Living in gloomy, rainy London: umbrellas vs hoodies?

Living in gloomy, rainy London: umbrellas vs hoodies?

Despite the traditionally romantic image of the English gentleman wielding a 48-inch, neatly gathered navy brolly, it doesn’t really match the reality on the London high street.

Umbrella or hoodie? It’s the age old question that’s been haunting Londoners since the sloppy joe sprouted a hood. So, which you do reach for when you see storm clouds brewing?

English weather is, of course, notoriously bad; the gloomy skies, endless winter and incessant rain is certainly a far cry from the beautiful sun kissed shores of our homeland. But we knew what we were in for before we signed on, so let’s not linger on how miserable it can be.

What surprised me most when I first arrived in Blighty is that the infamous English rain is actually really pissy. Equipped with wellies and a heavy duty raincoat I’d been prepared for utter downpours, but that’s just not the case. What you get instead is that dull sprinkling, so thin you can hardly see it, but persistent enough to soak you through if you dare stay out for any measurable period of time.

So then we come to the recurring problem: how to stay dry? Unfortunately taking to the streets every day in your bright yellow poncho and knee-high galoshes is too embarrassing an option to consider, so we fall back on the good old fashioned brolly – friend of the Englishmen for aeons.

But umbrellas are a cumbersome day-to-day addition to your handbag, not to mention an extra thing to remember to keep on your person. Those umbrella buckets at the entrance of shops and restaurants are nothing short of death traps. They may as well be labelled “umbrella donations” for the amount left there on overcast days.

Umbrellas also make it incredibly difficult to navigate your way through a high street full of raised brollies that batter you from every angle as you politely try to make your way through the crowd.

Even though we do traditionally imagine the portrait of an English gentleman wielding a 48-inch, neatly gathered navy brolly, it doesn’t accurately depict the reality on the streets. The average Joe doesn’t bother with a weighty umbrella, their way is to just get wet. As soon as the heavens open, they pull a hood over their heads and soldier on. Unless it’s truly bucketing, London locals leave their brollies at home.

TOP IMAGE: Via LondonSLR /

Bianca Soldani

Bianca Soldani

Bianca Soldani is an Australian writer from Sydney who has roamed around Europe while living in London, Venice and Switzerland. Between sniffing out the best Asian eateries and brushing up her cockney, Bianca published a book based on her experience in London, 'An Aussie's Survival Guide to London', designed to help other young Aussies get their bearings when they first move to the big city.