Stephanie Smith has advice on choosing ever-stylish gifts that will endure and be treasured forever.
Long after this year’s most lusted-after gifts – hoverboards, cool juicer/blenders, fitness-tracking armwear – have been consigned to a lesser-used cupboard or drawer, beautiful pieces in cashmere, silk, quality leather and of course gold, silver and serious rocks will retain their charm and their pride of place in your wardrobe, your dressing table and your heart.
As a general rule of thumb, something that you love and adore yourself will hopefully be similarly adored by another – although do bear in mind that not everyone totally adores cats and dogs, or bunnies, so take care with offerings that feature beasts of any kind.
As an aside, it’s as well to think twice about expressing a particular gushing fondness for anything that might be emblazoned on a sweater, or fashioned into a plush toy, pottery tealight holder or carved ornament – unless you actually want 10 years of receiving owls in the form of stuffed toys and pasta jars.
It’s far, far better to express a love for something that can never become boring or “so last season”, so think cashmere or gold, on the basis that you simply can’t have too many cashmere sweaters or throws, or cardigans or shawls, and you certainly can’t have too many pieces of gold jewellery.
A cashmere sweater, or one in the softest quality pure wool, will always be a welcome gift, for woman or man, especially in black or grey, but do take note of how your intended recipient prefers a neckline – crew, V-neck, roll-neck and so on. Some people hate roll-necks because they think they look too self-conscious, they find them irritating and think they make their neck look short and their face too jowly or round. Generally, V-necks are the most slimming, versatile and work for work as well as play, while crew and round necks suit most people, are slightly more casual and good for those who like to wear their sweaters by themselves, rather than layered over a shirt or blouse. Yorkshire-based Pure Collection specialises in cashmere and luxury fabrics – it’s online and has a shop in York.
Silk too is a most welcome gift, especially dressing gowns and pyjamas – PJs need to be roomy and relaxed, but luxurious at the same time, and work best in lovely rich but gentle shades, such as blush and cream and pale dove grey. A restful print is perfectly acceptable. Cotton flannel PJs are also most welcome, but make sure they are luxurious (check out The White Company, for example).
When it comes to leather goods, we all love a handbag, especially by Chanel or Mulberry (if in doubt, go for a classic style and colour), or a purse, or even a card holder. But it doesn’t have to be a massive designer name – take a look at Zatchels (there’s a shop in The Shambles in York) which does satchel styles in stunning leather that ages really well. A compact messenger bag with a long cross-body strap in a lovely brown leather would make a beautiful gift for men or women of all ages. Tweed is a great gift for any town-meets-country type, so see what newly opened Cordings in Harrogate has to offer.
Even a tiny piece that says luxury and quality will be, in the long run, a far better choice than the latest bit of colourful tat, even if it has got bells and wheels on it. But don’t forget to include gift receipts, especially if it’s a piece of clothing. And if you don’t see your luxury gift ever actually being worn, the less said, the better. Just get them something cheap and nasty next year.