Put This On’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

December 5, 2022

Hunting for the perfect gift can be stressful. Should you get something practical or sentimental? Something they can keep forever or a consumable? Every year around this time, we come out with our gift guide to help readers find that special item they can set under the tree. For more suggestions, don’t forget to check out our previous guides, where you’ll find dozens of other ideas. And, of course, don’t forget to take a look in our own shop, where you’ll find beautiful vintage items, handmade pocket squares and scarves, and who knows what else.



T-Shirts by Lorien Stern

Far be it from me to recommend graphic tees on my pocket square website, but a few months ago, I spotted an incredible sweatshirt on my friend Lisa Hanawalt. Lisa is a brilliant comics artist and illustrator (and the creator of Tuca & Bertie, RIP), and few have such a facility at depicting the goofy, magical charm of the natural world. But Lisa was wearing a design by Lorien Stern, and Stern has Lisa matched. Stern’s shop has a bunch of amazing designs, such as this delightfully odd cheetah and this beautiful tadpole (for BABIES). Everyone is getting one of these from me this year. —Jesse



Rowing Blazers x Babar

I’m not a huge prep guy. For one thing, I’m from San Francisco, where unironic prep isn’t a thing even among people who went to prep schools. So maybe Rowing Blazers isn’t targeted at me. But boy, do I love their line of Babar-themed clothes. The story of Babar is frankly a bit colonialist and problematic, but the aesthetics of Babar are off the charts. I’ve probably spent five hundred bucks on this stuff. Right now, I am struggling not to buy this sweatshirt of Babar stuck in a phone booth. If they ever put out something Wully-Wully themed, I won’t be able to resist. —Jesse



Shoes from Aurora Shoe Company

Yes, they are ugly shoes. Yes, that is what’s great about them. Aurora will make shoes to your specifications—you can even send in a tracing of your foot. The shoes are homely but undeniably charming, and they’re very reasonably priced for shoes that are actually made on-site in upstate New York. I got a pair for my wife last year. Just yesterday, she said to me, “I was wearing those shoes, and I wanted to remember to tell you that I love them.” —Jesse



Karate Classes

It just seems like it would be cool. I mean, wouldn’t you want to get some karate classes as a gift? They teach you karate! —Jesse



Sons of Kemet’s “Black to the Future”

I went to see Shabaka Hutching’s incredible ensemble Sons of Kemet at the Lodge Room here in Los Angeles a few months ago, and it was one of the best live music experiences I’ve ever had. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since I was already in love with their records. The band is two drummers, a tuba, and Hutchings playing mostly saxophone. I know that sounds experimental for the sake of experimentalism, but the result of that combo is mesmerizing and gorgeous, and also it jams. Sort of like Fela Kuti meets Pharoah Sanders. A spiritual get-down. —Jesse



Gentleman’s Relish

This weird British umami bomb is a spread made of anchovies, garlic, and spices. Honestly? It is pretty good. But mostly, you would buy it because how could anyone not enjoy receiving a product called “Gentleman’s Relish?” —Jesse



Extremely Fancy Pajamas

I’ve always believed that it’s important, when gifting, to get your giftee the good stuff. When your budget is limited, I think you should get the best version of a small thing, rather than an OK version of a big thing. But if you have a few hundred bucks to give a gift, I love the idea of fancy pajamas. Derek Rose is a great choice, with tons of styles to choose from. One of my favorite eBay sellers sells them at a discount, shipped from the UK. The best I’ve worn, though, is by the Swiss brand Zimmerli. The Swiss have few rivals in the fancy cotton business (Egypt has a case), and the textiles in Zimmerli pajamas are just incredible. They are comically expensive, but if you’ve got it, go for it. —Jesse



A Forest Wizard Hat

Perhaps I am over-intoxicated by the strange Japanese brand Norbit, which combines hyper-practical outdoor wear with an absurd excess of detailing and a vaguely elfin aesthetic. But I am in love with forest wizard hats. I don’t mean the actual ones Gandalf wears, but more like this bush hat, made of an impressive techno-fabric. Given current exchange rates, you can do pretty well ordering Norbit direct from Japan, but it’s still a little expensive. An alternative is these wool felt hats. My friend Dan Deacon wears one everywhere, and every time I see him, I think, “That silly hat sure looks fantastic.” —Jesse



