Anyone out there trying to find a Christmas present for myself or gentlemen like me should bear two things in mind: buy the best you can afford, and buy pieces that last.
No matter how little you have to spend on someone’s Christmas present, you can afford luxury. It’s merely a question of scaling down the size or complexity of the item.
You probably can’t afford to buy someone a luxury tie, at least until the January sales – they often cost up to £100 after all. Equally, a top-end shirt is likely to be beyond most people – these also cost upwards of £100.
But then a shirt or similarly fitted item is worth avoiding. It is hard to get something that fits precisely, even if you know the gentleman’s neck size, for example. Better to go for accessories that are not size-specific.
And you can afford luxurious accessories if they’re small. The best socks money can buy are likely to be within your range, as are the best collarbones (also known as collar stays or collar stiffeners). Even the very best handkerchiefs are likely to be affordable, at least for that special someone.
So here are my top three recommendations, for three different budgets.
1. Price bracket: £10 to £20
Berluti cotton socks
I’d love to pretend that I can afford to shop at Berluti regularly. But I can’t. I can afford their socks, though, which while expensive at £20, are the softest and best quality of any I have tried. The full-calf versions are sufficiently thin that your upper calves never feel too warm – a frequent complaint of those that prefer short socks.
And they come in a very snazzy Berluti drawstring bag. Which I know I’m paying for, but love anyway. I put my iPod in it and it means I can pretend I shop at Berluti regularly.
2.Price bracket: £20 to £30
Mother-of-pearl collarbones, TM Lewin
Every man should own a pair of collarbones, which are the inserts that run to the corner of your shirt’s collar and keep it stiff.
Most shirts come with their own, plastic versions. But these are easily bent, lost or snapped. The most important adjective there is the first one – although it is possible to not lose your collarbones and to keep them safe from the washing machine, they will never be as reliable as more permanent ones in a metal or other hard material.
Go for silver over steel. Although no one but you will know what they’re made of, you know and that’s all that matters. Just like the monogram hidden away on the tail of your shirt.
Right now at TM Lewin, both silver and mother-of-pearl are half price, £25 down from £50. Being an individualist, I would recommend mother-of-pearl of those two.
3. Price bracket: £30 to £50
White handkerchief, Hermes
All three of these items are pretty much the best you can buy for your money. A little touch of luxury. But the second two stand out in another way: you really only need one of each. Your luxury collarbones can be taken out at the end of the day and put into your new shirt the next. And you really only need one white handkerchief.
This is for show rather than blow, remember, so it will rarely need to be washed. It simply sits in your breast pocket and makes your jacket look dressed.
And if you only need one, why not go for the best? The Hermes handkerchiefs are luxurious, as you’d expect, and my favourite is the cotton/linen mix that looks as crisp as linen while retaining some of the flexibility of cotton – it doesn’t need to be ironed every time you rearrange it.
Hermes handkerchiefs are £45. Which is a lot of money for a handkerchief. An awful lot. But then if you wear it a couple of times a week for a good couple of decades, I’d say that’s good value.
Three presents, three items of luxury that also deliver value. Happy shopping.