It seemed like just yesterday you were checking off crayons, glue sticks and a box of tissues for the classroom to share from your son’s school supply shopping list. Now he’s graduated on to extra-long sheet sets and shower shoes, and he’s doing personal recognizance on Facebook to see if he and his assigned dorm-mate have the same taste in bands, but (hopefully) not girls.
As he graduates from high school and takes his style to the college level, now is the time he’ll likely trade out his weathered backpack for a cross-body bag and swap his high school T-shirts emblazoned with the school mascot for collegiate gear that will show off his new sense of school pride.
Whether you’re shopping for a college-bound son or just looking for a great gift for a graduate, here are ideas broken down by major (though, we all know that will probably change!).
For the business major
Your instinct is he might not need a professional suit until the senior year career fairs commence. But, Alan Au, a graduate of the University of Southern California and vice president of the father-son store Jimmy Au’s for Men 5’8 and Under Inc. in Beverly Hills, Calif., said if he’s a business, prelaw or communications major, it’s time to suit up as early as freshman year.
“Even early on in college, he’ll do presentations in class and it’s best to look professional,” Au said. “It’s not a time to be wearing team sweats.”
Au suggests a proper fitting navy blue suit as a versatile option. To complete the gift, take him to get fitted and give him some cash for a dry cleaner that’s close to campus.
For the environmental studies major
Patterned, colorful socks are a wardrobe game changer and are becoming a refreshing staple in menswear.
Polka dots with camo shorts? You bet. Some vibrant stripes juxtaposed with more neutral cargos? Yes! For $99, you can give him a total sock drawer makeover (18 pairs of cool socks) from Nice Laundry ( www.nicelaundry.com ), letting him ditch his ratty, white gym socks for some with personality.
And, for your green-loving guy, every Nice Laundry order is eligible to receive a pre-paid shipping label, so he can send in his old socks to be recycled by a textile recycler. You can also share this fact: The United States is on track to generate 35 billion pounds of textile waste by 2019, according to Nice Laundry, but textiles can easily be recycled. A pair of socks can save up to 17 gallons of water and 66 BTU’s of energy.
Nice Laundry co-founder Ricky Choi said there’s only one rule to keep in mind when wearing patterned socks: “Don’t try to match them with your pants. Make them pop,” he said.
Go ahead, though, and coordinate them with your shirt or tie, Choi added.
For the art major
Shouldn’t his wardrobe be an artistic canvas of its own? Redbubble ( www.redbubble.com ) features thousands of independent artistic designs that are printed on tanks and T-shirts from American Apparel. In fact, he can even sell his own artwork designs on Redbubble for others to wear.
For the start of the school year, tanks are trending as a way for guys to show off their tans, tats or toned biceps, said Faith Sedlin, with Redbubble.com.
“We’ve found that they are particularly popular among college students who want to be on-trend, while expressing their individual style,” she said.
Shop the tees and tanks online by medium, including photography, design and illustration, drawing, digital art or painting and mixed media. You also can refine the art by themes – like retro, funny, geeky or music.
For the history major
Get him a nice watch because he needs to have a good grasp on time, right? In an era when students are checking their time on their cellphones, a watch remains a classic and handsome accessory.
Nordstrom ( www.nordstrom.com ) has a “dads and grads” collection of watches available online that make great gifts. Among our faves for the college crowd: Diesel, which is a little bit rugged, a little bit urban and Movado, which is minimalistic and modern.
For the political science major
Classic neckwear is a nod to past presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, who were fans of the bow tie. (It was also a favored accessory of Fred Astaire and Steve Jobs, as well as a modern day staple among sportscasters, journalists and economists.)
Find bow ties in classic stripes, dots and plaids – as well as fun patterns like sharks and bold paisleys – at Collared Greens ( www.collaredgreens.com ), which sells American-made bow ties.
“Bow ties allow for a pop of color, without being super loud,” said the company’s Mason Antrim.
For the geography major
Oh, the places he’ll go! If you’ve got an explorer on your shopping list who will be studying abroad or will be majoring in geography, international affairs or learning a new language, get him a “Scratch Map” from Uncommon Goods ( www.uncommongoods.com ).
For $20, the map will let him chart his world travels, scratching off the regions he’s visited. Plus, the map will add a little worldly charm to his dorm room or frat house.
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