Well, hello there! Yes, please, do come in and welcome to Habilitate Holiday Gift Guide. What’s that? Oh, no you’re not late at all, Part 1 was published just earlier this week, so you can easily give that a read now if you’d like. Now, go ahead, grab a mince pie and some eggnog and join in the festivities.
Below you’ll find a selection of gift ideas based on various topics covered on the blog this year. In each case, be sure to keep a lookout for the link to the original article, should you wish to dig any deeper, plus a product link in case there’s anything you’d like to buy (These are all Amazon affiliate links, so if you buy anything using them part of the proceeds go to supporting the blog at no extra cost to you. You can find more info over at our affiliate policy).
Alright, now that everyone’s here, let’s get cracking on all of the holiday gift-giving inspo a menswear lover could want.
There has been a tonne of things written about leisurewear during the pandemic (including by yours truly). And, more often than not, the focus has been on sweatpants (again, guilty as charged). In fact, sweatpants have become something of a totem of Covid-era dressing, as captured perfectly in the title of perhaps the best article written on the subject, Irina Aleksander’s ‘Sweatpants Forever’.
In my own home, however, one piece of leisurewear ruled the roost. Rather than reaching for a pair of track pants, on any given day I opted for its upper body counterpart: the sweatshirt. Near the start of the pandemic I bought a grey sweatshirt from Russell Athletic (the company that invented the garment and still makes it to this day) and then effectively took up residence in it for the rest of the year. Because of their comfort, versatility, and surprisingly chic, I have since gotten a bunch more sweatshirts in different colours and designs and — there’s no point in pretending otherwise — I doubt I’ll be stopping any time soon.
Western wear has been all over menswear this last year or two. Maybe it has something to do with the pandemic making us all feel like we’re living in a bizarro frontier world. Or, as Trevor Jones speculated over at Put This On, maybe it functioned as a kind of escapism from pandemic life. Perhaps it’s part of a longstanding ‘longing for something more “authentically American”’ (that’s Trevor again). I reckon it all comes back to sweatpants: After living in leisurewear for months at a time, eventually the body just yearns for the chafe of a pair of chaps. That’s just science.
Not counting the bandanas I mentioned earlier this week, the piece of cowboy getup that I have worn most often this year is a western shirt. Specifically, this western shirt, which I was turned onto by Derek Guy back in 2020. I have worn the pants off of this shirt since buying it (which is a confusing image, I grant you) and it’s only gotten better as it’s begun to fray and fade a bit with time. I put it on over T-shirts or under sport coats. I wear it untucked with Baggies or tucked into jeans, chinos, and dress pants. Sometimes I’ll just throw it on over whatever else I’m wearing at home if I’m feeling chilly. The point is, it goes with anything and, at this point, I could just as well toss out my other shirts since this is the one I reach for most days anyway.
I own as many NATO straps as I do watches at this point, which is shameful. Not because that’s too many, but rather because it isn’t nearly enough.
As anyone with even a fleeting interest in horology knows all too well, buying watches can be an incredibly expensive business. Even the cheapest mechanical watch will typically set you back a few hundred pounds apiece, and really most watch collectors won’t get out of bed for anything worth less than a few thousand a pop.
That’s why NATO straps are such an unfettered joy. They are almost always by definition cheap. Sure, you can get some worth a Benjamin or more, but no one is going to be able to tell the difference from the one I picked up for a tenner. It all comes down to roughly the same materials and design anyway, plus, part of the fun is their grab bag quality. Not only can you basically pick a NATO at random and chances are it will look good, there is also a thrill in knowing that any £13 strap will work just as well on a budget-friendly Timex as it does on a collectable diver.
They are the perfect stocking stuffer for the watch-lover in your life (just sneak a peek at their watch’s lug width before you buy any since there can be a bit of variation from watch to watch and you want to make sure it actually fits).
Speaking of NATO straps and Timex, if you’re looking for a stylish watch that won’t break the bank, may I recommend this guy right here. The Timex Weekender (particularly the smaller 38mm version) is one of my favourite affordable watches, clocking in at a shockingly low £50 or so. What’s more, as with so many Timex models, you’ll see them around the wrists of budding watch collectors and seasoned menswear figures alike (in the latter category, I’m thinking of guys like Arnold Steiner, Henrik Sunde Wilberg, and many others).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a watch guy in the strict sense of the phrase, by which I mean someone who can speak endlessly and authoritatively about reference numbers, Tiffany dials, and the like. I do like watches a lot, though, and I own a small handful of them; not nearly enough to merit calling them a collection, but a couple nonetheless. It’s notable, then, given their lowly number, that fully two of those are Timex watches, a Q Timex and one of their Todd Snyder collabs. What’s more, I chose them not just because they didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, but mostly because I was drawn in by the way they look, which rarely happens with cheap, modern watches. I love how characterful yet unassuming they are — again, a rare distinction — and because, even after years of use, they have yet to let me down. They are, to coin a phrase, the gift that keeps on ticking.
That brings us to the end of this year’s guide, folks. I hope you found something you fancy for yourself or for friends and family. Thank you for reading along and happy holidays!
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