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Raincoats tend to be associated with dirty old men and American tourists. Nevertheless, they have emerged as a central part of this autumn's wardrobe; and never before has a mackintosh looked so funky. There are many lightweight versions to choose from, not least the classic raincoat. Both Burberry and Mackintosh are so established that they have made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, The light gaberdine fabric used by Burberry was invented in the 1850's ; the rubber-and-cloth raincoat named after its maker Charles Mackintosh first appeared around 1830. Even the the 'Mac' was thought to be useful but unstylish and smelly. It also had a tendency to melt in hot weather. Now we have hi-tech fabrics like Gore-Tex that are light and let moisture out but not in. We also have shiny PVC which looks as if it is wet even when the sun is shining. But despite modern fabric innovations, sometimes the old ways are best. The melting mac problem was overcome in 1843, and Katherine Hamnett's macs are hand-made using the original Mackintosh rubber-proofed process at the Traditional Weatherwear factory in Scotland. The same factory also makes macs for Hermes and Gucci. If you are not ready for a major rainwear investement, however; perhaps the best buy of all is the men's full-length raincoat with hood currently on sale at American Retro. It is packed into a tiny polythene pouch, and when you open it out it looks (and feels) like Clingfilm. It is only one step from a bin-liner, but at pounds 1.99 it is worth every penny. Charles Mackintosh would turn in his grave.