Invest in yourself - what to buy for Christmas
Shopping at this time of year can be a little like gorging on cheap, sugary food. You're tired, your willpower has disappeared and you end up indulging in the sort of rubbish you don't actually want, which leaves behind a vague sense of free-floating guilt.
The gift shopping, of course, has to be done, but shopping for yourself is best left to a quieter time and place. Otherwise, through exhaustion, you may find yourself reaching for the quick, cheap, easy hit: the high-street sale bargain. As likely as not, it won't go with anything you already own; you'll regret it almost before the tags are off; and it will sit in your wardrobe, an unworn source of guilt.
That said, sales, both before and after Christmas - and some retailers have stealth sales in the run-up to Christmas - can be a boon. Sales shopping, approached properly, can render some real bargains, but it is never the kind of thing that should be undertaken casually. Sales shopping should be viewed as a moment to spend big, rather than little, and invest in the sort of pieces that are the building blocks of a wardrobe.
Sales are for buying the best quality you can afford - a classic winter coat, the highest quality knitwear, tailored pieces with the best cut, fabric and lining. It's generally not the kind of thing that will be found on the high street, so this is where boutiques come in. In the boutiques featured on these pages, you can find those pieces that will revive what you already have in your wardrobe and give everything a new lease of life. They have to be approached strategically, though.
Before hitting the shops, think about what you actually need in your wardrobe. Are you short on work pieces, a good winter coat, simple cottons? The sales are a great time to invest in a couple of expensive cotton T-shirts, something that most boutiques will carry, and you will notice the difference.
It's best to avoid anything too trend-led, but an investment buy doesn't need to be a timeless, sensible classic. It could be an unusual party dress, something really special that will feel amazing every time you wear it. It's also a great opportunity to invest in good work-wear, the suit by Paul Smith from Khan on page 43 is a case in point.
Pre-Christmas, any men looking for something special for a loved one should pause before contemplating the cliched underwear gift. If the woman in your life has a favourite boutique, go there.
If she's a regular customer, they'll know her and know her tastes. Boutiques offer the most personalised service and they will know all sorts of things about their regular customers. They'll be aware of all that stuff you're oblivious to: her favourite neckline, the colours she can't abide.
Chances are they will know a few pieces she has her eye on, which you can either purchase, or put a deposit/gift token towards. At this time of year, buying Irish doesn't just mean Irish design, it means Irish stores.
Photography by Kip Carroll
Styling and words by Liadan Hynes
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine