If you live somewhere with a lot of rain, you will understand what I am going on about in this post. As for the rest of you, I'm going to school you as to why you should in fact consider spending between $30 and $70 for a truly beautiful, functional umbrella that will last you a lifetime.
Almost every time I have visited New York City, it has rained mercilessly. I distinctly remember watching New Yorkers who owned cheap umbrellas just throwing them down in the street when the wind inevitably turned the spines of it inside out. The sight of them marching onward, slowly getting drenched to their bones, has always stuck with me. (And made me laugh cruelly.)
A costumer on a show I worked on recently turned me on to these amazing umbrellas made by Tray 6. They are real, functional works of art. They are also strong, made to withstand heavy rains, beautifully made, and wind-resistant. Once you buy 3 cheap $10 umbrellas that fall apart on you in your most desperate hour of need, you will agree that spending $30 or so on one well made umbrella is actually a very smart idea. In a perfect world, one single umbrella should last you a lifetime. Plus an umbrella can totally be a fashion statement.
The owner of Tray 6 is a brilliant graphic/textile designer who creates all of the prints for her umbrellas from scratch. Her designs remind me of a cleaner, sleeker, slightly more modern Marimekko. I personally own at least 6 of her umbrellas, which is completely ridiculous, as I live in the damn desert of California. But they are just so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself.
Tray 6 sells 3 different sizes of umbrellas. I think the medium folding umbrella is the most useful size. (This is also the size that I own 4 of!) Two people can stand under it comfortably, not that my dude ever does. It’s some strange badge of courage with him that he can walk in the rain and get wet and just not care.
The curved handle fits beautifully in your hand while carrying it, and makes it easy to hook it over your arm, dangle it from a patio railing, or hang it on the strap of your purse when it's not in use.
If you had ever unloaded a wardrobe trailer full of clothes in the pouring rain, you'd be singing the praises of a curved umbrella handle too. But of course I am the only poor slob standing in the rain getting yelled at to move faster while still trying to protect my hairdo. The rest of you will be grateful to me for this umbrella when you have a car full of groceries in the pouring rain.
I never thought about a stupid umbrella handle as being a functional item until I owned this particular umbrella. It seems like such a little thing until you are actually using it. It just fits so nicely into the crook of your arm, and allows you to perform tasks with both hands while holding said umbrella.
Now that I've waxed poetic about an umbrella handle for 10 solid minutes, let's move on.
The smallest umbrellas that Tray 6 sells are foldable and great to keep stashed away in your tote bag. They are only 11.5” long and weigh just about 12 ounces.
I keep one in my suitcase so I am not in a pickle when I find myself on a trip in the rain. You have no idea how many times lugging one of these stupid umbrellas around has saved my ass. (And made me look super sharp while I skipped through the rain in Philly to have beers with cute boys.)
This is also a good time to point out that the Tray 6 umbrellas I own all open and close flawlessly. There is no struggling with the closure mechanism while you try to jump into your car as you simultaneously attempt to close your umbrella. (In a perfect world, that should be one fluid movement.)
The reason I own a few proper "doorman" umbrellas is because my best friend's mother died during El Nino in 2002. She had been ill for a long while, and we knew that she had a limited amount of time left. I had randomly purchased a large black umbrella a few weeks prior and happened to have it in my car on the day of her funeral.
I pressed that thing into service like crazy while walking all the elderly mourners from their cars to the funeral tent. It sounds so obvious and silly, but I have always thought that the very best thing you can do in times of sorrow and need is to simply be of service.
Tray 6 umbrellas make great gifts. I have given them to a lot of my co-workers and always get a kick out of seeing them in use when it finally deigns to rain in sunny LA.
If none of these umbrellas happens to float your boat, maybe you murderous babes would be more interested in a sword umbrella.
I know I am.
(I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison)