The ultimate Valentine's gift guide for picky fashion fans
Whether you're pity-shopping for your chronically single friend or trying to woo a Material Gworl™, here's what to cop for Monday.
Collage by Douglas Greenwood
Gosh, the shopping season really is relentless, isn’t it? It feels like just yesterday that you were scraping the barrel of your overdraft, picking out treats to put beneath the Christmas tree for the fickle fashionistas in your lives. Well, just as you’ve started to inch your way back towards financial solvency — BOOM! Valentine’s Day. Granted, you may not need to pick out quite as many prezzies this time, but here, it’s really is the thought that counts. Pick out the perfect item for your sweethearts and it’ll be roses all year round. Misstep, however, and… well, just don’t.
Lucky for you, though, we’ve decided to open our hearts and play Cupid this year by lovingly putting together a list of gifts that would make even the pickiest of paramours swoon. Whether you’re trying to rekindle the flame with a gorp ghost, or fretting over what get an infamously high-maintenance Material Gworl™, these are the gifts that will help you get lucky this Valentine’s.
Your chronically-single millennial pal
This Valentine’s Day, spare a thought for your single friend. You know the one. Detrimentally romantic, they’ve got high standards and are fraught with anxiety at the task of finding the one. Though they insist they’re happy being single-and-fabulous (question mark?), their Hinge-scrolling-induced carpal tunnel says otherwise. What better way to reassure them that they are indeed single-and-fabulous (exclamation mark!) than with the ultimate starter pack for a solo night in: a Byredo candle for setting the mood, a recipe box from Pasta Evangelists for a well-deserved cheat day, a More Joy vibrator or a Tenga Egg to truly unwind — some Foria CBD ‘sex oil’ would also go a long way here — and some of Loewe’s uber-chic bathing products to help wash off the inevitable after-the-act guilt. You could even throw in one of those heart-shaped Le Creuset cast-iron pots for their Sunday evening meal planning ritual, or a set of couples Versace bathrobes. Don’t worry, it shan’t be triggering —while one’s for them, the other’s for their beloved pooch. The above failing, you’ll also find a myriad of products available for both of them on SSENSE.
The gorp ghost
Ok, so he hasn’t got back to confirm your Valentine’s plans – or any of the frantic, one-a-day messages you’ve sent over the past fortnight – but getting him the perfect gift will put you at the top of his agenda… right?? Well, the usual excuse for his spectral presence is usually that his battery’s dead (all that DM-sliding comes at a cost!), so maybe one of Apple’s MagSafe portable chargers is a good shout, so he never misses a message again :). Of course, should you manage to bring your Casper back from the proverbial grave, you’ll be set for a night of passion so worthwhile you’ll be spamming his inbox for months to come. If you insist on getting into the pants of someone who respects you as little as he does people who only discovered Arc’teryx last year, then at least make sure they’re nice ones. Do him — and, therefore, yourself — a solid, and swap out the hole-y kecks his mum got him just before freshers for a three-pack of chic, discreet CDLP boxer briefs. And while you’re at it, a decent set of bed linens and a spare towel — Tekla, perhaps? Getting down and dirty with a man who’ll probably shout out the wrong name during the act? Hot. Kinda. Doing so on a bare futon with just one pillow? Most definitely not. As you’ve probably gathered, most of the suggestions we have here are about making the inevitably traumatic experience of dating this man as smooth a ride as possible for you. After all, when he does eventually ghost you for good, you don’t want your overwhelming memories to be of chapped lips and the lingering taste of instant ramen after each kiss. If budgets are tight, La Roche Posay do a very fab, very affordable lip balm — a great replacement for the all-purpose tub of Vaseline he keeps next to his ‘bed’ — and consider gifting him this Oral B electric toothbrush a gift to yourself if oral-anything is on the cards on Monday night. But it’s not all about you, remember. For a touching gift that shows that you really know what he’s into, Malin + Goetz Cannabis candle or Ganja – Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance, duh. The only other thing worth giving him is a set of basic manners, but Goodhood wasn’t stocking them when we last checked.
