on 2 February 2012
Buying a gift for a man is difficult, unless the male in question really is a little boy or is unfortunately one of those unpleasant, tiresome middle-aged manboys who have grown older but never grown up past the age of fourteen (in which case, why would you want to?)
Unless you are the man's wife/mistress/lover/girlfriend or an immediate genetic relative, i.e, (grand)mother/daughter/sister/niece/aunt, gift-buying for males is a social minefield, especially if the man has one or all of the above women already about.
It is not appropriate for the non-wife/mum to buy undergarments, even as novelty items adorned with Homer Simpson's mustard-hued mug. If the man has a Wife/Significant Other, aftershave, eau de toilette, and personal jewellery are similarly a no-no, especially if She is also your friend, or more dangerously an in-law or your own sibling or female relative. Such gifts tend to give the impression you think Her Taste is lacking, even if that is sincerely not your intention (and if it is, it's too obvious!)
Likewise, especially if the man has a Her in whatever form, buying a gift such as ties, socks, cufflinks and even tiepins can be fraught with peril in the form of submerged relationship rocks and emotional undercurrents you never knew were there. And, if the man has some specific hobby (trains, football, cricket, etc which his Her might hate) it is highly likely he has been bought all meaningful gifts by his Her(s) already and again, you are in danger of encroaching on territory best left alone.
Which is why, I think, The Perfectly Dressed Gentleman is, possibly, nearly the perfect gift for a man, or `a bloke' or `a chap' or whatever description you prefer.
It's a book, which is gender neutral and therefore gifts you with 'plausible deniability' in that it avoids all possible implications of your gift being some sort of `sub-text' commentary on the taste, judgement, psychology, emotional stability and mental health of The Woman/Women in his life (even if it is).
It's a thin book, 128 pages from start to finish, including index and full-page illustrations, which is far more likely to make the man decide to crack the spine.
It consists of 11 chapters, each specific to one item (The Suit, Ties, Knitwear) so the man who just needs to know about Shirts and Shoes can go straight to Chapters 3 and 6 without having to wade through a lot of other opinion first.
The key points are written in the middle of each page in italics or bold-print summaries, again which avoids the need to read several paragraphs to find what it's all about.
All these are ideal for the male reader. It was once said that men think in intersecting straight lines like a grid, women in overlapping spirals like concentric circles. It's probably as accurate a description as any - this book perfectly understands (no pun intended) that whilst women are happy to talk and read around the subject too, men get irritated by window dressing and want short, snappy and straight to the point, which is what this book delivers.
Above all, it allows for you, the gift-giver, to avoid all censure. If the man is a scruffy, unhygienic slob who needs to be hosed down and have his wardrobe conveniently spontaneously combust or get shredded by a conveniently malfunctioning washing machine, you can jocularly pass this book off as a `novelty' fun gift (even if you're as serious as a tax audit) but yet be fairly sure that after a while, bits of it might start to sink in, especially if you keep a copy for yourself to dip into and try and find reasons to occasionally comment, `oh I see you've read Chapter... on..., I'm glad I bought it for you now, I'm so pleased you like it' (though it is wise not to over-egg this one and keep such comments rare).
If he embodies The Kinks Dedicated Follower of Fashion to be a rank Narcissist, you can claim that you thought he would be pleased at how you've noticed he takes care of how he looks. Again, if your intended recipient is a teenager with tats and sharp metal objects shoved into body parts, or is a manboy whom would be much less embarrassing to be around if he dressed like an adult, you can give them the book and suggest that he can use it to `get one up' on his mates/cronies for that first job interview/promotion `chat' with the boss, etc.
And last, but by no means least, is the formatting - the actual book itself comes in a sleeve that is a masculine shade of dark teal/white, which a man won't mind so much being seen with and you can order a `gift' copy in which there is a handy bow-tie shaped teal/brown bookmark with "To" and "From" on the reverse and on the back where the price would be it just says GIFT. This means he won't know how much you paid and that you really were serious about him being a sartorial scruff, etc.
However, there is one reason it has 4 stars and not 5 and that is because the formatting is not available as an e-book, which would mean the man could download it to his Kindle/phone/mobile device and discreetly check the correct sartorial points when it came to buying his clothes/impressing his boss/girlfriend, etc. On saying that, the publisher CICO books does have a website with a section to get a 'digital edition' as an "app" but this may be only available in the USA. A UK Kindle version would be much easier and more useful.