Though many men have now switched to the flimsy, collapsible, disposable umbrella, there was a time when a sturdy, pricey umbrella was as much of a gentleman’s status symbol as Gucci loafers.
And at that time, there was an etiquette associated with these accessories that has been forgotten in our transition to the disposable.
So spring, the rainiest season of the year in much of the US, is the perfect time for a reminder.
As Angus Kidman of Lifehacker Australia reminds us, umbrellas expand our personal space and the room we take up on the footpath. Most of umbrella etiquette revolves around this fact.
But there’s more to it than that.
- Choose an umbrella size that fits your frame, Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick of The Etiquette School of New York says . Too small an umbrella, and you’re going to look ridiculous. Too big, and you’re just going to look obnoxious taking up that much space on the footpath.
- Wait until you’re outside on the footpath, then open your umbrella. This may go without saying: It’s rude to open an umbrella and accidentally hit someone. For the same reason, it’s also rude to open it indoors — which has nothing to do with luck.
- When approaching someone shorter than you, it is customary to raise your umbrella so they can pass. If you’re about the same height, the person with the larger umbrella should raise theirs. Getting a little wet is better than poking someone in the eye with your umbrella.
- If you’re walking with someone, regardless of gender, try to share your rain-shielding coverage. Don’t be a jerk.
- As soon as you enter a building, close your umbrella and put it in the nearest umbrella receptacle or plastic bag. Be mindful of placing your wet umbrella on seats and definitely don’t shake it out indoors or on public transportation. You may not be wet, but your umbrella certainly is, and it’s creating a nuisance. Additionally, watch where your collapsed umbrella is dripping.
- When holding a dry umbrella, try not to stick it under your arm horizontally. As Napier-Fitzpatrick says, “Don’t tuck it horizontally with the ends sticking out ready to stab someone.” Above all, remember that an umbrella is a similar shape to a weapon and should be held with its point down as much as possible.
- When leaving, take your umbrella. Don’t take “the one you wish was yours instead,” Kidman said.
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