Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Ideas For the Vintage Male

The holidays are a time of gift giving and it is often the case that people are puzzled as to what to buy the men in their lives. Fortunately, this is much easier if one has a vintage male in his or her life. While the average male can present even other men with problems when it comes to buying gifts, the vintage male is much easier to buy for.

Of course, here I suppose I should define what a vintage male is. A vintage male is a man who is not only fascinated by earlier eras, but whose tastes often run to those eras too. While most vintage males have a broad interest in the past, they will usually gravitate towards one era or another. Using myself as an example, while I love the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, it is the Sixties that has always fascinated me. Most of my favourite bands come from that era, including The Beatles (my favourite band of all time), The Who, The Kinks, The Monkees, and so on. Many of my favourite movies also come from that era, particularly British kitchen sink dramas and other British films form the early to mid-Sixties. I even love the fashion from the era. Given a choice between dressing like Fred Astaire in the Thirties or Terence Stamp in the Sixties, I would choose to dress like Mr. Stamp. Regardless, the fact that most vintage males are drawn to one era over others makes buying gifts for them relatively easy.

Before I go on to what would be good gift ideas for vintage males, I should point out what not to buy as a gift for a vintage male. I know this is true of myself and it seems to hold true for most of my fellow vintage males, but it is a good idea to follow when buying gifts for them: except for clothing and toiletries do not buy them anything practical. Unless the vintage male in your life simply enjoys working in the shop or fixing things, do not buy them tools. As much as Black and Decker in their adverts might like you to believe that all men would like nothing more than a band saw, chances are unless your vintage male is also Mr. Fix-It, the gift won't be appreciated. My attitude towards such things is twofold. First, I can buy tools myself. Second, to me buying a tool for a man is something like buying a blender for a woman--it's a gift based on gender stereotypes that shows not much thought was put into the gift!

Ruling out anything practical as a gift for the vintage male, then what should one buy him? I think the following are good ideas.

Books: Books are perhaps the easiest gift one can buy the vintage male. Not only do most vintage males I know love to read, but since they are usually interested in certain subjects and certain eras, they are very easy to buy books for. Using myself as an example, I have a small library of books dealing with Swinging London (everything from the Mod subculture to the Kray Twins), as well as a rather large number of biographies on various movie stars. When buying books for a vintage male as a gift, then, one simply buys books on what interests him. If the vintage male in one's life is a huge fan of The Who, then he will probably appreciate books on the band. If the vintage male in one's life always fancied Grace Kelly, then he would probably appreciate a biography on her.

Of course, so far I have discussed non-fiction. Fiction can be a bit trickier when it comes to buying gifts for the vintage male. Most of us have our favourite genres of fiction we read and others that we cannot stand. This can become even more complicated when one takes into account the various authors a vintage male might like or dislike. As an example, I have loved fantasy fiction since I was a lad. I love Michael Moorcock, Stephen R. Donaldson, and, of course, J. R. R. Tolkien. That having been said, I think fantasy author Terry Brooks is a total hack. In other words, just because a vintage male likes novels about vampires does not mean he will appreciate The Twilight Saga as a gift! If one considers buying a vintage male fiction, then, one should not only learn what genres he likes, but what authors as well!

Classic Films or Television Programmes: Speaking for myself, I would rather have a DVD of a film I dearly love from the $5.00 bin at WalMart (or the equivalent at Tesco in the UK) than an expensive piece of jewellery I might never wear. One of my most prized Yuletide gifts I ever received was a set of episodes from The Adventures of Robin Hood my brother gave me several years ago. He only paid about $5.00 to $6.00 for the set, but I prize it more than I would have a much more expensive gift. The reasons are simple. The Adventures of Robin Hood has been one of my favourite shows of all time and it shows that my brother actually put some thought into the gift. Indeed, those episodes of The Adventures of Robin Hood actually helped me get through a very bad break up several years ago!

