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Valentine’s Day Tips

There’s nothing like the last minute. Many of us perform best under pressure—which is why we’re still here feeding you Valentine’s Day tips the day before the big event. (IT’S TOMORROW, GUYS.) The moral of today’s story is that a little thought goes a long way: Something as simple as jotting down an inside joke, or renting her favorite movie on your way home from work, can score you more points than fancy-pants reservations made months in advance.

In another example of brains over brawn (see our notes on Serge Gainsbourg from the other day), esteemed playwright Arthur Miller won over Marilyn Monroe. Their romance may have been tumultuous, to put it lightly—but just imagine the kind of profound Valentine’s Day cards that guy probably wrote. No pressure or anything. Your wife or girlfriend will appreciate whatever you do—so long as you do it with feeling. Read on for more ideas from Norma Jeans here at Nordstrom HQ.


1. EGGS & ART (PREFERABLY HOMEMADE)
Courtesy of Danielle B. – Visual Merchandising Graphic Design Manager

GO: “Hmm, my favorite Valentine’s Day date destination…Not out, no no. Too many love birds frolicking around, cooing, staring into each others eyes. I’m not above staring at a boy with googly-eyes, but I’d rather do it in the comfort of my own home (or his—if it’s clean). So, my ideal date destination would be dinner at home. Wine and dine me, please. My favorite meal is breakfast for dinner—somewhat fail-proof and always delicious.”

WEAR: “Well, Date, you’d better look cute. Since it’s pretty clear that I prefer a more casual V-Day, here’s what my imaginary date would be wearing: Well-fitting jeans, a nice button-up and maybe a shawl-collar sweater—like this one from Obey, because I’d like to steal it. Since we’ll be dining indoors, we’ll skip the shoes—but nice socks are important. Some Happy Socks; no Goldtoes, boys.”

GIVE: “Something handmade, not purchased. A silly drawing or card would do.”

[Ed. note: Above left is a drawing by one of Danielle's favorite illustrators, Marc Johns, and the saliva-inducing over-easy up top is courtesy of Danielle's best bud/food photographer Yossi Arefi. Check out Danielle's own work at her website: BDR-Studio.]

 


2. CHOCOLATES & CHICK FLICKS
Courtesy of Nupoora R. – Cosmetics Marketing Manager

GO: “My favorite V-Day date would be cuddling up on the couch with a good movie, a home-cooked meal, a bottle of wine, and a plush blanket. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be an expensive extravaganza; with my crazy schedule, time spent together is priceless in itself!” [Ed. note: Nupoora is a rare gem who named Independence Day as one of her favorite movies. Some of her other faves—like Amelie, Love Actually, and Shawshank Redemption, might be better received by your own date.]

WEAR: “I love guys in casual, fitted, button-down shirts and soft crewneck sweaters. But, if it’s a stay-at-home kind of a night, nothing beats a soft T-shirt and sweats! I also have to admit that I’m a big fan of Brooks Brothers and Lacoste men’s cologne—I’m a sucker for these scents!”

GIVE: “Chocolates! They are the way to my heart. Nordstrom Makers Chocolates would be perfect—dark chocolate, please.”

 


3. THANKSGIVING IN PARADISE
Courtesy of Molly B. – Women’s Site Merchandising

GO: “Anguilla in the Caribbean. I went there shortly after Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, and there’s something pretty romantic about being in paradise with no one around. Get blissed out! If not on the beach, I like a good, dark, speakeasy-like, hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar.”

WEAR: “No matter where we are, wear clothes that fit! A great patterned button-down shirt that fits you well, and jeans that accentuate…ahem…your assets are instantly hot and will make you feel good, which makes you feel confident, which is oh so sexy. A little flair, like a leather jacket or some statement-making kicks add instant style/confidence as well. Is it cheesy to say that a genuine, happy-to-see-you smile is also a must?

GIVE: “The best gift I’ve gotten was Thanksgiving dinner! It’s my favorite, and getting it on Valentine’s Day was rad. It showed he cared and knew me pretty damn well.”

 


4. LIVE MUSIC & A SYMBOL OF LOVE
Courtesy of Jodi T. – E-Commerce Stylist

GO: “My favorite Valentine’s destination would be one that’s connected to my date’s personality and interests. It could be cooking a meal or going out to a favorite restauraunt or a great show, as long as you make it special. As far as shows, at home in Seattle I like smaller venues like The Moore—and I love the burlesque show at The Pink Door. I recently saw Poliça at Brooklyn Bowl [pictured above], which was an excellent show. I’m also trying to go see Sleep No More (an interactive theatre experience) while I’m here in New York currently.”

