A seasonally stylish gent -- Bertie Wooster assisted by Jeeves perhaps? -- depicted on the cover of the December 24, 1927 issue of New Yorker Magazine.
If you have yet to finish your Christmas and holiday shopping -- especially where the men on your list are concerned -- you could do worse than the items suggested below. Here are 11 last minute items that you can present to the men on your list to help them become more stylish, well-groomed, and sophisticated.
1) Zippo Cigarette Lighters
The cigarette, pipe, or cigar smoker on your list will appreciate a classic stainless steel Zippo lighter which automatically elevate his style several notches. Do make sure though to supply a small container of lighter fluid along with the lighter. Visit Zippo.com for these and related supplies, but keep whatever lighter you might select simple and understated. In other words, it's probably best to skip any kind of conspicuous symbols or insignia. These usually border on the tacky, and that is not really what we're after, is it?
2) Swiss Army Knives
A smaller model from either Wenger or Victorinox with a blade or two, some scissors, and perhaps the tweezer and toothpick features built into the handle will come in handy for all kinds of things besides opening mail. Neat items to give and own, and lots of women like 'em too. While better sporting goods stores might have some of these on display inside locked glass display cabinets, these days I'd suggest simply visiting Victorinox.com, Swissarmy.com, or Wengerna.com.
3) Slim Dress Watches
A bit pricier, perhaps, but few things convey sophistication and good taste like a slim dress wristwatch on a leather strap peeking out from beneath a shirt cuff and sports jacket sleeve. Bulova and Seiko are two classic brands to consider although you can certainly spend much more. But avoid the hackneyed, clunky, and ostentatious sports watch with a metal band. Fewer things scream "trying too hard" than a Rolex or similar luxury watch. I'd suggest looking around online for a wristwatch, however, rather than paying premium prices for one at a jeweler or department store. Timex.com even has a few understated classic men's wristwatches for sale at very reasonable prices, but again, avoid the more expensive, gaudier models you'll also find there.
4) Leather Dress Gloves
Available from better online suppliers and physical department stores as well as haberdashers. And nothing looks better with a trench coat or heavier overcoat during the cold months than a pair of brown, tan, or black leather gloves. Alternatively, you might try visiting a sight like LeatherGlovesOnline.com, which offers a variety of men's leather dress gloves at numerous price points.
5) Shaving Mugs and Brushes
Introduce the man on your gift list the relaxing morning of 'wet shaving' with a traditional shaving mug and brush. Even with modern triple- and quadruple-blade razors, shaving will be closer and more comfortable. Easily found online and in better physical department stores and/or haberdashers. Em's ShavePlace.com is just one of many online outlets where you can find shaving mugs, brushes and other 'wet shave' shaving equipment.
6) Woolen Winter Scarves
Give the man on your list a bit of dash by presenting him with a wool winter scarf to wrap around his neck and shoulders. Avoid the man-made stuff if at all possible. Once again, you can find these online or in the better physical department stores and haberdashers.
7) Leather Wallets or Bill Clips
Wallets do eventually wear out, so this might be the year you want to replace you man's (or your own) with a new, shiny wallet in which to keep his driver's license, a credit card, emergency contact information, and any paper money he carries. An understated metal bill clip might be a good alternative. You can find these in many of the better department stores, haberdashers, and through various online outlets, but please, avoid anything with a skull and crossbones, marijuana leaves, or Harley Davidson logos!
8) L.L. Bean Boots
Excellent for wading through the snow, slush, and winter slop. And extremely comfortable too. Sadly, Bean Boots have already been out of stock for some weeks at L. L. Bean and on backorder well into 2015, due to a spike in popularity among millenials, but don't despair. You can find similar boots from outlets like Sorel, J. Crew, Sperry, and Cabela. Just look around online.
9) Quality Pipe Tobaccos
There aren't many pipe smokers left these days it seems, but a few men out there still enjoy smoking a pipe now and then. If you know just such a man, how about presenting him with some special high quality pipe tobacco from a place like David's Gifts and Tobacco or SmokingPipes.com.
10) Corduroy Jeans
Casual and warm for winter, and a darn sight better looking for evenings and weekends ar home (or out) than ratty khakis, over-sized jeans, or sweatpants. Outlets like Land's End, L.L. Bean, J. Crew, and others sell these, and you might even still be able to order a few pairs for the man on your list and have them arrive in the nick of time for Christmas. I'd suggest seasonal colors like golden tan, russet, dark green, and brown, or even dark red for those more adventurous soles on your giftlist.
11) Essential Manners for Men by Peter Post
If the young man on your list is an adolescent, a teenager, or even college-aged, a useful and necessary book like Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why (2003) by Peter Post is just the thing. It presents all kinds of useful and relevant information about how a stylish and considerate adult male should conduct and present himself in an engaging and accessible way. I cannot recommend it enough. The book is available from Amazon.com.
And with that, all that remains is simply for me to wish both occasional and routine visitors to The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style a peaceful and joyous Christmas. Thank you for your continued interest and support. Be sure to tune in during Christmas Week and at the start of the new year for more of my usual take on male style in the broadest sense. Merry Christmas!
A Victorian or Edwardian image of Father Christmas long before he morphed into the now universal red-robed Coca-Cola Santa Claus. I prefer these quieter, older images of ol' Saint Nick. Something about illustrations like this one reminds me of my own childhood although I came along long after these images first appeared.