Take a good look at this person the next time you see her. If that’s not an option, find some photos, or put on your memory cap. What stands out? Does she like big earrings? Does she dress casual? Preppy? Bohemian? Edgy? Find one thing that appears to be a constant with her. Maybe she is known for always wearing something red. If you are relying on a photo, make sure it is recent. Fashionistas change their style, so if she liked to stack bangle bracelets up her arm 3 years ago, it doesn’t mean she likes to do it now.
Fashionistas love fashion trends. Find out what the “in” looks are in the fashion markets for holiday and spring. Flip through any fashion magazine. Google fashion trends 2012. Look at displays in stores. Any fashionista worth her platform stilettos knows that neon colors are a must for spring. A pashmina in hot pink or orange or yellow, or all three is an easy gift. If in doubt as to what color she wears well, again, look at her. You can also call on the help of the store salesperson. If you describe someone who has black hair and pale skin, the salesperson will select the appropriate color for her.
Stay away from complete outfits. And, unless you really, really, really know her, for goodness sake don’t buy her shoes. Same goes for pants. Same goes for good jewelry. And perfume. Shoes, pants, expensive baubles and perfume are in a league of their own. Another no-no, unless you really, really know her i s lingerie. Stick with accessories - shawls, pashminas, handbags (jeweled evening bags are another fashionista must have), fun costume jewelry. It’s nice to get someone something they wouldn’t buy themselves, but then again, you want to give them a prese nt they will like and actually use.
Is she planning a vacation to an exotic island? Or a ski chalet? Or a hiking trip? Find a gift that could be taken along. A new carry-on, a sexy beach cover up, faux fur trimmed hat and mittens (cashmere of course). Arrange to have dinner paid for one night of her stay or have a bottle of wine or martinis sent to the table each night.
Work with the salespeople in the store or stores you/she shops in. They are experienced and knowledgeable, so put that expertise to work. Make an appointment or go at a time when it is not crazy busy. Describe your fashionista and budget. Sales people are there to help and can prevent you from succumbing to shopping deer-in-the-headlight syndrome.
Or stay away from fashion completely and go with spa treatments, or hair/nail salon certificates, restaurant certificates, tickets to her favorite performer, coffeehouse gift card. Depending on your budget, there are endless possibilities for alternate gifts for fashionistas.
When in doubt, it is okay to buy a gift certificate to her favorite store. Go there or check it out online and get a feel for what amount is needed to buy a gift she will like. Or give her a collection of gift certificates to a number of stores. Have fun with it and put a note on each to guide her. “I saw shoes here I think you will love!” “There are gorgeous sweaters here. Hope you find one you like.”
Most importantly - have fun with it. It is the season of gift giving, sharing, spending time with loved ones. Embrace the spirit of the season and your shopping excursions will be much more enjoyable.
Cathy Ann Sauer is a buyer Nina Raynor in Delray Beach, Fla. and fashion contributor to Salt Lake magazine and our sister publication, Boca magazine.