I told my near-drowning story to a friend and she mentioned her new North Face waterproof raincoat, purchased on sale at our local Nordstrom Rack. She modeled it for me later, and it looked promising. Here's the coat:
I knew about North Face coats, of course, having spent years on the hunt for a packable, good-looking, longer-length raincoat. I'd rejected theirs because they were either too short, too sporty-looking, or had belts.
I hate belts; I can't be bothered to buckle or tie them. I have a handsome, satiny black trench, but the belt is so slippery that I'm always meeting strangers who just picked it up off the street and chased me down. They're surprised I'm not brimming with gratitude. Instead, I'm sorry to see it — if it got lost, I'd have a reason to ditch the coat. I tried tying it in the back but it made a bulky knot and never looked right. I tried pinning it discreetly to the coat but it tore the fabric in its desperate bids for freedom.
I was desperate, too, and the belt on the North Face coat buttons onto its back loop so it stays put. The coat is understated and a decent length. (I wonder why most waterproof coats are so short that one's legs are almost completely exposed. Who wears rain pants?) So I searched online and bought one here.
This style is "Stella Grace," and it's last year's model. It also comes in white and a few other colors. This year's version has both handwarmer and storage pockets but it's missing the detailing at the top, including a little "capelet" in the back, which adds a bit of style. The new coat's hood is also lined in white, which makes it look cheap and sporty, like a windbreaker.
It has a taffeta lining that makes me sticky in warm rainstorms, but I'll survive. The lining also makes it bulkier for packing, but I'm getting better at stuffing things into my suitcase. The main thing is that it kept me perfectly dry during two days of downpours in Maine. It has deep pockets and extra-long sleeves that can be cuffed unless it's so wet that you need the extra protection. The adjustable hood folds into the stand-up collar.
I returned the Cole Haan soaker coat to the outlet in Kittery and they were gracious about it. They remarked that most women love that coat and that I must have gotten a lemon. I'll never know.