ASK DAN: Waterproof Suede, Rain Hats, Conference Style

April 23rd, 2015


Suede Waterproofing

Q: Hey Dan, I have a quick question about waterproofing my suede chelsea boots from Meermin and a pair of unlined penny loafers from Alden. Firstly, is there a recommended suede waterproofer? Secondly, do I need different waterproofers for different types of suede? My Meermin’s are used to get me through the rainy days, and I want to prolong the longevity of the suede on my Aldens. Thanks!

A: Suede waterproofing sprays are more of a “just in case” solution, in the event that you spill your coffee or get stuck in an unexpected light drizzle. Wether it’s Kiwi or Scotchguard these protective sprays all act similarly, providing a polymer coat that causes small amounts of liquid to “bead off”. These sprays won’t help you at all if you’re allowing your shoes to get soaked, however. You should really avoid wearing suede on rainy days altogether, as moisture will change the color and ruin the “napped” texture that is so elegant about suede. With enough exposure to wetness, a soft suede will turn into more of an oil-slicked leather. My advice is rather than spraying your suede with chemical protectors regularly, save them for dry conditions and invest in a rubber-soled rain boot for whenever the forecast calls for rain.

Hats for Rainy Days

Q: I live in Sydney, Australia and we are currently having day after day of relentless rain. As a young corporate type, my wardrobe is mostly prepared for this (trench coat and umbrella protecting my suit etc). However, an umbrella can only do so much and I was thinking about using a hat to provide me with extra protection, especially when the wind proves too much to hold an umbrella… What kind of hat would you recommend for a commute to a corporate job in such weather? What kind of materials deal well with exposure to water?

A: Great question. Interestingly, there aren’t many great hat solutions for men who brave heavy downpoors in dapper outfits. The best one I’ve found is a fedora style hat in a canvass-y cotton that’s coated to be water repellant. Like this one by Filson or this one by Stetson. It looks a little outdoorsy and hardcore functional, but that’s okay during harsh conditions. If it’s just a light drizzle, though, I usually stick with my go-to felt fedora…it’s been holding up pretty well, as long as I let it fully dry between wears (in its corrected crown shape).

Packing for a 3-Day Conference

Q: My question is what to pack/wear for scientific conferences. These meetings are during hot summer months, but part of the day you are sitting in a air-conditioned conference hall, then you are meeting very interesting people during coffee breaks (indoors and outdoors), then you follow straight to the evening dance floor… Most of the attendees don’t go back to the hotel room all day. Therefore, how can I dress for the whole day (or week) and be comfortbale but in style –  which really helps in the scientific community…?

A: Firstly, scientific conferences sound awesome! Learning about the latest science, drinking coffee with innovative people, then breaking it down on the dance floor together? Where do I sign up?! As far as how to do it in style, sounds like the trick is bringing layers that you can add or remove throughout the day/night. As always, the key to packing light is only brining versatile pieces that can be mixed-and-matched together. Think of it like a “capsule wardrobe”, where 10 classic pieces can make 5 solid outfits. I’ve written a few articles that describe how to pack (or buy) effectively to get the most versatility out of your wardrobe, and therefore, the most bang for your buck. Check out this article and this article to get you thinking and maybe poke around the Style Guide for more inspiration. Of course, don’t forget to add a little of your own personality to your style… Have fun at the conference!


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Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

  • JoeFromTexas

    As far as hats in the rain, I have a cheaper straw hat than my regular and a cheaper felt hat than my regular that I use if rain is forecast. As Dan points out, so long as they get a chance to dry, it’s fine. If it’s really pouring, I’ll pull out an umbrella as well, otherwise a hat and trench work well.

    As far as waterproof hats go, here’s another Stetson that’s not as, well, let’s just say outdoorsy, as the link above:

    though the brim is a bit stingy, which many don’t care for.

    • TO

      Joe, that looks more like a not-so-stylish cousin to the fedora, a trilby

  • TO

    I love the look and practicality (and reasonable price) of that Filson rain hat! Hender Scheme, an obscure Japanese Brand makes a wind resistant, water-proof bucket hat out of pig leather that looks pretty impressive (I have seen videos where they pour water on top of it, turn it over and it pours right off). Definitely not cheap but it could be a good investment option for that chap.