I hate small talk and I really hate talking about the weather. But the only thing anyone wants to talk about when they hear I just moved to Seattle is the rain. It actually doesn’t rain as much as people think it does. It just mists all the time.
And what I love about Seattleites is that at some point they just said, “Fine. We’ll just get a little wet. We’ll deal.” You won’t find umbrellas here. It’s an easy way to spot tourists. Locals just pull up their hoods and march onward. So if you don’t want to stick out when you visit the Pacific Northwest, here’s how to gear up like a local.
Invest in a Good Rain Jacket
Make sure the jacket fabric is waterproof, not “water resistant” or “water repellent.” These phrases sound legit but it means the fabric won’t keep you 100 percent dry. Check labels and look for waterproof technology such as Gore-Tex or DryVent [these might require accompanying trademarks “®” when used in running copy].
Most people go into an outdoors store and grab a rain jacket shell because it’s cheap and you can rock top brands for $99. But shells are cheap for a reason. They’ll only last a couple of years. Go for a jacket in the $200-250 range, such as The North Face Dryzzle with seam-sealed Gore-Tex.
These rain jackets are thicker than shells and they’re durable, which means they’ll stay waterproof longer. Because if you’re going to drop $200 on a rain jacket, you shouldn’t have to replace it for nearly a decade.
Some people think you can’t wash a rain jacket because washing it will break down its ability to repel water. It makes me cringe thinking about how dirty and gross these unwashed jackets must be. Sure, they can only handle so many washings, but, please, wash your rain jackets now and then.
Get Some Boots
Don’t come to the PNW wearing your knee-high wellies like it’s the Glastonbury Festival in a thunderstorm. People don’t do that here. You might see a rubber Chelsea boot, but more often than not, you’ll see hiker-chic trail boots. Or tech-chic sneakers.
Look for durable materials like waterproof leather. I have a pair of cognac leather Timberland boots that are great for dreary days around town. And I’m obsessed with Sorel’s leather wedge booties. I’ve seen so many women rocking these from the office right to happy hour.
Just because I live in Seattle doesn’t mean I can’t wear suede anymore. I treat leather items I care about with a waterproofing liquid. You can find this at any outdoors store. Look for a spray bottle or sponge applicator specifically for nubuck and suede. My go-to is Nikwax footwear waterproofing liquid. It goes on clear, repels water and, for less than $10, helps shield my favorite booties from an afternoon shower.
Waterproofing isn’t just for shoes. The sky’s the limit with tent and gear waterproofing spray. It’s great for backpacks, and backpacks are essential here. With so many tech companies around the area – Amazon, Microsoft, Google and now Facebook – you’ll see a lot of Seattleites walking around with laptop backpacks.
I opt for a backpack purse [add example product link?] when I’m out and about so I don’t use so many shopping bags. (And since I won’t be carrying an umbrella, I can’t shield paper bags. You’re with me, right?)
You could treat leather jackets, too. But listen. Don’t douse your whole wardrobe. Before you treat an item, test a very small spot and wait to see if it’s OK. I don’t want any vintage leather ruined because of this post.