Help me find a suitably "butch" gift for my new girlfriend.
February 3, 2008 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I've been dating a really wonderful woman and it seems we have fallen very much in love with each other. She doesn't wear makeup, or jewelry aside from two small, non-dangly earrings in each ear, and isn't particularly "girly" in any other respect, so I'm kind of at a loss as to what to get her for Valentine's Day. I'd like it to be something she can wear all the time, and since it's our first together, I'd like to make it something memorable, but any kind of flashy jewelry would probably be met with a luke-warm reception. I've been thinking about some kind of "butch" friendship bracelet, or something like that, but the ones I've found are generally pretty shoddy and cheaply made. She's been talking about wanting some color on her body - either painting her toenails or getting a tattoo - so something colorful without being super-feminine might be nice. Any suggestions? (BTW: She's in her 30's.) Thanks.
posted by Death by Ugabooga to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Take her to get her hands henna'd, perhaps?
posted by canine epigram at 7:00 PM on February 3, 2008

I have said this before in askmefi, but what works best for me when buying stuff like this for someone else is to buy something that looks like something they already have. If it looks identical (to me) but is not actually identical, they'll love it.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:05 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: It's not colorful, but a pocket watch could be something she keeps around all the time (with her, if not on her person). I had one for a long time that I loved back when I didn't like jewelry.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:06 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: I would go with the friendship bracelet and make it yourself. A quick google search didn't find any good instructions, but you're local library will have plenty. You'll be able to teach yourself one of the simpler patterns in a few evenings, just make a bunch and pick out the best one.
posted by waxboy at 7:09 PM on February 3, 2008

Ankle bracelet
posted by Doohickie at 7:11 PM on February 3, 2008

Perhaps not the most personal gift, but I think a gift certificate to a salon or spa where they offer a variety of services (pedicures, manicures, possibly henna) would be greatly appreciated by most women. Even non-girly women. Also, you avoid the possibility of giving jewelry that may not be to her taste or style.
posted by amicamentis at 7:24 PM on February 3, 2008

If you are dead-set on giving her some kind of jewelry, I recommend visiting, which is often mentioned in gift-giving threads here. Most items are handmade and pretty unique. You can search for jewelry by style and material. They have jewelry made from wood, stone, polymer clay, and other decidedly not-super-girly materials. Sometimes you can get items personalized, depending on the seller. Perhaps you can find something there. Good luck.
posted by greta simone at 7:33 PM on February 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

If she's really been talking about a tattoo and you think she's serious, a gift certificate to a nice local place that you've sort of checked out would probably be appreciated. I'm one of those no-jewlery people and yeah don't bother getting something you think she wouldn't like. The onlyexception I can think of would be a nice watch if she's a watch wearer, but again, going in for a tattoo could be sort of excellent.
posted by jessamyn at 7:36 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: You seem to be describing me. Are you my secret boyfriend? How awkward. Anyway -- a necklace is the answer. A nice stone pendant, for example -- not a gem, but an attractive, polished rock. This is just a Google image search, but it has some good results. Oooh, this is nice -- I wear jeans and T-shirts, don't wear makeup, have short hair, and would happily wear a necklace along those lines.

I'm sure you could find something similar at a crafty store or museum gift shop (depending on your budget) near you.

Hell, you could even make one -- just go to a bead shop and ask for help. You'd get brownie points that way. Sweet, romantic brownie points.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:50 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: I'm not all that big into traditional jewelry. I have a few random earrings (plain but in odd places). Anyhow, one of my friends got me a very plain silver necklace with a small (size of dime) celtic knot. Something simple yet elegant might be nice, even if she doesn't wear it regularly it would be something she could use for a fancy occasion without feeling awkward.

This is something similar to what I wear (although this is quite a bit bigger)
I get quite a few compliments and yet i never feel like i am really flashy.

Another idea is to let her pick out nail polish and do her toes for her. (maybe practice first?)
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:52 PM on February 3, 2008

Check out the designs at small things jewelry. The "bits and pieces" bracelets and necklaces are cute, but chunky and not too girly. I'm also a huge fan of the "modern goods" necklaces, which are square and tough but also organic and beautiful. And they also go with almost everything -- t-shirt, work attire, whatever.
posted by junkbox at 8:01 PM on February 3, 2008 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The corpse is on to something - a simple necklace is good. Although I'd probably go for something very subtle and simple, like a thin gold chain that won't attract attention, with a small pendant ornament (gold or gem) that can be hidden inside her shirt. You might look at the style of her earrings and try for a pendant that is similar somehow.

