Fellas! The raincoat season in Manhattan is very short-unless of course you’re a pervert, in which case it’s pretty much a 365-day-a-year thing. Coincidentally, the archetypal flasher raincoat-a simple, mod, single-breasted bone-colored garment-is exactly the one I recommend for you guys this season and, for that matter, every season. It’s not about flashing, it’s about style: Think Michael Caine in The Ipcress File , or Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair , and if that doesn’t work, try Peter Falk in Columbo . Yes, I’m talking about that classic lab-coat-ish number, knee-length or shorter-almost a car coat-and, with its simple closure, always the preferred style of men-about-town and flashers the world over.
About 10 years ago, I found the perfect example of this genre for a bargain few-thousand yen in the farty-businessman department of the Isetan department store in Tokyo (we pixies shop our brains out when we visit Japan). Every subsequent wearing of this spiffy impermeable elicited gratifying shrieks of “Is that Helmut?” Time, alas, has not been kind to this garment, and as I yanked it from the closet to combat the recent hideously unpredictable April showers, I was forced to confront the fact that, with its stained collar, frayed cuffs and dangly buttons, it was more Ratso Rizzo than Dolce & Gabbana.
Ever conscious of my diminutive stature, I headed to Burberry’s new custom trench-coat department, entitled “Art of the Trench” (212-407-7100), on the fifth floor of the recently tarted-up 57th Street store, where made-to-measure specialist Erika Denis greeted me enthusiastically and unfurled her tape measure.
The first style I tried on was the historic, momentous, spectacular Trench 21. Explanation: At the beginning of the 20th century, military officers discarded their rubberized “mackintoshes” for Burberry raincoats. Modifications including knife clips, a snuggly throat-latch, epaulettes and a rifle-pad were added to accommodate the needs of First World War trench warfare, et voilà -the “trench” coat was born! For $1,495 (a mere $5 more than the off-the-peg price!), this spectacular Humvee of outerwear can be custom-made to fit even toi , with the fabrics and linings of your choice.
With Hollywood fantasies stiffening my sinews, I dove into a small size, fully expecting to look like a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Audrey H. I ran to the mirror, only to find I was staring at Linda Tripp/Linda Hunt. Be warned! The generous cut, double-breasting and elaborate detailing are an unmitigated disaster on any but the tallest and butchest.
Sensing my level of trauma, Erika attempted to calm me down with tea and scones ($10) ordered from the Mad Tea-Cup, the bijoux in-house café on the third floor. I tried on several more styles. The closest one to the raincoat of my dreams was a model called the Shearford ($1,075), a single-breasted, fly-front number in stony beige with theclassicBurberry checked lining. Even if the buttons get dangly, you can’t see them. When Erika broke the news that I would have to wait seven weeks to receive my custom garment-i.e., I would have it just in time for July 4 weekend-I elected to stay with my squalid Ratso Pervo for one more year.
For those of you without recourse to an existing raincoat, Banana Republic is offering the perfect 100 percent cotton, khaki pervert impermeable for a mere $159.99, reduced from $225. Or, for the same money, you could buy 30 street-corner umbrellas.
Re that Burberry trench: Why not club together with yoursiblings,dragDadto Burberry and order him a custom flasher for Father’s Day?
Stay dry, and don’t get arrested!