One of my very favorite gifts for men is a subscription to Esquire magazine. Trust me. It's never a mistake.
But as we head into prime gift giving season, I thought I'd help you, Dear Reader, find the most perfect gifts — besides a magazine subscription — for the man in your life. No matter his age or income, the American man has a plethora of tools at his disposal to look impeccable. Of course, a great coat and a high quality pair of shoes are paramount. But what's next? As a personal stylist, I hear this question all the time.
I'll tell you what's next: accessories. And you can find every one you need, for every man you know, at Madrona's Hammer + Awl.
Three Phases to Accessorizing the American Man at Hammer + Awl
1. Phase one.
Hammer + Awl is a cozy shop jam-packed with high quality, personally curated accessories for the American man. You'll find understated, high quality pieces that are not Euro or flashy. These are pieces to invest in that have a high impact and he can keep for years to come. Each one, like a fine scotch, gets better with age.
When a fella is ready to up his game, there are four (and sometimes five) essentials to get him to the next level.
- Wallet or money clip. You are looking for a quality piece that communicates his style. Keep in mind his preference for brown versus black, for instance. And, do that dapper man in your life a solid and keep him from becoming George Costanza with a giant wallet that destroys his posture and any chances of a cool kid persona.
- Watch. A gentleman does not let a phone tell the time. The right watch lasts for years and elevates even the most basic of ensembles.
- Bag. This is where the magic happens. Don't dismiss canvas (waxed or not.) It's high quality, understated and appropriate for an effortlessly cool gent. Leather, of course, is great too.
- Tie. Every man, and I mean every man, needs at least one for those unexpected occasions. Neck ties and bow ties are available at Hammer + Awl, so that every fella is covered.
- Phone case (optional). It's true. When you buy your phone, you generally buy your case. But, we spend a whole lot of time pulling out our phones in front of people. So, using it as a vehicle to communicate your personal style is always a plus. This approach is true for women and men. I've listed this as optional because some (men especially) prefer to go case-less.
2. Phase two.
Once the main accessories are taken care of, it's time for phase two. Not to overgeneralize here, but men tend to really appreciate the process of making things. Owner, Erin Krohn, has an encyclopedic knowledge of each of her brands and has an unusual ability to educate shoppers without overwhelming them. Have a question about the origin of a piece or how to pair it best? She's got you covered. Of course, I'm always available as a resource, as well.
I mention the appreciation of process because as a gentleman graduates from phase one to phase two, you may find that he's discovering an unexpected new passion for apparel and accessories. This new enthusiasm and knowledge makes shopping for his phase two pieces that much more fun.
Here they are:
- Umbrella. If he opts for a smaller umbrella, a standard black option is just fine. But, if he can pull off a larger umbrella, that's taking it to another level, for sure. After all, what woman doesn't love the man who happens to have an umbrella large enough for the two of you?
- Scarf and hat. Super hip or super frumpy. Much of that decision is made with his hat and/or scarf. Take it from boy to man with a classy option.
- Sunglasses. I don't know how she does it, but Erin has managed to keep a collection of sunglasses that look flattering on several face shapes. Sunglasses frame your face and make everyone look more symmetrical which translates to looking more attractive. A great looking pair is worth the investment of time and money.
3. Phase three.
Phase three is not for the novice. But, if you already have a man in your life who is well into phase two, feel free to purchase some phase three pieces for him. After all, he might see these as indulgences. But, the phase three man is a pleasure for all of us to interact with. For one thing, he smells good.
Here we go. Phase three essentials:
- Products (that means skincare, hair care and potentially a scent). Women spend a significant amount of time nurturing our skin and yet men's skin ages at the same rate. He doesn't need to spend hours in the bathroom to look and smell good. Hammer + Awl can help.
- Shaving kit. If he travels, this is especially important. That could mean traveling to your apartment.
- Handkerchief. For the lady who is tearing up at a wedding or the fella with a cold, a handkerchief is an unexpected classy addition to any ensemble. I embroidered a few for my husband years ago and we still both benefits. (Leave it to me to well up at moments occasions or a night at the movies.)
- Bracelet (optional). Don't fear the bracelet. Leather options can be masculine and unique.
When I write these Seattle Sunday posts, I consider how much to focus on specific products versus the overall feeling of the boutique, label or individual. In this case, Hammer + Awl speaks for itself. All you need to do is make the time to get in there. And, if you can't, simply shop online. The man in your life will thank you. And, tell Erin, "hello" from Poplin!
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