There’s an old adage that says that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Usually in Texas, that lion sticks around through April.  Any my current umbrella is broken.  As a commuter in Texas, it behooves me to keep an umbrella in my bag.  So we’ll start with those.

Compact umbrellas are useful if you need to carry an umbrella without actually having it in your hand.  The upside is that it’s easily stowed away when the forecast is wrong.  The downside is that they are usually pretty flimsy and they are usually pretty cheap in quality.  These often have an automatic push button thing that open the umbrella.  Useful.  If you know how to use it.   These umbrellas are also really easy to flip inside out at the faintest breeze.

A full-size umbrella is usually made from better materials, since it doesn’t have to collapse small enough to fit in a commuter bag.  You can also look stylish with one of these, holding it jauntily while catching the train to the office.  The upside is that you’ll look like a posh gentleman.  The downside?  You can easily leave this behind somewhere without realizing it until you’re caught in a downpour.  These umbrellas also close into a more drip-friendly shape.

My opinion?  If you aren’t going to be commuting, go ahead and buy the nice upright one.  It’ll look a lot classier.  If you are a commuter, there are still higher quality compact umbrellas out there.  GAP has some for less than $30.  You can find either style at any price point really.  Some even have hard plastic sleeves that retract when you open the umbrella and keep your pants from getting wet when it’s closed.

For color – stick with black/gray.  It’ll go with everything and it won’t look stupid.  Stay away from rainbow colors, unless you are at the pride parade.  Nothing looks so weird as a person in a nice outfit, carrying a rainbow umbrella.

A final tip on umbrellas:  Don’t be afraid to open it in the store to make sure it opens and closes correctly.   If a shop assistant tries to stop you, leave.  You shouldn’t spend money on a product you aren’t sure will work once you get it home.   Especially something like an umbrella.  If it fails/breaks, you are screwed.  And wet.