Why You Ought To Carry A Proper Umbrella
Don’t get caught in a downpour without the city gent’s ultimate accessory.
Nowadays, carrying an umbrella in public wouldn’t raise eyebrows, but when globetrotting philanthropist Mr Jonas Hanway first used one on the rainy streets of London in the 1750s, he was subjected to a torrent of abuse. Hansom cab drivers, who relied on inclement weather to ensure a steady stream of customers, saw Mr Hanway and his newfangled “portable roof” as a threat to their livelihood. Cabbies would fling insults and rubbish at him or, worse, attempt to run him over. Today, thankfully, there aren’t such prejudices against this once-maligned accessory and, while many of us make use of a hood, or just brave the deluge, there are definite merits to investing in a proper defence against the elements.
It completes an outfit
In Hanway’s time, the 18th-century British public viewed umbrellas with disdain and suspicion, considering them to be the apparatus of “mincing Frenchmen” because of their popularity with the Parisian elite. Fast-forward a few centuries and it’s an entirely different story – by the mid-20th century the umbrella had become an indispensable part of the urban man’s uniform. Sepia photographs of 1950s London depict city gents carrying their tightly furled umbrellas with pride, even on a fine summer’s day; by this point, they were a hallmark of British masculinity. And a proper walking-length umbrella today has the same effect: it resembles the walking sticks carried by the dandies of yesteryear and makes a fine companion to sharp tailoring and a pair of well-polished Oxfords.
It gives you the air of a gentleman spy
We would hope you wouldn’t need to use an umbrella as a form of self-defence, but if Mr Colin Firth’s suave Kingsman agent Galahad is any example, a well-crafted umbrella makes an excellent shield against gunfire. Although we can't promise yours will stop a hail of speeding bullets, we can at least say it’s handy for waving the rush-hour masses out of the way on the commute and propping you up as you Tube-surf. If, for whatever reason, you don’t have the same tools as a spy at your fingertips, just plump for this fine umbrella by Francesco Maglia, below.
It’s more practical than you think
While a diminutive fold-up contraption might not provide the most effective coverage in a downpour, nor prove wholly dependable in the face of a light breeze, there is a significant advantage to be had in keeping an emergency umbrella in your bag. Be prepared for a sudden meteorological shift – without having to resort to the kind being peddled outside Tube stations – with Burberry’s compact umbrella, below, complete with gold-tone hardware and the brand’s iconic check. The alternative, of course, is to go without entirely and run the risk of looking like a drowned rat when you arrive at the office, which won’t impress anyone in the boardroom.