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Getting it right for her; Affordable gifts of pizzazz, comfort

By Teri Goldberg
Dec. 7 —  If being at war and the uncertain economy aren’t enough to fray your nerves, finding the right gift for her this season might just do that. But relax. There are plenty of simple, affordable gifts online that will make her feel special. Try something that will jazz up her wardrobe, or bring her some much-needed comfort.

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Despite its rich look, a Jackie O. scarf will only set you back $25 ($22.50 for museum members.)

       IT’S AN OLD rule of thumb: a fine silk scarf can dress up any outfit, from a bland business suit to faded jeans. But you don’t have to shop at high-end shops to find a fine scarf, which, at signature shops such as Hermes, start at about $150. Ouch! This season, New York’s Metropolitan Museum gift shop has a new collection of stylish scarves modeled after one of the classiest women in American history: Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy. Inspired by a museum exhibit this past spring and summer called “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years,” the “accessories scarf” highlights some of Jackie O’s signature accessories, such as her pillbox hat and dark sunglasses.
Stylish scarves

       For the scarf, French illustrator Pierre Le Tan drew sketches of a handful of original items in the exhibit. Each 22-inch square scarf features the slightly modified Bergdorf Goodman’s pillbox hat that 31-year-old Jackie Kennedy wore at the presidential inauguration in 1960 and the sunglasses she took on a trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 1962. A triple strand of pearls, opera gloves and a fur muff (the traditional kind used to keep your hands warm) are also pictured on the silk twill scarves, which are available in pink, blue and cream. Despite its rich look, the scarf will only set you back $25 ($22.50 for museum members.) It’s exactly this sort of elegance and simplicity that defined Kennedy’s style, says Sheila Bernstein, the museum’s manager of textile reproduction, who designed the scarf. “If you think about it, her clothes were actually quite matronly but she had a style like no one before her,” Bernstein adds.
       Since you’re saving hundreds of dollars by not taking a trip to Paris or shopping at those high-end designers shops, a nice companion gift is the exhibit’s catalogue, which ranges in price from $35 for the paper edition to $100 for the slip-cased copy. Arranged in chronological order, the
198-page coffee-table book contains 199 full-color photographs of the first lady, from the presidential campaign to her days in the White House. Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of “Vogue” and creative consultant for the exhibit, sums up her impact on style and fashion best in the book’s introduction. “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy revolutionized the taste of the nation,” he writes. “Not only did she promote culture and the arts at the highest levels, she also brought to the public’s awareness a discriminating style and an expertise in fashion.”
Fashionable fleece
       Thanks to clever designers, fleece can also be fashionable this season. Among the collection of fine scarves at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, there are two funky-yet-functional ones — they both have pockets. The pockets are not the best place to store important stuff, such as house keys, but are a convenient way to keep hands warm in the cold weather. Adventurous types may even wear the pocket of the three-way fleece scarf on their heads as recommended in the product description, which officially makes it a three-in-one item. Priced at $44, the 10-by-90 inch scarf is only available in red. If she prefers neutral colors, consider the gray-and-tan patchwork scarf, priced at $48. The scarf measures 10-by-81 inches and will match almost any winter outfit.

