From bow ties to skivvies, Christmas looks cool

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      Tie One On 
      Perfect for the dapper dude or new antiquarian on your list, Vancouver-based Cursor & Thread handmade ties are the bow that goes inside the present. Old-school beauties in everything from understated bicycle motifs to polka dots to plaids, they are the real deal—in fact, one of the best things about the little gift boxes just may be the antique-looking instructions on how to tie them. Don’t worry, though: there are clips for those who are either all thumbs or crunched for time. Just remember, as the folks at C&T says on its website, “Like a good marriage, once the knot is tied, the charm often lies in the imperfections.” Don’t forget that, these days, bow ties can be dressed down—with jeans, your favourite plaid shirts, and even baseball and denim jackets, not just your best tweed blazer. Prices are $59, at Gravity Pope (2205 West 4th Avenue), Vincent Park Clothing (4278 Main Street)WALRUS (3408 Cambie Street), and the Block (350 West Cordova Street).

      > Janet Smith

      Anna Sui's La Vie de Bohème is a modern, romantic scent.

      Sweet Scents 
      Six luxurious fragrances are hitting store shelves just in time for the holiday season. From designer Anna Sui, La Vie de Bohème is a modern and romantic scent for the free-spirited woman on your list. The eau de toilette ($74 for 50 millilitres and $88 for 75 millilitres at Hudson’s Bay [various locations]) comes in a rose-carved flacon with a decorative butterfly on top. The fragrance opens with a burst of Turkish rose, pear, and red berries and is balanced with floral and woodsy notes, including purple peony and sandalwood. Also new this season are five scents by AERIN, the luxury lifestyle brand from Estée Lauder’s granddaughter Aerin Lauder. The AERIN fragrance collection ($125 for 50 millilitres at Holt Renfrew [737 Dunsmuir Street]) was inspired by natural elements such as stones and flowers, and each perfume comes in a sleek, sophisticated bottle. Amber Musk stands out with its velvety notes of coconut water and rose. We also love Ikat Jasmine, a light everyday fragrance filled with exotic tuberose and sweet honeysuckle.

      > Michelle da Silva

      My Secret Cravings tasty jewellery.

      Good enough to eat 
      Talk about guilt-free pleasures: food lovers will fall big-time for the adorable nonedible creations from My Secret Cravings. Miniature, mouth-watering jewellery, fashioned meticulously out of polymer clay, includes earrings with dangling sprinkle-topped chocolate doughnuts, little ketchup-and-mustard-squiggled hot dogs, syrup-slathered buttermilk pancakes, and cheerily decorated cupcakes. There are pendants too: think doughnuts iced in pastel hues, cups of espresso with caramel and strawberry swirls, and—dear Lord, the cuteness!—the tiniest pairing of sunny-side-up egg and croissant you’ll ever see. Best of all, the little delicacies won’t break the bank: you’ll find designer Heidi Liao’s sweet creations for about $10 to $15 at Portobello West Holiday Market on Friday and Saturday (December 7 and 8) at Creekside Community Recreation Centre, as well as Dilly Dally (1161 Commercial Drive).

      > Janet Smith


      Daub + Design’s sleek undies.

      Panties of the Month 
      Why buy the stylin’ lady on your list a simple pair of panties when you can buy her a full-on subscription for a rad new set every month? That’s the idea behind Daub + Design’s new Panty of the Month series, in which a different version of the seamless, hand-dyed top sellers gets shipped out every 30 days—kind of like getting a Christmas surprise at regular intervals. Prices start at $59.95 per month, with a choice between three types of patterns: multicoloured, black on different colours, or a mix of both. Sign your gal pal, better half, mom, or sister up at Daub + Design's website

      > Janet Smith


      Blue Ruby's x Cause We Care holiday bracelet is a limited-edition offering.

