Our guest editor Gareth Scourfield on the art of listening and observing to give better gifts.


The art of listening and observing: gathering clues for thoughtful gifts


Words: G. Scourfield

Gareth Scourfield, our guest editor for AW23, contributes to GQ, Esquire and Gentleman’s Journal, and styles high-profile clients like Ben Whishaw and Daniel Craig. As such, he’s adept at making selections with other people’s tastes and personalities in mind. Here he gives his tips on gathering clues to help you give thoughtfully this year.



We’ve all been there – the frantic rush to find a last-minute gift for someone special, which usually results in the receiver trying to hide their disappointment at your ‘thoughtful’ gift. Now is the perfect time to flip the script and make someone special in your life feel truly understood.

Throughout my career as a menswear stylist, my focus has been on dressing others. And one crucial lesson I have learned is the power of listening and observing. Every person I’ve worked with has certain preferences when it comes to clothing. By attentively understanding their needs, what makes them comfortable and even encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones, I’ve been able to help them express themselves through their clothes choices in the best possible way. From the vibrant extrovert who embraces bold colours and textures, to the introverted guy who prefers a subtle approach with pieces that make them feel confident without drawing unnecessary attention. Some clients have a much more laid-back attitude, but still want to look and feel good, so I curate outfits that offer effortless style, while appearing they haven’t given their outfit a second thought. It’s all about finding the perfect balance between effortlessness and thoughtfulness in every outfit I put together for my clients.

So, whether it’s your partner, brother, dad, son or friends, take the time to surprise them with a gift that truly speaks to their style. Don’t be afraid to challenge those stereotypical gifts. Remember, it’s about making them feel truly valued and considered.



A more considerate approach takes a bit of sleuthing. Here are my tips to help you find the ultimate thoughtful gift this season.


    1. LISTEN: By attentively listening to conversations and taking note of their interests, hobbies and lifestyle, you can become a master gift giver. Understanding their unique style will guide you in giving something that complements their way of life. Is he a guy that appreciates a bit of luxury? An outdoorsy type, or maybe someone who’s looking to step up at work? Where do they prefer to eat or choose to go on holiday?
    2. LOOK: Get familiar with their style, their preferred colour choices, how they wear certain clothes. Do they usually wear crew necks over V-necks, for example? Do they favour neutral tones over brighter colours? If you notice he wears a navy rollneck or likes wearing a muted cable knit, maybe think twice about that lovely yellow cardigan you were thinking of giving him. How do they wear accessories? Purely practical and functional in muted colours? Or to add personality to his outfit? Use these visual hints to help inform your decision-making.
    3. WHAT’S THE OCCASION: Think about the occasion or purpose behind what you’re buying. Where and when do you see each other? Is it at work, down the pub, at a football match, at social events or at home? This will show you how he turns up for each occasion. If it’s work, does he wear a particular style or colour of shirt? Is there a favourite style of knit or jacket they wear out for a drink?
    4. SPOT THE GAPS: Once you’ve asserted what kind of things they like, look at what they wear frequently and identify any areas where an upgrade is needed. If he really loves a particular style or look, treat him to a nicer version than he’d buy himself. Alternatively, think about pieces they don’t own yet but would greatly enjoy wearing.
    5. BE A SIZE-DETECTIVE: If it’s possible, keep an eye out for opportunities to discreetly check their coats or jackets hanging on hooks. It may seem a tad intrusive, but remember this approach is aimed at benefiting the recipient and getting their sizing right. Not comfortable in asking for their sizes? Explore accessories that are less reliant on sizes. Luxurious wool scarves, cozy knitted beanies and stylish leather goods like wallets, bags, and wash bags are excellent options to consider.