Hua Hsu’s Stay True

I’ve admired The New Yorker’s Hua Hsu forever and a day. He’s a deeply insightful music critic, and I’ve learned a lot from his writing. His most recent book, though, is a memoir. Hsu grew up in the States with Taiwanese parents, one of whom (his dad) lived and worked in Taiwan. Stay True is part contemplation of childhood, told in part through Hsu’s father’s beautiful letters home (from home?). It’s also the story of how Hsu became a man at UC Berkeley, largely through his deep friendship with a Japanese-American buddy who was both similar to him and wildly different. By the time that relationship took a deeply tragic turn, I was so taken with Hsu’s plainly-told story that I was left in a blubbering heap of tears. Ultimately it is not a tragedy, though—it’s the story of how Hsu became who he is, and it’s a lovely and moving one. —Jesse



Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

This is a special brand of mechanical pencil that twists the lead, so you’re always sharpening the pencil lead as you write. Works pretty well. The only downside of this deluxe mechanical pencil is when the eraser wears out. So! You can buy a pack of replacement refills to go with it. —Ryan



LAMY Safari Pen

They’re $30, and they write better than a rollerball, felt, or ballpoint pen. Fountain pens allow more “life” and “personality” in your handwriting. These are nice to hold, and they’re reliable. They come in a bunch of fun colors. —Ryan



Dapper Classics Cotton OTC Socks

These are my favorite socks. I wear them four or five days a week. I’ve tried a few brands, and I like these the best. They make a nice gift. There’s a “navy” color which is a darker color, and a “classic navy” which is a little brighter. —Ryan



Ben Silver Necktie

Ben Silver has a huge collection of ties that are special to various clubs, universities, and other types of organizations. Really cool stuff that is “classic” but also “out there.” Scroll through their website and find something nice. This store rules, by the way. —Ryan



Plotter Leather Binder

Plotter is a Japanese company that makes refillable journals/notebooks/planners. I really like that they sell a hard binder for archiving your old papers, too. I just bought a narrow binder in grey shrunk leather. It fits in my inner jacket pocket. —Ryan


The Foggy Dog Collar

My dog Harriet gets a lot of compliments when she wears this. It’s a little thick and comes in a classic pattern with brass hardware. —Ryan



Field Notes

I tend to be forgetful. I’d like to blame it on getting older or being distracted by my children, but the fact is that I’ve always been this way. I like Field Notes notebooks because they’re small and easily fit in a coat pocket or the back pocket of my jeans (when I can remember to bring them). They’re useful for writing down ideas, grocery lists, and other information, especially if you’re on your phone. I also find that the physical act of writing something down makes it easier for me to recall something. If you want to spruce it up, I like this leather notebook cover from Bellroy, which I use with either a Fisher Space Pen or Horizon Needle Point. —Edwin



Air Fryer

Kitchen gadgets can be hit or miss, the less useful ones end up collecting dust and taking up valuable counter space. However, this has not been the case with the Instant Pot Vortex Airfryer I received this year as a gift, which has seen weekly, if not daily, use. They say that an air fryer doesn’t actually fry things, but is instead a convection oven that uses air circulation to evenly heat whatever you’re cooking in it. I say it’s dark magic that pleases crowds and gets dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. Whether it be frozen dino nuggets, corn on the cob, or baked salmon, everything that comes out of it is perfectly cooked. Did I mention it can also perfectly reheat fries in 3 minutes? —Edwin





It seems like everyone picked up a new hobby during the pandemic, and for me, it was birding. If the person you’re shopping for loves the outdoors, you can’t go wrong with a pair of binoculars. I received a pair of Carson VPs for Christmas a few years ago, and they’ve become standard carry now for my hikes and outdoor exploration. I’ve observed everything: moose crossing lakes in Glacier National Park, whales breaching in the Pacific Ocean, and downy woodpeckers looking for bugs in my own neighborhood. I can’t believe how I’ve never really been able to see these creatures until now. I recently picked up a second pair, the Pentax Papilio, to use as a travel pair. To go the extra distance, consider a nice neck strap from either Gordy’s or Tone Customs. —Edwin



Wythe Western Moleskin

I used to reach for a trusty flannel shirt when the temperatures started to drop, but all I want to wear these days are my western moleskin shirts from Wythe. They’re stylish, soft, and incredibly warm. It’s like Peter Middleton figured out how to turn a blanket into something stylish and functional. They’re currently sold out at the moment, but a brand new selection of stock and colors should be dropping any day. —Edwin



