Tis the season for giving and for feeling at a total loss or aimlessly wandering in hopes of the perfect gift just “jumping out at you.” As a boutique owner of over twenty years, I’ve done my fair share of helping customers buy for their loved ones. I’ve also handled a few returns where the gift receiver was offended by the gift.
Buying clothing is a lovely gift and something everyone can use for years to come. While it can be intimidating choosing for someone else, there are a few simple steps you can take to help you make a great buy. I am a big advocate of clothing as a gift because it takes time to make a great choice and shows your loved ones that you really wanted to choose something special for them. There is nothing about clothing that feels impersonal, and when you take a few simple steps, you can increase your odds dramatically of finding the perfect item.
The following are my top tips for buying clothing as a Christmas gifts. The most important thing you can do is know your stuff. Before you go shopping, spend some time in your loved one’s closet or peruse several photos of them. If you can’t look in her closet because she doesn’t live nearby, is there a significant other or friend that might be able to do it for you? Pay attention to a few things:
1. What colors are her favorites?
2. What is her size? Look at several different types of tops like stretchy pullovers and more tailored button up tops. Do the same with bottoms. Make sure you know what size she wears if the item is sized in numbers like 8, 10, or 12, as an example. Make sure you also know what size she wears if the item is sized in small, medium or large.
3. Does she seem to gravitate to solids or does she like prints? Does she like small prints like florals or larger prints like plaid?
4. What body issues does she have that might create fit issues? Is she busty? Does she have broad shoulders or a thick waist? Would she want to cover her middle or show it off? Is she short, average or tall?
5. What kind of clothing does she need? Is she a teacher? Does she work in an office? Is she a banker or Real Estate Agent? Is she a stay at home mom? Should you be choosing professional items that she can wear to work or more casual styles?
6. How trendy is she? Does she care about keeping up with the latest trends or does she choose clothing based upon comfort and feel?
7. How old is she and does she dress her age? Perhaps she likes to be trendy and look a little younger. Perhaps she avoids trends.
8. Is her style artistic, conservative, tailored, or outdoorsy? Try to focus in on the general style that she wears both at work and at play.
9. Are there certain brands that she loves?
10. Is there a certain store that she loves?
Once you have written all of this information down, take your list shopping. Share it with the sales associate at your favorite boutique as well as your observations about what you would like to buy. If your loved one has a favorite store, go there. Likely, if she is a regular customer, they will either know her or be able to look up her shopping history. If they have a layaway program, check to see if your loved one has a layaway. Buying items off a layaway is a fool proof way to give clothing because you know if she put it on layaway, she already loves it. If she doesn’t have a layaway, then my advice is to stick to the basics. Tops are an easier fit than bottoms. Choose pull over stretchy tops like seaters, tees, sweatshirts that are more likely to fit.
Then, accessorize the top with some special touches. Add a scarf and earring. Get her a hat and gloves. Choose something that shows you not only thought of her but wanted to make it special. I can assure you, if she thinks you really worked hard to choose the perfect gift, she will cherish it.