WEAR: “Dress appropriately for the destination, but choose something you really feel good in, and it will bring out your natural confidence and charm. I would also encourage attention to detail—the right pair of shoes and the right grooming make all the difference!”

GIVE: “The best gift is sharing time together, so no matter how big or little the gift is, remember it’s all about the love that it symbolizes. If I were to suggest a gift of jewelry from Nordstrom, I’d suggest Lana or Dogeared.”

 

NEED MORE IDEAS?
SHOP: VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS 
…And catch up on previous V-Day Tips: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Bianca Jagger once famously celebrated her birthday at Studio 54 by being escorted in by naked, mustached dudes on horses. You don’t win over a girl like that with sweet stage moves (and epic hair, and lips, and groovy lapels, and an endearing British accent) alone. Rest assured, Mick knew how to plan a killer Valentine’s Day date. If your plans for this Thursday are still up in the air, take a cue from some of our favorite women around Nordstrom HQ (and note—sometimes all it takes is tacos and a song):


1. TEX-MEX & FINGER BLING
Courtesy of Lily W. – Social Media Specialist

GO: “The whole ‘reservations-months-in-advance-prix-fixe-menu’ thing feels a little prescriptive to me. I think it’s important to acknowledge the holiday in the way that makes sense for you. This year, my boyfriend and I are going to a low-key mexican restaurant like Bimbos Cantina (tacos and no waiting—my fave!) and then meeting some friends for karaoke. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like singing off-key to ’80s pop music, am I right?”

WEAR: “I’m still a sucker for a guy in heritage brands. Bring the Filson, Pendleton, Levi’s and Red Wings by the truckload. Also love hand-me-down vintage: Throw on your grandpa’s sweater and I’m totally smitten.”

GIVE: “My sixth-grade boyfriend got me a Diptyque candle and wrote me a love note in French. Dude had Jagger moves. [See above.] Now? I wouldn’t say no to a Jennifer Fisher knuckle ring or a new Herschel backpack for my Mac Book.” [Ed. note: Jennifer Fisher is part of our new CFDA/Vogue boutiques.]

 


2. CHOPPER RIDE & RELAXATION
Courtesy of Angela S. – Video Producer

GO: “I’m not a fan of dining out for Valentine’s Day, and I’m easily annoyed by forced outings for the sake of the holiday (contrived romance makes me nauseous—there’s probably a scientific term for this somewhere). I think it’s much more enjoyable to have a rich culinary experience at home, where my man is trying to dazzle me with some sort of food concoction that we both can’t pronounce. However, a romantic toast in a helicopter over the city lights wouldn’t be that bad either.”

WEAR: “I love a guy who is (nicely dressed) in his element. What’s sexier than a featherweight T-shirt and his favorite jeans?”

GIVE: “I like gifts from the heart for Valentine’s day. A helping hand, a day of relaxation, or a little pick-me-up that lets you know someone cares. The best gift I ever received along those lines (besides a Spa day) was a really cool rustic canvas print that read ‘good girls rarely make history’—it was such a sweet surprise from the traditional chocolates and flowers. It was truly ME, and still hangs on my wall today.”

 


3. DINNER & DIAMONDS
Courtesy of Ashley W. – Women’s Site Merchandising

GO: “I think it’s all about putting thought into the experience for your Valentine. I love wine and trying new restaurants, so my perfect date would be some combination of those. One of my favorites recently was Revel in Seattle for dinner in a more fun atmosphere, and I’ve been dying to try Matt’s in the Market for a more romantic spot.”

WEAR: Straight-leg jeans—I think Citizens of Humanity are a great fit on guys for this look—and a jacket with a button-up shirt underneath in a great color or plaid (loving the Calibrate plaid shirts right now; my husband just bought 3 colors, I’m hoping he wears the pink one on V-day!). I’d definitely like to see both the shirt and jacket in a slimmer, more modern fit for going out.”

GIVE: “I feel lucky that my guy is an awesome gift giver. The best part is when he writes in the card about why he chose it, because it gives the gesture even more significance. The most amazing gift I’ve ever gotten from N.com was these Bony Levy diamond earrings, which I wear every day, and still think of what he wrote in that card every time I wear them. The next thing I have my eye on is this diamond-bar necklace, simple and gorgeous but still updated and on-trend.” [Shown above, second from right.]

