So the weather outside has been frightful, not to put too fine a point on it.
It has been like this in HK forever... well a few months anyway, but Monday this week was the first day I made the cardinal mistake - I left the house without my brolly.
So I got wet; sodden in fact. When I finally got to work I was greeted by an email from 'Gilt', one of my favourite online stores, telling me all about their discounted Missoni umbrellas. I was just about to make a 7 am impulse purchase when I looked more closely - did this $99 USD brolly have everything I needed? When you live in a perpetually soggy climate you begin to become more discerning about your umbrella.
I figure that umbrellas are a lot like diamonds - you need to consider the four Cs...
Size matters, and bigger is most definitely better. Perhaps is some more polite cities you might want to consider your fellow pedestrians, however in HK the only rule is don't look anyone in the eye. You need to get used to the idea that when it is raining your umbrella is your weapon of choice, and as I am tall I have become very protective of my eyes which seem to be at the spoke level of every other person's brolly in Central. So, quite frankly, I am looking for a huge brolly to keep me dry and beat off the opposition...
(This this even a real word? Apparently so...)
I have experimented with 'sticks', the non-collapsible brolly, which tend to be sturdier and have better coverage; but if you are out for the day do you want to lug one around if it stops raining? I find it much easier to be able fold away and carry in my bag. You also need to think about the weight, contrary to the opinion of Mr P I have no wish to carry the kitchen sink in my handbag, so I obviously want an umbrella that is as light as possible to minimise shoulder strain. (Everything else in there is totally essential, honest!).
This really refers to all weather types - it can't just look pretty, it needs stand up to heavy rain and wind, HK regularly has both. So though although I'm not expecting to be wandering around with a brolly up in a typhoon, it needs to be able to 'perform' in some gusty weather. I'm not a fan of the inside-out umbrella wrestle move. I don't want to do it - ever.
Maybe some people are not that fussed about the look of their umbrella, but I at least like mine to be smart. If you spend ages choosing what to wear for the day why ruin it with tatty old brolly? Plain black is always a chic fail safe, however I like a hint of pattern. I'm a particular fan of black on the outside and a pattern inside - it seems to cocoon you in your own little world...
(A sneaky fifth C - this one should probably be applicable to diamonds as well!)
Given that umbrella's are often left behind, in umbrella stands outside bars, in the back of taxis; not to mention the sin of 'umbrella theft', the cost of the umbrella should be carefully considered. Now I'm not adverse to spending money on gorgeous products that will last if I cherish them, but surely I can find an umbrella for less than $100 USD? I mean if it costs more it has to have another gimmick - like making me coffee.
So after some research here are my top five contenders, in no particular order...
Isn't it beautiful? I love the idea of being ensconced in Magritte's blue sky whatever the weather. The umbrella is automatic and collapsible down to a "small" size. It has a 94 cm span. The reviews on MoMA online store are good, though not detailed. Looks pretty but I'm not convinced it would be resistant to blustery days...
This umbrella makes big claims. The automatic opening Metro model folds down to 41 cm but has a span of 109 cm when open. The 'double canopy' design has apparently been tested in winds of up to 55 mph...
So slightly longer than some handbags but a potentially reliable purchase. Possibly a little too functional for my taste.
I love the hook handle on this umbrella and the pinstripe pattern makes it a little different from a plain black brolly. Closed this umbrella has a length of 33 cm, and open it has a span of 102 cm. I think it is quite a masculine look, perhaps Mr P might like this one. There is no comment on the durability of the design, but Fulton is a very well established brolly brand.
4. Totes Micro AOC Seoul Umbrella, $26
This is the tiniest umbrella, when closed it has a length of just 23 cm. When opened it has a span of 99 cm. I find the pattern elegant and it would be easy to spot in a mess of brollies outside a bar. My concern would be the whether it was robust, such a light umbrella maybe a little flimsy?
5. Shanghai Tang Tiger Umbrella, $54
Shanghai Tang produces sturdy, automatic opening umbrellas. I can't seem to find the dimensions but from experience I know that it will collapse to a handbag size and open to around 100 cm. It should be fairly wind resistance as it is well made - Shanghai Tang is working hard to dispel the 'made in China' stigma. If only the outside was plain black...
Hmmm so I am off to consider this month's functional purchase - I will update when I am next dancing in the rain!