Professional Advice on Holiday Shopping

Louisa Cox - The Shopping Mistress

Shopping for wives and girlfriends stresses many men out. Original, appropriate and perfect for her. Help!

HITC Life talks to professional shopper Louisa Cox about making it easier, more fun and most of all, as successful as possible.

Why are women so tough to buy for?

Choosing something for anyone of a different sex or age group can be difficult. We get a lot of women clients who say they never know what to buy their man - or even their mother-in-law!

I think as most women enjoy shopping they accept the challenge gracefully, whereas lots of boys come out in a cold sweat as they pass through the glossy doors of a department store. They don't know where to look for what, feel embarrassed loitering in the lingerie and hate getting squirted with perfume, so it's no wonder they find it tough.

Since every woman is different, what steps do you suggest to get on the right track for a particular one?

The first step is to listen. We girls are fairly vocal about what we like and don't like. Particularly listen out for any sentence that starts, 'I need...' It rarely is a 'need' but more a 'want'!

Women also like thoughtful gifts, so step two is to consider things you do together or are planning to show how thoughtful you are about your relationship. For example, if you're going away somewhere warmer this winter, get her a cute bikini or sparkly kaftan for the beach for Christmas so she can look forward to your trip.

Lastly, if she has dropped hints and you've listened, go a step further than just buying it, to show that extra thought. If she needs/wants a new iPod, download her favourite songs and create a playlist on it before you box it back up and wrap it. Little things like that can make a big difference.

Any no-fail gift ideas in case our readers get desperate?

It might sound obvious but most women like shoes, bags and underwear! Go through their shoes for brands she likes, the size, whether the majority are flats or heels and nip down to Selfridges or large department store and simply ask for help. With that much information you won't be able to go wrong, and she'll be amazed you've gone to so much trouble.

Tell us about your Luxury Stocking, which sounds like an easy way to get some or all of the project done.

The Shopping Mistress Christmas stocking is all about giving boys a chance to be thoughtful - or at least look thoughtful as his girl marvels at the time he must have spent putting it together! It isn't branded by us, so he can take credit for it if he wants to, and it's limited to strictly 100 stockings so that's it's unlikely many women will know someone else with one and compare notes.

Our key thing was making it high-end, luxurious and different to anything else on the market, so we've filled it with fantastic brands such as Asprey, Cartier, Miller Harris, Ruinart, Brora and more. All the items were carefully chosen from this season's must-haves to guarantee she'd love it.

Of course, if you don't want to shop yourself, Louisa is happy to help. You can visit her site here.

To order a Luxury Stocking (and hurry, more than half are already gone), click here.

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