The Material Gworl™
If you can’t afford Chanel nine boots or Balmain bustdowns — whatever those are — then fear not. There are plenty of gifts for your sugarbubba sweetheart that needn’t rack up crippling credit card debt. Not many, but a few. Sure, a Cartier ‘Love’ bracelet is all she really wants — but ultimately it’s the thought that counts, right? Wrong. A true Material Gworl’s love language is gifts (receiving, more so than giving), so what about a month’s supply of those IQOS e-cigarettes she smokes while sitting en terrace in Marylebone? They’ll do. Or, perhaps consider one of those LED masks that fill her Explore page — Dr. Dennis Gross does a great one. Sure, she’ll look like Darth Vader most of the morning, but she’ll be in a good mood for the rest of the day, and that’s all you can ask for. Your precious habibti is all about her friends, and given that she’s spent most of 2022 scrolling through the Kanye/Julia saga, cooing “Isn’t it just so romantic?”, consider treating her and her posse to a table at a Mayfair brasserie. Sketch will go down a treat; the waiters are well-accustomed to taking (and re-taking) group shots — and surprising them with each of their own It-bags. Birkins out of budget? Take your cue from Demna — a designer beloved by contoured, lip-plumped girlies the world over — with an Ikea shopping bag. All you have to say is that it’s Balenciaga, and Kim K has one in every colour. They’ll be thrilled, and if they can’t take a joke and the dinner ends up more Real Housewives than First Dates then perhaps have a backup: a cryotherapy session to warm up your bae’s frosty soul.
The Love Bomber
By now, you’ve no doubt watched Tinder Swindler and wondered to yourself, how on earth could these beautiful blondes ever fall for such an obvious ponzi scheme? Well, the simple answer is that they all fell for a Love Bomber. You know, the type who goes from 0 to 100 in 0.5. Emojis clogging up your WhatsApp, every message followed by a trail of xxxxxx, promises of ‘we’, ordering the whole menu, spontaneous trips on private jets — well before you’ve met any of their friends, or seen utility bills from the last three months. Well, my dears, they’re not all bad — just look at Julia Fox! Erotomaniacs can be good fun, as long as you know how to play them at their own game. And V-Day is their national holiday, their time to shine and shower you with gifts in hopes of your unrequited love, constant communication — and maybe your credit card details? Sure, it’s only ever going to end one way: you blocking them on every app including Depop, and frantically Googling ‘restraining orders’ — but swindle the swine and get what you deserve first! You might want to consider ‘accidentally’ sharing access to your Matches Fashion wishlist and seeing what shows up at your office (never, ever share your home address). Or, you can put them to good use by getting them to drive you around while you run some errands — bring a friend, make a day of it. Listen, if you really like them but think they just need a bit of help, why not offer a session of therapy and Mark Manson’s best-selling The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Or, if you want to set them free to smother someone else with all that lovin’, perhaps one of those FLOWERBX subscriptions. God knows what their flower bill must be.
The deviant de luxe
Just as you don’t know what a chocolate tastes like until you take a bite, you don’t really know what a person’s into behind closed doors until you go there with them. While a dozen roses will suffice for the vanilla-flavoured lovers in your life, they just won’t cut it for the person that invited you to Torture Garden for your second date. Still, picking out a romantic gift for someone who’s into the kind of equipment that you legally require a supervised induction to use isn’t easy, so save yourself the hassle and get them a B&Q voucher. Why, you ask? Hardware is the new hardcore, honey! Welding masks are the new gimp masks. Speaking of DIY, to be honest, the most thoughtful gift you could get them this Valentine’s Day is planning permission for that basement extension they’ve been fantasising about, but some blackout curtains to keep the neighbours complaints at bay will do if your local government connections aren’t quite up to that. It should be noted, though, just because they’re filthy-minded doesn’t mean they don’t have taste. For the discerning kinkster, a chain-suspended chair swing — much like the one Gwyneth Paltrow has in her Tribeca loft — treads the fine line between chic, homely décor and that platform swing in Berghain where people do things we’d probably get in trouble for publishing descriptions of. And while leather harnesses have been basique AF since, like, 2015, cracking a Gucci whip and strapping into an Hermès saddle are just two ways to truly elevate a pony play session. All that failing… well, maybe just a nice box of chocolates? Sounds simple, but you never know when they might need a bitesize sugary treat to keep their energy up over those long, long nights.
