So I read pretty recently to never ask your significant other what she would like for a gift (I know, gifting again, right...this one evolves into something different, but it starts here).
The last time that I didn't ask, I thought that I did an awesome job in assessing the sorts of things that would benefit my wife: things that would make her a good deal more comfortable and happy. Of the four gifts that i was most happy with, all four got returned.
I did also once get her (among the jewelry) a Black & Decker cordless screwdriver, as she was continually stealing mine. I got months of crap (ribbing, really) for that, although she uses is pretty regularly and has for years.
One answer is usually clothes. My bit of wisdom: never, never, never, ever get clothes. If the article of clothing isn't the wrong size (which is a horrid sin), it's the wrong color, the wrong style, there's nothing that "goes with it"...the list of likely issues seems endless.
"Goes with it": Strike 1: I'm a guy. Strike 2: I'm an engineer. Strike 3: I grew up with all guys in the house.
This means, of course, that I've got no fashion sense whatever. I don't know what "goes" with what else.
Size in fashion is the most screwy thing in the world.
"What size are you?"
"What's the piece of clothing?"
"Oh, a top."
"Who made it."
Wha??? Why can't designers across the world standardize their sizes so that a size 10 is a size 10 is a size 10, no matter who designed it, no matter who makes it. Shoes are the same. Nike "runs small", but Adidas "runs large". How is it that you can be a 9 in one manufacturer and 9 1/2 in another? Can't these idiots get together and decide that there are so many millimeters per size increment? Or better yet: why not just size them in millimeters? My shoes might be 254mm X 120mm. Or, we might have measurements for across the heel, across the arch area, and across the ball of your foot as well. Nice, specific, and most importantly: the same for every dumb-ass manufacturer.
Of course I understand for tops or pants that it can't be just about height and weight. People are different sizes. Me, for instance: I have a big fat head and a narrow ass, which makes it all the more odd how I'm so frequently looking out at the world through my belly button.
But be that as it may, modern man should be able to figure out how to assign a few different parameters to an article of clothing so that someone looking at it (not wearing it), and knowing what their numbers are can say: "This will fit me." It really shouldn't be that hard.
It's so damn hard and arcane that a person can't even tell me definitively that a particular number will fit themselves. You have to go and try it on and see how it fits.
We were out looking for pants for me recently. Should be easy; I've been pretty much the same size for over a decade. Take a look at what I'm wearing, and get that, right? Nope. Those jeans might have stretched, but I actually got smaller recently. It doesn't seem like I got any shorter, but those damn number changed nonetheless. I'll bet they would have been different had I been at a different store.
It seems like we can put numbers on everything under the sky EXCEPT for clothing. My advice: never, ever, ever buy clothes for folks.
- I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.