Carrying around an umbrella might not exactly be what you’d call a fashion faux pas, but back in the 18th century, it certainly was!
In the early 1750s in London, it was considered a social sin to walk around with one. An Englishman named Jonas Hanway exemplified this by proudly strutting in the streets with umbrella in hand, eliciting ridicule from those around him.
Apparently, umbrellas at the time were seen by the Brits as taboo. The contraption, inspired by the parasols of the Far East, became a trend amongst French nobles (particularly women). To be lugging the effeminate device around in London meant character weakness and being too French.
Despite the jeers, Hanway continued with his eccentric ways, eventually running into trouble with the local coach drivers. You see, coach drivers saw Hanway’s antics as a threat to their livelihood. Whenever it rained, customers would pack their canopied carriages looking for shelter.
But with the onset of the umbrella, more and more people opted to walk.
Hanway soon received threats and was even pelted with rubbish. At one point, a coach driver even tried to run him down, to which he responded by using the umbrella as a weapon and “give the man a good thrashing.”
Eventually, Hanway’s style caught on, influencing others to use the contraption. He passed away in 1786, leaving behind a trend-setting legacy. As Atlas Obscura perfectly puts it, “Not all heroes wear capes, but some carry umbrellas.”
Via Atlas Obscura