Deciding what gift to give a special woman in your life can be a difficult decision. Do you go romantic with flowers and chocolates? Practical with cookware? Many men veer away from giving clothing to women as a gift, and for good reason. Fashion can be fickle, and size can be difficult to judge on a hanger. However, if you know your wife, girlfriend, sister, etc., loves receiving clothes, here are a few tips to find just the right thing:
Picking out the correct size is the first place to start. You need to know whether to head to the woman’s (plus size) department, the junior’s section, the misses, or the petite department. (Did you even know there were so many sections to choose from?) The easiest way to steer in the right direction is to take a peek in her closet. Women’s and misses sizes come in even numbers, while junior’s clothing is labeled with odd numbers. Petite clothing is often labeled with a ‘P’ after the number. Plus size clothing usually starts at size 14 or 16. See what size she wears in both tops and bottoms, as women often wear a different size on the upper and lower body. If you can’t sneek a peek in her closet, discretely ask one of her friends or relatives. When neither of these options are possible, try to find something that comes in small, medium, and large sizes, and is flexible in fit, such as a sweater or jacket. And of course, keep your receipt in case you have to return it.
The size you choose is important because this is how a lady will imagine that you see her. Guess too large, and she will be offended, or think you perceive her as being larger than she is. Guess to small, and she will be embarrassed. This is just like choosing a small wallet for men. Surely, you don’t want to buy something that is too big or excessively small. Accuracy and precision are very crucial in buying clothes so you can ensure that the item you are buying will be useful to her.
Just as with size, the style of the outfit or piece you choose can either say, ‘I know what you like and what looks good on you (read: I pay attention to your wants and feelings), or ‘I have no clue about your interests in clothing, and I think you should be wearing this instead (read: I care more about my likes and dislikes than yours). But no pressure, right?
One of the biggest mistakes men make with style is buying something for their wife, fiance or girlfriend that the man thinks is “sexy”. This is tip-toeing along a thin tightrope. While many women love form-fitting clothing, and buy it themselves, a man buying it for them can send entirely the wrong message. They may see it as him dressing them up as a trophy wife, an object to show off. Or they may see it as him actually buying himself a gift, when they were wanting something completely different. If she doesn’t normally wear revealing clothing, buying a lacy low-cut blouse can be seen as him trying to change her, not just her wardrobe, but her personality as well.
So how do guys avoid a major offense? Once again, look in their closet to see what they like. Observe what she wears to work, to go shopping, to go to a nice restaurant, to work out, etc. You don’t want to buy something exactly like what she already has, but you don’t want to step too far outside her comfort zone either. If you see she loves sweaters, pencil skirts, and pointy-toe boots, buy her something like one of these items but in a color, material, or pattern that she doesn’t already have. If your girl reads fashion magazine, look for pictures that are marked, and if she watches fashion-themed shows, be on the lookout for “oohs” and “ewws”. Maybe a new style of jacket has just come into fashion and she is dying to try it out, but hasn’t saved up the money yet. If you are observant enough to know for sure she likes the look of it, it would probably be the perfect gift. And this leads to the issue of color…
Suppose you figure out her size, and narrow the style options down to the new jacket and one of her traditional favorites, a sweater. Only one more hurdle to jump over — what color do you buy? First, rely on your own senses. What color do you like on her? You have probably noticed if bright yellows bring out the golden tones in her dark skin, or if certain earthy greens seem to match her eyes exactly. You can always look in her closet, or observe her usual routine, but this can be a chance to be a bit unique. Some women (or most women, at some point) get stuck in a color rut, and might need some help getting out of it. Perhaps she spends so much time at the office her whole wardrobe has become a humdrum mix of navy, brown, and black. Rather than give her another dark piece to get lost in the black hole, spice it up with something pumkin colored. A word of caution though — if she has been used to neutrals for a while, something too bright and bold can be a bit shocking to the senses. Ease her slowly into the world of color.
If you don’t trust your own taste, you can do a bit of research on the internet. There are many sites devoted to help women find what colors look best with their eyes, hair, and skin tone. For example, redheads often look good in some shades of green, and African American girls with very dark skin can get away with bright, brilliant hues that pale-skin women would look washed out in. If necessary, ask a stylish female friend for help, or even an employee at the clothing store who seems willing to help. Flip through some fashion magazines yourself to see what colors are in style this season, but remember that you want to give her something she can wear for years to come.
So you find the hip new jacket, in a perfect size 10, in a fabulous ocean blue…and her best friend tells you she will absolutely hate it. Now, I’m sure that this worst-case scenario won’t happen to you, but if it does, there are always accessories. If you buy accessories you have the advantage of not having to worry about size and can even buy something that is a neutral color that most women would appreciate.
A beautiful scarf can make a great Christmas gift, and during this chilly time of year, will be quite useful. At other times, silk scarves are classy and feel wonderful against the skin.
A nice leather belt will always be in style — its something that every woman can use, and you can even play around with the color.
And if all else fails…no one can complain about a gift certificate.