The British are famous for talking about the weather, and we do it because it's so changeable (and a bit unpredictable). To be prepared for random rain showers at this time of year, we need umbrellas. Nice umbrellas. Handbag-sized and wind-resistant ones are useful, but large ones can be dramatic.
I wrote most of this article on a really windy and rainy grey day. The windows were frequently being battered. I was glad to be inside, although it did brighten up. I've had to wait a few days to actually publish the article; I needed the wind to die down enough for me to photograph my umbrellas without having to chase them around the garden.
Umbrellas come in so many designs that they are great for a bit of self-expression. You can get the big, black ones with hooked handles and a long end above the canopy, sometimes used as a walking stick, whether or not they're designed for that dual purpose. You know the ones: you always see them in rainy funeral scenes in movies. You can get compact umbrellas in a rainbow of colours and patterns with telescopic poles; easy to carry about 'just in case'.
In recent years, some umbrellas have been produced which have a different canopy shape from normal. These immediately make a statement as they are still very unusual to most people. The first I remember seeing were two designs sold in 2013 by Restyle: a 'pagoda' shaped one, and a 'square' shaped one, both black. I bought the square one. Since then, pagoda umbrellas have become a bit more available, and in a lot of different colours. I've also seen heart shaped umbrellas. I haven't seen another quite like my discontinued Restyle square umbrella - which I still have - pictured below.
One producer of interestingly shaped umbrellas is Soake. They have a website of their own, but they are also stocked by Angel Clothing, and I got my two pagoda umbrellas from there, each under £20. They look fairly strong, but I haven't tried them out properly yet, simply because they're inconvenient. By necessity, I think, all the most unusually shaped umbrellas I've found are large, not telescopic/compact, so you need to know it's likely to rain before it's worth carrying them around.
If you're specifically looking for compact gothic umbrellas, Nemesis Now has a large range with licensed graphics by Anne Stokes and Lisa Parker (Angel Clothing has some of these too, for £14.99 each). Kreepsville 666 has a small collection of dramatically patterned telescopic umbrellas with skull-shaped handles; the eyeball and goat head patterns are striking, to say the least, although not to my personal taste.
I have the Kreepsville 666 spiderweb umbrella, bought from Attitude Clothing. It wasn't cheap (£39.99 if not in a sale) but it has an automatic opening mechanism, and it looks very solidly made, so it will hopefully last a long time and hold up against strong breezes. It's done well so far, and its perfectly sized to fit in my current handbag.
Sometimes I wish it rained a little more often so I would have more opportunity to show off my fancy brollys. Only sometimes, though.