Expert picks for the best umbrellas, from big and sturdy to super-fashionable.
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,” she says. “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 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, where she used to live, “it’s a misty rain.” (Bella Umbrella operated near Pike Place Market until last October.)
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.” Her Bella Umbrella Pagoda ($149 at bellaumbrella.com), for example, is made from UPF 50+ material, won’t invert in the rain and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Some expert picks for umbrellas:
Knirps Fiber T2 Duomatic (on sale for $60–$90 at knirps.com). “Knirps is the Mercedes-Benz of umbrellas,” says Whitney Robinson, editor-in-chief of Elle Décor. “It’s super sturdy, built to last and has just the right amount of flash.”
Hunter Original Striped Bubble Umbrella ($65 at hunterboots.com).The weather in England, where Alys Colayera lives, is notoriously fickle — “with rain and fog par for the course,” says the travel expert for Black Tomato, a luxury tour company. “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.
Babatunde Umbrellas ($39.50 at babatunde.co.za). Handmade in South Africa, these umbrellas with vibrant wax-print patterns attracted the eye of Joshua Greene, co-founder of Hernandez Greene, an interior design firm in New York. 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.”
Totes Stormbeater Automatic Double Vented Folding Umbrella ($27 at amazon.com). “We keep it pretty classic,” Atlanta-based style blogger Mattie James says 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 this jumbo option, with a fiberglass frame and venting.
ShedRain Auto Open Bubble Umbrella with Sewn Fabric Border ($25 at shedrain.com). Egbert gives a thumbs-up to ShedRain, a company based in Oregon. “The design is spot on, with an extra amount of really good ribs,” she says. The umbrella is mostly clear, for extra visibility, with a fashionable stripe around the bottom.