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Fashion archive: Shopping for a wet Christmas

Whatever else may be grim and gloomy this winter, umbrellas are gay as can be. It would be nice to have half a dozen, one for each wet day of the week. The newest are in transparent PVC, or coloured PVC with transparent peepholes – at Dickins and Jones. The prettiest are Pierre Balmain’s, Iike Victorian parasols, they have a frilled edge and contrasting lining. You can buy these immensely Parisian umbrellas at Harrods and at Finnigans in Sloane Street and Bond Street.

Less elegant, but becoming very popular because so convenient, are “Growy” umbrellas which can be carried in a shopping bag or in the pocket of the car. They shoot up to full size, are 73s 6d, and can be found in most umbrella departments. Another telescopic at the same price is the “Fox Cub,” which has the famous Fox tubular spokes and frame. There is also a man’s telescopic gamp, the “Peerless,” which can be carried in a brief case: £5 15s at Harrods.

Lying on a counter in Harrods men’s department I saw an Irish shillelagh, a threatening blackthorn cudgel with a leather loop to attach it to your wrist. In this country it is sold for defence; and the inoffensive British citizen going about his lawful occasions in a violent society might also be glad of a walking stick with a whistle carved into the handle: £3 5s at the Scotch House, Knightsbridge.

A mild, cool smoke

I was astonished to hear Mr Peter Eyres, chairman of Churchmans, say that it takes courage for an Englishwoman to smoke a cigar. Can it be that all these years after Mrs Pankhurst there is really any danger that the lighting of a cigar by a woman in a public place could be considered an inflammatory gesture? Myself I have for years smoked cigars (when they are offered to me) without any sense of bravado. Size is no objection, although I prefer the slim modern mini to the Churchill maxi. The only kind I have ever rejected was a little horror produced “for madam” by some firm about 18 months ago. They had a built-in white plastic holder shaped like a whistle, and I felt that smoking them would be comparable to drinking brandy through a straw. Since then, Churchmans have brought out “Tipavans,” which have built-in holders with coppery lustre that is certainly more aesthetic. But if you want to wean yourself from cigarettes and are one of Mr Eyre’s timid women, the first step is to smoke their cork-tipped “Cigarellas” – a little longer than cigarettes and no more expensive. They are made from a blend of Havana and other cigar tobacco wrapped in brown cigarette paper. You won’t smoke as many as cigarettes because they are stronger. But not too strong for the timid. Cigarellas give what is melodiously described as a mild cool smoke.

The Guardian, 14 December 1967

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