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Your Guide to the Menswear Holiday Gift Guides

  • Kempt Staff


Happens every year right around this time, like clockwork: you need to find gifts to give...

And, more importantly: gifts to receive.

But time is too precious to spend leafing through the overwhelming number of gift guides out there—all of them filled with enough gadgetry, machinery and sockery to require another guide just to get through all of these gift guides... So that’s exactly what we’re doing, culling through it all—and pulling out the best stuff in this handy be-all, end-all guide. (You may want to conspicuously leave this guide open in as many computer browsers as possible.)

Your Guide to the Menswear Holiday Gift Guides.»

Chanel Iman Is Waiting for You to Build a Fire

  • Kempt Staff

In the Balance: Some learned menswear wisdom from a filmmaker who’s making a documentary on Italian tailors. [Valet]

If You Like Piña Coladas: A primer on how to treat your fineries after getting caught in the rain. (Don’t just throw them in the closet to get musty.) [Put This On]

It’s Fiddy: A handsome compendium of 50 consciously made gifts under $50. [Well Spent]

Sleigh Ryder’s Anthem: And now, some yuletide caroling from rapper DMX—who has a surprisingly strong grasp of the lyrics to “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” [The Strut]

This Year, Bring Something Better Than a Bottle of Wine

  • Najib Benouar

It’s one of the most important rules of party etiquette: don’t arrive empty-handed. (Good to note, since between now and 2013, you’ve got a lot of parties.)

In the past, that’s meant showing up with a bottle of wine, purchased last-minute, or an ill-begotten dessert item. But not this year. Because this year, you’re winning the holidays.

As you might recall, we kicked off Kempt’s Guide to Winning the Holidays last week with a little refresher course on your holiday kitsch. Now we’re upgrading your host gift. The real nugget of wisdom here is that you should be bringing something that enhances the evening—which is why a bottle of wine usually works in a pinch, but we’re thinking: more personal, more fun, more ambiance. (Since really, the best gift you can give any host is to help make the party more fun.) So, we bring to you:

The five host/hostess gifts guaranteed to make any holiday party better.»

Let the Wild Rumpus Never End

  • Najib Benouar

RIP, Maurice: We’ve lost one of the most celebrated authors of our time, Mr. Maurice Sendak—our childhood wouldn’t have been the same without him. The Times looks back on his remarkable legacy. [NYTimes]

Return to Sendak: Another fitting tribute to Mo would be to watch his two-part Colbert Report interview. Things get tense, they huff markers, classic Sendak stuff here. [The Colbert Report]

Bespoke and Mirrors: The Wall Street Journal looks into the troubling overuse of the word “bespoke” and the continuing erosion of the term’s meaning. [WSJ]

Hey, Ma: Just in case you’d like something more to go along with our Mother’s Day card suggestion, this Esquire list of 50 gift ideas ought to work. [Esquire]

June Palmer Has Seized Control of Your Windowsill

june palmervia WBE

Mr. Darmody Returns: Our old friend Michael Pitt takes a turn modeling for Prada, braving double-breasted suits and Eisenhower-era prints. [F-Tape]

Inside Out: A welcome look at the guts of a pair of unsanforized Cone Mills jeans, courtesy of Roy’s. [Selectism]

The Very Last Minute: An extremely last-minute gift guide, full of high-design trinkets. In our experience, everyone needs a wooden radio. [Better Living Through Design]

Bike vs. Mountain: Three crazy Germans (one of whom is named “Jello”) tackle an unbelievably treacherous mountain path on bicycle. Yes, there’s video. [Kottke]

A Gentleman’s Guide to Gifting


The world is a complex and terrifying place, and never moreso than when we are seeking out the appropriate gifts for our friends and family.

Fortunately, help has arrived in the form of our latest gift guide. We’ll be updating it down to the last minute, but if you stop by now you’ll find a healthy selection of giftable items—including an old-school medicine ball, a fisherman's sweater and a miniaturized version of De La Soul.

