Your Shoe Guide for the Rainy Season

It has been frequently pouring in Hong Kong since June, with sudden rainfall soaking pedestrians mostly on their way to work and during lunch breaks (How timely!). Now with all the notifications you get from mobile apps (including Facebook), there really is no excuse to be unprepared for a downpour when you head out.

For me, having an umbrella is never a problem as I always bring one on risky weather days. My problem is shoes. I wonder if there’s a pair of rain shoes that can protect your feet, make you look decent and feel comfortable altogether? After a few trial and error attempts, I finally have a better idea on what and what not to wear for rainy days:

What not to wear:

Unless you feel like practicing your tightrope walking skills, it’s only natural not to rely on narrow stiletto heels for traction on slippery ground. Wedges are a little better, but high heels? You might end up tripping over a twig as you rush for the building doors. Also, you probably wouldn’t like to spoil your killer shoes in murky puddles.

Despite their nautical inspiration, espadrilles are some of the hardest shoes to dry. The canvas upper and jute rope insole combined with the thin outsole means you’ll have to endure soaked feet for the rest of the day. My pair got soaked one day and it took two days to dry. Since I had no alternative footwear in the office, I ended up working barefoot in my seat the whole day.

Suede gets moldy when it’s damp. One solution is to spray waterproof substance on it from time to time. However it can still get muddy, and cleaning suede isn’t as easy as cleaning your flip-flops or sneakers. Genuine suede isn’t cheap and you probably wouldn’t like to sacrifice your pair of suede shoes for nothing.

What to wear:

Originating from the perpetually rainy climate of the UK, wellies (or Wellington boots) are designed for hunting and outdoor activities. You can’t go wrong with wellies on rainy days: They’re waterproof, lightweight, easy to slip into, and they protect your legs up to the knees. Unlike flip-flops, Wellies don’t kick up splashes. Even if a there’s a splash, it’ll end up hitting the boot itself. Wellies can look super chic when properly styled.

The only drawback to Wellies is they can look too purposeful, and might be too stiff for summer. It might not be good for the skin if your feet are trapped in boots all day long, so do switch to a pair of slippers in the office if possible – like Korean OLs always do!

Sandals (including flip flops) are my second choice after wellies. No doubt they’re cheap, easy to slip into, comfortable and dry fairly quickly, but they may not look decent enough for work. Water, dirt and trash on the street can still reach your feet. They may slip off your feet if someone accidentally steps on your sandals from behind. Some sandals have thin soles, meaning you still can’t escape from puddles. Also, not all sandals provide a firm grip so you might still end up slipping and landing on all fours.

The best bet is to get a platform pair that is not skyrocketing, and is equipped with rugged soles and ankle or slingback straps so that you won’t lose your shoes while catching a bus.

Sneakers basically satisfy all the criteria: comfortable, non-slippery and not stiff while keeping your feet dry. The thing is, sneakers aren’t normally 100% made from waterproof materials. Metallic slip-ons might be a good alternative since they look especially cool when covered with water drops.

No kidding! Though leather may lose its color and shape when wet, some leather goods are actually treated with protectants to prevent them from getting soaked immediately. Leather brogues and loafers are always proper for the office. Wear them unless it’s a continuous torrential downpour.

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