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Article: Gentleman's Etiquette: Umbrellas

Gentleman's Etiquette: Umbrellas


Brigg umbrellas are more than the sum of their components. Fundamentally, we at Brigg do not make an umbrella, we make a canopy. From the Norman conquest onwards, canopies were used to protect both royalty and saints, essentially, from evil. Consequently, an umbrella, the modern day derivative, was never something seen on the streets of England until after the Regency period in the early 1800s. So this entomology – inspired by Eastern mythology about spiritual protection – is still very much a part of what Brigg umbrellas are today.


Taking approximately eight years' worth of investment in time because of the solid stick, Brigg umbrellas are cut to a gentleman's height, rather than being an off-the-shelf standard size, designed to become an extension of his gait. A gentleman never carries an umbrella, an umbrella will carry a gentleman. 



When measured and used properly, an umbrella will temper his speed, change his core control from solar plexus to diaphragm, pushing his shoulders back over his pelvis, and putting his upper body weight through his hips, his knees and his ankles in a straight line. This gentleman is now ‘en guarde’; a stance meaning that he will walk using all twenty-six bones in his feet; his weight passing through his legs evenly and his peripheral vision enhanced due to the angle of his head. The concept of a sword stick is part of the historic ritual law of becoming a knight, becoming noble and becoming a defender of the realm. A squire would be given a stick as his first weapon, as a part of his early training for knighthood. Consequently, in sports like taekwondo, a stick is still used as a defensive and lethal weapon, which is why umbrellas cannot be carried on aeroplanes. So, from a military or ceremonial point of view, an English gentleman is always ‘en guarde’ and standing to attention when he is out and about in town.



Regardless of whether it will rain or shine, an English gentleman is never dressed without one. He cannot run or rush – he is never late to an appointment, but always perfectly on time. If it should rain, ironically, a gentleman will not deploy his umbrella, as it is not sentinel to consider getting wet undesirable. If the nature surrounding him can get wet, so can he. 



He will only deploy his umbrella in defence of another, so an English gentleman will walk through the rain with his umbrella firmly closed, only using it as a shield to protect a lady when the need arises – potentially hurrying across the street to her assistance leaving a hotel into a carriage or a taxi. He walks on the outward road side of the pavement, protecting his partner from the splashes of cars and so on. He dips his umbrella into the roadside should an oncoming umbrella be pointing in his direction, deferring to the gutter as a matter of course. 



Should a gentleman open his umbrella, he does not open it at arm’s length, instead he steps inside the canopy as it unfurls, to ensure that at no point in time is he pointing his sword stick in the face of a passer-by.



Umbrellas, as stated, are not there to keep a gentleman dry, they are there to protect himself and others, and the element of protection that a gentleman is aware of is his own malign benevolence. Should he be exposed to the rain and only see the negativity of it, then the umbrella is not doing its job. The canopy is there to remind a gentleman to be sentinel and noble, and irrevocably aware of nature’s finest gifts. A gentleman should always rise to adversity and present the best face.



A lady, on the other hand, will always carry her umbrella, although it is sizably smaller than a gentleman's. Women's umbrellas are carried in their hand, traditionally when horse-bound or carriage-bound and brings with it the advantage of height. The handle of the umbrella is the most important aspect for a lady, allowing her to protect her dignity if she is challenged. Thinking back to the abundance of vagabonds on the streets of the early 1800s, a lady can use the umbrella as a downward blow when required, protecting her virtue in terms of self-defence. The stick is about twenty inches long and, braced between two hands, the stick is impregnable. She can hold off her assailant until assistance arrives from a passing gentleman.



The concept of a Kingsman still holds very true. A gentleman in the army who is in civilian uniform will carry a solid stick and deploy it in defence of their charges; whether it be a kind in a crowd, or anyone more vulnerable than themselves. Primarily, Brigg umbrellas are a sword stick rather than a means of protection from the weather, making a gentleman the custodian of noble etiquette and a defender of integrity.


For both ladies and gentlemen, Brigg umbrellas are usually purchased for seminal moments; for a marriage, for a graduation or for any other significant achievement that requires a symbolic gift – meant to be treasured for life.

Brigg umbrellas are gifts as special as wedding or engagement rings in their tradition and symbolism. It is not always necessary, for example, to buy an engagement ring from Tiffany’s, but for many, this symbolises a lifelong romantic commitment sealed by a gift to be admired forever. These traditions are tokens that have become somewhat lost in our present world – and often within our client base – but Brigg is designed for a specific purpose and kept for life.

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