Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


February Social Primer

I live for chocolate, fresh flowers and the color red. Still, the traditional Valentine's Day motifs can get a bit saccharin for my taste. Wouldn't it be a refreshing change of pace to talk about gift ideas for men? Seeking guidance, I turned to Social Primer. We talked about material goods and the intangibles too.

For the person who is still financially comfortable and wants to help stimulate the economy, what pieces in the shop might be combined for the ultimate Valentine's present?

Social Primer says, "For the man (or lady shopping for him) who is lucky enough to be flush during these trying times, I would first like to congratulate him on his wise investments and then hope he is supporting the many charities that desperately need his help. Then indeed he would deserve a thoughtful gift."

SP is currently featuring known artist David Jones, "a superb Cape Cod painter whose work with color, light and shape is transcendental." The painting is $5000. "For dandy bon vivant, the Directoire chair with original finish is covered with a Brunschwig & Fils leopard print petit-point for $2100," continues SP, adding, "The Gucci silver-plate staghead stirrup cup is one of my favorite things in the shop right now. $350. SP is crazy about books and the bookends that hold them. How about a pair of solid brass horsehead bookends that will fit in any library (or bookcase) and add the classic touch for years to come? $325."

For those of us who are currently on tight budgets, what are some of your most affordable gift ideas?

"There are silver-plate foxhead stirrup cups for $75. The Gonzo book on Hunter S. Thompson from Ammo is a great look into the life of an American original, with an introduction written by Johnny Depp, for $39.95. John Derian decoupage coin plates featuring vintage Red Letter initials for $44 would be great on a desk or bureau. And the SP personalized stationery is the best deal anywhere with 50 cards for 34.95."

Now, many people won't be able to buy any presents this year. I know that books by your favorite authors -- Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote -- are available at public libraries, and acts of kindness can always sub for material things, but please tell us more about your favorite social graces that have nothing to do with spending.

"I think by nature, social grace has absolutely nothing to do with spending money. The opposite is true, money usually corrupts grace. I have recently moved to Los Angeles where it seems to me good manners are the last thing on anyone's mind. Instead of succumbing to road rage and rude retaliation's tit for tat, I find the old adage of sharing a smile really works. As trite as it sounds, I am finding that to share a smile or a friendly hello with someone, no matter how rude or snotty they seem, can really work miracles. When someone honks a horn or flips me off in the car, I just smile and wave. I am sure I look like an idiot, which makes me laugh and hence I have not let them ruin my day."

Back to books, it looks like you've got some great vintage titles on the shelves. Is there one in particular that we should all be more familiar with?

"The one I love the most is one you mention often. Vogue's Book of Etiquette is a treasure trove of great advice. And The Preppy Handbook, of course. There is a little known booklet that I love to give as a gift, especially to younger nephews, called To Manner Born, To Manners Bred. It is distributed to incoming freshmen at Hampden-Sydney. It is indispensable and accessible, full of short snippets of information that any young man can digest and we hope, practice."

I'm in love with the secretary you are using for display. Is it a family piece? Something you found on your travels?

"The secretary in the shop is a Chippendale reproduction on loan from an old family friend. I love it. I actually sit at the desk everyday, right in the shop, writing and conducting business. I am here now as we write."

As always, click here for more, or stop by 644 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90068.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of these posts about the opening of Social Primer. Mr. Ray's taste is SO G&G!!

Mrs. Blandings said...

I'm so bad, I have to keep reminding myself - "For him. Shopping for him." I would gladly take any of these home for myself.

Style Court said...

His taste and references are so G & G.

I had to smile when I finished the post. There is quite a bit here that is very appealing to women. Perhaps I should've opened with "unfussy gift ideas for men or women."

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend, (a hot-headed Sicilian) when confronted by a rude driver, purses his lips in a kiss at them. It is much more gratifying to respond to rudeness this way rather than allowing their behavior to make you rude as well.

Love all the images posted- I also would love any of them for myself.

katiedid said...

What a wonderful place! I agree that I would much rather have a Valentine that is a one-of-a-kind gift that I can use forever. Wonderful ideas and shop!

Erin Sledd said...

Oh, Courtney, the stagheaded cup is so fabulous. Wow.

columnist said...

I have a pair of exactly the same Gucci stag heads stirrup cups, which I was just looking at recently, (they've been in a cupboard for a long while). Unfortunately they've tarnished, and will have to be re-dipped. They are rather fun, although the antlers can be a bit sharp! (Their other heads are a bit more user friendly, but I bought the stags as they are similar to my family crest.)