Great gifts for men

Great gifts for men

Q. I’m a man who has always been frugal when buying my own clothes; that is, I have preferred Kohl’s to Brooks Brothers. When it comes to gift giving, I also have chosen medium-priced traditional clothes or simply given gift certificates. However, this time I want to choose something very, very special to give to my 75-year old doctor, who is retiring next month. He has been unusually kind to my family for many years, and I don’t want money to affect my choice of gift. The first thing I thought of was an article of clothing. Do you have any suggestions?

A. What a very nice idea! Not everyone can do a one-eighty turn-around and decide to go off in a new direction. Moving out of your comfort-zone adds even further to the specialness of your plan. 

While you ask about an “article of clothing,” your choice probably would be best in the accessory, or non-basic wardrobe areas. I have always thought that the perfect gift is something that a person would love to own, but would not be likely to buy for himself. Each of these could fit that category, and each also has the further advantage of your not needing to know his exact size. Among the luxurious gift ideas that come to mind are:

  • an especially fine robe in: plush velour, cotton terry, cashmere, or silk;
  • genuine alligator or crocodile wallet or check-book cover;
  • fine hand-made umbrella with an unusual carved handle;
  • double-ply cashmere sweater; 
  • top-of-the-line Hermès necktie;
  • silk-reversing-to-cashmere colorful scarf; or
  • elegant pair of small gold cuff links, perhaps embellished with colored enamel.

While cuff links certainly qualify as jewelry, they are as far as I feel one should go when buying a man a gift. Avoid buying anything as showy as a lapel pin, a bracelet, or necklace of any kind. These might not only be out of your doctor’s tastes, but they also might put pressure on him to wear them when he’s in your company. 

As always, for gifts to someone who is not your significant other, I suggest avoiding items that are too personal. These include those a man usually prefers to choose for himself: fragrance, shaving equipment, and something that he physically handles on a regular basis, such as the key chain he keeps in his pocket.

This might be the time to patronize some of the upscale stores that you normally avoid. Brooks Brothers does fit in that category. Other names that come to mind are Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Paul Stuart, Bergdorf Goodman Men’s Store, Scully and Scully, and Nordstrom. If such stores are not in your area, their merchandise is always available online. Often, more affordable large stores have small, upscale boutique departments where you can browse for a unique gift.      

While it is thoughtful that you are open to spending more, don’t let your choice be distorted by the price. Just because a gift is very expensive does not necessarily mean it is right thing for that person. Try to think back and see if you can remember something about his taste. Keep in mind what he likes to wear and what would be flattering. And, if the gift can somehow also reflect you, your personality, and your interests, so much the better. I remember the pleasure I felt from an e-mail I received after I gave a super-fine “retirement necktie.” It read: “Indeed, I very much hope that we can remain tightly connected. Especially – but not only – when I look at the necktie that I have on at a particular time and see if my knot is Lois-approved.”

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