How to Give Clothing for Christmas

I have grown to absolutely love holiday shopping.  I buy my presents early, relishing the moment that I find the perfect, unique gift for someone I love.

There’s a part of me that looks at myself, this avid holiday shopping woman, and thinks she’s absolutely insane.  I used to dread those “hard to buy for” people, because I had no idea whether they would like the gift I found for them.  Finally I realized that no gift has ever offended me; at worst, I’ve had to return or re-gift something because it didn’t fit, or another person would appreciate it more.  Still, I’m always touched by people who give really personal gifts, like volumes of books, or a signature perfume, or clothing.

In my opinion, clothing is the bravest gift someone can give.* It’s an everyday expression of who we are, and it’s closely related to our view of their body, our personal preferences, and what others think of us.  Deciding what clothing someone would like is based on a lot more than their favorite color.

With that in mind, this year I’m going to buy at least one person clothing for Christmas (or whichever holiday they happen to celebrate).  To keep myself from going crazy, I created a little list of guidelines I should follow – guidelines that will make it easier for me to determine what to buy, and how it might be received by the lucky giftee.  And because I think everyone should take a chance on a brave, scary, awesome gift, I’m sharing that list with you.  (I used female pronouns and mentioned the word “bust,” but if you’re buying for a guy, just replace that stuff with shoulder and chest sizing.)

Jersey Shirt with Leaf Applique: $70

1.     Find (or guess) her measurements. This may take some sleuthing, depending on the nature of your friendship.  It’s easy for me to ask my lady friends their bust, hip and waist measurements, partly because I’m already openly asking for wishlists and gift ideas, but if you can’t be direct about it, you can at least find out her dress size.  “Hey, I have this top – it’s almost new, but too [big/small], and I just never wear it.  What size are you again?  Oh, never mind – it won’t work.  Too bad.”  Sneaky!

Cetaceous Serpentine Chemise Dress: $55

2.     Determine her colors – what she loves, and what loves her. I love jewel tones.  They look amazing on me.  So do earth tones, which I’m getting back into.  Neither of these are Lindsay’s go-to shades.  If I’m shopping for her I need to think about Irish skin, freckles and wild red hair, not olive coloring and hazel eyes.  It’s an easy mistake to make, so watch for it: shop for her, and if you see something you love, bookmark it for later and forget it.  Stay focused!

Ripples Tunic: $36

3.     What’s her style…and should you push it? Every time I see my would-be sister in law, she shows me her closet.  She loves the sixties and seventies, but laments that she’s not sure how to pull it off in a modern way.  Last year, I found a top with a bit of a tie-die bent, but totally modernized to fit a more current style and her curvy body.  It wasn’t similar to anything she owned…and she loved it!  The change in style mixed with her passion for a specific era made the present that much more special.

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…However, not everyone will like the idea of you messing with their personal style.  Know your target: is she up for experimentation, or does she pass it up in favor of her longtime personal style?

ArtAffect Sweatshirt: $67.50

4.     Don’t take yourself, her, or anything else too seriously. The whole point of holiday shopping is to treat your loved ones.  It’s not a test to see how well you know someone; instead, think of it as a way to express how cool your relationship with that person is.  Really, they won’t be offended by a shirt that’s too big or a pair of shoes they’re unlikely to wear…and if they are, bully for them: they can always take them back.  (And that’s the last rule: always include a gift receipt.)

Do you ever buy clothes for Christmas?

Do you have any other tips on how to find the perfect gift?

*Exceptions: Parents, because they raised you and are used to it – how many cute-yet-ill-fitting sweaters has your dad bought for you? – and guys who wear geeky ironic t-shirts every day.  Then again, those guys DO get picky about what their shirts say…