Conspicuous displays don't always mean love
Sometimes it's the small gestures that earn you brownie points. Our fashion editor outlines the best ways to woo on a budget
Richard Burton certainly set the bar high when he spoilt his wife, Elizabeth Taylor - she of the mesmerising violet eyes - with a 68 carat, pear shaped diamond, bought for $1.1m in 1969.
The Welsh actor - he of the mellifluous baritone voice - declared how he wanted that particular diamond "because it is incomparably lovely... and it should be on the loveliest woman in the world".
However, after paying out all that cash, the gigantic sparkler did nothing to keep the tempestuous pair together. In 1974, they divorced, only to remarry in 1975, and to split again a year later. And as for the fate of the Taylor Burton diamond, Elizabeth found the diamond too heavy to wear as a ring, and she later sold it, giving some of the money to a hospital in Botswana - where the couple were married for a second time. The donation was a tragically romantic gesture by a woman who chased love in and out of eight marriages.
Exploring romantic largesse and displays of conspicuous love, what do rich women pamper their boys with?
In the heyday of 'Brangelina', actress Angelina Jolie bought her A-list boyfriend, Brad Pitt, a 200-year-old olive tree for their $60m estate in the south of France.
Seven years later after the grand gesture, the valuable $18,000 olive tree is in Valbonne and 'Brangelina' is no more - ironic to say the least as the olive branch was so symbolic and was traditionally offered in a truce as a symbol of peace. Symbology is rich at this time of the year when lovers are seeking any which way to declare their undying love and so often, they use roses, from the single red rose (which will shoot up in price this week) to bouquets and posh boxes of blooms with their thorns nicely disposed of.
The symbolic history of the fragrant red rose goes all the way back to Greek and Roman iconography, where it was tied to Aphrodite, or Venus, the goddess of love. But you don't have to be wealthy and wielding dozens of red roses to convey passion, desire and above all, love.
Most women value thoughtfulness over the big gesture any day and often, it is the well-thought-out gestures that earn you the brownie points, lads.
Take heart if you are financially strapped midway through the pay month and still paying off the Christmas credit card bill, not to mention that new subscription to the gym.
GLAMOROUS GIFTS ON A BUDGET
If you're broke, here are some ideas for wooing without the cash. Why not:
* Take time out to make her favourite meal for a romantic night in during which you will park usual objections and watch her favourite rom-coms like The Notebook and Pretty Woman.
* Surprise her by washing and valeting her car.
* Grab her phone when she's not looking and make a Spotify playlist filled with all the tracks she adores dancing to around the kitchen and for her drive to work.
* Surprise her with a spa night at home. You'd be amazed what running a sudsy bath (bath oil from Boots is a good buy) and fill the room with twinkling pink and red heart-shaped candles from Tiger (€3 for pack of eight) can help romance.
* If your gal is an Audrey Hepburn (above) fan, buy a box set of her best movies including Breakfast at Tiffany's and present them with a personalised mini bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne with a picture of the two of you on the label. You can purchase at Brown Thomas, Grafton Street for €19 (a 200ml snipe) or you might have more fun with a 750ml bottle (€55).
* If you are more of an exercise kind of guy, show her pooch some love and go walk her dog. Better yet, Dublin lovers can jump on the DART to Bray and do the coastal walk to Greystones. At the end, you can either have a skinny latte or a salad at the Happy Pear, depending on your budget. (Warning here lads: If you are feeling a little chubby after the Christmas, you might be envious of the lean bods on the Flynn twins, Stephen and David.)
TIPS FOR EACH STAGE OF A RELATIONSHIP
Stumped over what to buy for the 'just dating' phase? For your first Valentine's day together, Clara Halpin, personal shopper at Arnotts recommends gifts that are thoughtful and meaningful.
"Consider a personalised candle from Max Benjamin or maybe a piece of jewellery from Alex and Ani bearing a birthstone or an initial. When choosing a card, the message is important so be sure to bear this in mind," she says. For the couple who have just got engaged, Clara points to jewellery as a gorgeous gift option: "Think diamond earrings to match her new diamond ring."
Fragrance is always perfect for Valentine's Day and my current favourite is Estee Lauder's Modern Muse Le Rouge Gloss (€59 for 30ml or €116 for 100ml) which has a fruity, sensual, woody scent that never fails to attract compliments. Meanwhile, Jo Malone's Red Roses Cologne (€54 for 30ml, €109 for 100ml, exclusively at Brown Thomas), it is a standout recommendation for those ladies who love roses all year around. It is a blend of seven roses from around the world to which they added crushed violet leaves and a hint of lemon. Divine!
Lots of guys will be venturing into the lingerie department so Soozie Jenkinson, lingerie buyer at M&S, has some useful tips to consider and says "size plus shape equals success".
"If you are buying lingerie, knowing her size and shape is a must! Receiving lingerie which is too big or too small is disappointing so take a sneaky peak in her lingerie drawer, find the recent bra purchase she loves to wear and take a note of her under band and cup shape (eg 34B)."
Soozie also points to the bralet as a handy Valentine's option for the guy nervous about doing research in his girlfriend/wife's underwear drawer. Bralets are sold in the same size as her clothing: size 10, 12 or 14. What could be easier?
Don't underestimate PJs either and elegant PJ dressing has made a fashion revival with designers championing this luxe trend. Well priced at €35, the M&S Rosie for Autograph satin lace trimmed chemise is a lovely gift and a silk, kimono-style wrap offers a contemporary twist on Valentine's dressing.