What to pack for a weekend away: the go-everywhere lightweight coat

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Sarah Brick. Hair & Make-up: Carl Stanley


You are now witnessing the outfit my neighbours will all recognise. The one they see me in most often. The lightweight, packable go-everywhere coat, cosy knit, cargos and super-comfy Salomon’s (they have an orthotic insole and are much newer in the photo than after a long winter of city-walking). These are the clothes I really wear and I wanted to give a special mention to the water-resistant, versatile coat. Sometimes referred to as a liner or shell coat, it’s what my mum would call a rain mac. Whatever the nomenclature, this coat bridges the gap between seasons, garners loads of compliments and can be easily packed into a suitcase, weekend bag or tote.

The go-everywhere coat comes into its own when travelling; the navy number has accompanied me on trips to Bath, Bruges, Milan and New York. In fact, I bought it in Milan, in the sale at Aspesi (similar style available HERE). Though half price, it still wasn’t cheap and so I hesitated. But Mr TNMA knows his style and can spot a good deal when he sees one so he encouraged me to splurge. In cost-per-wear terms, it has been worth every Euro.


The lightweight coat goes to Bath


Trying to find something similar online, I soon realised that the Italians have got it sussed. Why can’t you find a decent lightweight rain mac in the UK? Given the temperamental climate this simply doesn’t make sense. Here there seems to be a choice between a quilted liner coat (some of the offerings are pretty basic), a rubber hooded thingamabob, or a trench. For waterproof, lightweight jackets and coats (mostly hooded) Scandinavian labels Rains (available HERE and HERE) and Ilse Jacobsen Hornbæk have got you covered; Uniqlo has a pretty cool, navy Block Tech Coat (available in navy) and a Utility Hooded Coat, while Hush has a nifty Oversized 2-in-1 Parka Gilet.

My Aspesi coat offers a decent amount of protection from the elements and has survived more than one torrential downpour this spring. The roomy shape makes it good for layering: jackets go underneath, winter overcoats on top. In New York at New Year, layered over the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket, I was as snug as a local –  at home, I pull it on over my chore jacket or an old army shirt. There is usually a combination of navy blue and army green going on. Ask the neighbours…


The lightweight coat in New York


STYLE TIP: Be sure to choose a style you’re happy to wear as a standalone outer, rather than something that you’d rather cover up…



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  You are now witnessing the outfit my neighbours will all recognise. The one they see me in most often.