The range of options available to Irish men these days is perhaps the best it has ever been when it comes to choosing where to shop and what to wear, so there really is no excuse for not looking our best.
What with it being Christmas and all, that means there's plenty out there to put on a wishlist for those who want to get you a present that will up your game, or keep you looking as stylish as you do right now. Here are a few of the Man Cave's picks for the yuletide season that we'd be happy to see under the tree on Christmas morning.
Accessories are always a good place to start if you're not sure about sizes, cuts or preferences, and one of our favourite pieces at the moment is this Harris Tweed bag from Marks & Spencers. Harris have been really expanding their brand and are collaborating with a number of different stores, from M&S to Penneys, but all the while maintaining that fine tradition of quality that we've come to expect over the years. Whether it's used as a travel bag or a gym bag (just don't get it too smelly) this will instantly make you look more suave. There are also a huge number of Harris Tweed accessories, from wash bags to phone covers, that are all pretty smart.
Another Harris Tweed collaboration, this take on the boot from Fred Perry features chocolate brown leather and suede that contrast nicely with the navy laces, and the brogue detailing is a beautiful touch that adds another interesting layer to this piece. The military-style sole keeps that sub-culture look that the laurel wreath has been associated with in recent decades, but the patch of colourful tweed introduces something classic to the final product.
The men's monkstrap is becoming more popualr of late, but finding the perfect pair that are masculine, distinctive and the right shade is harder than you might believe. Spaniard Roberto Ley hits the right note on a regular basis across the collection, but in particular the monsktrap is a standout piece. Dark enough to be suited to the season without ending up looking as though they're plain black, our long search for the perfect pair might be over with these, and they're incredibly comfortable too. Roberto Ley's footwear is available from Thomas Patrick here in Ireland or on their own site.
Part of a capsule collection that sees Italian designer Daniele Alessandrini (a trend that has seen collaborations really become an important part of high street fashion) collaborate with Jack & Jones, this lambswool cardigan is the perfect piece that is unique without being over the top. The slightly off-centre buttons and the shade set it apart from the crowd, but it is casual enough to wear with jeans or chinos.
Watches can be difficult to buy as tastes vary quite a bit with men, from the ostentatious and gaudy to the simple and classic. This particular number falls in to the latter category, as do a lot of the pieces that Wellington makes. Available from Weirs, it's understated but at the same time its timeless, sleek design will grab the eye amongst a sea of bling and mark it out as something special, if not a little bit against the grain.
Pairing Nike Frees or similar runners with skinny jeans (rolled up at the cuffs for extra hipster factor) is all the rage at the minute, but if you still want to stand out then look for something slightly different from the plain black that many have opted for. These are available from JD Sports and are still a dark shade that suits this time of year, or alternatively these deep burgundy numbers from Size are a great colour for this season.
£80 (€101 + p&p)
A good blazer will always find a home in any man's wardrobe, and the check pattern is right on trend this season. This grey piece will match well with a number of different looks, from a casual pair of jeans to a variety of slacks and chinos. A nice indigo blue pair will work nicely we think, with a lighter shade of blue on the shirt inside.
As you may know if you're an avid reader of the Man Cave (aren't you all, of course) we're big fans of Gagliardi. When it comes to the quality that you're getting for the money that you pay, they're pretty hard to beat, and in particular at the moment we're admiring their selection of trousers. A subtle houndstooth (or puppytooth in this case) makes these a little bit different and allows you to work patterns in to your wardrobe without it being too strong, while these indigo herringbone trousers are perfect for the office or a smart casual night out.
Right, we know, socks are not the most exciting present to get, but a lot of the time that's because we don't put much thought in to it. Really, it should be a hugely important selection, because you wear them all the time and want them to be comfortable, breathable, and a little bit fun too, which is where Happy Socks come in. You can pick up the gift packs online or in Harvey Nichols, or pick a selection that takes your eye from their Christmas tree full of sock-based joy. Besides, it's time to replace all those ones with holes in the toes and ankles, seriously.
As we mentioned, men's fashion has improved a lot in recent years here in Ireland, and one of the benefits of that is great, home-grown companies doing some pretty fantastic things, like Loft Belfast. They make ties, pocket squares and accessories that range from the classic to the innovative, and are available in Dublin from Indigo & Cloth. Guaranteed to smarten up pretty much any look.
For the man who doesn't want to look like a slob as he lounges, H&M's range of David Beckham loungewear is a cut above your average pair of pajamas. They fit is much nicer, the ends of the trousers are cuffed so that they don't drag all over the ground, and in general you'll look much better for those occasions where you're caught answering the door in your jocks. Not as good as Dave, mind, but sure that's impossible.
It's cold outside, as the song goes, and we need to wrap up, While snoods are great and all, they can make buttoning up your jacket a bit of a chore, so opting for something a bit smaller is our advice. Of course, you still have to look good, so Barbour's classic designs are the perfect choice; we particularly like the red, but the green is a nice shade too, and are available from Arnotts.