Sashiko Mending Kit

Perfect for the raw denim enthusiast in your life, a sashiko mending kit allows you to repair and breathe new life into well-loved garments. Patch that ripped knee on your well-faded selvedge denim, reinforce the elbow of a chambray shirt, or mend a snagged hole on a beloved vintage flannel. Sashiko is the Japanese art of visibly mending or reinforcing garments through embroidery. Most commonly, white thread is used with indigo-dyed fabrics, producing a brilliant contrast that can be beautifully demonstrated with geometric designs. Sashiko is also a calming, hands-on project that’s great for wiling away the cold, dark evenings of winter with a warming drink at hand. This kit includes everything you need to get started, including needles, thread, wax, thimbles, mending transfers, and a small written guide to get you started! Just add your garment of choice and some spare fabric. —Andrew



Yukio Akamine Classic Life

There are two kinds of menswear-related books. Very academic ones exploring niche topics such as clothing and gender, and then a category I call “picture books,” which often recycle the same images of Steve McQueen and Cary Grant. Eisuke Yamashita’s new book on Yukio Akamine is different. Akamine, as some readers may know, is a menswear industry veteran with a vintage clothing and consultancy business in Japan. I’ve admired his style for ages. Yamashita’s book chronicles Akamine’s daily routine, philosophy, and seasonal attire. The book is beautifully put together—stunning photographs of Akamine’s incredibly inspiring style, all bound in a 280-page full-color hardcover. Unfortunately, I can’t read Japanese, but the quality of the images alone makes the 10,000 yen price worth it (about $73, given the current exchange rate). If you have someone in your life who loves classic clothing, get them this book. It’s one of the best menswear-related things I purchased this year. Some of the images can be found on Yamashita’s website Mononcle and you can order the book by emailing info@mononcle.jp. —Derek


A Fancy Picnic Blanket

Picnicking is one of the easiest ways you can feel fancy, and a picnic blanket is one of those gifts your recipient can share with their friends. This season, it seems like every menswear clothier offers them. No Man Walks Alone has waxed-cotton-backed tweed blankets made by the famous Scottish mill Lovat (who supplies many of the fabrics for the bespoke-cloth-club London Lounge). Sid Mashburn carries Liberty-patterned blankets you can easily throw into the wash, as well as an upscale wool blanket with a leather carrier. And Iron & Resin has some cotton and wool blankets for under $100. It’s too cold and wet at the moment to have a picnic, but spring will come around again. Invite friends to a beautiful outdoor picnic with these Caspari paper plates (Opulent Tips approved), some fruits (especially strawberries), and prosecco. —Derek



Brooks Brothers Turtleneck

There has been a lot of concern over the quality of Brooks Brothers’ clothes, especially since they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a couple of years ago. But I bought this grey turtleneck from them last winter and have been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s held up. The sweater is less thin and clingy than John Smedley’s turtlenecks but still fits comfortably under a sport coat. The collar has a pleasant thickness when folded down (which, to my eye, helps mitigate some of the English lit professor vibes). The company claims these are machine-washable, but throwing a sweater into the wash still makes me queasy. For about $100 on sale or $150 full retail, I think they’re a great value. My only gripe is that the navy version is a little too purple-y; I wish they had chosen a colder hue for that color. —Derek



Gee’s Bend Quilt

It’s not a big jump from appreciating menswear to appreciating textiles, and the greatest of all American textile arts has to be traditional quilts and coverlets. These are partly about function, partly about art, and partly about the stories and communities they represent. Some of the best quilts are made in a tiny, isolated rural hamlet called Gee’s Bend—named so because it’s located next to a literal bend in the Alabama River. For over 200 years, women in this community have turned boldly colored, geometric slices of fabric into exceptional pieces of abstract art. Their quilts have shown up in museums and fashion runways. Recently, about twenty of the quilters started selling their quilts on Etsy. Prices range from a couple of hundred bucks to several thousand, depending on the quilt’s size. I think these art pieces would look lovely framed and hung on a wall. When searching Etsy, look for this icon to make sure you’re getting the real deal. —Derek



Acaia Pearl Scale

Like Jesse, I think a good Christmas gift should be an excellent version of a thing—ideally, something that the giftee would appreciate, but would never purchase for themselves. Acaia’s Pearl scale is one of those things. At $150, it’s well over what most people would spend on a coffee scale (perfectly functional coffee scales can be had for $30). But this one is more responsive, handsome, and easier to read. It’s a great gift for someone in your life who loves coffee, and they’ll think positively of you every morning when they weigh out their beans. —Derek