Friday, 27 May 2011

The Rain Bonnet Lament

(a Sequel to The Headscarf Lament)

Oh, to wear a rain bonnet and look as cute as this...

After getting caught out in the rain last week, I started researching rain bonnets online, thinking to turn them into the subject of a blog post. But instead, I got distracted and wrote about headscarves.

The thing is, I was having an awfully difficult time finding rain bonnets that looked any good, whereas pretty pictures of headscarves abound! Headscarves were certainly the easier option to write about, especially as I have no personal experience of wearing rain bonnets. And the thing is, I actually rarely get caught out when there's a downpour. I tend to make it my business to check the forecast when the weather looks questionable because I only own a full-length umbrella - I just can't stand fold-away ones!

So, when I was caught unawares at work last week, my boss was awfully surprised because I usually have my frilly, polka-dotty umbrella right beside me on any day with expected (or even unexpected) rain. I suggested to him that perhaps I ought to get myself a rain bonnet to tuck into my bag for those occasions where even I was unprepared. The problem, I told him, is that I've only ever spotted garish or otherwise unattractive ones...

And, when I got home, a quick trawl of the internet backed up that observation. I clicked on a link for a "stylish" rain bonnet and found this:

Obviously, I was sorely disappointed. In whose book is that stylish??

I did find some super-cute pictures from the 1960s and this wonderful video. (If only 'Wise Potato Chips' still had that offer open.) But the only ones I found for sale didn't look so great. Perhaps it's just the way they're marketed? Perhaps they just ought to find some better models?

I did find a glimmer of hope for the modern world here:

Clever Recycling Zychal over at Etsy have made a noble effort to reintroduce the unfashionable concept of the rain bonnet, and have given it a revamp by picking out the most stylish umbrellas to upcycle for their creations. I'm a little bit tempted. Although, I do somehow feel that, like my Audrey Hepburn/Grace Kelly headscarf dilemma, it just wouldn't suit me.

Umbrellas have always served me well, perhaps I should just stick with them? Or am I up for a sartorial experiment?

[Edit: Have just noticed that vintage guru Solanah, over at Vixen Vintage, has just posted about rain bonnets too. Crazy coincidence! Maybe it's a revolution? She picked up a classic, polka-dot one from her local drugstore... I don't know if I'll have the same luck at a pharmacy or anywhere else here in London!]


  1. Nothing wrong with Rain Bonnets...yeah, they could be more attractive, but, if it saves your 'do after getting it fixed for a wedding, or a special meeting..why not use one?...better than looking like a drowned rat.

  2. The only rain bonnets I knew of were the thin plastic ones that folded in a concertina kind of way to fit into tiny pouches. That babushka one is far superior. Is it really waterproof?

    I wonder if you will try something apart from your friendly umbrella?!

  3. Anonymous - I just wish I could find one that didn't look like a brown plastic bag! I love the idea of wearing one otherwise. Like you say, they're great in an emergency, and I think the simple see-through ones are sweet. Do you have one? If so, could you recommend where I might pick one up?

    Susan Janet - The one you describe is exactly the thing I'm after! Although the babushka one is kind of cute, I think the see-through ones are the most adorable, and would go better with most of my vintage outfits (and be better for slipping into a little handbag!)

  4. My Mum always has one to hand I will check next time I see her, but I'm pretty sure she gets them from her local chemist/parmacy (don't think boots or superdrug do them, but I might be wrong). I will keep an eye out!!

  5. Thanks, Wendy! I needed one last night... Was going to a concert so wanted to travel light, without an umbrella. Of course, I had to leave the house at about the time it started pouring... Fortunately I didn't fare too badly though.

  6. I tend to be lazy these days and just go for the scarf wrapped around head. In new york, you're never far from your destination or the subway. But can I just say how much nicer it would be to see a street full of rain bonnets rather than all these jostling golf umbrellas?

  7. I love them and would never be without one

  8. I always carry one with me and would never be without one, the Superdrug ones are very good as the tails are quite long and you can do themup at the back which makes them look really good.
    I am a man and have worn one loads of times when its been pouring and not had any funny looks from anyone.

  9. Thanks for the tip, Andy. I'll have to check out Superdrug. I'm sure I'll get lots of use out of one now, particularly as autumn's setting in!

  10. Hi Lisa Marie, hope you find one and enjoy wearing it this Autumn, nice to know someone young wants one its usually the older generation wearing them.
    I love your web site and the vintage clothing,I think the fifties and sixties fashion was great.

  11. Thanks, Andy! Glad you're enjoying my blog.

  12. Hi marie
    Really love retro clothing and like your blog too
    Have you managed to find a rainbonnet
    My wife had a hairdressing salon and have a few spare
    Clear ones you can have if your stuck
    Love the pics of Scotland gods country

  13. Thanks for the kind offer, Scotty! I've got myself sorted now, but thanks all the same.

    And glad you enjoyed my pictures of Scotland. I really loved travelling around the countryside there and seeing all the beautiful, varied scenery.

    1. Hello Marie , I am a 55 year old male and I have worn one (we call them rain hoods where i live ) for just over two years , and there is nothing to beat them.I wear one that is clear with black trim , has a visor and extends over the back of your coat collar preventing any rain from going down your neck. Men use black umbrellas and wear black plastic macs , so I do not see any reason why a man should not wear a clear rain hood with black edging. They are 100% waterproof and fold up so small you can fit them in to the smallest pocket.
      Andrew May

  14. Your wait is over - after much development I am proud to announce that Bubble Betty has arrived and is here to take away you rain bonnet thirst. Printed in fashion trends and packaged in a cute and practical little tin, Betty will launch a new range of patterns every few months. We hope you enjoy, available to see and own live online at Love Betty x.

  15. Hi Marie
    Hope you had a good christmas and new year, just noticed the post for the new look rain hats, they are so retro chic. I hope to purchase one for my girlfriend, she will defo make good use of it up here in windy wet Glasgow. They are also a lot nicer looking than the cheap rainhoods sold at the moment, well done to Betty, I am sure they will be a success.