The Raya tech bro
Once upon a time, there was a certain template for the ultimate City Boy bachelor. He was suited-and-booted, lived in a penthouse, loved skiing, always paid for dinner, and hopefully had at least one redeeming quality — like running the marathon for a charity (awwww), calling his mother, or harbouring dreams of a “quieter” life in the Cotswolds with just “two or three” kids. Oh, how times have changed! Just one scroll through Raya is enough to determine the New World Order of rom-com-ready suitors. Bankers are out. Tech bros are in. Think gym-honed, gaming-loving, hoodie-wearing millionaires perpetually stuck in the throes of their stunted adolescence. They don’t want no babies! They want your body! Literally the worst kind of guy (no judgement if you’re dating him), this man is ultimately obsessed with himself. If you must get him a gift, start by getting him a shirt. Any shirt. Because judging by his multiple dating profiles, he doesn’t own a single one. Don’t even bother trekking to Paperchase for a cute card — he’ll appreciate an NFT V-day greeting more than anything else. Once he knows that you speak his cryptic crypto language, he may take an hour from his busy schedule of playing Fortnite to see you IRL for dinner. What to get the guy who has every gadget? We have a feeling that a vial of MCT oil wouldn’t go amiss, or one of those Ember coffee cups beloved by Rishi Sunak — all the better for containing his micro-dosed, V60 pour-over. A his-and-hers Flotation tank might be what he needs to truly disconnect from the matrix. And considering he’s probably #Keto4Life, you could always see if Ben’s Cookies would consider rustling up a love heart-shaped keto cookie to let him know that you get him, and respect his choices. The greatest gift he could ever give you is a bit of commitment, amiright? So, if you’re really into him and want to keep tabs, you could always get him one of those Oura rings. Make sure you set it up on your phone first. He’s been toying with the idea of one for ages, and at least that way you can keep track of whether he’s sleeping, or just sleeping around.
The boho zaddy
Given that he’s probably bankrolling you, anything you gift him is basically a gift to himself. Still, it’s the thought that counts here. After all, there’s not really much you can give a man who outright owns a Barnsbury townhouse — other than, well, yourself. A natural wine subscription from Shop Cuvée’s a pretty safe bet, turning every quiet night in with your silvered paramour into a totally-unsolicited lecture on the merits of different maceration times, as is a Celine biker jacket or a skinny scarf from Acne Studios — a perfect throwback accessory for a man who did his last big partying days at the very dawn of indie sleaze. A novelty plectrum could also be a nice addition to the room devoted to his “ultra-rare” guitars that he insistently refers to as an “art collection”. Gauging by the way he checks out your mates, a conversation about ‘opening things up’ is probably imminent. Granted, this may not be something you’re keen to encourage, but if you are, then little says you’re ready for life as that couple — you know, the one sending out drinks to people that they “totally dig the vibe” of from across the bar — than a Feeld Majestic Membership and a copy of The Ethical Slut. If you really want to push the boat out (on his card, natch), then why not gift him an ayahuasca retreat – truly the self-discovery experience of a lifetime. Careful with this one, though. You are, after all, the one who’ll have to deal with the earthy wardrobe makeover and him banging on about it for the rest of yours.
The guy that says he’s bi, but has never kissed a guy
He may talk the talk, but have you ever seen him walk the walk? And by ‘walk the walk’, we mean pash on with an actual real-life man. Whether he’s just nervous or he’s a spiritual successor to that queerbaiting TikToker we were shopping for at Christmas, the M4M dalliances he said he’d been dreaming of just haven’t quite panned out since stepping out the closet. Well, time to change that — let’s get this boy laid! Sure, a Grindr XTRA subscription sounds like a good idea, but what’s a bike if you don’t know how to ride it? This Valentine’s, it’s time to show him the ropes, and help your friend step into their brilliant bisexual self. After stopping by Bleach London for a leopard-spot buzz-cut, shimmying into a Dion Lee crop top, picking up a month’s course of PrEP, and a trip to Sweatbox, he’ll be ready for the road. In for a penny, in for a pounding, as they say!