Umbrella Etiquette 101

Guess what DC; the giant snow storm is going to pass us again – what else is new? This means we get beautiful white snow’s ugly half-step-sister, rain. We’re familiar with rain; but are we trained to properly handle rain? Research (walking on DC sidewalks) shows that many of us are not. That’s okay, it may not be your fault. Here are a few rules to prevent you from purposely, or accidentally, being a umbrella-wielding a-hole.

1. Don’t use a golf umbrella. Period.

I mean, I’m not really sure this even requires explanation. The DC sidewalks are not wide enough to handle you and your obnoxiously large umbrella and the rest of us who live here. Golf umbrellas have a home – the golf course – get yourself a normal umbrella of appropriate dimensions for city-dwelling.

2. Walk, and walk past, others with an umbrella properly.

When approaching others on the sidewalk with an umbrella, do not tilt it away from them as you pass. This exposes you to rain (totally defeats the purpose), and likely stabs the person on the other side of you. If you are shorter than the person you are passing, lower your umbrella. Conversely, if you are taller, raise it a little. If you are walking under scaffolding, close your umbrella. If there is an overhang on the side of a building, and you have an umbrella, save the overhang area for those without. And if you are waiting to cross an intersection with others who are sans umbrella, offer them room under yours. Hey, it might sound corny, but check “Missed Connections” in a big city any day after a big rain, and you’ll get the picture (and maybe a number).

3. Properly wielding a closed umbrella

Provided there a building overhang, close the umbrella prior to entrance, and tap it on the ground to shake off access. Never actually shake, or fling, the umbrella. It’s not a dog. When sitting on the metro, hold the umbrella upright between your legs if you’re a man, and next to your knee if you are a woman. Never put it on the seat next to you. When walking down the street if the rain has stopped, one should always hold the umbrella in their hand, never under the arm. When in your hand, you have more control over it and are less likely in accidentally hit someone. Plus, if six ninjas jump out of the alley, you can react faster and use it as a sword.

4. Purchase a grown-up umbrella

You have nice clothes, your shoes do not have holes in them, you’re gainfully employed; buy a big-person umbrella. You wouldn’t use your GI Joe gym bag from when you were six, or your daughter’s Hello Kitty lunch box when dressed for the office, why should your umbrella be any different? It should match the rest of your attire. If you are traveling in Europe and it suddenly pours, grab a $5 one from a stand. If hiking, carry a small, portable umbrella. And if you live in Washington, DC and presumably your daily wardrobe involves a tie or heels, have a proper umbrella such as one of these.

brooks brothers umbrellas
Tattersall folding umbrella. Brooks Brothers. $65.00


paul smith umbrella

Paul Smith Umbrella – Signature Stripe Trim Black Walking Umbrella. $240.00


Stay dry out there DC, and try not to stab someone.



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