Another year, another gift guide. Somehow, despite a rowdy one-year-old on the loose, I was able to get this guide up earlier than ever. It’s a Christmas miracle! All it took was both her grandmothers, a stack of lift-a-flap books taller than she is, and a possessed dancing monkey to keep her occupied.
(For sizing reference, I’m a little over 5’8”, about 165 pounds, and 10.5/11 in shoes)
1. Coats: A Mini Guide
A good coat is all about the fit and materials. But most guys don’t like going store-to-store trying on dozens of coats comparing quality and price, etc, so I’m happy to do it for you! Under Jean’s watchful eye and with only minimal bribery and coercion, of course.
J.Crew Everyday Insulated Topcoat
Features: Insulated with a quilted lining, comes in short sizing, all the classic colors, and great price. This is the most practical, bang for your buck topcoat I found, and it earns bonus points for the use of sustainable materials in the insulation. From my try-ons, this seems like a really solid coat, but you do sacrifice some sleekness for added warmth.
Club Monaco Wool Blend Topcoat
Features: Trim fit with a hint of texture and full lining. However, no short sizing. Compared to the J.Crew Insulated Topcoat, this one looks a little more tailored and the textures look nice closer up. I’m trying on a size 38 here.
Topman “Classic” Fit Jersey Blazer
They call this a classic fit (it’s not, it’s actually quite tailored). They call the material jersey (it’s not, it’s a more structured, textured knit with very little stretch). But in this case, two wrongs make a right because this is a well-fitting, fully lined lightweight blazer that you can dress up or down. All at a reasonable price even at full retail, especially compared to similar options out there (coughbonoboscough). Fit note: Compared to my size in J.Crew (36), I go up one size for Topman (38).
2. Waterproof Boots
As much as I secretly want to be a real life Paddington Bear, I can’t pull off galoshes (or wellies, as our furry friend would call them). Fortunately, Cole Haan has a selection of very nice waterproof boots that don’t look like waterproof boots.
Wagner Grand Plain Toe Boot
They make the Wagner waterproof boot in a few different styles (i.e. Chelsea and Chukka) but this was my personal favorite. The brown nubuck is a little more casual, while the British tan has a nice polish to it. It also has a lightly padded lining throughout the boot for additional warmth and runs a little narrow in the toe, but it’s pretty comfortable for a dressier boot.
A comfortable, everyday fall and winter boot. The light tan is less green than it looks in the online images, and the black ones give off some serious Doc Martens vibes, if that’s your thing.
3. A Socially Acceptable Hoodie
Somehow my old tattered hoodies have a way of sneaking into the donation pile, or trash can, or even one time the compost bucket. Maybe it’s Nori’s doing? This mystery will probably never be solved.
Everlane Felted Merino Hoodie
It’s light and soft without feeling overly delicate, and it fits like a nice sweater. I actually found the merino to be softer than their cashmere version, plus it has a kangaroo pocket and is $60 less. And I have a suspicion it won’t mysteriously end up in the donation pile. This fit well on me in size S.
4. “Sub” in some instant gratification
The great thing about digital subscriptions as gifts is they can be bought last minute, used immediately, and require zero gift-wrapping. Although it doesn’t hurt to do a little creative presentation beyond “merry xmas i texted you my hbo login.”
- For the home chef: NYT Cooking Subscription
- For the sports nerd who has a Deadspin-sized hole in his heart: The Athletic Subscription
- For the regular nerd: Curiosity Stream or NYT Crossword
- For the dad who wants to read with his kids (or distract them on long flights): EPIC books
- For the guy who’s already watched everything on Netflix: Apple+
- For the whole family but really for his love of Star Wars: Disney+
5. Comfortable EVERYDAY Pants
While a pair of flannel snowman-print pants is a lovely gift, a pair of comfortable pants you can wear year-round and in public is a truly useful gift. Although, I shouldn’t be talking as our mailman can attest, I wear my Christmas jammies in June.
Lululemon ABC Pants (6 colors; free in-store hemming)
The bottom line: stretchy but classy athleisure pants, good for gluttonous events at work and at home.
An update on these pants I first wrote about in the summer: they’ve held up well in the washer and dryer and, uh, stayed true to their name (Google the acronym on your work wifi at your own risk). Basically every day that requires wearing pants, I either wear or at least considering wearing them. The only other pair of pants that’s managed to get me out of them is…
Everlane Performance Chino (6 colors; lots of inseam options including a rare 28″)
The bottom line: the best-looking, most-comfortable chinos in recent memory.
My new favorite chinos. They don’t have that tech-fiber feel of athleisure pants but are just as comfortable. They have a similar look to my old go-to J.Crew chinos, and although the material is a bit lighter in weight, they fit better on me and don’t bag out at the crotch and knees after 1 wear. Plus, good news for all the begrudging pants cuffers out there—they offer a short 28-inch inseam. I’m still cramming my dad thighs into the slim cut, but the athletic cut is actually pretty good and not too loose.
6. Hot STUFF COMING THROUGH
For anyone who’s spent any time getting sucked down a YouTube rabbit hole, you’ve undoubtedly come across the celebrity
torture interview series, Hot Ones, which features everyone from Chrissy Teigen to Shaq eating an increasingly spicy array of hot wings while answering questions. So grab a few of the sauces featured on the show and see if his tongue could handle the hot seat . And if they’re not into hot stuff, maybe try some seasoned salts from Momofuku.
7. WHISKEY tasting set
Jean picked up on my hint in last year’s guide, and I found an excellent bottle of Japanese whiskey under the tree. But if you want to avoid the trip to the liquor store and having your ear talked off by the local whiskey connoisseur, just get this Japanese Whiskey Tasting Set.
8. TASTEFUL Noods
Surprise him with some classy noods haha get it wink wink nudge nudge…I am talking about a delicious ramen or pasta-making class, of course. It doesn’t have to be in Italy or Japan (although ideal). Just do a search for classes or events in your area or check out Airbnb Experiences, and always assume clothes are required. Although, who knows, maybe Noods in the Nude is a thing out there somewhere.
- If you’re in the LA area: Foodstory
- Or here’s a ramen-making Airbnb Experience in SF w/ good reviews. (referral code for $15 off)
I hope this post helps you with your holiday shopping, but to make guides like this more useful, let me know what categories you like seeing best or other types of reviews you’d like in the future!