Of course, here I must point out that when buying classic films or TV shows for a vintage male, one must take into account his tastes in film and television. This goes beyond catering to the specific eras in which he in interested, but also take into account the particular genres he likes. For example, let us say one is buying a DVD as a gift for a vintage male who is fascinated by the Forties, but who also likes science fiction and dislikes romance movies. The vintage male in our example might well appreciate a DVD of Forbidden Planet, even though it was released in the Fifties, more than he would a copy of Now Voyager, even though it was released in the Forties (personally I love both movies). Quite simply, one should be familiar with a vintage male's viewing habits before buying him any DVDs!

Classic Music: Just as I would rather have a DVD of a favourite movie than a much more expensive gift, I would also prefer a copy of a favourite album than a much more expensive gift. Most vintage males love music and like me would appreciate a CD of their favourite album. That having been said, in some ways buying music as a gift is in some ways trickier than buying movies. In my experience musical tastes tend to vary more in people than tastes in any other medium. What is more, musical tastes in any given person can be very broad, embracing several different genres of music, to very narrow, embracing only a few or even one genre of music. Using myself as an example, I have very broad tastes in music. While my favourite genre of music would probably be power pop, I also love heavy metal, mid-20th Century pop (think Doris Day and Frank Sinatra), jazz, rhythm and blues, and many others. In fact, the only three genres I actively hate are rap, modern day country, and disco, and there are even a few songs in the latter two genres I like. I would be as happy with Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours as I would My Chemical Romance's Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys. That having been said, not every vintage male has tastes as broad as mine. I have a friend whose tastes run, quite simply, to classic rock. He likes Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and most all rock 'n' roll produced before 1980. His tastes really don't go beyond the classic rock genre, so that buying him a Frank Sinatra album, let alone a Snoop Dog album, would probably be a very bad idea!

As with DVDs, then, one should know something of a vintage male's tastes in music before buying him an album as gift. One of my most prized Yuledite gifts as a lad was my first copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which my sister bought me. I don't think I would have appreciated it quite as if she had bought me a Conway Twitty album...

Alcohol: Most vintage males appreciate the finer things in life, so that unless he is a teetotaller, he will appreciate fine liquor as a gift. Here I must stress the word fine. Even if the vintage male in one's life drinks Budweiser regularly, I doubt he will appreciate a case of it for Christmas or Hanukkah. Again, as with movies and music, one should put some thought into a gift of alcohol. Tastes in liquor tend to vary from person to person, even brother to brother. My favourite liquor is Tennessee bourbon, although I also enjoy wine and mead. My brother doesn't particularly care for bourbon, Tennessee or otherwise, and very much prefers mead or wine. And when it comes to wine, he prefers white wine to red wine. One should obviously find out what sorts of liquor a vintage male likes before buying some for him as a gift.

Here I must point out that when buying liquor as a gift that quality is not always equal to price. Here in Missouri our German wineries produce many fine wines that taste much better than the more expensive wines produced in the California wineries (all of which taste like vinegar to me). The fact that more expensive liquor often does not taste as well as less expensive liquor also holds true for bourbon, gin, vodka, and practically every sort of alcohol under the sun. That having been said sometimes cheap alcohol does taste much worse than the more expensive alcohol. I would not giving recommend giving MD 20/20 to anyone except perhaps to one's worst enemy.

Of course, with alcohol one has concerns that one does not have with DVDs or CDs. Quite simply, one should never give liquor as a gift to anyone with a drinking problem.  Obviously giving Jack Daniels Black Label No. 7 to an alcoholic is not a good idea.