Don't be afraid to get something that _you_ like. Then, if she's not that into it, at least it will show her a little about you -- and if she wears it, at least one of you will benefit.

You can also ask for help from a really good, tasteful jeweler. Or ask for help from a friend (of yours, of hers) with good taste. The extra step of asking for help from someone, if you need it, will also show her that you cared enough to spend time on this and apply your brain.

It will help if you can describe -- to whomever is helping you -- what she wears in greater detail. Get something that will work with the next level up in dress formality (i.e., with a sweater or blouse even if she wears t-shirts every day).

If she wears tiny, non-dangly earrings, I'd suggest that the necklace pendant should probably also be small. If her earrings are gold, go with a gold pendant; silver, then maybe something like the silver Celtic knot referenced by silkygreenbelly would be good.
posted by amtho at 8:06 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: I'm not girly and wear no jewelry except for an occasional wristband made of coconut shells or other natural stuff--or a friendship bracelet made from brightly colored threads. I would think a handmade-by-my-boyfriend friendship bracelet was incredibly sweet. One that I liked the best was made from 4 or 5 bright primary colors (no pastels).

She might also like a gift certificate to a professional henna artist. I know I would.
posted by PatoPata at 8:10 PM on February 3, 2008

I don't tend to wear lots of jewelry, but Mr. HGG recently gave me this Banned Books Bracelet and I like it a lot. There's a lot of other interesting, non-girly jewelry on that site too.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:14 PM on February 3, 2008

If you are set on jewelry you cannot. go. wrong. with sterling silver. A medium length necklace in an interesting style or with a plain but cool pendant is eminently wearable by anyone. If you want to add interet pewter, ceramic or some sinple inlay is fine. Stay away from overly delicate/ ethnic/ turquoise/ gems/ hearts/ shells/ hemp etc.

Vouchers to a spa are super-awesome though. Even non-outwardly girly-girls are likely to enjoy them. I love them!
posted by fshgrl at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

All of these suggestions seem to still center on jewelry. I never wear the frivolous stuff and would personally be bummed if I received it for v-day.
I definitely support the handmade gifts, if you do it yourself. It's okay if it looks a bit shit. It's better than a rock on a string!

What about a bunch of cookies or scones that you baked, tucked into a picnic basket?
Or a lunch at a restaurant out in the country, someplace with a nice drive that she's never been.

Clearly i believe that the adage really goes: the stomach is the way to every human's heart.
posted by quelindo at 8:34 PM on February 3, 2008

I'm totally with the corpse as well, a small necklace is just the thing. I wear tiny silver stud earrings and nothing else, normally. The one thing I do wear often is a simple silver necklace strand and a small gem pendant. Kinda like this, but with a much thinner and smaller chain, and a much smaller stone - like 3/4 inch long.

Look closely at her earrings. Are they silver or gold or a tiny gem? Buy something that matches, metal-wise and color-wise.

A friendship bracelet made by my husband would be amazing too, but I would probably never wear it, as it would be a once-in-a-million thing that I would have to keep nice... ;)
posted by gemmy at 8:37 PM on February 3, 2008

As far as non-girly-but-beautiful-neck-adornments go, a nice Maori greenstone (jade) carving may appeal. I can't vouch for the particular store, but this place has some examples. One of these was my first V Day gift to my now-fiancee.
posted by Paragon at 9:14 PM on February 3, 2008

Best answer: Nth-ing the henna suggestion... but then again, I'm a little biased, being as I am a professional henna artist (see profile).

Seriously, though; if she has been considering getting a tattoo on herself, she could have henna done as a trial -- to get the feel for a particular type of piece, it's placement, size, etc. This is a great way to test the waters of body art without it being permanent.

If you wanted to be *really* sweet and romantic, go and get your henna done together; most henna artists will have a book or binder of designs including many more "manly" styles.
posted by Jade Dragon at 9:43 PM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you would like to give her a piece of jewelry, I would also suggest a pendant. I rarely wear jewelry, but it's nice to have a bit when you really do need to (like a nice outfit that leaves the neck looking quite bare). But if she doesn't wear jewelry much, I would suggest that small is best. I have three pendants (and one silver chain that matches all three) I switch out depending on my mood and outfit - two are about 5mm across, and the third about 1cm.

