Be Prepared… Shopping for Brollies.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I’m just not a fan of those tiny folding umbrellas.

I’m sure they fit in a handbag for emergency downpours, but my handbags are never big enough. When I do take them out I don’t want to put a wet brolly back in my bag and end up leaving them on the floor in pubs and restaurants. They’re generally feeble in construction too and end up inside out at the first gust of wind.

No, for emergency downpours I am firmly attached to my rain hood.

However, there are those days when the rain just keeps coming. When before you leave the house you can already see it settling in for a good old drenching. Those days, I will confess, make an umbrella a handy thing to own. You don’t need to get those weedy folding things though. Remember proper umbrellas? Ones you can swing as you walk down the street and make people jump out of the way?

They’re called walking umbrellas. I have a golf umbrella I take out sometimes, but I really fancy an umbrella that’s a proper accessory. Something I’m proud to carry and does more than just keep me dry, it makes me feel happy too. I also have a vintage walking umbrella, but I’m not sure after 60 years I trust it to actually keep the rain off me.

So, much like a girl scout, I have been preparing myself for the torrential downpours I know are on their way (I am in England, after all) by indulging in some fantasy shopping at Fulton Umbrellas (by appointment to the Queen dontcha know!). They’ve got a gorgeous range of walking umbrellas designed by Cath Kidston, Morris & Co, Ella Doran and Retro Chick favourite Lulu Guinness and they’re not even *that* insanely expensive, so I might even actually buy one in February.

I’m torn between 2 styles. The large transparent ones, as I quite fancy the idea of peering out at a grey rainy world through beautiful flowers and decorative birds, and the traditional fold up handled umbrellas which look so elegant.

My favourites (all available from

Lulu Guinness Birdcage £32

So pretty! I fancy being a beautiful bird in a cage.

Ella Doran Pinky £22

I’m not that keen on most of the Ella Doran designs, there’s nothing wrong with them, they just don’t grab me in the way Lulu Guinness does, but I quite fancy the idea of being surrounded by a pretty floral meadow as I walk down the street in the rain.

Then, onto the more traditional styles.

Morris & Co Golden Lily£25

This has a real art nouveau type of print. The traditional curved handle and the print make it feel like a proper ladies umbrella. I like.

Lulu Guinness Every Cloud £35

A far more modern style with a slim straight handle, but I LOVE the sentiment and the shiny silver inside. It reminds me of an umbrella I fell in love with in a gadget shop back in 2002 with blue clouds printed on the inside and a boring black exterior, it’s nice to get some benefit yourself from your umbrellas decoration.

Cath Kidston Folk Flowers Navy £25

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Cath Kidston. I find some of her floral designs almost unbearably twee and can’t understand how anyone can stand to have it plastered all over bags, purses, tea towels, mirrors, sewing kits and anything else anyone might want. On the other hand she does some lovely non floral designs as well and I like the general aesthetic of the idea behind it, and on summer picnics it suddenly feels much more appealing.

This umbrella IS floral, but it’s navy which takes away some of the twee and has a nice traditional curved handle and big pointy top for poking annoying people with in shops.

So there we go.

I’m hoping that it’ll only rain over night or at times that I’m tucked cosily up indoors. But having lived in the UK all my life I know from experience that it is very likely that the exact reverse of that will be the case. At least now I’ll be prepared instead of walking down the road with a rag on a stick draped over my head (which is what all of my fold up umbrellas end up like, until I give up and throw them in a bin)

Which is your favourite?

25 Responses
  • jiva
    January 19, 2011

    I have this one: bought by my lovely husband for my christmas present. If its raining you’ll be seeing me dancing with my cardinals.

  • Fiona Culshaw
    January 19, 2011

    I love the see through Lulu Guinness one but I’m afraid I just have a fold up one, I would never remember to take that out!

  • Pixie
    January 19, 2011

    I’m absolutely in love with my Lula Guiness (I think you saw I wrote about it on my blog

    It is without a doubt THE best umbrella I’ve owned. Not only is it gorgeous it’s so easy to use. That sounds like a stupid thing to say but the ‘up’ bit is really super – doesn’t catch your finger etc. Doooo it. 🙂

    • Retro Chick
      January 19, 2011

      Yes, I love that umbrella, it’s so gorgeous!

