Esquire’s 15 “Affordable” Chain Store Gifts for Men – Part I
It sounds absurd when you consider what this site is all about, but I hate the mall. I understand why malls exist, but… I’d rather go to the dentist (my hygienist is incredible). Give credit to Esquire for realizing the majority of its readers will get the majority of their holiday shopping done at their local sprawling retail behemoth. Because although the crowds are a pain and the atmosphere is sterile, you can get a lot accomplished in one place.
Click on over for Esquire’s picks of what they consider to be “affordable” and stylish gifts that guys can pick up at their local mall. Then head back this way for some alternatives and analysis from this end.
The first seven are today, with the final picks coming up tomorrow.
1. Esquire: J. Crew Selvedge Denim – $150 | Dappered: Levi’s 501 – $39.99 (reg.$48)
Everyone seems to have a different preferred place to get them and a favorite style (shrink to fit or regular). But many of us agree that the 501 is a classic, can’t screw it up pair of jeans. Sure selvedge denim is stronger, but are you really going to be out digging in a gold mine wearing a $150 pair of jeans? 501s can cost anywhere from low $30s to upper $40s (and much higher if you go American made). If you’re shopping online, Zappos has a great color selection and the price is just under $40. Stick with dimensional rigid, tidal blue, or rinse.
2. Esquire: L.L. Bean Norwegian Sweater – $129 | Dappered: Gap Birdseye – $49.50
Consider the Gap option a toned down version of what Esquire is suggesting. A little more on the quiet side, much more on the affordable side (especially if you catch a sale.) Wool mix.
3. Esquire: B. Republic Mac Jacket – $198 | Dappered: B. Republic Fitted Trench – $225
Here’s what Esquire says about their pick for the raincoat: “with a slightly roomy cut, this jacket is perfect for a slim jim who’s into layering — or your uncle who’s into that extra beer.” No thanks. When it comes to fit, BR is either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. Some of their pieces are way too bulky and relaxed. Others are perfectly trim. The Fitted Trench was a personal splurge back in the early fall, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s fitted, borderline tight if you’re larger through the shoulders and like blazers. Too bad it’s no longer available online, but I have seen sizes ranging from M – XL in store. Looks great with or without the belt, and comes with a zip out liner to reduce bulk.
4. Esquire: Brooks Brothers Tweed Jacket – $398 | Dappered: Varvatos Star USA – $199
Points to Esquire (like they need any more, they’re friggin’ Esquire) for going with the much slimmer Fitzgerald fit from Brooks Brothers. But if you want a more modern look for half the price, the available at Nordstrom Varvatos Star USA Donegal Tweed blazer should do the trick. Want to spend less? It’s not wool (and therefor, not tweed) but the Lands’ End Canvas Black Marl blazer holds some real promise.
5. Esquire: Ray Ban Road Spirit – $200 | Dappered: Ray Ban New Wayfarer – $119
Esquire said: “But you need not include the gift receipt with Ray-Ban’s Aviators...” Baloney. Huge glistening slabs of baloney. Classic big aviators don’t look great on everyone, and the Road Spirits add even more funk to the mix. The safest pair of Ray Bans to give are the new wayfarers. Not to big, not too small, just right for just about everyone.
6. Esquire: Clark’s Wallabee – $129.99 | Dappered: PF Flyers Center Hi – $49.95
With all due respect, those Clark’s Wallabees are an eyesore. Who stole Sasquatch’s orthopedics? If you want to put something in a lighter earth tone on your feet, go with the PF Flyers Center Hi in an off-white or tan. Some will say these shoes are ugly (I politely disagree, I love mine). That’s fine. At least you didn’t spend $130 on them.
7. Esquire: Sacco Sneakers – $135 | Dappered: Lands’ End Canvas 3 eye Moc – $98.00
Or… instead of giving him urbany looking futuristic sneakers… you could give him these stand out but still subtle 3 eye Mocs from Lands End Canvas. If he’s a sneaker Freak? Go with the above PF Flyers.
Like almost every single trip to the mall, this is starting to get a little long in the tooth. The second half of Esquire’s picks plus cheaper alternatives will show up here tomorrow. Three of the final eight alternatives are made in the U.S., plus how to save $100 on Esquire’s terrific watch pick. All tomorrow.