13 picks for guys with great taste.
I’ll be honest: I’m a kick-ass gift giver. I’ve gotten keen at striking the balance between the unexpected and the practical (because I can’t stand giving a gift that never gets used). Last year, I told my wife we were going on a day trip to shop for our girls, but instead I drove her to our breeder to pick out a new puppy. The year before that, I got us tickets to a Penguins game (her favorite team), and an Airbnb in Pittsburgh for the night, across the street from the rink.
Here’s the problem – I really suck at coming up with gifts for myself. And if your family is like mine, the text messages have started rolling in: Hey honey, I need some gift ideas for you and the girls. Sure mom, here’s a whole list of stuff the kids want, and a few good ideas for Katie. As for me? Let me get back to you.
This year, I’ve made the effort to put together a list of items I’d be happy to receive, and I share this list as a fastidious Prep who’s much happier spending $3 on a single Blackwing pencil than $2 on a box of six Ticonderogas. That being said, I’m a teacher, so when I choose gifts, I try to focus on gifts that I can’t necessarily justify buying for myself (three kids, mortgage, you know how it goes), and that means durability and long-term use are paramount.
If you’re stuck on what to get for your brother, son, or husband, OR you’re not sure what to tell these people to get for you, here are some solid ideas.
The Sweater Upgrade
J.Crew Midweight Cashmere Hoodie $278
I love hoodies. I love cashmere. So a cashmere hoodie? Oh man, forget about it. I’m partial to J.Crew’s cashmere sweaters because I find they’re the perfect weight and softness; they maintain warmth without making me sweat (and cashmere can make a man sweat).
Quince Mongolian Cashmere Polo Sweater $79.90
Quince works on a factory-direct model, which allows them to keep consumer prices low while maintaining high quality. This cashmere polo would cost double from most other retailers, but at $79.90, it’s more than fair.
Woolrich Striped Blanket in Pure Wool $385
If you know me, you know I have a thing for wool blankets. I’m particularly drawn to Woolrich because they were founded in Pennsylvania, just two hours away from my house. While Woolrich has outsourced some of their production to Italy, the quality has remained the same. There’s something cozy about a pure wool blanket: they maintain temperature without making you sweat, and the fibers are actually fire resistant. And because the wool keeps moisture away, you’ll only need to get it dry cleaned once a year (or when you spill your coffee on it).
Faribault Woolen Mill Wool Trapper Throw $139
Faribault has been making their wool blankets in Minnesota for over 150 years, and they have it down to a pretty exact science. The lightweight, breathable blanket comes in three neutral colors (though I think the grey is the best) and looks right at home draped over the back of your couch or at the foot of your bed.
A Waxed Canvas Carryall
LLBean Medium Duffle $159
Made of water resistant waxed canvas in a handsome dark colorway with full grain leather handles, this budget-friendly bag is a gift that will get used for years.
A Grown-Up Pencil
Kaweco Sketch Up Pencil $43.74
I got a thing for sketching with pencils. The smoothness of the graphite on paper, the ability to create different gradations of shade of depth – it’s all gold to me. A few years back I picked up this solid brass pencil from Kaweco (I got a thing for solid brass too). The thick lead and brass shell have a heft that lend well to comfortably doodling during meetings. So while this isn’t on my list (cause I already have one), it should be on yours.
Blackwing 602 Pencils $30
When it comes to writing with a pencil, I reach for a Blackwing. They’re made in Japan with a firm core lead that’s smooth on the paper and doesn’t require constant sharpening. They’re not cheap, but they’re worth every note you write.
Mobius and Ruppert Brass Pencil Sharpener $9.79
Mobius and Ruppert makes their pencil sharpeners in Germany, out of solid brass. They come in four different styles, and the blades are replaceable when they start to get dull.
The More-Than-A-Basic T-shirt
Buck Mason Pima Curved Tee, $45
Buck Mason recently bought a 150 year old mill and factory in Pennsylvania and moved some of their t-shirt production there, reviving a shuttered community staple and giving us our own upgraded staples, like this soft USA-grown and sewn pima cotton t-shirt cut with a modern fit and curved hem.
Fort Belvedere Peccary Gloves $395
When I was in college, I worked for Cole Haan. One year at Christmas time, we got peccary gloves in stock, and it was the smoothest leather I’d ever touched. Peccary is a type of pigskin, and its incredible strength is matched only by its softness. These ones from Fort Belvedere are water resistant and lined with cashmere.
Brooks Brothers Lambskin Gloves $138.60
For the classic leather look, these lambskin gloves from Brooks Brothers are a great choice. The cashmere lining keeps your hands warm, and they’re available in three different colors, though the saddle color is the best.
Sunglasses with Heritage
American Optical Pilot SkyMaster, $215
American Optical sunglasses have been made in the USA since 1833 and worn by astronauts on the moon, presidents, and movie stars.
Studebaker Metals Classic Brass Cuff, $58
Studebaker Metals crafts their jewelry in Pittsburgh. Designed specifically to take on a unique patina, this rugged but sophisticated minimalist bracelet is an accessory that doesn’t shout. Did I mention how much I like brass?