What to wear on a rainy day: 3 tips

Where I live, we’re in the midst of 5 days of nonstop rain. I know grey and dreary comes with the territory around here (at least in February), and I do love cozying up and reading on an isolated rainy day—but five in a row is cruel. (All you Oregonians and Seattleites can laugh at me now.)

I’ll never love the dreary days, but I have learned that what I wear affects how I feel. With that in mind, I’m sharing a few tips that make managing the grey and rainy days a bit easier:

1. A cheerful color.  My mom gave me this tip when I was young, and I’ve always tried to follow it.  On dreary days, choose a happy color: pull out your brightest yellow, orange, or pink to combat the gloom.

I once read a New Yorker’s impassioned plea to her fellow citizens to opt for a cheerful umbrella instead of the ubiquitous black, because the last thing we need to see on a dreary day is a sea of black nylon. (I wish I could find this to link to it! If you know what I’m talking about, share the link in comments?)

A bright rain coat can keep you dry and perk up your mood, like this burgundy one or this yellow one.

2.  Sensible shoes.  My go-to flats are terrible for snow and rain. For drizzly days, or days with just a bit of snow, my sturdy boots or Dansko clogs give me the height I need to keep me out of the puddles.

Rain boots are a cheery and practical choice for rainy days.  Target has a darling selection of rain boots for around $40.  Hunter wellies are a classic choice if you want to invest in a pair that will last for ages.

(I found discounted Hunters about five years ago, hoping I’d get my money’s worth in the long run. I’ve worn them so much more than I anticipated, and am grateful for them every time it rains.)

3.  Hair care. Rain and snow can turn your hair to frizz, so I’ve learned that rainy days require a little extra product. (And I try to never blow dry my hair on rainy days—it’s harder to do and never turns out as well.)

And don’t forget to grab an umbrella or cute hat to cover up while you’re outdoors, even if it’s just going to and from the car. If you’re the forgetful type, this cute little umbrella will fit in your purse (and comes in polka dot, paisley, and floral).

Do the dreary days get to you? How do YOU dress for gloomy days?

P.S. More rainy day sustenance: 16 books to cozy up with this winter, and endless cups of tea (see #3 and #4).


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  1. Carrie says:

    Hello Anne, being from the North East of England (where it rains A LOT), I have strong opinions about umbrellas! For the past few years I’ve used a transparent birdcage umbrella by Fulton. It covers your head and shoulders & you have a clear view of the street. Invaluable when collecting the children from school (if it’s going to rain it does so at 3.15 prompt). As modelled by HM Queen on rainy day walkbouts – she stays dry & all the people who’ve queued for hours can still see her!

  2. Heidi Benson says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha… (you said we Oregonians could laugh!) As someone who lives in the Pacific North Wet, I agree 100%. My raincoats are kelly green, cobalt blue and peacock; the last one covers me ankles to fingertips and has matching floral rain boots (LL Bean for anyone interested in petite cut coats.) As a Portlander, I don’t use an umbrella but my kids have adorable ones in bright, fun patterns. And, though I always dress to make me happy, on the truly dreary days I make an extra effort of cheerful colors, jewelry and often a swipe of lipstick. Today we are 2″ deep in snow (delights the kids, annoys everyone else) so I’m sticking with my tweedy sweater and crocheted silk scarf and sending them out in pink, orange and blue coats.

  3. Cathy Heine says:

    We’ve had rain, or drizzle, for weeks on end. Being from Texas, this just feels wrong. I’m actually trying to resist the urge to stay in pajamas all day!

  4. Jessie says:

    I bought Target rain boots about 8 years ago for walking my kids to and from school on wet days, and they are still in good shape. Maybe the best Target value ever.

  5. Whitney says:

    I’ve always tried to do this as well. My raincoat is pink, rain boots are yellow, umbrella is fuschia. My coworkers once told me it was like seeing a bit of sunshine when they saw me in the parking lot on a rainy day.

  6. Daphne says:

    Ha ha! Another laughing native Oregonian. 5 days is when it starts to feel about right for me! I love the gray and dreary days, feels like home to me, comforting like a hot cup of tea. I don’t use an umbrella (one reason why Oregonians often have sensible hairstyles!) and my raincoat is black (goes with everything since I wear it a lot!) but I do have a bright purple one for hiking, and next season I would like to get some bright boots. I like LLBean’s duck boots for “real weather” — they look cute and can handle anything. Bright lipstick and a bright scarf saves any dreary-day outfit

  7. Michele says:

    I live in Las Vegas where it hardly ever rains. I have lived here for 24 years and once in all that time we had rain for 3 days straight and we were so excited! Very rarely do we even get one whole day of rain. So I have come to really appreciate the times it does rain and enjoying the smell and all the cozy feelings.