Just to give you an idea of size - this garnet pendant looks a lot like the one my boyfriend got me one year for either Valentine's or our anniversary. This sort of necklace can also be worn without thinking about it, which is probably a concern for women who don't wear jewelry normally (like me). I've even slept with mine on, and because the chain is fairly short, it's not a problem.
posted by jb at 10:54 PM on February 3, 2008

I never wear jewellery because it irritates my skin, no matter what it is made of. Which is a pity because I've been given or inherited some nice things. I decide to put them on, and 15 minutes later have to take them off because my skin is red and itchy. Same goes for watches (are they jewellery?)

So if she wears earrings, maybe get her a pair of non-dangly earrings. But what would make my heart sing would be a lovely pen, maybe even engraved. Inlaid with pink mother of pearl or maybe some opal or something? That'd be real nice. I could use it constantly and think of him. Also, a funky brooch that I could pin to my scarf or blouse, something like a gecko, or spider- jewellery without the skin thing.

But lastly, I'd be pretty horrified if my love interest let me know that he was hoping I'd wear his gift all the time. I mean, I could fake liking it during the evening, but if I had to put it on ALL the time afterwards, that'd be sad.
posted by b33j at 11:57 PM on February 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

You seem set on jewelry, but if you are tempted to throw in a little something extra, I think a certificate for a manicure/pedicure session would be great! If she hasn't done it before, I would suggest she get a french manicure as it's simpler and more natural looking than being overwhelmed by fire engine reds, shocking pinks and new rave blues. A "spa mani-pedi" which takes place in one of those heated, massage chairs will run about $20-30 at your neighborhood manicure place.
As an added bonus she'll have lovely toes for, uh, admiring! ;)
posted by like_neon at 1:19 AM on February 4, 2008

yeah, a nice silver chain with a simple semiprecious stone pendant is the way to go (preferably in her favorite color).
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:30 AM on February 4, 2008

hurdy gurdy girl, thanks--I now know what to recommend to my husband for my V-day gift. :)
posted by dlugoczaj at 5:55 AM on February 4, 2008

Professional massage.
posted by heatherann at 6:00 AM on February 4, 2008

From Mighty Goods:

A ring that manages to be simple, elegant, and fun at the same time. It comes in nine colors.

A really lovely pendant, deep red, very Valentine's Day-appropriate, yet tasteful (read: Not Heart-Shaped).

(Aside to my boyfriend, if he happens upon this post: /hint.)
posted by Spinneret at 7:12 AM on February 4, 2008

I'm casting my vote with Jessamyn -- if you think she's serious about the tattoo thing a little cash subsidy/moral support would be a very excellent gift. But maybe do up your own "gift certificate" in case she has a particular place/artist already in mind. On the other hand, maybe I just watch too much LA Ink.
posted by somanyamys at 7:21 AM on February 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for some really good, thoughtful suggestions. I'm going to see if I can find a local henna artist, and I think I'll check out a local place that makes (or sells you the supplies to make) necklaces and bracelets out of beads, hemp, silver, and other natural materials. Maybe something with a small Celtic knot pendant. If I come up with something good, I'll post a link to a picture, if anyone is interested. Thanks again!
posted by Death by Ugabooga at 8:09 AM on February 4, 2008

Yes, Henna! My brother booked me a trip to a henna artist for my 14th birthday. I loved it, and I was/am by no stretch the girly type.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:30 AM on February 4, 2008

Heh, I was coming in here to suggest a simple necklace. My boyfriend (who works in the jewelry industry) got my first initial about a centimeter tall spelled out in diamonds, and I am not into jewelry nor "bling," but I have to say it's pretty cool. More recently he got me a simple leather choker (well, not really, it's a little bigger) and is looking for a pendant, but I like it as-is for now.
posted by herbaliser at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2008

How about one of these? Depending on her reason for not wearing jewelery, it may be a fun gift.
posted by KathyK at 2:02 PM on February 4, 2008

I'm a girl and you don't see me wearing jewelry because I Don't Like To Wear Jewelry, no matter who gave it to me. I just can't be remembering to take it off and put it back on every day.. it's just not one of the things on my radar screen for some reason. But if she already wears earrings then she might be different from me. It looks like you're already going with the jewelry/henna thing though so I guess all I'm saying is that not all ladies wear jewelry, but she will probably love it anyway even if she can't remember to take it on and off all the time.
posted by amethysts at 3:45 PM on February 4, 2008

Get her a simple chain with a nice artsy pennant; like fused glass. Or buy her a 'Jour de Beauté; girly or not, no woman can scoff at a day of pampering at a spa.
posted by HerOdyssey at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2008

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