 


4. KEEP IT SIMPLE (BUT DRESS RIGHT)
Courtesy of Deniz A. – MEN’S Site Merchandising

GO: Sitka & Spruce for a date destination. After-dinner drink at Still.”

WEAR: “Something you’re comfortable and confident in. I’d say dark denim with a shawl-collar sweater—or a trim-fit button-down shirt under a cotton blazer. A good chukka boot (in a dressier, dark suede) goes with everything.”

GIVE: “Flowers from Marigold and Mint, next-door to the restaurant.”

 

NEED MORE IDEAS?
SHOP: VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS 
…And catch up on previous V-Day Tips: Part 1 | Part 2

Serge Gainsbourg: Kind of weird looking. And yet he was a hit with the ladies—including British bombshell/actress/singer Jane Birkin. How did he do it? What he lacked in chiseled features, he made up for with charm, talent, and killer Valentine’s Day gifts. (He also knew how to wear the heck out of a suit.) If you’re still searching for a Gainsbourg-caliber date night for the big day (this Thursday)—read on for tips from some of the most discerning women we know. And if you missed it, check out our first installment of Valentine’s tips from last week.


1. GOOD WINE & GOLD CHAINS
Courtesy of Laura O. – Men’s E-Commerce Features Writer

GO: “A home-cooked meal—complete with table settings, good wine (Willamette-Valley pinots; Argyle is good) and some great music—wins big points.”

WEAR: “Dark-wash jeans, a nice wool sweater and oxford shoes (and a chef’s apron—you’re cooking).”

GIVE: “One of my favorite gifts was a big statement necklace that he picked out himself. [Shown: Kate Spade.] I get tons of compliments every time I wear it. Another was a travel-sized notebook—my husband had written a little note in the front of it. I carried it around every day until it was used up.”

 


2. PRIVATE PLANES & TRUFFLE FRIES
Courtesy of Simone H. – Digital Creative Director

GO: Little Big Burger in Portland, Oregon. Best little cheeseburger and truffle fries a girl could ask for.”

WEAR: Blue denim, a refined field jacket and Red Wing boots.”

GIVE: “I live on an island and ferry into the office. Romantic, yes. But day-in, day-out, a royal pain in the arse—which my darling husband has to hear me whine about daily. So last year, he chartered a seaplane to take me from Seattle to Bainbridge Island—bypassing the Friday ferry lines completely. We pulled into the harbor, where he was on the dock with my packed Longchamp bag! After a quick drink at the Harbor Public House we climbed on the plane for a weekend on Whidbey Island.”

 


3. FALL COLOR & A PHONE CASE
Courtesy of Kate B. – Designer Collections Site Merchandising

GO: “My husband and I used to escape to The Berkshires in western Massachusetts a couple of times a year. It’s also where we got married, so it’s a very special place, and the perfect Valentine’s retreat. Being recent East-Coast transplants, we’re looking forward to discovering our ‘Berkshires’ of the West soon.”

WEAR: “Matt is a very T-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy, but I love him all layered up. I always find a shawl collar very smart-looking, and this Rag & Bone cardigan will give him versatility for the trip.”

GIVE: “We keep gift-giving pretty minimal for Valentine’s Day, in exchange for a nice dinner out—but I think that this year, my husband Matt will need to step up and gift me a new iPhone case. I’ve had my current case as long as I’ve had the phone, and it’s definitely worse for wear. He teases it constantly, and since I have a penchant for shoe-shopping over tech purchases, he may need to take the leap for me with this shiny number from Jimmy Choo (or for real brownie points…Rag & Bone booties from my wish list).”

 


4. MAYAN RUINS & DADAIST JEWELRY
Courtesy of Brie C. – Public Relations Specialist

GO: “I generally don’t make much of Valentine’s Day because it always falls during the middle of Fashion Week (unless a designer counts as my V-date?), but this year I get a good one: on the beach in Tulum, Mexico, having a romantic dinner with my boyfriend.”

WEAR: “I love a smartly dressed man (read: layers, tailored pants, blazer…hello, Joshua and Travis of Street Etiquette), but beach-casual is essential for this year. If you look like you’re trying too hard on a beach it’s an instant fail, so a casual, collared shirt and shorts is a win. My boyfriend is famous (or rather, infamous) for a pizza-printed T-shirt, and while I find it truly spectacular, let’s hope that one stays in the closet this time.”