      Holiday Bling
      The gift of jewellery never grows old, and there are plenty of options to choose from this season. Fashionphiles will appreciate the Imprints Bangle from Alexandra Dodds’s Not From Earth collection ($285 at Cavalier [217–207 West Hastings Street]). The gold-plated textured bangle, handcrafted in Vancouver, can be stacked with other bracelets but is unique enough to stand on its own. Another local option is the limited-edition Blue Ruby x Cause We Care holiday bracelet ($20 to $40 at Blue Ruby [various locations]). With teak beads and shiny black spinel, pyrite, and hematite gemstones, these styles do more than just look good: 100 percent of proceeds from sales go to supporting single mothers in need. If it’s in your budget, a little blue box under the Christmas tree never goes unnoticed. The Great Gatsby–inspired Ziegfeld Collection from Tiffany & Co. (various locations) draws on 1920s designs, and the classic Five-Strand Pearl Bracelet ($825) is a stunner. The Four-Row Pearl Bracelet ($1,100), which features an art deco–style carved black-onyx centrepiece, also tops our wish list.

      > Michelle da Silva


      Fjällräven's Totepack No. 1.

      Nordic Noël
      Leave it to the Swedes to make the utilitarian backpack cool. Fjällräven has been a purveyor of durable outdoor wear and accessories for 50 years (think of the brand as Scandinavia’s answer to Mountain Equipment Co-op), and a few years ago, its boxy Kånken ($70 to $100 at One of a Few [354 Water Street]) made its way into Vancouver retailers. While the iconic backpack is a classic, two less-ubiquitous designs are starting to gain momentum. The Rucksack No. 20 ($150 to $200 at Still Life [2315 Main Street]), made from Fjällräven’s signature waxed fabric in a variety of colours, features neutral leather straps and a classic camping-style fold-over top. For those on your list who prefer one-shoulder bags, Fjällräven recently released the Totepack No. 1 ($110 at Still Life), with long and short straps that can easily be converted into backpack straps.

      > Michelle da Silva


      Get bold with Instance Socks' Warriors print.

      Festive Feet
      Black socks paired with black shoes might be a safe choice, but bright, print-happy socks are so much more fun. Instance Socks (known in the U.S. as Stance) is a California-based label that’s making quite an impression up north with a variety of eye-catching styles—from classic stripes and polka dots to electric ikat and animal prints. Cuts range from ankle length to full tights. The neutral Aztec-inspired Santiago and Dalmatian-print Escape are a great way to test-drive the trend. Ladies unafraid of a punch of colour will love the camouflage-print Private and the loud mishmash of prints and colours on the Warriors. Instance Socks cost $13 to $27 and are available at Plenty (various locations), Board of Trade Co. (227 Union Street and 206 Carrall Street), and WALRUS (3408 Cambie Street).

      > Michelle da Silva


      Principessa Beauty's Bella Balm BB Cream.

      Fit For a Queen
      Principessa Beauty was undoubtedly created for the girlie-girl on your Christmas list. The Vancouver-based beauty company has been making bath, body, and hair products for over a decade, and it recently began creating natural and organic cosmetics as well. New to the Principessa collection is Bella Balm BB Cream ($36 for 60 millilitres at BeautyMark [1268 Pacific Boulevard]), a one-step moisturizer and light cover-up for the face. Principessa’s formula works well with all skin tones and is scented with ginger and white tea. The brand also offers several covetable stocking stuffers: the Mini Bianco Breeze and Notte Breeze ($12 for 30 grams at BeautyMark) are dry shampoos ideal for hair and beauty buffs on the go, while the Mini Cattiva Diva ($8 for 25 millilitres) will leave hands feeling smooth and manicured during winter’s driest months.

      > Michelle da Silva


      Bath Binge
      Headily scented holiday bath bombs and other goodies come in a fun variety of packaging this year at Lush (various locations). We like the cartoon-illo’d, hatbox-shaped the Night Before Christmas set ($49.95), with some of the best Yule-themed bath products, including Cinders Bath Bomb, a warm orange-and-red mix of cinnamon-leaf oil, sweet-orange oil, and popping candy; and the Golden Wonder, a bomb shaped like a present that explodes into golden stars when it hits the water, then turns the bath blue, with a Champagne-like fragrance. Another kit comes shaped like lips; called Christmas Kisses, its mix contains Santa’s lip scrub and cola-flavoured lip tint ($22.95).

      > Janet Smith



      Jerome Smith

      Dec 5, 2013 at 8:19am

      I love the pattern on the bow tie above, but never in cotton. Real bow tiers wear silk and the best 2 places for American made bow ties are Ben Silver in Charleston and online.