Graduation gift guide: pocket knife

Time for another installment of the graduation gift guide, as we veer a bit outside of the traditional gifts toward those a bit more offbeat.


Pocket knife — I’m a firm believer every guy should own a knife. Whether you carry it in your pocket, briefcase or just have it sitting on your desk, it’s an essential tool that you’ll use often.

You should always use the sharpest knife possible, no matter what task you’re performing — from chopping food in the kitchen to opening letters. Having a dull edge only results in a greater chance of injury.

Of course, while there are many types of knives ranging from tactical knives to multi-tools to gentleman’s folders, it’s probably important to think about how the knife will fit the lifestyle of the person using it. 

If they’ll be sitting in an office, I’d go with the more graceful lines of a gentleman’s folding knife, perhaps opting for horn scales (but wood is just as nice). If they’re more of an outdoors, rugged person, then consider a decent lockback. If you think they’ll need a go-anywhere small pocket knife that’ll serve multiple purposes, then you can’t go wrong with a Swiss Army knife — and you can get them with aluminum scales. 

Where to buy: LaguioleOpinelVictorinoxAl-Mar, Buck


Graduation gift guide: slide belt buckle

The graduation gift guide continues into day three as I explore gift ideas for those leaving academia and entering the working world. 


Slide belt buckle — If the graduate is likely to find themselves at a job where they’ll be wearing dress trousers daily, then investing in a quality belt buckle might not be such a bad idea. The slimmer, 1” size of the buckle can be used with a variety of leather straps and swapped quickly.

If you don’t know the graduate’s size, then buy them the buckle and a gift card to a store where they can purchase a strap on their own (straps can be found at Brooks BrothersRalph Lauren, Paul Stuart and lots of other places). Add a monogram and you’re all set with a great personalized gift they can easily use every day.

Again, which metal to go with will likely depend on what other metal items they wear. My preference is to wear gold buckles with brown leather and silver buckles with black leather. However, I do think that silver can be put with brown and look just fine, especially with darker tones like burgundy. 

I think the neatest and most classic designs look like the one above: an engine turned front with room for initials, however, a plain front would be good for those who have a more sleek, modern and casual style. 

Where to buy: Tiffany & Co.Brooks BrothersBen SilverPaul StuartRalph LaurenB.D. Jefferies


Graduation gift guide: cufflinks

It’s graduation season and I’m listing gift ideas each day for those on your list. Stay tuned and click here to see other items in the graduation gift guide


Cufflinks — Given the dominance of button-cuff shirts in ready-to-wear clothing these days, it’s becoming more rare to see men sporting French-cuff shirts and building a collection of cufflinks. Still, those moments do seem to happen when a guy suddenly finds he needs to perhaps don a tuxedo or receives a shirt as a gift and cufflinks suddenly become the accessory he never thought to buy, but now finds he needs to own. 

For this reason, cufflinks make a great gift. They’re simple, functional and elegant. They’re one of the few pieces of men’s jewelry that doesn’t look terribly dandified or overly flashy — provided you go with a more classic style instead of a gaudy one.

In terms of style, I think there are four basic ones that never look bad or outdated: the knot, the mother-of-pearl or black onyx inlay, the engine-turned and the plain

In terms of construction, I would avoid cufflinks that feature a “swivel” mount (example) on their back for two reasons. First, it’s a point of failure that can swivel from the “secure” position to the “insecure” one quite easily, causing you to lose a cufflink. Second, I believe a quality cufflink has its design on both ends, linked by either a solid metal bar (example) or a set of linked pieces of metal (example). A cufflink with a “swivel” end is a cufflink that cheats you out of an elegant design on both sides of your cuff. 

What type of metal? Well, sterling silver is always a good bet, as is gold-plated sterling silver. Purists would tell you that you should always match your metals, but I don’t feel it’s a hard and fast rule. It seems nowadays that silver tones are more popular than gold tones, so perhaps go for that — given that your graduate is likely younger and looking for more modern accessories. For what it’s worth, I feel that silver accessories look best with more formal occasions, especially black tie, as the silver seems to have a higher contrast against black.  

Where to buy: Kent WangBrooks BrothersRalph LaurenPaul StuartBen SilverTiffany & Co.


Graduation gift guide: money clip

With graduation coming up this month, I figured it’d be good to go over some gift ideas in the next few days that would be perfect for those leaving institutions of higher learning for the professional workforce. Click here to see other items in the graduation gift guide.


Money clip — Admittedly, it’s a bit of a risky gift to give someone who might prefer using a wallet. (I find most guys have a system that works for them and have no desire to change it.) But if you notice the grad carries cash loose or already uses a money clip, this is a bit of a no brainer to provide an upscale upgrade for them.

While a lot of great designs exist, there are many truly terrible ones, too. Avoid designs with gimmicks like USB ports, sports teams and overly-designed embellished logos. Instead look for a plain, solid design or perhaps engine-turned lines. Feel free to have their initials engraved, too. 

Most on the lower end will be made from steel, but if you can afford it, then look at money clips that are sterling silver — you really want some weight to this so you know it’s still ing your pocket. I prefer designs that are slim and flat, as it’ll likely sit in your front pocket and any irregular bumps will make for an odd feeling. 

Where to buy: Tiffany & Co.Brooks BrothersJ.PressRugbyPaul Stuart

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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