This Valentine's Day, consider clothes for your guy
The Signature pique polo in red heather from Banana Republic. (Banana Republic / January 30, 2013)
Really, it's like an extra birthday for all the attached women in the universe. The average guy may enjoy the actual activity that takes place on the night, such as dinner, but probably wants very little to do with flowers or teddy bears or (here's hoping) jewelry.
It is another widely recognized, seemingly unrelated fact that very few attached men make their own wardrobe decisions. I write for you, guys, because it's my hope that one day you will wake up and realize that you're too good for pleated pants. But in reality, I'm just another woman trying to lay out your outfit on your bed, and I'm probably even less persuasive because I don't iron it for you.
Mind you, I'm a shopping expert, not a relationship expert (far from, apparently). But ladies, it seems to me that if it's your holiday, and you're ultimately responsible for dressing your guy, then clothes are the absolute perfect Valentine's Day gifts for men.
If you're not sure your spouse or boyfriend would normally wear the item, which could describe pretty much anything except his eighth-grade gym shorts, it doesn't make much sense to spend a ton of money on it. But lots of stores have affordable options that help the man in your life try something new without a ton of commitment. Macy's, for example, has an awesome assortment. Here are some of my top picks:
FESTIVE TIE. You all know how much I love a festive tie, and at the end of the day, ties are to men as shoes are to women. You can never have enough. The Bar III Essex tie is a great Valentine's Day red, and is also great to wear year-round with a navy suit. It's fairly slim, so it's fitting for most of the lapels out there right now, but not so slim that it's overly trendy and will make the non-fashion-inclined guy nervous.
BELT. Belts are expensive, and not all that much fun to buy in the grand scheme. But a nice one can really elevate an outfit, especially if the recipient is someone who has changed sizes recently and hasn't replaced his belt. Just make sure you know the size first, and between black and brown, go with whatever he wears most frequently.
POLO SHIRT. In my experience, most guys have one or two polo shirts they wear every week. It's probably a fit or comfort thing, so pay close attention to how that old one fits. The INC International Concepts one from Macy's is a bold color, but the young, confident guy can probably pull it off.
Speaking of pulling off bold colors, you may have noticed that a lot of things around Valentine's Day are red and pink. I'll admit, these hues can be tough to pull off. My contact at Macy's suggested taking a shade you wouldn't normally wear and pairing it with a tried-and-true piece, like your favorite dark denim jeans. That's good advice for everyone, not just men.
Pink and red specifically pair very well with gray when it comes to menswear, especially if you're going for formal. The red tie with a black suit is a little severe, but a gray suit is the perfect complement. For example, one of my favorite staple pieces for guys is a pale pink dress shirt. It's a little more exciting than a plain old white shirt, and looks great underneath gray or tan sweaters, navy or gray suits or just worn casually with jeans and boat shoes.
Red is bolder, but it's on-trend lately and men can definitely pull it off. I like it for accessories such as ties, pockets squares, or socks, the ultimate safe bet.
(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at Kristyn@simplestyleguide.com, follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Ste. 1400, Chicago, IL 60611.)