Unless you're hopping a plane, the advantages of a compact folding umbrella are few and frankly outweighed by the disadvantages—it looks kinda wimpy, it will fall clumsily into the slush at the bottom of any restaurant umbrella holder, and (this is important) you can't wave it menacingly at young whippersnappers. Fortunately a European handmade wood stick umbrella is an affordable luxury and a good investment... provided you don't leave it hooked over the back of a chair somewhere when the rain stops and you wander off into the night. Also a perennial favourite Christmas gift, as a man can own them in several colours and put all to good use. Shown here are two of our favourites, both chestnut with a 42" canopy, both made in Italy, both $165. Left: Kent Wang. Right: Howard Yount.