  • Amy H
    January 19, 2011

    Huge huge fab of Lulu’s umbrellas, low expense (relatively) & very high quality!! I’ve got a number of her designs…bit of a thing for brollies. I’d go for the birdcage one. I’ve got a teensy tiny Lulu handbag one that’s proved v sturdy in the wind. I just keep a ziploc bag to pop it in & don’t risk leaving it places when wet 🙂 x

    • Retro Chick
      January 19, 2011

      Ziplock bag! What a clever idea.

  • Abilu
    January 19, 2011

    Love Love Love the bird cage one! but alsas it is not my birthday until August! But if you like the Ellen doran one I spotted it on Amazon for £13.20 reduced – a bit of a bargin!

    But the cheapest I could find the birdcage one is £29.99

    Still can not really justify it yet! I need wellies more as mine have a hole in them! Any ideas – I dont want hunters!

    • Retro Chick
      January 19, 2011

      Oooh, you bargain hunter you!

      Hmm, I got wellies last year for £10 in the sale. Not hunters but basic green ones, I just went round camping shops!

      • Abilu
        January 19, 2011

        Yeah! I think that is the way forward1 Thanks ;0)

    • Pixie
      January 19, 2011

      I didn’t know it until yesterday but apparently Hunters are the new uggs and people wear them out to clubs and stuff…? Weird.

  • LandGirl1980
    January 19, 2011

    I am convinced of the rainhood option – although I do love a good old fashioned brollie. But as a commuter they just become another thing for me to carry. However – for strolls in the park… that’s quite a different matter….

  • kerry
    January 19, 2011

    Ah great minds think alike…I have a post in draft on umbrellas….inspired by getting utterly drenched on the way to work……

    I just love that first one. I love it so much I am actually seriously thinking og buying one….£32 on an umbrella….part of me thinks that is crazy but ooooo it is so lovely!

  • kerry
    January 19, 2011

    did I say part of me? just to clarify a *huge* part of me thinks that is crazy (not naming the part though! lol)

    • Retro Chick
      January 19, 2011

      I’d rather spend it on a brolly than some other things.

      If you think of the cost of a pair of ridiculously impractical shoes, compared to a lovely umbrella….

  • Hannah Cruse
    January 19, 2011

    Much more stylish! I love the Edward Parasol style ones:

  • Franca
    January 19, 2011

    I like the art nouveau one best. My umbrella is one of those parasol type ones, with a pointy bit at the top and a round bit at the edge, people sometimes have them at weddings. It’s white/cream, but i might get one in another colour too.

  • Perdita
    January 19, 2011

    The birdcage one is my favourite.

    I often see little girls’ brollies and am filled with envy, I love dome-shaped clear ones with cute designs. Sadly often age-inappropriate and too small!

    • Retro Chick
      January 19, 2011

      I do that too! I love the ones that look like ladybirds!

  • Penny Dreadful Vintage
    January 19, 2011

    I have the Lulu bird cage one! The other fun thing about full umbrellas is that you can tap them like an angry old granny as you walk along.

    And I am SO with you on Cath Kidston; she gives me a toothache most of the time, but I find the black and navy patterns bearable x

  • Lady Cherry
    January 19, 2011

    Definitely the birdcage one. I would have bought it myself as I desperately need a new brolly, however the price makes my eyes water a little. x

  • Ms Wanda
    January 19, 2011

    The Lulu Guiness one is incredible – I love it!

    I just went out in hevrain with a sun parasol (it was all I had on me). In case you’re wondering – they don’t work very well as umbrellas!!

  • Lili
    January 19, 2011

    It was a toss up between the Ella Doran Pinky and the Bird Cage. And upon deep thought, I say definitely the bird cage umbrella!
    It’s so original!! I need something like that for our rainy winters in Paris.
    Thanks for sharing!


  • Heather Fonseca
    January 21, 2011

    I think the birdcage one is my favorite – it’s so whimsical!


  • Emma at Daily Clothes Fix
    January 22, 2011

    I like the third one but that might be because the print is exactly the same as my hall curtains. Not that I usually feel the need for my curtains and brolly to match.

    I totally agree with you that a brolly should be fun. It’s depressing being out in the rain so anything to improve that is a bonus.

  • Georgina
    January 26, 2011

    Ooo, I just posted that Lulu Guinness one on my site the other day! It’s SO cute, isn’t it? I might have to buy it! I have a regular birdcage umbrella, but that one is just so quirky.