The Gift That Keeps On Giving

While the official gift-giving season might be over, we all need ideas for good presents all year long. (And, if you are anything like me, you might still have some leftovers on your Christmas shopping list.) I think we can all agree that coming up with the perfect gift can be a challenge (as a result, my poor dad always gets stuck with socks), but clothes can be a very good and often-overlooked option.

Now, I am not talking about some horrible, itchy sweater like the kind you get every year from your Aunt Mildred. I am talking about classy or funky pieces with real style and flair, things that really express something about the giver and the receiver.

Giving clothes can be scary, of course, but here are some tips to set you up for success.

Size Does Matter

Make sure you know the exact size of the recipient. Clothes that are too big or too small can be viewed as an insult, so let's all stay away from that, shall we? If you're not sure of the receiver's
size, go with her to try on a few items and then return to the store later to purchase them. You can also put a photo of the item you want to give in a gift envelope with a gift certificate for the right amount, and let the receiver go back and choose the best size for herself. Paying close attention to size will ensure your gift is the best one ever.

Style Matters, Too

Knowing the style of the recipient is also key to giving the gift of clothes. You don't want to give a baggy T-shirt to a fashionista, or a prim, starched dress to a boho chic chick. Pay close attention to your friends' style and taste and give a clothing gift that matches.

The Shoe Doesn't Fit

Gifts of clothing are tricky enough, but shoe gifts are fraught with peril. Fits can vary widely, and so can style preferences, so it's best to just stay away. If you have a real shoe horse on your gift list (that would be me!), scope out a funky boutique or local shoe store she might not have shopped at before and go with a gift certificate.

Do Your Homework

Scouting out gift guides in your recipient's favorite magazines can be a good way to get a feel for what she might like. Teen People, Mademoiselle and Seventeen are a good place to look for hip, trendy and inexpensive gift ideas for teenagers, while Vogue, Marie Claire and InStyle can offer some insight into what to buy the chic women on your list. GQ and Esquire can steer you in the right direction if you're looking for something in the men's department. Also, remember that you can almost always find cheaper alternatives to the expensive styles you see in magazines. Browse to get some ideas and then hit the bargains to find what you're looking for.

Use An Accent

If you are uncomfortable buying a shirt or a pair of pants as a gift, there are plenty of other clothing accent pieces that might not seem so daunting. Consider a warm and stylish scarf for someone living in a cold climate, or a brightly printed swimsuit cover-up
for someone living in warmer weather. Your dad might be sick of them, but your friends would probably
be delighted by a pair of patterned socks (some argyles were one of my favorite gifts this year) and statement headbands and hats are good options as well.

Don't Take It Personally

Giving clothes as a gift is a gamble, even after you follow this sage advice, so the biggest key to success is not to get upset if the recipients wants to trade in your gift for something new. After all, the real purpose of a gift is to give something that someone else wants, right? And it truly is the thought that counts.

What is the best clothing gift you've ever received?
And the worst?

{looking for something? photos for this post were found using Google image search. type in "patterned socks" or "statement scarf."}


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