Editor’s note: Jason Rutter and I go back a long way: we worked together in academia. Then Jason decided that there is more to life than writing articles under pressure, chasing all research funding that comes around and taking part in petty university politics. He returned from Belgium (his last academic position) to setup the retro style clothes and accessories retailer Vintage Twists in Manchester’s northern Quarter. Apart from that, Jason is one of the most stylish man I know. This is why I asked him to write this article – hope you enjoy it and find it useful when wondering next what to buy the man you love.
Whether it be Father’s Day, a birthday, or Christmas, there are more options when buying gifts for a stylish man than comedy socks, loud ties and curious car-related gadgets. Here is a list of 15 gifts that would be welcomed by any stylish gent.
- Merkur 34C Double Edged Razor A razor is something that the stylish gent will use most days and so makes an ideal gift. The Merkur 34C is regarded as the pinnacle of everyday shaving. Classic style and engineering which offers high performance and a nicely weighted shave. Shavers new to double edge razors are recommended to experiment with different razors in their Merkur until they find the perfect combination for themselves. When you compare 25-30p per blade with the £2-3 per cartridge for disposable razors, the Merkur rapidly makes financial as well as style sense.
- Bounder Moustache Wax Every gent should attempt to grow a moustache at least twice in their life: Once as a teenager when a hairy face is still a novelty and once when both the hair growth and your personal style has developed somewhat. However, a good moustache needs care and training which is where a good moustache wax comes into play. Bounder is a small batch wax, hand made in the UK with bees was and rum giving it a wonderful, but not overpowering smell, and unrivalled hold.
- Geo. F. Trumper Violet Soft Shaving Cream Applied with a natural bristle shaving brush, a good quality shaving soap or cream will surpass any on the gels and foams that come in cans. Trumpers have been shaving men’s faces in London since the 19th Century so they know a things or two about the job. Their violet shaving cream is rich and luxurious and traditionally fragranced and will give you months of clean and comfortable shaves.
- Sartorial EDT Fougère aftershaves fell out of fashion during the rise of citrusy, androgynous perfumes such as CK One but these masculine fragrances with top notes of lavender and base-notes of oakmoss and Tonka bean have been making a quiet come back off the high street. A leading example is Sartorial from Penhaligon’s. This fragrance adds notes of ozone and metallic effects to create smells reminiscent of an old fashioned tailors. It isn’t a cheap perfume but it is one that is distinctive, clean, fresh and long lasting. It is a fragrance that is invariably commented upon.
- Wooden shoe tree Good shoes are an investment. Take care of them and they will look after you and keep looking stylish for years. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by not wearing the same pair on consecutive days and leaving them on a wooden shoe tree. This will help the shoes dry naturally, keep their shape, and help stop creases building up in the leather. Top quality shoes trees made with cedar will also help keep your footwear smelling fresh. Jones Bootmakers offer an attractively priced range of shoe trees for gents which start at £15 for their Executive model.
- Vintage Style Selvedge Geronimo Jeans Jeans used to be work-wear. They were made of hard working, long lasting, heavy, untreated denim. Mass production has chemically softened most of the denims you now find on the high street. However, there has been a revival of real denim with it being once again produced on 30” looms out of continuous cross-yarn. Some of the best denim now comes out of Japan – and sells for several hundred pounds for a pair of jeans. This alone makes Geromino selvedge jeans a bargain for the stylish gent. This UK-based company specialises in retro styles and sells their 50s-style classic selvedge jeans for £65.
- Tailored Shirt A poorly fitting shirt is one of those things that spotlights a man who doesn’t place much importance on his dress. While there is no substitute for a custom made shirt, buying off the peg wisely will get you a long way. TM Lewin produce their shirts not only in the standard collar sizes but a range of fits and three lengths of sleeves. You will get there best prices by buying four shirts at once but the things that sets TM Lewin apart when it comes to gift buying is their 90 day no quibble refund policy. It allows you to buy for Christmas in November and still return anything throughout January that’s not the perfect fit.
