Go beyond chocolate and roses for Valentine's gifts

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Think outside the heart-shaped box of chocolates.

This Valentine's Day, find a romantic gift that's chosen just for her — the woman you love.

“Flowers and candy are cliché,” says Mollie Lang, of Shadyside, owner and founder of bylangley.com, an online boutique of lounge, lingerie and sleepwear. “We are talking about romantic love for Valentine's Day, and so you can't go wrong with a piece of black lace lingerie, which is so on trend. It is so grown-up and so sophisticated.”

She believes lingerie should be flattering and comfortable enough to live in.

“Valentine's Day is about doing something nice for the woman you love,” Lang says. “Buying her a piece of lingerie is romantic. And it doesn't have to be red or pink. Buy the color she likes. Buy the style she likes. Some women like frilly and silky items, while others may prefer a great pair of pajamas.”

Knowing her style is important in making the correct romantic choice, experts say.

“Something that feels personal and something that shows you gave it some thought is romantic,” says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. “It can be something like an initial charm or zodiac charm, something that reflects her and what she likes. Romantic doesn't always have to be sexual. It can be something sentimental or fun or cute.

“I know there is pressure felt on Valentine's Day,” he says. “But I also know it's an opportunity to show somebody you care about them and that you appreciate them.”

Choose an accessory that's her favorite color, print or pattern. Or buy an article of clothing she has been wanting, Andrews says.

One item you can never, ever go wrong with is jewelry, says Russell Shor, senior industry analyst for the Gemological Institute of America, an authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls, headquartered in California.

“Diamonds are a can't-miss gift, “ Shor says. “And they do cost more than chocolates or flowers. But I don't know a woman who would say, ‘That is not what I wanted.' ”

Start with something like a diamond heart or diamond earrings — especially drop chandelier earrings — as perfectly romantic gifts. When looking at diamonds, Shor says, do your homework. If it is a larger diamond, make sure it has a grading report, Shor says.

Spa gifts are another perfectly precious option, says Lindsay Huggins, senior fashion market editor for Self magazine and self.com.

“A couple's massage would be a great way to spend Valentine's Day,” Huggins says. “Spending some time lounging at a spa is wonderful and relaxing. Also, a night at a hotel can be a nice gift. Women are so busy that they often don't take time for themselves.”

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Woodlands Spa in Farmington is running two Valentine's specials — a chocolate and strawberry delight pedicure and a “light my fire” couple's massage upgrade.

“A spa gift is such a nice surprise,” says Lori Shubert, the spa's director. “It is something a woman wouldn't necessarily buy for herself, but she definitely would enjoy it. Also, a couple can enjoy services together in one of our couple's suites, which can be very romantic.”

Personalization is the way to go, says Marissa Rubin, senior fashion market editor for People Style Watch. Something with a monogram might be nice or something in her favorite color -- a handbag or cell-phone case.

“You can choose an item with a heart on it, but you don't have to,” Rubin says. “If you do, keep it simple. A sweater with a small heart on it is nice and not too saccharine-y sweet. If you aren't sure, stay away from hearts and go with something like a gift card to her favorite salon, because most women love to get their hair done. Know the woman you are buying for, know if she is edgy or more of the traditional type because romantic means something different to different types of women.”

Why not create your own romantic gift by designing a personalized basket, suggests Ilene Levy, owner of Cheeks in Shadyside.

She offers baskets — with hearts and without — that can be both romantic and practical. Fill them with a robe, panties, nail polish, eye mask, slippers and a skin care products, such as a lotion or scrub, or consider champagne glasses, a Vera Bradley bag or a heart-shaped candy dish.

“If you want to earn some extra points, show her you put some time and effort into choosing items she likes,” Levy says.

Black shapewear that's not too clingy works — possibly with an animal print design on it, says Gail Gross, owner of The Pussycat in Squirrel Hill. It is something she can use that looks and feels good on her body. Valentine's Day isn't just for women who are size 4, Gross says. Full-figured women love to show off their curves and there are plenty of choices for them.

“Not every woman wants something super-sexy, slinky or see-through for Valentine's Day,” Gross says. “You can still find nice things that have lace or ruffles that are tasteful. And for those women who wear lots of T-shirts, choose a piece of lingerie made out of T-shirt material. A robe is a thoughtful gift. Know your woman.

“And, men, you are going to be most successful when you buy something that she is going to like, not what you like. A caring man wants the woman to be happy and to feel good in her own skin.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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