Umbrella Etiquette

Singing in the rain

The rain clouds are building and with it a subtle storm of irritation related to umbrella management. Today a few words on wielding your umbrella in a dignified rather than dangerous way.
The most important element is to be aware of the sharp pointy bits on your umbrella and their proximity to the eyes of your fellow pedestrians. An Audrey Hepburn or Gene Kelly-esque twirl may appear charming and cute but potentially blind and/or soak your pavement peers.
Always be conscious of the fact that when carrying an umbrella you’ve significantly increased your use of sidewalk real estate. The average sidewalk is around 1.5 m (59 in) Umbrellas typically range anywhere from 89 cm (35 in) to 122 cm (48 in) in diameter. If my math is right that leaves around a meagre 28 cm (11 in) passing lane. Keep this in mind when considering whether to drag your golf umbrella through the crowds downtown.
Space is created for other pedestrians by lifting your umbrella up and above – if you are the tall one. If you are smaller in statue – keep your umbrella tucked close to your head and think compact thoughts; the other umbrella will pass over your head. There are some who believe in the 30 degree rule – if both umbrella carriers angle their umbrellas 30 degrees in opposite directions they will pass one another unharmed. A good plan but be aware of draining your umbrella onto another passerby’s shoulder.
Above all, be conscious of others out in the weather with you. “Drive” defensively and never forge ahead fiercely with your umbrella out front.
Do attempt to shed water from your umbrella before entering an office, restaurant, shop, home etc. Shake carefully, again with awareness of those in the flight path of droplets, and then park your umbrella in the umbrella stand provided. If there isn’t one, then place your closed and secured (spontaneous openings are highly undesirable) umbrella on the floor beside you, or under your chair where it is clearly out of the way of anyone walking past. In some cities it is common to have a “wet umbrella bag” dispenser at the door in which those with wet umbrellas can store their soggy accessories.   

wet umbrella stand

 A quick word about style and umbrellas … your umbrella is an extension of your style just as your handbags and shoes are. Be sure you are sporting the appropriate look for the occasion. That adorable duck billed yellow brolly of your daughter’s does not necessarily translate in the boardroom! Many patterns and colours are available now and allow for self-expression in a stylish way.

fashionable umbrella


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