Pick up a Farmers’ Almanac and check out its weather forecasts for April. Prognosticators expect the heavens to turn on the tap some 18 days out of the month.

Only a certified Pollyanna would be unprepared.

Sure, you could just remove your Manolo Blahniks and trot down the street in bare feet, which is what one Chicagoan told us she did when caught on New York’s 5th Avenue in a ainstorm.

Or you can grab a supersized Hefty bag and poke out holes for your head and arms.

We think there’s a better way. It’s called rain management. It involves choosing boots, hats and umbrellas designed to keep you dry and comfortable during all those months when rain pours down on us. (Before you sob about that, bear in mind that 66 inches fall annually in the nation’s soggiest city, Mobile, Ala.)

Dressing for rainy weather has gotten easier and more comfortable in recent years, thanks to efforts by textile researchers.

“The old, truly waterproof garments of 20 years ago were either rubber- or fabric-coated with a finish that made it waterproof. But that meant that perspiration could not get out either. It was very, very uncomfortable,” said Carol Warfield, a consumer affairs professor at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. “What we’re seeing now is the development of new fabrics and new finishes that will keep out a significant amount of rain or moisture, yet allow the individual to breathe.”

Increase your comfort factor by understanding some label terminology, Warfield suggested.

” “Waterproof’ has to do with the construction of garment as well as the fabric, and the fiber and the finish,” she said. Waterproof clothing, from coats to hats and boots, will be more comfortable if it is constructed with a breathable fabric inside.

” ‘Water repellent’ is typically a finish that is on a fabric. … And if you get caught in an absolute downpour in Mobile, Ala., you are going to get wet. If you’re going to get caught in a light shower and you’re not out in it for an extended period of time, you’re probably OK,” Warfield added.

The difficulty with finishes, she said, is that they typically lose effectiveness over time.

“Watch the care labels and follow the guidelines for refurbishing,” she said.

Once you have a well-designed raincoat or slicker or poncho, count on accessories to brighten the look – whether it’s a rainbow-hued or flowered umbrella, a water-repellent hat or a pair of waterproof boots.

Then hum a few verses of your favorite rain song. Sloshing to work actually can be fun.


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