Buying an umbrella is like buying a pair of shoes, says Bella Umbrella owner Jodell Egbert. “You can have incredible shoemakers using the same materials, but it all comes down to functionality for you. Does the umbrella need to be compact? Do you put it in your purse, or does it need to have a strap on the back?” Personal preference is key.
Egbert is one of only a small number of umbrella manufacturers in the world — and the only one in the United States — that hand-make their products. She says buyers should consider even the type of rain they encounter when choosing an umbrella: In New Orleans, where her shop is located, the rain can be hard and wet, but in Seattle, “it’s a misty rain.” On her list of musts: higher-quality metal, such as steel, in the frame; automatic open and close features; waterproof fabric with a UV coating; and a warranty, “because things happen.” Above all, Egbert says, “buy quality first, and it will last.”
“Knirps is the Mercedes-Benz of umbrellas,” says Whitney Robinson, editor in chief of Elle Decor. “It’s super sturdy, built to last and has just the right amount of flash.” He likes the T2 Duomatic model with the Check539 tartan pattern ($109, knirps.com).
The weather in England, where Alys Colayera lives, is notoriously fickle — it could be rainy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, “with rain and fog par for the course,” says the travel expert for Black Tomato, a luxury tour and adventure company. She keeps herself prepared with Hunter’s Original Striped Bubble Umbrella ($65, urbanoutfitters.com). “I arm myself with this mod umbrella because it’s fun, has a bit of ’60s glamour to it . . . and can withstand strong gusts,” she says. Hunter also makes a travel umbrella that Colayera likes.
Babatunde umbrellas ($39.47, babatunde.co.za) are hand-made in South Africa, with vibrant wax-print patterns that attracted the eye of Joshua Greene, co-founder of Hernandez Greene, an interior design firm in New York. With his background in fashion, as a former ready-to-wear and textiles editor for Women’s Wear Daily, he likes the umbrella’s colors. “They’re super cool and super unusual,” he says. “I wear a lot of dark, solid colors, so I like to add bright colors.” The frame is metal, and the handle is wooden.
“We keep it pretty classic,” says Atlanta-based style blogger Mattie James about her family’s umbrella preference. “We need it oversize and black. I don’t like hook handles; it looks good in theory, but for function, I need something with a grip.” Her family likes the oversize Totes Stormbeater vented auto-open umbrella, with its fiberglass frame and double-vented canopy ($26.61, amazon.com). “My husband got three of them: one of them for the car, two for the house, so that we make sure we’re good to go.”
With her eye for umbrella craftsmanship (and the largest collection of vintage umbrellas in the world), Egbert gives a thumbs-up to ShedRain, a company in Oregon. “The design is spot on, with an extra amount of really good ribs,” she says. The Auto Open Clear Bubble Umbrella With Black Crook Handle ($25, shedrain.com) is clear for extra visibility.
More from Lifestyle: