All About Parasols, What Do Prim/Rue/Alexia’s Actually look like?

Today, my darling Gentle Reader, I want to talk to you about my great love and passion, the humble parasol!

Alexia carries several Parasols through the course of the Parasol Protectorate and passes on various others to her daughter, and her daughter’s best friend, Primrose.

When conceiving the original parasol I went off of this kind of style:

Here it is as I had it sketched some ten years ago (with steampunk gadget action).

And my sketch of Alexia carrying it looked like this:

Here’s an 1875 fashion plate, playing with a similar style.

If you are look for something online for an Alexia cosplay, I feel like this one most closely resembles this original parasol (which she eventually loses) is here for $24.


Through the course of the Parasol Protectorate series I realized that I needed to give here something bigger and more exciting. I ran across this style of parasol from the 1890s…

I love the shape, I’m a bit mad for anything approaching sphere shaped. So here is the sketch for Alexia’s second parasol.

The parasol is such an ubiquitous accessory up through the 1920s. One of the rabbit holes my obsession with the parasol has taken me on is how it was carried. There is, of course, the parasol pocket on 1870s dresses. There are a few examples of this but it isn’t particularly common.


It seems to me that’s it’s more likely to have rigged up some kind of belt and chatelaine holder. But then one would expect more parasols to have hooks in them, which we don’t.

1872 Godeys Oct 1872 Parasol belt & holder

I myself have quite the collection of parasols, you can check them all out over on Retro Rack.

My favorite is a vintage Edwardian tilt parasol.

I use this so much for steampunk events that I created a holster for it out of a pair of cargo shorts.

Speaking of parasols, I’ll be offering up this beauty:

cream lace with royal blue ribbon hand threaded throughout

In a giveaway to my Chirrup members. Sign up here. Opportunity to enter happens when that issue goes out. 


I once received a concerned correspondence froms a member of the Victorian Society and had just attended, of all marvelous things, a parasol covering workshop. I learned some interesting things:

    • early parasol ribs were made of bone, like corsets
    • parasols were particularly popular after the 1860’s as hats began to decrease in size but the pale complexion was still de rigueur
    • handles started out short (under 28″) and grew longer as decades passed, longest during the Edwardian era when the parasol could rest on the floor and handle came up to the lady’s waistline (some parasols had handles that collapsed down for easy storage)
    • early Victorian fashion plates show parasols the size of handkerchiefs, with a 1-to-1 handled-shade ratio, diameters increased over time as well
    • the truly fashionable lady carried a different parasol for each outfit
    • a parasol was one of the most popular gifts for a lover to give his sweetheart, and was often part of the groom’s gift to has new bride
    • they were made from lace, cotton, or silk
    • could be trimmed in anything from silk tassels, to cotton lace, to crystal beads
    • Parasol Language: Carrying it elevated in the left had – desiring acquaintance. Carrying it elevated in the right had – you are too forward.

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Quote of the Day:

“A parasol boasts more virtues than the eminently practical one of shading the eyes from the impertinent rays of the sun. It gives an air of smartness to the summer girl.”

~ Parasol quote from a 1909 newspaper

Questions about Gail’s Parasolverse? There’s a wiki for that!

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Posted by Gail Carriger

4 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples said:

    I always imagined that Alexia’s parasol had an attachment for the tip whereby she could shoot out a rope for easy climbing or swinging from buildings.

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