There are three things I remember most about my maternal grandmother’s swimming pool in Virginia: The endless summer afternoons I spent there earning my freckles, the artificial turf, and the umbrellas. Yes, the umbrellas. They were turquoise and piped in white. The whole setup looked like something out of a Slim Aarons photo from Palm Beach in the Sixties.
The umbrellas were the perfect design counterpoint to the artificial turf, which my grandmother installed so her thirty-odd grandchildren wouldn’t slip and skin their knees racing each other to the slide. Granny Martin’s pool was my babysitter (and played babysitter to countless neighborhood children), and to a little girl growing up in a very small town it was my definition of glamour. I knew Granny Martin’s personal style and sparkplug personality were unique (she did, after all, keep a small-bore shotgun handy for the times when the varmints overtook her prized tomatoes), and I knew that pool was magic. And now, as I see retro umbrellas make a stylish comeback, all I can think about are those days of sitting under one, eating a pimento cheese sandwich, and plotting my next big splash.
Below are a few present-day designs with decidedly throwback looks.
—Haskell Harris is G&G’s style director. Follow her on Instagram @haskellharris.
Catalina patio umbrella, $200
Milos air umbrella, $1695
Safaviah patio umbrella, $118