The sort of men who divide their time between town and country know that a pair of green wellingtons and thick corduroy trousers are as much part of the rural uniform as a striped shirt and pin-striped suit is in the City. These are the guys who d rive around town in a monster of a Range Rover. And these same men are bound to have invested in a good quality macintosh to protect both the business suit and the country cords.

Such men would set off for a weekend on the wild and windy Norfolk coast with plenty of woollen layers and probably a warm hat (strictly for weekends). Here their "macs" are just the ticket.

There is a great tradition of British macs that stems from the rubber process invented by Charles Macintosh around 1830. But today, of course, mac is the generic name for anything that keeps the rain out, whether made of the cheapest, mass-manufactured

nylon or the age-old rubber-coated material still produced at a few surviving factories in Scotland.

For those who find the idea of rubber too sweaty, there are more recent fabric innovations that let your moisture out while stopping the rain from coming in. The Mulberry coat, for example, might look simply classic, but it comprises a sandwich of the most up-to-the-minute, high-performance fabrics available.

The collar is brushed leather and water-repellant; the outer skin is made of Watersilk, a showerproof, synthetic micro-fibre; this is interlined with Gore-Tex and lined in a good old-fashioned Mulberry check. Even the seams are all sealed, resulting in atotally waterproof coat that will keep you dry through the most torrential downpours.

The raincoats illustrated range from the simple and basic, for £155 from Austin Reed, to the elaborate Italian trenchcoat complete with flaps, D-rings and epaulettes by Ermenegildo Zegna, for £595. (Most fashionable Italians, however, would prefer a raincoat bearing a classic British label, such as Burberry).

But if you were planning to spend less than £100, most second-hand clothes shops have a rail with the sort of macs favoured by Harold Wilson - and which now, funnily enough, are the height of fashion.