When it rains (which seems to be just about every day this Spring), it’s normal to see colorful-hued umbrellas bustling down the sidewalk as pedestrians hurry by, trying to protect themselves from the rain.
Even though the rain doesn’t hurt or cause future harm, avoiding the rain is an accepted, common, everyday occurrence.
Isn’t it strange that it’s completely normal to carry an umbrella for protection against the innocuous rain, and unusual to carry a parasol for protection against the dangerous sun?
Philadelphia’s Constitution Center is currently the most prevalent spot in the city for parasol sightings. Bus-loads of visitors stop-by the historic site for day-trips, and the parasols are usually in the hands of skin-savvy Asian tourists. (As usual, our Asian peers are ahead of the curve in skincare trends, and to me but this serves as a harbinger that parasols will be more mainstream in our culture in the not-so-distant future. Asia is a hot-bed for the latest and greatest skincare innovations, and no culture values sun protection / porcelain-skin more than them.)
When you think Parasol, do you instantly visualize toddler dance-recital costumes*?
It doesn’t need to be like that.
To the average person (at least, in local circles), parasols currently are synonymous with costumery – definitely not something that is considered a must-have, everyday accessory.
Personally, my husband is mortified when I carry my parasol.
Despite knowing my safe-skin obsession, despite the fact that for the past 3-years in a row I’ve had biopsies of suspicious looking moles, and despite the fact that he himself is a redhead – if everyone else on the street is not carrying a parasol, I should not carry a parasol. (Come on bruh! I love you, but it’s 2017 and I’ll wear / carry whatever I want. No one else on the street gives AF about what I’m carrying!)
During the summer, I dread my mile walk to work. The relentless sun beats down on my neck, shoulders, and any other exposed body part, and even though I’m only in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes, I swear my skin is burning. I hate that feeling.
But, applying sunscreen to my entire body each morning is not practical. I don’t want to feel greasy all day, I don’t want to smell like sunscreen all day, and I don’t want to have to worry about getting sunscreen on my clothes, handbag, etc. (I don’t know why, but sunscreen seems to ruin leather. Ironic, huh?)
Protective clothing is great in theory, but on those brutally hot days, you want to wear the least amount of clothing that allows you to stay decent.
In one quick, magical click, my parasol solves all of these issues.
As soon as it pops up, I’m wholly protected from the sun.
I don’t have to apply sunscreen to my entire body, nor deal with all the complications that presents. My parasol keeps me safe from the sun, it helps keep me a little bit cooler due to the shade it provides, and it also doubles as an umbrella when it rains. For roughly the cost of one one bottle of body sunscreen ($17.99), a parasol provides full sun-protection that will last for years.
For anyone that wants to protect their skin from the sun, there isn’t a more elegant solution.
Carrying a parasol shouldn’t be considered something weird or odd, and instead should be viewed as an extension of your outfit, and/or another way to relay your unique style-voice.
When researching “parasol street style,” I was pleasantly surprised at how many cool girls are already rocking the parasol.
Man Repeller. Gwen Stefani. Carrie Bradshaw.
Fashion bloggers, festival goers.
You can carry a parasol, be safe from the sun, and still look completely put-together and modern.
There are SO many parasol designs available. Find one that appeals to you, and use it!
Just do a quick search on Amazon, you will be shocked at your plethora of options.
My personal favorite^ parasol is different shades of blush-pink swirled together, with some gold-glitter mixed in and a delicate lace-ruffle along the edge. It is girly and fun while still being adult-appropriate. Most importantly, it has an SPF-100. Black-lining on the under-side helps prevent the sun from penetrating through the fabric to my skin, and when I’m done with it, it collapses into a tiny, 5-inch bundle that weighs less than a magazine. It is in my purse always, and has survived all of the abuse that entails. (Not many items can spend weeks in my purse and come out unscathed. I don’t know what goes on in there, but apparently it’s rough.)
Parasols are a super-easy, stylish way to keep yourself safe from whatever Mother Nature is hurling at you. We predict that parasol popularity will increase dramatically for exactly these reasons, and I look forward to the day when I can tease my husband for ever giving me grief about it. (Sort of like a 2017 Uggs situation.)
Random Musings on the Future of Parasols:
The only thing that could be better, ironically, would be to give this super-vintage accessory a complete technological makeover. Imagine “smart-parasols” with solar-panel technology. I’d want solar-panels to be integrated into the parasol-material so that while it’s open and being used, it could store-up all the solar-energy it was exposed to. If you could then sync your parasol to the internet so that you could listen to music, or take phone-calls, and/or charge your devices with it, it would be so amazing because this would make people that much more likely to a.) USE IT, and b.) never leave the house without it, and c.) USE IT!!! Bonus points if there was a way to potentially have the umbrella blow cool air, or emit a noise or vibration that kept mosquitoes away. (NASA / Apple, please keep me posted?)
Important Parasol Caveat:
You still need to apply sunscreen to your face. Parasols can only protect you from the sun rays coming from above, but they cannot do anything to protect your skin from the reflected sun-rays that bounce off the ground (sidewalk, sand or other reflective surfaces). A lot of protection is better than no protection, but since your face is most people’s primary area of concern, that area should always have sun protection.
* There’s an amazingly embarrassing picture of my sister in one of these get-ups, Jenny — you are so lucky it’s not online!
^ My other parasol was a reprint of VanGogh’s Starry Night, and I thought it would be good for days when I wanted a parasol with some edge. (I completely know how that sounds. Is there something even more frivolous than #firstworldproblems to apply here?) Interestingly, as soon as I lovingly withdrew Parasol #2 from it’s box, Naomi told me she wanted it. Me being the loving daughter that I am (can you hear those angels singing in the background?) let her have it in the hopes that she would use it, and also benefit from it.