The etiquette of Christmas shopping for a fashion addict is as complex as Machiavelli's The Prince. You know the old adage: if significant other gets it wrong once it's their fault. Get it wrong twice and it's yours. Turn to Machiavelli's chapter on cruelty and compassion. Be brutally vocal about last year's offering: last year's underwear might have been the perfect gift for Monica Coghlan but not for you. Make sure boyfriend sees you using last year's pink lacy bra as an oven mitt. Buy yourself Prada's ivory silk camiknickers and try the Oliver Twist maneouvre: "I want some more."
Style Police knows women who would rather let husbands have a fling with the nanny than choose their shoes. Machiavelli says Try to avoid contempt and hatred. Wear last year's pink satin f*** me heels but be sure one of them breaks in boyfriend's company and outside Gina's window. What do you see but a pair of Swarovski crystal-encrusted evening slippers? Women will always adore an indulgence gift: be that an extravagant Gina slipper, a Helen David sequin scarf or a Karen Millen ponyskin tote bag. Don't let practicality cloud his judgement. A petit cadeau in a monogrammed box will make a fashion bunny melt.
A true Machiavellian will plan ahead or, as the great man says, "Organise your militia". Gradually drain your reserves of Space NK products. Scrape the last dab of Espa body polish out of the jar. Spritz the last drop of Thierry Mugler Angel from the crystal star bottle. You've heard of subliminal advertising? Repeat Space NK, Espa, Angel like a mantra until these brands are firmly fixed in that man's mind.
Now put down The Prince and pick-up Arena Homme Plus. Shopping for a man is relatively simple. Time-saving plus luxe logo equals the ultimate boy toys. Who said men don't like socks for Christmas? Men love socks as long as you buy 10 pairs in black silk/cashmere mix from Donna Karan. You know that old feeling when you find a Tiffany blue box under the tree? For men, Dunhill's black box is a guarantee of top booty; be that the silver lighter, black leather lap-top case or sterling silver Torpedo pen.
Men are bigger label-queens than women. They know, for example, that Hackett is too football terrace and Ralph Lauren shirts are barrow boy. Gucci is still god for men. Yves Saint Laurent is back on the wish list and Holland & Holland is the blue-chip accessory label for the season. Listen to Santa Style Police and we guarantee you'll still have a significant other to kiss under the mistletoe come Boxing Day.
Where to buy it
If you want a guide to "cheap & chic" Christmas presents then buy an Argos catalogue and get yourself a good divorce lawyer. The bare minimum you're going to pay for a Style Police present is pounds 38.50 for a bottle of Angel or A Men by Thierry Mugler. Aim for pounds 50 if you're putting together a bag full of oils, creams, balms and unguents from Space NK's new own- label collection or Espa for women and Philosophy products for men.
There have been many pretenders to her throne but Janet Reger is still the queen of luxe lingerie. Reger is Madame Pompadour compared to Agent Provocateur's Cynthia Payne. You can buy a little bit of gorgeousness for as little as pounds 20. But Style Police's money is on Janet's cashmere vest tops in hot pink, lilac, natural and baby blue (pounds 99).
If you're going to buy shoes then this year's Manolo Blahnik is Gina. Boys, simply check out the kind of heel your beloved wears and buy a dolly little pair of crystal-mesh Cinderella slippers by Gina (from pounds 180). Forget the Fendi baguette. Every woman on the right side of Style Police would adore a Karen Millen ponyskin handbag trimmed with neon pearlised leather (from pounds 80). The scarfs de jour are Helen David's gorgeous bolts of sequinned chiffon or reflective silver shawls (from pounds 120).
Dunhill's slim silver lighters (from pounds 115) are the smoker's right hand man. Their black leather lap-top case (pounds 550) is devastatingly chic but, by the same token, almost half the price of the lap-top. When we're talking wallets and card cases you could follow the fashion herd and opt for a logo'd Louis Vuitton. Resist. Holland & Holland designer Jose Levy has crafted a collection of black leather "gentleman's requisites" embossed with a cunning wood-grain finish (from pounds 45). Holland & Holland cashmere scarves, with hole-punch gun logo (pounds 175), will make any other designer tag look tacky. And a final word on menswear. Girls don't want whore's drawers for Christmas, so it's simply not fair of you to buy tight white lycra and expect your man to like it - unless he is a podium dancer at Heaven.
Dunhill (tel: 0171 290 8720).
Espa (tel: 01252 741 600).
Gina (tel: 0171 235 2932).
Helen David (tel: 0207 284 2525).
Holland & Holland (tel: 0171 499 4411).
Janet Reger (tel: 0171 584 9360).
Karen Millen (tel: 01622 664 032).
Space NK (tel: 0171 299 4999).Reuse content