If you want to be considered a proper gent, it's unthinkable to be carrying around some lightweight brolly in the rain that falls to pieces in a strong wind. You might as well be in one of those plastic hats old ladies wear holding a copy of Cosmo above your head. Whether you're looking for a genuine sartorial investment or just want something reliable for every day use, here's our recommendations.
James Smith & Sons
Anyone familiar with the streets of Holborn will recognise the elegant Victorian shopfront of James Smith & Sons, umbrella makers since 1830. Many of their umbrellas are still handmade on-site, and as you can imagine they don't come cheap, but if you're after something extra special and you're not liable to leave it in the pub after a few, Smith's your man.
Beechwood Derby Solid Umbrella (pictured above) £245 from www.james-smith.co.uk
In 1868 Thomas Fox opened a shop in the City of London selling the newly invented steel tube umbrellas. 150 years later and the Fox name has become trusted supplier to Presidents, Royal Families and globally renowned fashion houses. The manufacturing process has changed little in that time, with painstaking attention to detail and excellent craftmanship still making Foxes some of the best brollies money can buy. The selection on offer is something to behold in itself.
Horn Inset Handle Umbrella £126 from www.foxumbrellas.com
Established in 2008, London Undercover is a relatively new brand in a world with its roots in Victorian Britain. Many of their umbrellas are made using environmentally friendly methods, using recycled materials and packaging wherever possible, which is always good to hear, because an umbrella won't save you when the bloody polar ice caps melt. Incidentally, the handmade Whangee cane model is my brolly of choice this winter.
Whangee Cane Crooked Folded Umbrella £60 from www.londonundercover.co.uk
Founded in 1956 by engineer Arnold Fulton in a small factory in London, Fulton's have grown to become the UK's largest supplier of quality umbrellas, holding the royal stamp of approval. They won't cost you a fortune, so you won't have to beat yourself up too badly if you're the kind of bloke likely to get pissed and leave it in the back of a cab.
Commissioner Black Walking Umbrella £27 from www.fultonumbrellas.com