Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

The Little Luxuries Add More Than You Think

The tree is almost complete, thanks to an intervention by The Architect who even got the progeny excited about decorating. Taking a quiet moment to reflect on the tree, our ornaments, friendship, family, and the joys of the Christmas season is really the ultimate luxury. Take a moment today to toast your little corner of joy.

As for me, I’ve taken a bit of a vow to not buy anything for myself until my birthday. I know, first world problems. But I thought I might make a case for one or two items for that gentleman who ranks high on your nice list this year. They are each the smallest of things, stocking stuffers, really, but little luxuries represent a moment of respite from the crassness of the world. At least that’s how I see it.

For example, opening your mail. There is something wonderful about taking a very sharp edge to the envelope that fills me with satisfaction. There are a great many wonderful pocketknives out there, but this year, I’ve returned to carrying a slipjoint (non-locking, no pocket clip, with a blade under three inches.) Here are a few I love.

Great Eastern Cutlery. This American made knife checks all the boxes for a beautiful production knife. The #25 Barlows are small and useful. The #13 Congress models (A Speaker Jack, perhaps) are a little bigger but still pocketable. Would he prefer stag? Horn? Wood? Micarta? One, two or three blades? A clip point? Wharncliffe? Spear point? A combination? That’s where things get fun (and addicting — word of warning…)

Northwoods Knives are another good example of the classic American made knife. The styles, like the GEC’s above sell out quickly, but you can find them around the internet. And, you can’t go wrong with Schatt & Morgan, either.

Finally, a French brand, Laguiole. I have everything from steak knives, to cheese spreaders, to corkscrews, and two sizes of pocketknives from this venerable brand. A warning: the bee and style aren’t patented, so you’ll find many imitators. In general, the handle should have the pins set in a cross, the spine of the blade is worked and the (Napoleonic?) bee is at the top of the spring.

Another little pleasure is writing with a good pen. If your gentleman has a pen fetish, as I do, anything from an antique fountain pen, to a modern clicky ball point (I like Caran d’Ache, Parker Jotters, Space Pens, etc. .)

), to a ceramic roller ball will be greatly treasured. When I find a cheaper pen I like, I’ll sometimes buy in bulk. Blue-black ink in a gel pen really gets me. Hello uni-ball Signo, Pilot Frixion, Sakura Ballsign, etc., etc., etc. Check out Jet Pens for a suitable rabbit hole into the world of Japanese perfection.

Of course, he now needs somewhere to record those fantastic ideas. A pocket notebook from Moleskine, Word, Field Notes, or Rhodia are good places to start. I prefer the dot-grid matix, or blank pages to lined ones. Check into Rickshaw Bags, or Jet Pens for a comprehensive choice. For that extra special touch, you cannot go wrong with anything by Smythson. A bit of leather or exotic skin is always a treat.

Finally, that ultimate luxury, a completely useless article of style: the tie. Where most people go wrong is in choosing an overly-ambitious pattern. Try texture instead, grenadine, or cashmere. Construction is another sign of the connoisseur, a seven fold, or unlined and untipped model is very interesting to wear and to see in the wild. Finally, in terms of pattern, subtly is often under-appreciated. A real ancient madder, or small glen check might find favor in a closet full of Repp stripes, and playful animal prints. Brown ties are also very useful, especially with today’s fashion of wearing brown shoes almost exclusively. Drakes is always a sold choice for ties. Interesting choices abound on The Rake’s site.

I hope that helps with any last minute stocking stuffers. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to us all.

3 thoughts on “The Little Luxuries Add More Than You Think

  1. Chris, I receive easily well over a hundred email a day, but yours always bring a smile to my face and your posts are not only helpful but are brilliantly written. As for waiting for your next birthday to make a purchase, I say there is nothing wrong in celebrating your birthday on a monthly basis.

    Merry Christmas

  2. Drake’s never disappoints. They and Vanda are my favorites. Vanda’s shipping is reasonable too. I bought some grenadines from Conrad Wu a year ago and love them but he hasn’t updated his inventory in quite a while.

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