I'll admit it, I like to think of myself as a pretty awesome shopper. Love to match the right gift to the right recipient. Now of course, thinking you're an awesome shopper could be like thinking you have a great sense of humor or a good sense of style—lots of people believe this, few are correct. But I'll go out on a limb here and let you be the judge.
I also think that this time of year can be really tough finding new and inspired gifts, so maybe you'll find some of my suggestions perfect for someone on your gift list. Here's the other thing, most magazine "gift lists" have items running upwards of $250 or more. These suggestions are mostly around $50 with a few around $125 for someone really special.
First off, I love to buy luxurious, indulgent gifts for people who are very practical and down to earth, and visa versa.
So for my friend N. on her recent birthday, I treated her to an exquisite Tom Ford lipstick in a rich deep red. I also included a link in her birthday card to Lisa Eldridge's excellent tutorial video on four ways to wear one lipstick. There's something quite lovely and sensual about having a gorgeous lipstick in your evening bag, applying it in the mirror of a compact, pressing it into your lip with a smudged fingertip. There's no way in hell that dear N. would ever spend $50 for a lipstick—not that she'd find many places to buy one in Beaufort, SC --but I know she will love it. I think a really glamourous beauty item is always a treat to receive.
Every holiday season, Estee Lauder releases limited edition compacts. Now before you go pooh-poohing Estee Lauder as being a bit old fashioned, please remember that they now have Thomas Pecheux, one of the world's best makeup artists, as their Creative Makeup Director.
Now, imagine how cool you'll feel slipping one of these beauties out of your Valentino clutch to check your kitten-flick eyeliner or reapply your lippie. There are six in the 2011 limited edition collection—it was tough to just limit myself to showing two. They're $65, filled with pressed powder and refillable.
They're really gorgeous. There are also two other compacts in their permanent collection that I just love. One is not but larger than a silver dollar, perfect for the tiniest evening bag. The other has a gold crocodile finish. Drop dead chic. Oh, and the first one is just $28, the croc is $32. How great would they be paired with the lipstick above? A lot of luxe for under $100.
If you happen to be downtown in the Meatpacking District of NYC this season, stop by Charles Nolan, a wonderful boutique at the corner of Hudson and Gansevoort. Not only do they carry a wonderfully edited collection of modern sportwear (both the late designer's work and other designers' whose work he admired), but also a fabulous collection of well-priced costume jewelry.
I am particularly fond of their bracelets that resemble the one shown above, but with an entire row of crystal-encrusted beads in brilliantly vivid hues of purple, green, red and blue. For friends who like to where an "arm party" (Copyright: The Man Repeller) they'll mix in for every day wear. Or choose one or more for a very modern way to wear shimmering jewels for evening. About $65.
I was in the store recently and oogled a bowl filled with candy-hued rhinestone bangles—solids, stripes, patterned— in a variety of widths. A stack of them was drool-worthy, but I can also see a careful selection of one or two mixing in with more classic gold or silver bangles. $42-$52 and up.
NARS and Marc Jacobs have collaborated with these way-cool (and uber practical) fingerless cashmere gloves (perfect for texting, finding your Metro Card, or opening a doggie bag) and complimentary blackish gold nail polish. There is also a rich plummy purple combo. I've already bought two sets for my chicest friends, may be back for more...
I'd nab a pair for myself - the price is great at just $52— but I'll be gloveless down in South Carolina starting in January for three months. (Gloat, gloat) Sorry, gentle readers, but these are exclusively available at the NARS Bleecker Street store.
Coffee table books are always great gifts - especially travel or photography books from a place your friend has recently visited. This one fits the bill for traveling fashion followers and is on my wish list. Just under $35 on Amazon.com. DV's elegant writing and amazing design in bucket-list worthy locations. Yum - eye candy for a cold winter's night.
More great ideas - groovy personalized calling cards from Fabulous Stationary. These are also one of my favorite housewarming gifts. Perfect for recent graduates too.
Don't forget those classics that may not be original but will be much appreciated: framed photos or books of photos created on iPhoto, cashmere socks (great for travellers), a monogrammed champagne bucket (fill it with ice for New Year's, popcorn for the Super Bowl, and an orchid come February) or carafe (to decant mouthwash. Also a great boss gift)...
Cire Trudon candles or stinkbombs, a gingerbread house for families with kids...
For apartment dwellers with no room for a tree, consider a sending a wreath - either fresh or preserved. Williams Sonoma has wonderful "Cook's wreaths" that can be used long after the holidays and LL Bean has lots of decorated fresh wreaths for under $50. Speaking of LLBean, I've been a fan of their boat totes as gifts for years. Yes, they're great monogrammed or with a name stitched on, but be more creative -- get two "Colors" and "Whites" for laundry bags, have "Mrs. (LAST NAME)" for a nearly- or newlywed, put on the name of a pet, a house or a boat. Lands End has some good options as well - particularly the awning striped version. (Imagine it with "Weekend," "Hamptons," or "Le Plage" emblazoned.)
Saw these zodiac tee-shirts at Marc by Marc Jacobs today and I really loved them. $65, which seems a bit high for a tee-shirt but the designs are gorgeous and the tee-shirts are cut beautifully. I love Marc Jacobs tees, they're as soft as if you've washed them for years yet they drape wonderfully and their cuts are always flattering.
And if anyone asks, I'd just love this set of Chanel mini-brushes....
Remember, it's never too early to assure yourself of a very happy holiday season!