- Amrut Fusion Whisky There is something about sipping quality whisk(e)y that is synonymous with a stylish sophistication. With whisky time is money. The longer the maturation the more round, fuller and flavoursome the tipple. However, warmer climates mean more rapid maturing and explored countries beyond Scotland. While Japanese whiskies such as Yamazaki and Hibiki have become fashionable, canny connoisseurs have turned to Indian distilleries. In 2010, Jim Murray rated Amrut Fusion single malt whisky as the world’s third-best whisky in his annual Whisky Bible – http://www.whiskybible.com. Served a room temperature, this whisky has a sweet and comforting thickly oaked nose, with a not overly peaty palate that has a sweet fruitiness with it which develops into an intense chocolate fudge middle.
- The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveller’s Set Despite what most city bars might make you believe, not all cocktails are about highly sweet, over-priced, fruit-based drinks. The classic whisky-based cocktail the Old Fashioned is widely regarded as the first cocktail and remains the go-to drink for many stylish men about town. This slow mixed combination of American whisky, sugar, and citrus rind needs bitters to work its taste magic. But Angostura Bitters are not the only medicinal combination of herbs and alcohol that a good mixologist has at their disposal. This neat German set of five different flavours of bitters including orange, Creole, celery, Aromatic and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter bitters. This collection is even hand luggage friendly meaning there really is nothing stopping you impressing at your next soiree.
- St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgian Beer Westvleteren 12 is routinely regarded as the world’s best beer. Brewed by monks at the Abbey of Sint Sixtus at Westvleteren in Belgium. If you want a case of this you have to make an appointment with the Abbey and collect the beer yourself at your allotted time. It is worth it! However, an easier alternative is St. Bernardus Abt 12. This Belgian Quadruple beer is made to the same recipe and with the same yeast about 5 miles away from the Abbey. This sophisticated – but strong – beer is a comforting mixture of dark malts, almonds, raisins and yeast. It is slightly more carbonated than its famous neighbour but it does mean you don’t have to resort to your black market connections to get hold of a few bottles.
- Moleskine Classic Notebook For the stylish gent, it is often recognising classic design and function over vulgar fashion and showiness. The Italian Moleskine Classic Notebook is an example of such design. Although a surprisingly modern design, these blank paged, pocket sized notebooks evoke a heritage dating back to the 19th Century. This style anachronism not only looks the part but it never runs out of batteries, works in bright light and provides instant access for recording your thoughts, to do lists, or plot ideas for your next novel.
- Trixie & Milo Hip Flask There is something wonderfully decadent about taking a snifter from a hip flask. And flasks don’t come much more hip than these from Trixie & Milo in Portland, Oregon. Featuring a range of intake and tattoo-inspired designs, these hip flask are made of stainless steel with the design printed on a high quality vinyl label that is completely waterproof (and alcohol proof). Each label is laminated under a high-gloss finish that will protect and enhance the image. The flasks hold 8oz of your favourite tipple and come in a handy gift box.
- Monogrammed Wallet It is easy to get attached to a wallet but after some time travelling around in a gent’s back pocket, being stuffed with receipts and even dealing with the odd spillage a neat, leather wallet can begin to look a little more than stylishly worn. The gift of a new wallet personalised with the owner’s initials makes a great replacement. At well under £20 this one from Isme is a bargain.
- Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion This book by Alan Flusser is a great tome of men’s style through the 20th century. It’s lavishly illustrated with photographs from the Golden Age of Hollywood and other cultural icons of gent’s style. The focus may be a little American for European readers but the book is well informed and perfect for dipping in and out of while it lives on your coffee table.
- The Art of Manliness Collection: Classic Skills and Manners, Timeless Wisdom and Advice A neat set of two books which distils some of the advice, wisdom and wit from the website ’The Art of Manliness’. This limited-edition collection contains two books: ‘The Art of Manliness which offers advice on matters including choosing a suit, modern relationships, starting a camp fire and visiting the barbers. ‘The Art of Manliness: Manvotionals’ which brings together inspirational writings on ’The Seven virtues’ for gentlemen – Manliness, Courage, Industry, Resolution, Self-reliance, Disciple and Honour. The set comes nicely packaged in a branded gift cigar box.