When you want to give clothing as a Christmas gift, it can be intimidating to choose something. You want your loved one to be delighted, but how do you make a good choice? Coming from a store owner who has been helping people choose clothing gifts for 20 years, let me give you a few quick tips in making the best possible choice.
- Choose the right size: Knowing the size of the person you are shopping for is best because choosing the wrong size can be misconstrued by the gift receiver. Too big and they might assume you see them as bigger than they are. Too small and they might assume you think they are too heavy. Ugh! If you can, sneak into her closet and look at the sizes of some of the items she currently wears. Be sure to check the sizes of tops and bottoms. Once at the store, make sure to ask a sales associate if the brand you are considering runs big or small, as there is little consistency in sizing any more. If you don’t have access to her closet, can you ask someone close to her to do it for you?
- Consider color: Most of us seem to gravitate towards certain colors. Pay attention to the colors the person wears most often. They will likely fall into color families. For example, do they tend to wear cool or warm colors? Do they wear more blues and purples than pinks and reds? If you notice a pre-dominance of a certain color in their closet, it would be wise to choose something similar. If you feel totally unsure, you can never go wrong with denim friendly colors because most of us wear jeans. Other good choices include neutrals like black, white and grey.
- Consider texture and print: Most of us usually lean toward certain textures in our clothing choices. For example, does she have a lot of bulky, knitted items or are they more light and smooth? Does she like prints or does she seem to prefer solids. Again, a quick perusal of her closet should give you the information you need. Or, you can browse through some recent pictures, paying attention to what she is wearing. Within just a few minutes, you should be able to determine a pattern.
- Choose something practical: Unless you know the person you are buying for very well, the best clothing gifts will be practical items that can be used all the time. Cardigan sweaters, for example, are a great choice because most of us can use a sweater to put over other things, especially in the winter or the keep warm in an air conditioned office. Other great choices include sweaters. Tops are better than bottoms because the fit is easier. Pull over tops are better than button up tops because of the likelihood that a button up might gap at the bust.
- Complete the look: Take the time to complete the look with accessories. You will delight your loved one when you give her a top she can wear tomorrow, complete with everything she needs to wear it. You can usually find a necklace or scarf for between $20 and $30 and really completes your gift. If you aren’t good at matching accessories, get help from a sales clerk.
If your loved one has a favorite store in town, you can often save yourself a lot of guess work by going there. I know at our store, we track our customer’s purchases so we can look them up and know what brands they usually buy and in what sizes. This helps both you and the sales clerk to make the best choice. We also offer a layaway program and allow people to buy items off layaway as gifts. Ask about these options before making your purchase.
Another option is to buy an accessory like a necklace or scarf and then include with it a gift card to complete the look. This is useful if you do not know the info in the previous 5 steps and can’t get it. You don’t risk offending someone with the wrong size or style this way.
A bit of encouragement, even though buying clothing takes a little extra effort, it shows that you have put thought into your gift. Especially when you take the time to make a good choice, your gift will show your loved one that you have paid attention to her style and tastes and she will feel loved as a result.