related way.
My personal favorite choice for gloves to combine with some nice PVC rainwear are unlined, thick rubber gloves. And while that is not a very fashionable choice they are extremely useful to keep your hands, and especially nails, clean and intact plus they have the added benefit that the rubber is so thick, with the gloves often being oversized, that you have little idea of how dirty whatever you are touching is. For me this is a great advantage: although I am not scared of some mud I dislike creepy crawlers so that disconnection helps me not to fear putting my hands in the dirty ground.
The picture below is a picture from the Flickr account of NaturalRubber where he combines a pair of protective black rubber gloves with a heavy-duty Helly Hansen Nusfjord rainsuit in green. A combination like this can be very suitable for strolls through a forest during the rain keeping your hands warm and dry.
It could be very stylish to have a pair of thinner rubber gloves that perfectly fit your hands, but unlike the thicker versions they are much harder to put on meaning it can be quite the struggle just to protect your hands. Maybe these types of gloves will become more popular in the future, which would be great as they look stunning and feel perfectly smooth, but I won’t hold my breath.
Finally you always have the option to not use any gloves at all. As mentioned before this can be quite a missed opportunity but it is still the most common choice you see. If this is your choice it could benefit you to pay some extra attention to the sleeves of the raincoat you are buying: some brands have elastic cuffs with an extra piece of material continuing which can protect your hands. This is a feature on my Guy Cotten X-Trapper coat, which I reviewed previously, and in case of bad weather I just like to pull my hands into my sleeves like a turtle pulling back it’s head.
Let me know what you think of gloves in combination with rainwear, is this something you will take into consideration from now on or you have never done without? I will update this post over time with some new pictures and more ideas I hope.