“To be elegant during stormy weather simply carry an umbrella. This useful accessory can be a very lovely object, evidence of your refinement, or it can be the glaring proof of hopelessly bad taste. It is wiser to resist such fancies as: umbrella handles of imitation mother-of-pearl, or elaborately adorned silver and gilt, sugary pastel colours…, prints, folding umbrellas that dangle from the wrist… Beige is one of the best colors for umbrellas, as it is for raincoats, because it harmonizes with almost any outfit and casts a particularly flattering shadow on the face. Black and white are safe classic choices.”
- Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
When it comes to buying gifts I like to keep things simple. I simply ask what the recipient of my intended largesse would like. They tell me. I buy it. That way everyone is content and no one ever has to thank me for spending time, effort and money buying something to gather dust and false “Oh, it’s just what I wanted – you shouldn’t have – really!”.
Recently one very dear to me asked for “two black umbrellas” – one for today and the other for tomorrow when today’s breaks, gets lost or taken. I would have thought this was a simple request that I could have fulfilled without much thought. But being me I made it overly complicated and went on line to source chic and elegant black umbrellas…
While it should not have surprised me I was gobsmacked at the the many types of umbrellas available and the shear quantity of choices. From high tech umbrellas to newer improved umbrella designs… Some clever entrepreneur is even trying to get kickstarter funding to develop a force field air umbrella .
I should have known my umbrella history. A surprising gap in my knowledge which has now received a bandage solution!
Unlike many other fashion items, the price and quality variables have to be considered through a pragmatic rather than an investment-for-life lens.
To begin with ask yourself if you really need an umbrella or would you be better off with a fabulous rain jacket/windbreaker that can also serve as a pillow/cover on a plane, train or waiting room?
What is the purpose of the umbrella? If you are in a downpour and are already soaked, is it really worth purchasing one (even if it is only a couple of dollars)? Do you want an umbrella to serve as a walking cane that can be used as an umbrella in a pinch and hide the fact that you could use a little help? Do you want an umbrella for self-defense without having to pack an uzi? Is it to make a fashion statement and cause envy in those who don’t have one? Is it to keep you moderately dry when it drizzles?
Assuming you really want/need an umbrella consider the probable lifespan. How long it is likely that your umbrella will be in your possession and not get lost, or lent and forgotten (considering inter alia your personal history with the beast). While I have lost many an umbrella due to poor quality (notably by the stereotypical turning inside out and breaking of innards with the mildest gust of wind on a blustery day) – I have similarly lost a number high(er) quality ones without knowing their fate. I can only hope the next person on that particular train recognized the quality.
As everyone knows umbrella’s have 75+ working parts, so there is a high probability that things can break. Some companies offer lifetime guarantees, but not against loss…
Finally, one needs to consider quality.
Umbrella Buying Tips
- Five tips for buying and caring for your umbrella
- Five Good Things Every Umbrella Should Have
- The Gentlemans Guide to Umbrellas
- Why Your Umbrella Sucks and What to Do About It
Which is the Best Umbrella?
Pour Lecher les Vitrines
My very dear one has a big choice to make!
List of Top Umbrella Makers
Note: I have not included a number of prominent fashion designers and car company logo riddled umbrellas – but these strike me as silly advertising tools for someone else. I prefer to be my own brand.
- ALEXANDRA SOJFER
- ALLEN EDMONDS
- ALEXANDER MCQUEEN
- ALVIERI MARTINI
- ASPINAL OF LONDON
- BLUNT UMBRELLAS
- BRILLANT LUXURY UMBRELLAS
- BROOKS BROTHERS
- CHANTEL THOMAS
- DRAKES LONDON
- LONDON UNDERCOVER
- EUROPEAN UMBRELLAS
- GUY DE JEAN
- HAMMACHER SCHLEMMER
- HENRY POOLE & CO
- IL MARCHESATO
- JAMES SMITH & SONS
- LONDON FOG
- LULU GUINNESS
- MAGLIA FRANCESCO
- MARIO TAILRACE
- OLIVER RUUGER
- PARASOLERIE HEURTAULT
- RAIN OR SHINE
- SWAIN ADENEY BRIGG
- TURNBULL & SASSER