The Umbrella Shop

The Umbrella Shop

Come rain or shine, next time you’re in central London hail a cab and ask for “The Umbrella shop” every taxi driver will know where to find this hidden gem! With it`s Victorian shop front design and untouched interior you will be warmly welcomed into the world of walking sticks, dress canes, umbrellas and much, much more. Founded in the 1830s, this is the oldest umbrella shop in London.

James Smith & Sons works with established family companies from around Europe. Sourcing the highest quality components that they need to craft their walking sticks and umbrella collections. A few of the handles are still hand carved by craftsman in the uk and unique wooden handles are supplied from the forests of Europe and Asia.

Phil, the store manager gave me a tour of the store before opening hours. A real treat, as when the open sign was turned and the doors unlocked the daily flow of customers began. The store is brimming with a large variety of styles and functional designs. There are plenty of knowledgeable sales personnel on hand to advise you on which style would best suit your needs and give tips on how to take care of your purchase.

Which is the oldest umbrella you have in-store?
An 18th century walrus tusk and brass umbrella, the fabric would have originally been silk and the ribs made of whalebone.

I see you have a variety of styles in the cabinet, what type of umbrellas are these?
Here we have a drinking stick umbrella, which was popular in the 19th century, there`s also a games stick with concealed dice, a horse measuring stick and swordstick.

How would you describe the signature style of a traditional English umbrella and which is your personal favourite?
It should be functional and reserved in design. My favourite is the horn handle umbrella with olive wood shaft, as it is not only stylish but sturdy and comfortable to hold.

Which umbrellas would you class as essential accessories?
A small umbrella which fits in your bag, a sturdy, stylish folding design for windy days and a smart, formal style for weddings and funerals.

Do you have an on-site workshop?
Yes we do, we produce our own umbrellas, make alterations and of course offer a repairs service.

Thank you Phil and your team for having me at James Smith & Sons, armed with my new umbrella I will be ready for any stormy days and any April showers!

When I am working in London I like to uncover new shopping experiences and gain insight into the traditional stores which have influenced design as we know it today. If there is anything you would particularly like me to explore, please let me know so I can add it to my style stories for you!

Gift voucher

Gift voucher

Still searching for the perfect present?
Let`s arrange a different kind of gift, something that will last long after christmas!
With this voucher you`ll give your colleagues or loved ones the chance to try on some new styles, find wardrobe favourites and discover different boutiques and stores in town. There are two cards to choose from and many possibilities, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch- Lets connect!

Shopping  Tour London

Shopping Tour London


A client called “I would like to whisk her away to London for the weekend and arrange a surprise – something she won`t expect.”

Flights were booked and a week before our appointment in London, I received a list of her favourite things and their address in London – The Soho Hotel. Our appointment would be on the day of her birthday. “She loves cupcakes” – I arranged for a delicious selection to be delivered from the Hummingbird Bakery with the invitation for our surprise personal shopping tour the next morning.

In advance, I selected the stores for our shopping tour, reserved key pieces at boutiques which had limited stock and organised a table at Vintage Salt so that her partner could whisk her away for lunch.

Everything was ready!

On Saturday morning after a cup of English tea and discussion about our plan of action, we set off across the city by cab. First stop: Mulberry.

I`d heard that the ‚tessie satchel‘ and small ‚freya‘ were on her wish list. We tried a number of the pre-selected pieces but the black studded satchel won a place in her wardrobe – something small, a little edgier than her ‚Alexa‘ bag.

A quick stop to try on sunglasses in Valentino – without success, and then across the road to… Joseph.

This multibrand boutique also stocks extravagant collections from labels such as Balmain and Alaia, however we were on the search for day-to-day knitwear. Joseph`s collection of modern silk and cashmere jumpers, in various shades and cuts proved a great success.

Next stop – shoes! Comfy and stylish – Hogan`s flagship store has a lot of styles on offer and as she has petit feet (size 35) shoes are not always easy to find. Luckily Hogan has a great selection in smaller sizes and suddenly, the amount of shopping bags doubled!

The last stop was Selfridge, we flagged down a cab and headed back towards Oxford Street. We couldn`t visit without going through their shoe department. If you haven`t been, it’s a must! Another `must` was the beauty department for some products you cannot find in Zurich like Bumble and Bumble. After this, it was time for a break.

We escaped the throngs of shoppers and headed for the roof-top bar where her partner was waiting in Vintage Salt with a bottle of Champagne. The perfect end to the perfect surprise!

A Tailored Gift

A Tailored Gift

Inspired by the people I met when writing about tailored shirts I thought it time to surprise my husband with a personal gift. I gave him Matt Hübscher`s card and suggested he pop into their showroom- telling him that he could choose whatever he fancied.

I honestly didn`t know what my husband would think of the experience. He returned full of ideas of what he could do in the future. He loved it!

He chose cloth woven in Italy- double twisted super 140 Egyptian cotton, this means that the fabric is robust as well as soft in touch. A cutaway collar. Handmade buttonholes with mother of pearl buttons. The collar, cuffs and arm hole sewn by hand. With his initials embroidered on the cuff.

A few weeks later his shirt arrived in the post. It was slightly too big on the body, but Hübscher had that re- assessed and tailored to perfection in no time.

When considering having your own tailored shirt made here are a few tips:


The correct fit:
Most tailors suggest having a basic shirt made first. By investing time, money and by having a second fitting once produced, your garment will correspond perfectly to your figure, comfort and needs.

Themes to consider

Collar height: The collar should be 1-2cm higher than the lapel of your jacket.

Arm length: The cuff should be at least 1-1.5cm longer than the sleeve of your jacket. The cuff should sit at the root of the thumb, just covering the wrist.

Arm hole: In my opinion alot of tailored shirts have too wider arm hole. Perhaps a traditional touch- however, for me an armhole which allows enough movement at the same time as fitting with the proportions of the individual is much more attractive.

Collar Style: You should be able to slip two fingers inside the collar when closed.
It is important to consider your proportions when choosing a collar style and size. Do you have a long neck? Then you should choose a higher collar. Do you have a small face or neck? Then compliment that with a smaller collar.

Cuff Style: Is a matter of taste. I have clients who love double cuff shirts because it gives them the opportunity to add an accessory. I have other clients who would rather not fuss with cufflinks in the morning and have a monogram (usually their initials embroidered on their cuff) to show a unique statement.

The fabric
Fabric choice is important. Perhaps you need something that is easy to iron, easy to travel in? Maybe you prefer to wear softer, lighter fabrics?

Cotton: Cotton is the main fabric of choice due to its comfort, breathability drape and finish. The quality is calculated by its length, fineness, purity, colour, consistency and origin. Leading cotton threads are Sea Island cotton, Pima cotton and Egyptian cotton.

Blended: Fabric-finishing techniques are continually improving, pure cotton products cannot match blended cottons in terms of easy care. Cotton blended with an elasticated yarn can create a shirt so fitted that it`s simply a second skin. I would be wary of choosing a blend with high artificial fibres due to its finish and breathability.

The weave

Thread count: This is simply the number of threads per square inch. Typically, the higher the thread count, the finer the shirt and the more expensive the fabric. Do not forget that the ply and type of cotton blend will have just as much to do with how luxurious the fabric is!

Ply: This is how many yarns are twisted together to make the thread. Two ply means that during the weaving process two yarns have been woven in with the warp (vertical threads) and the weft (horizontal threads). A two-ply shirt is normally more robust. A thread count of 120 makes a descent two-ply shirt.