GIVE: “Although I tend to resist contrived romance—jewelry never fails. I have my eye on this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress as a gift to myself to wear on Valentine’s Day, but from him, I lust after anything Tom Binns.”

 

NEED MORE IDEAS?
SHOP: VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS 
…And stay tuned for more Valentine’s tips in the days to come.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Romeo and Juliet. Johnny and Winona. Basically the best example of star-crossed romance in the modern era—and did you know they called it quits because Depp flubbed up Valentine’s Day? Not really. But if you ruin the most romantic day of the year, you could end up with an irrelevant tattoo just like he did. Step 1: DON’T FORGET. The big day is a week from today—next Thursday, February 14. Step 2: Listen to any of our savvy coworkers below, who were kind enough to impart feminine wisdom on the ideal Valentine’s Day, including date ideas, what to wear, and the right gifts to give.


1. RARE STEAK & AVANT-GARDE JEWELRY
Courtesy of Kathleen P. – Marketing Project Manager

GO: “Last year, my boyfriend came over to my place and cooked dinner for me—featuring my favorite cut of steak: rib eye, bone-in, lip-on (I more or less like it black and blue). The steaks were so large that they each needed their own 10-inch skillet (seared on the stove top, finished in the oven). He also made a butternut squash risotto with rosemary, and roasted asparagus—it was a beautiful meal. I loved staying in and having my man cook for me in my kitchen.” [Steak image courtesy of BonAppetit.com.]

WEAR: “A collared shirt in soft cotton—perhaps chambray—under this Rag & Bone cardigan; Bonobos slim-straight chinos in grey, pegged at the bottom; To Boot New York oxfords (or a pair of true vintage oxfords).”

GIVE: “Anything by Alexis Bittar. My BF has excellent taste and doesn’t need any direction, but if I had to select one thing, I love this piece from the Miss Havisham collection—it’s a little bit edgy, a little bit arty, interesting but also practical because it’s lightweight and comfortable. It’s strong enough to stand alone, and could be the only thing one puts on—which could be perfect for Valentine’s Day.”

 


2. NORTH-AFRICAN CUISINE & A JAPANESE WALLET
Courtesy of Ashley H. – Associate Stylist

GO: “Dinner at Bar Sajor, Matt Dillon’s new restaurant.”
[Ed. note: That's Matt Dillon the chef, not the actor. Oh, and pronounce the name of the place SIGH-your, lest you quickly delete any coolness points you might have accumulated.]

WEAR: “A Canadian suit…this A.P.C. shirt and jacket.”

GIVE: “This Comme des Garçons wallet.”

 


3. BEACH BONFIRE & A HEARTFELT MEMENTO
Courtesy of Destiny F. – Senior Editorial Stylist

GO: “Any spot where you can enjoy a bonfire on the beach.”

WEAR: “Something casual. I am guessing/hoping it would be a chilly February evening, so layers. Jeans, cardigan or hoodie, maybe a denim jacket as well.”

GIVE: “Honestly, my parents usually send me a Starbucks or iTunes gift card for Valentine’s Day every year, and it makes me extremely happy! Free coffee and free tunes…nothing is better. And, last year for Valentine’s Day, I gave my boyfriend (long-distance relationship) a ‘Girlfriend in a Bottle’—I wouldn’t mind receiving my own ‘Boyfriend in a Bottle.’”

[Ed. note: She was serious when she said Starbucks or iTunes—but if your significant other is more particular, a Nordstrom Gift Card might be in order.]

 


4. MUSIC FESTIVAL & METALLIC SHOES
Courtesy of Sonya W. – Manager of Emerging Media Group + Test Team

GO: “I guess would like to be in Oslo for Valentine’s Day…And I say that because I will be there on Valentine’s Day! There’s a music festival in Oslo, so I’m tagging along on Tony’s ‘work’ trip [Ed. note: Sonya's husband works at Sub Pop Records, and offered us a cool music pick once]. I went once before in 2007, when it was in Trondheim, Norway.”

WEAR: “I’d suggest my husband wear this Moncler down parka, since it will be below 20 degrees while we’re there.”

GIVE: “I wouldn’t mind if someone gave me these Lanvin oxfords for Valentine’s Day—or any day, for that matter.”

 

NEED MORE IDEAS?
SHOP: VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS 
…And stay tuned for more Valentine’s tips in the days to come.
 
 

[Images: Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder via The White Review; Bonfire via; Medieval Oslo map via Wikipedia. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]