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Look good in bad weather: Great spring outerwear for Ireland’s unpredictable forecasts

April is an ideal month to invest in outerwear apparel with edge and elegance

Dressing for the elements in transitional months is never easy. Coats for the unsettled weather conditions of spring are often found lacking: they’re too light, too heavy, not waterproof or not warm enough. And while Irish designers are stellar players in knitwear and textiles, few of our best known names have made their mark with fashionable rainwear.

As for the looks themselves, the favourites that endure tend to originate from utilitarian sources – there’s the gender-fluid trenchcoat (find linen ones in Marks & Spencer, €110; more modern hooded variations at Cos, €225, and any number of inexpensive secondhand Burberrys on Vestiare); Barbour waxed jacket (Arnotts and elsewhere); and the ubiquitous parka.

Irish designers are surely missing opportunities when you consider the number of Scandinavian brands with their welded or taped seams that cater for wet days and unpredictable weather.

The latest one to set up in Dublin is Rains, Denmark’s leader in elevating functional design, but the company joins many other specialist brands stocked throughout the country, such as Stutterheim, Ilse Jacobsen, Norwegian Rain and Brgn.


It’s time for rethinking and modernising sou’westers perhaps and the best, like the Norwegian Helly Hansen, are usually to be found in outdoor shops specialising in protective wear for hiking, sailing and skiing. The British brand Sweaty Betty, also recently opened in Dublin, offers waterproof parkas and jackets from €130. Rains also offers waterproof backpacks.

At home Irish brand Jack Murphy includes weatherproof jackets and coats in its collection of durable tweeds, like its Malvern full-length caped coat, €185, and practical rainhats. Stable of Ireland have very stylish macs in a range of colours for men and women, while Macintosh by Francis Campelli on Dublin’s South William Street has a history of double textured cotton outerwear going back to 1889. Its online site includes cotton and leather satchels. Anna Guerin at The Landskein is also developing a range of trenchcoats.

As for other accessories, designer Clare O’Connor, originally a graphic designer turned fine artist, has brought a new sense of artistry and vibrancy to her eco-friendly umbrellas, having already established a luxury scarf collection. Her umbrellas are now stocked in James Smith & Sons, the oldest umbrella shop in London. O’Connor recently won a residency in France with the Enniskillen gallery Hambly & Hambly, where, in due course, designs from her new paintings will transfer into accessories and what she calls her “wearables”.

Fashion has always been about changing trends and styles, but global warming imposes its own demands, and the seasons no longer conform to traditional expectations. We might find ourselves wrapped up in winter woollies and weatherproof outerwear for a little longer this year.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author