Clothing: As I pointed out above, most vintage males love the finer things in life and this includes clothing. Indeed, it is one of the few practical gifts that a vintage male would appreciate. The problem is that clothing can cost a good deal, making it a very impractical gift if you are on a limited budget. A good three piece suit can cost $600 to over $1000. Even a fine shirt can cost anywhere from $25 to over $100. Obviously a lot of clothing would be a very expensive gift if one is part of the middle class. That having been said, however, this does not mean that one cannot buy clothing as a gift. While this is not true of all vintage males, many of us appreciate ties, the finest of which can be bought even if one is on a budget. While suits may be out of the reach of most of us in the middle class as a Yuletide gift, one can often find very good shirts through EBay, Amazon, and other online venues at a much cheaper price than one would in the stores. I've actually found Ben Sherman shirts at EBay for $15 that would generally run for as high as $79 in a store.

Here I must point out that as with music and DVDs, one should take into account the tastes of the vintage male for whom one is buying. My fashion sense runs more towards the Mods of mid-Sixties England, so that a skinny tie or a Ben Sherman shirt would be ideal for me. That having been said, if a vintage male's favourite era is the Forties, he might appreciate the skinny tie, but he might not care much for a Ben Sherman shirt! Beyond taking into account tastes in clothing, I must add one more caveat with regards to buying clothes as gifts for the vintage male. Do not buy him socks! It seems to me that among men socks are perhaps the least appreciated gifts of them all. I suspect it goes back to when we were all lads and the first Christmas gift from our parents we always opened was, well, socks! Men, like boys, would rather have toys.

Jewellery: If television adverts are to be believed, jewellery is something men give women. That having been said, men like jewellery too, especially vintage males. Of course, as with clothing, jewellery can sometimes be costly. Obviously the average person is not going to be able to afford to buy the vintage male in his or her life a diamond ring. That having been said, there are many more affordable choices. A ring with the vintage male's birthstone will be more affordable than one with, say, a ruby or a diamond as the stone. Similarly, there is a wide array of jewellery available to men that is not traditionally worn by women. Very handsome tie tacks and cuff links may be found at affordable prices and may often be more appreciated than a more expensive ring, especially if the vintage male in one's life loves clothing.

Of course, when buying jewellery for the vintage male, one must take into account his tastes. I have always preferred silver to gold  and I have never liked big, gaudy stones. My brother tends to prefer gold to sliver, although like myself he doesn't care for big, gaudy stones. Similarly, while some men might love cuff links, they might not particularly care for rings. One should definitely go to the trouble of finding out what the vintage male likes in jewellery before buying him any.

Toiletries: Most vintage males I know like to be clean and like to smell good. Various toiletries would be a good idea as gifts for the vintage male. Of course, here I must add a word of warning. Since cologne is one of those stereotypical gifts we all seemed to buy our fathers as children, no toiletry should ever be the only gift one gives a vintage male for the holidays. Even if the vintage male for whom one bought the cologne or bath wash appreciates the gift, the fact remains that it could be perceived as a gift to which one did not place much thought. If one is going to buy  vintage male cologne or another toiletry as a gift, then, make sure it is to accompany another gift, such as a DVD, CD, or shirt.

Of course, here I must point out that tastes in cologne and other toiletries tend to vary more even than tastes in music do. And often women and men will disagree on what smells good. I had a girlfriend who loved the smell of Axe (Lynx in the UK). Personally I think it makes one smells too perfumey--I much prefer Old Spice! If one wants to buy any man cologne, let alone the often more picky vintage male, one should probably find out what he likes first.

Here I must stress that this is hardly a complete list and vintage males do vary a good deal in what they might like as a gift. Among the various things I like are old guns, but I very seriously doubt that every vintage male would appreciate a vintage Colt M1911 as a present! While I think the advice I offer above is quite good, the best piece of advice I can offer anyone seeking to buy a gift for a vintage male is simply to get to know his interests, what he likes and dislikes, and what he thinks would make a good gift. If one does that, chances are he will appreciate any gift one buys him. And he will certainly like it better than a band saw or another pair of socks!

1 comment:

Jim Marquis said...

Great piece. I think I'm a vintage male in many ways.