Ask Jeanne

ASK JEANNE Gifts for a Fashionista

Dear Jeanne,
I’d love to give my confident, beautiful friend a fashion-related gift for her birthday. She loves high style, consumes magazines and wears designer with ease. Any recommendations?
Dear Elise:


I realize some people are much more imaginative gift-givers than others, but it can certainly be somewhat daunting to give a fashion-related gift to a woman who seemingly has everything, or at least has such great taste herself, that you’re afraid you may not measure up. I would think the safest and perhaps most creative bet is to give your friend something, as you said “fashion-related”—but not actually meant to be worn. And it’s always fun to give people something they wouldn’t necessarily get for themselves. Since she adores fashion, she’d probably appreciate any gift that would edify her about the history of fashion. What about a selection of vintage fashion magazines? I can’t tell you how much I treasure my old Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines from the ‘60s—so much of what I see on those pages has informed the fashion we see today. I think your friend would find that kind of “look back” very fascinating. And maybe you could give her the magazines in a wonderful little vintage suitcase, or even a hat-box. Other vintage accessories she might appreciate, but not necessarily wear, are lovely vintage gloves, a tiara, or even a vintage evening bag. As mere objects, romantic accessories of this nature can look wonderful displayed on a dresser, and needn’t be worn.


If you’re not keen on going the vintage route, you might want to get your friend a gorgeous coffee table book on the subject of style, or perhaps one that features the work of some legendary fashion photographer. Fashion illustrations are also highly collectible, and rather irresistible to fashion enthusiasts. I’ve come across some extraordinary fashion sketches on Ebay that are real treasures. I think something of this nature, in a beautiful frame, would be especially meaningful to someone who adores fashion. I also love the idea of interesting jewelry boxes, or perhaps a travel jewelry case.


A collection of iconic, fashion-themed movies, or movies that simply feature fabulous clothes, would also be a wonderful gift. Think Audrey Hepburn’s “Funny Face”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, or “Sabrina”, or “The Women” with Bette Davis, or just about anything that Grace Kelly starred in. Or you might go the documentary route, with such offerings as “The September Issue”, a behind-the-scene look at Vogue Magazine, or “The Eye Has to Travel”, a terrific film that came out on DVD last year, about the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland.


If you want to go the gift certificate route, I’d suggest thinking outside the box, and trying to purchase a gift certificate for a high-end dry cleaners. No doubt your friend has those ultra special pieces in her wardrobe that demand special care. This would be a very practical gift, to be sure—but an extremely thoughtful one and no doubt very useful. Of course, I’d put the certificate in a fab little clutch, just to pump up the fashion appeal.