When the clouds gather, the skies darken and the rain starts to fall, fashion tends to be the last thing on our minds. We care less about cutting a dash and more about dashing for cover — keeping our ankles dry and grabbing the nearest newspaper to hold over our heads. Style, unfortunately, is sluiced away at the very first signs of rain.
But don’t give up that easily. You can still dip your toe in the world of fashion even when side-stepping the puddles. Because, while most of us treat umbrellas as simple necessities, put a little more effort into selecting the perfect one and it can be a stylish accessory as well as an amenity — come rain or shine.
When the skies darken, opt for a sophisticated black brolly
Is there any accessory more classically British than the sleek, chic black umbrella? It’s just a bowler hat and monocle away from the ultimate gentlemanly stereotype. But it’s become a classic for a reason. This faithful front door mainstay will pair with almost any outfit you throw on, never upstage your get-up — but always keep it safe from showers.
Take this leather-handled offering from bastions of umbrella-making James Smith & Sons. Elegant and lightweight, the Italian calf leather crook adds another level of luxury. London Undercover’s 42-inch umbrella is a similarly sophisticated way to escape any rainfall, and New & Lingwood’s 8 Ball handle adds their signature eccentric touch to the classic black design.
James Smith & Sons London Umbrella
London Undercover City Gent Umbrella
New & Lingwood 8 Ball Umbrella
There’s nothing bolder than a rain check
A plain black is all well and good, but if you check out checkered umbrellas, you’ll realise that there’s so much more to these accessories than their practicality. Go for a brolly with a subtle — but colourful — check pattern, and it’ll soon become your calling card on drizzly days. It’ll also be a godsend when you’re meeting someone after work and want to stand out from the cloudy crowd.
Fulton’s Black Watch umbrella has a sizeable checked canopy that is strengthened with a weather-tested, double-rib steel frame. Barbour’s bold miniature offering is decorated with the brand’s heritage-inspired Original Classic Tartan, and Aquascutum have bridged the gap between smart and casual attire with this bright, tight design.
Fulton Black Watch Umbrella
Barbour Tartan Umbrella
Aquascutum Club Check Umbrella
Make a splash in the rain with a hidden pattern
Of course, you could combine both of the above styles and go for the best of both worlds. An umbrella with a pattern hidden in the lining is not only conservative when stowed away in the office, but it also shows a stylish flash of personality to any fellow soaked, sopping commuters — not to mention the warm, colourful little oasis it’ll create for you when you’re safely sheltering from showers.
If you liked the Fulton brolly above, you’ll love this subtler application of Black Watch tartan from London Undercover. Or, if you want a more easily recognisable pattern, why not opt for Paul Smith’s crook umbrella, emblazoned with his signature stripe, or even the portable Trafalgar from Burberry — featuring the British brand’s iconic House check.
London Undercover Black Watch-Lined Umbrella
Paul Smith Striped Crook Umbrella
Burberry Trafalgar Umbrella
Get a handle on rainfall fashion with a bamboo brolly
Some of the earliest umbrellas, from China, used bamboo in their construction. And, if it ain’t broken (or letting in water), why fix it? This distinct, ridged wood has become something of a status symbol with umbrellas — and is one of the best indicators that you’ve spent a bit of money. After all, who’s going to waste money manufacturing an umbrella with a bamboo handle if the canopy doesn’t stand up to the cloudbursts?
James Smith & Sons are unsurprisingly the gold standard here, with an umbrella created using a particularly hardy variety of bamboo called ‘whangee’. It’s a wood also used by London Undercover on this portable, midnight blue brolly — as well as Savile Row tailors Huntsman with their sleek black offering.
James Smith & Sons Whangee Cane Crook
London Undercover Wood-Handle Umbrella
Huntsman Whanghee Wood Umbrella
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