Holiday Gift Guide -- Top Books - Guilt-free giving - Cool toys - Gifts for her - For guys only - CDs for the soul        For ultimate warmth this season, Land’s End may have the solution. The Dodgeville, Wis.-based company introduced a blanket that “looks and feels like” fleece but contains ultra-fine, heat-conducting fibers woven into the fabric. In contrast to traditional electric blankets, you can barely see the wires or heating units in the state-of-the-art “Polartec Heat Blanket.” Blanket users also control the temperature with a small, circular remote control, rather than bulky switches.
       The heat blanket is also safe and energy efficient. Here’s why: Old-style electric blankets depend on one wire to heat a large surface area. So they must run at a high voltage. The heat blanket comes with a small unit — you can store under your bed — which converts high-voltage (120 AC volts) into low-voltage (28 DC volts) power that is spread over some 70 conductive filaments spaced about 1 1/4 inches apart. Since the filaments only have to heat a small portion of the blanket, they can run on a low voltage, using about the same amount of electricity as a 100-watt light bulb. Made in the U.S.A and machine washable, the blanket is available in five earthy colors and three sizes: double ($159), queen ($199) and king ($219.)
       Despite all the new improvements in technology, some of us are still not comfortable using an electric blanket. If that’s the case, this year consider a handcrafted “Nouvie.” Designer Eecole Copen of Portland, Ore., says she got the idea for the “Nouvie” or the fleece blanket with sleeves when she was living in an “adorable little trailer” without heat. “I would sit up in bed and read at night but my arms and neck would freeze. One of those nights it hit me that it didn’t take living in a trailer to freeze my arms off. I had experienced the same thing lots of times … even at home in my cozy bed. Then it dawned on me that lots of people probably had similar experiences,” she says. After much brainstorming, she concluded: Yes, “a blanket with sleeves!”
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       The product derives its name from the French words for new and life, but Nouvies are made of Eco Fleece, a machine-washable, non-pilling textile manufactured from recycled pop bottles and plastics. Copen sells Nouvies in cyberspace, out of her home and at Portland’s Saturday Market, the largest continuous outdoor market, which requires that all artisans hand craft their wares. If you happen to live in Portland, Copen has been known to meet customers in a local coffee shop to place orders. Nouvies are available in six flavorful colors — salsa, eggplant, wine, blueberry, black currant and green bean — and run from $99.50 for the small to $119.50 for large or wheelchair-size.
Best bet
       As far as value for the money, this season’s best bet has to be Good Night’s pajamas in a bag. Packaged in a 10-by-12 inch flannel pouch, the 100 percent cotton pajamas are warm, have style and cost less than most pajamas on the market. The two-piece set even comes with a soft cotton shirt instead of a bulky flannel one. The four-button shirt is nice enough to wear with jeans if you don’t mind the design on the upper left side. The pajama patterns are not as flashy as top designers Nick & Nora or Cat’s Pajamas — I mean who can compete with sushi pajamas — but the designs are playful. As for price, you simply can’t beat it. The two-piece set sells for $19.99, marked down from $29.99, and the nightshirt costs $13.99, reduced from $19.99 at Kohl’s department store online. (The Mamaroneck, N.Y.-based company also sells an adorable line of children’s bedding online at JC
Houdini tote

       A flannel pouch will not satisfy all her needs. Neither will any bag on the market. But this season Early Winters — a catalog company known for its sturdy outdoor gear — unveiled the “Houdini Tote,” a stylish tote that easily converts into a backpack. Unlike most fashion totes, the 18-by-14-incher is made of rip-stop nylon canvas and can withstand a variety of conditions, whether it’s a trek up the Cascade Mountains on the West Coast or a subway ride in New York City. If you like pockets, Houdini will speak to you. If not, stay away. Priced at $39.50, the bright mango-colored tote has several mesh and nylon pockets — some with zippers — to stash water bottles, pens and whatever else you have to schlep around, including but not limited to umbrella, notebook, cosmetic bag and Palm Pilot.
By and about women

       By now, her closets and drawers may be filled with scarves, bags and blankets from seasons past. If so, a book by and about women is always a welcome addition. This season, W.W. Norton & Co. released a paperback version of “Women of the West,” by Cathy Luchetti, in collaboration with Carol Olwell ($22.50). The sepia-toned covered book offers a refreshing take on an old subject. We’ve all heard of gun-touting Annie Oakley or the courageous Calamity Jane, but what about Sarah Winnermucca or Bethenia Owens-Adair? These are only two of the 11 lesser-known yet extremely brave and vibrant 19th-century women profiled in the book. The narratives, taken from letters, journals and other manuscripts, reveal some of the challenges of these early pioneers.
       For example, Winnermucca, an Indian woman born in 1844, says the white people “came like a lion, yes, like a roaring lion, and have continued ever since.” On the other hand, Bethenia Owens-Adair, who practiced medicine in the late 1880s, says “the regret of my life up to age thirty-five, was that I had not been born a boy, for I realized very early in life that a girl was hampered and hemmed on all sides simply by the accident of sex.” One hundred forty-six stunning black-and-white photographs accompany the text.
       In the tradition of these women of the West, consider some spa products from Indian Springs, the only spa in the Calistoga, Calif., area that offers mud baths which use the local volcanic ash, which was deposited millions of years ago. The attention you receive there from Native American women cannot be beat but the products offer a glimpse of the experience, and are (pardon the expression) dirt cheap. The liquid mint soap and cucumber lotion are so gentle, if you shut your eyes, you may even transport yourself into one of those deep mud baths. The eight-ounce bottle sells for $5.50; the 16-ounce, $11. There are also bath salts, cleansers, shower gel and foot cream, all made from local ingredients, which range in price from $6.50 to $18.50.
       So if after all the frenzy of holiday shopping, you’re still not relaxed, at least she will be.
Teri Goldberg is’s shopping writer. Write to her at

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