  8. I count on a hat or a hood. Hoods are particularly good when it’s windy and rainy–umbrellas may turn inside-out and hats blow away, but a hood is there when you need it and won’t get lost.
    On a recent drizzly Saturday, I was able to get away with a wide-brimmed hat to visit the market. It’s crowded enough, even when it rains, that umbrellas more of a pain than a benefit. A hat and a waterproof trench worked perfectly.

  9. Evamarie says:

    Yes to bright colors! When I went to college in a place that has lots of dreary, rainy days, I had an orange batik skirt that I always wore on rainy days. It made me feel fun, pretty, and cheery in spite of the gloom.

  10. Hannah says:

    I’m in Minnesota and at this point in the year I’d love a few rainy days with no ice. It’s cold and dreary. Even the rarely seen sunshine is cold this time of year. All of my outerwear is black; your post has me considering ways I can add more color. Helping to get me through this winter is soup for breakfast. It’s a deliciously warm incentive to get out of bed. Soup takes a little longer to eat than other breakfast options which forces me to take my time starting my day. I found this reduces stress in addition to helping me cope with the weather.

  11. Sue K. says:

    And this is why I will never paint the walls in my home any shade of gray . . . or wear gray! I prefer cheerful colors such as red, turquoise and yellow all year long.

  12. Jillian says:

    I’ve become fairly anti-umbrella, but I wholeheartedly agree with the bright colors. It’s a mix of rain and snow here in upstate NY today, and I’ve got hot pink on to try and keep my spirits raised.

  13. Diana says:

    Maybe this is why I’ve really been wanting to wear colors lately and not just grey (I own too many grey sweaters). We’re in Indiana and get similar weather (although, colder, usually). My “bright” colors are green and blue but still more color than usual!

    • Joy in Alabama says:

      Sorry, the link takes you to a different pair. I don’t know why. Anyway, mine are turquoise with hot pink and yellow flowers!

  14. Sarah Christy says:

    Love the comments! Ten years ago we went to Alaska and had 8 straight days of rain and drizzle…I discovered everyone put on rain gear and kept on. I came home ordered a neon green raincoat and following their example

  15. Ellen says:

    Several years ago I bought an orange, just-above-the-knee, hooded trench coat. I wear it with a pretty scarf. It’s become almost a joke between my husband and me, because I don’t know that I’ve ever worn it without somebody (usually strangers…restaurant hostess, check-out girl at the register, church greeter, etc.) complimenting my coat. The last thing people want to see on a dreary day is a typical black or tan coat! I now wish I’d bought one or two extra so that I have backup when this one inevitably wears out. I make a practice of doing an online search periodically, just in case I find another orange raincoat!

  16. Anna says:

    “(All you Oregonians and Seattleites can laugh at me now.)”

    Was born in Seattle and moved to Portland, Oregon when I was seven and was totally puzzled thinking, “Isn’t that just life?” Then read the disclaimer above and chuckled. It’s true–around here, five days is so the norm, I mean a lot of times a minimum for normal, about 8 months out of the year. But I like it, so it’s fine for me. 🙂 What I’d like more of is SNOW! (And I dread summer though trying to appreciate it.)

  17. Anna says:

    Conversely, I just remembered about some good friends from Singapore whom I knew in the Bay Area. If it was raining, they would cancel plans and say it’s raining. As a northwesterner, I couldn’t fathom it! But it’s like when we have a quarter inch of snow and the city shuts down, I guess.

  18. Sara S. says:

    Love this! I live in Seattle and I am one of the only people that have color in my wardrobe. I love my city and the rainy winters but I need some color in my life so I don’t lose my mind too! ?

  19. Having grown up and lived a lot of my life in Washington where it seems to be dark and rain most of the winter, I did have to laugh your comment of five days of rain. Well when I finished laughing and read your tips, they are spot on. I love a bright umbrella (although I never owned one in Washington–never seemed necessary even with all the rain) and wearing bright clothes.

    The other tip is to move to somewhere where the sun is seen a bit more (if you are from Washington or Oregon or such a wet place). I remember my sister moving from Washington and coming to visit and saying it was so depressing with all the rain. What? I thought. Maybe after three months of rain. Then I moved to the Midwest. Yup, I saw the sun in both the summer and winter. A totally foreign concept to me. And now when I go back to Washington to visit I get depressed and the rain bothers me after the third day.

  20. Jamie Gilbert says:

    We live in the same town and I am so over this rain! I work at an elementary school and if the playground doesn’t dry up soon, we’re all going to go insane!! PS do you do any face to face book clubs in town or is it all online? I would love to connect with local book addicts, I mean lovers. ?

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