That should be enough to get you started.

Pater Familias


One of the perks of Americana is that you never run short of Father’s Day gifts. This linen handkerchief from Hill Side, for instance, isn’t too different from any other piece of industrial nostalgia they’ve set loose in the past year. Nevertheless, they’re pitching it as the perfect Father’s Day gift, and we’re hard pressed to disagree.

It might be the simple universality of a handkerchief, or the fact that everyone starts longing for a scrap of linen once the thermometer tops 80, but this is the kind of handsome, all-purpose item we usually recommend for gifts. And since you’re jumping generations, it probably doesn’t hurt that it came off the assembly line a few decades back.

Go Daddy


Father’s Day is just a couple weeks off, and it’s time to get into gifting mode. We’ve got a few more adventurous suggestions in the pipeline—no, not ties—but we thought we’d kick things off with an old standard: scotch.

This site won’t sell you any, but it’ll help you find a store and give you the info to pin down the bottle you’re after, which should get you halfway there. (Try here if you can’t find a local shop.) The trick is finding a bottle that’ll give the old man something he hasn’t tasted before. And the older the better.

It’s the Thought that Counts


Mother’s day offers a reliable conundrum: How do you adequately express your filial affection in the absence of your usual “girlfriend” standbys? We suggest something perfumed and French.

Diptyque is a Parisian firm that’s been a favorite for maternal gifts for upwards of 40 years. There are a few manlier options too, like the Southeast Asian Tam Dao shower gel, but at the moment your mind is probably on gifts. You can pick up a candle or two here or stop by one of their boutique outposts if you want to check out the goods in person. They’ve got outposts in New York, London, Paris, San Francisco and Qatar. Just be sure to add an appropriately heartfelt note.

His and Hers


Valentine’s Day is a very special time, when couples can grow together, share feelings of love and respect and, most importantly, exchange gifts.

These matching coffee cups come from the L.A. erotic shop Coco de Mer. In case you can’t read it, the one on the left says “bitch,” and the one on the right says, “wanker.”

Consider yourself warned.

The Ring


Utility still looks better than anything else, so this jumbo keyring from Rivy Ng got our attention as one of the best solutions to a problem that most style guides don’t touch: having lots and lots of keys. Loop it through the handle of a duffel bag and you’ll be able to keep things secure while still having enough mobility to use it, should you come across a door that needs unlocking.

With a little finesse, you can even keep from jingling when you walk.

Soap of Ages


The season of swag is in full swing, and while we had a few ideas of our own, we thought we’d share some of the better items that ended up in our stocking. Giving is still better…but receiving’s all right too.

For instance, this year marks our first encounter with the old world soap Savon de Marseille. It’s hardly luxe—you can pick up a pound of the stuff for just a few of euros, if you’re in the neighborhood—and it’s rougher than anything you’ll find in the supermarket, but there’s a particular charm to using soap that’s been passed around for 700 years.

And since the main ingredients are olive oil and Mediterranean sea water, it puts the usual scents to shame.

Present Company


By now, we bet you’re looking for a gift or two, so we thought we’d open up our archives for any last minute seekers. A tie may not be breaking much new ground, but a well-kept notebook or a well-bound book is always enough to raise a few eyebrows, especially if you choose the right one.

With that in mind, we present: the Kempt gift guide, a handful of very good ideas for any refined gentleman on your list. And you’ll have just enough time to get them to your door for the main event.

Just don’t sweat the shipping charge.

Steel Wheels


You’re never too old for a little fun and games, even if you’ve run out of good toys.

This one might be worth a look, provided your equilibrium is still in good shape. It’s called the 360, and it’s very good news for anyone looking for a replacement skateboard. It comes from an Italian designer named Francesco Sommacal, and we’re expecting (or hoping, really) that it’ll have about the same shelf life as the Razor scooter.

In other words, you’ve got a solid eighteen months to enjoy this before it gets irritating. On your marks, get set…