Mr Bown says, 'A gentleman must have at least four umbrellas.' You, like me, instantly wonder whether this is some ancient dictum we have missed, some seminal moment of milk-in-first style advice that has passed us by, leaving us and our too few umbrellas looking like a pile of peas on the wrong side of life's fork. But no, because Mr Bown goes on: 'This rule of wardrobe I have determined myself, so let me explain.'
The explanation is crystally reasoned over quite a lot of space. In distillation it runs: I will not discuss foldaway umbrellas, they are beneath me and should be beneath you; steel is lighter but more fragile than wood; you need four because you need two different sizes depending on the likelihood of rain, and you need each of these sizes in two different colours because what kind of barbarian would wear brown shoes with a black umbrella, or vice versa?
After this, hats: 'What is the easiest way of changing one’s outdoor appearance? Buy a hat. I did it as an undergraduate in Cambridge (it was a homburg, and caused me to be described in the pages of the Spectator as “a pale imitation of Enoch Powell”) and I have just done it again. And where does one go to buy a hat? To Lock’s, of course.'