What men really want this lockdown Valentine's Day

Richard Brown

3 February 2021

Forget the usual trinkets, say 'I love you' with things he’ll actually appreciate 

3 February 2021 | Richard Brown

What good’s a pair of cufflinks when he’s not worn a shirt since March? Ditto ties, tie bars (though they’re a no-no on any occasion), briefcases, fountain pens, pocket squares, patent shoes, lapel pins and, to be honest, shirts in general (unless, of course, we’re talking cosy, wool-flannel numbers. In which case, check this winner from Gucci).

Aftershave used to be a safe bet, but no one can smell you over Zoom. Summer holidays look like they're up the swanny, so swim shorts are also off the list (that said, the latest collab between Vilebrequin x Derrick Adams might be worth bagging before it's too late). Same goes for sunglasses, espadrilles and any sort of statement luggage (though, if you are crossing your fingers for a romantic summer getaway, check this ice-white carry-on from British Airways and Globe-Trotter).

Nope, now that life's a continual loop of home workouts, daily walks and weekly big shops, Valentine’s Day 2021 is all about comfort dressing, killing time and keeping sane.

Here’s what the man in your life really wants this Valentine’s Day...

Rapha Men's Classic Winter Jersey

He bought the bike during the first lockdown and wouldn’t stop checking Strava during the second. Temperatures have dipped since then. Luckily, Rapha’s Classic Winter Jersey has been designed for the inclement conditions of lockdown 3.0. Intended for cold to freezing temperatures, the jersey is cut from a soft, warm, heavyweight, merino-rich fabric and has windproof panels in the chest. Zipped vents below the arms help to regulate temperature and the back panel has a soft mesh for improved moisture transfer. On yer bike.

£160, rapha.cc

Drake's Navy Brushed Shetland Wool Crew Neck Jumper

Made of 100 per cent lamb’s wool, 100 per cent in Scotland. For its latest crew neck jumper, Drake’s has worked with expert knitters from north of the border. This classic pullover has been brushed for a shaggy texture and features a ribbed hem and cuffs. Given that the bedrock of the brand is made up of heritage staples, you’d assume that Drake’s has been around for donks. In fact, the East London outfit only started making scarves and shawls in the late 1970s, before expanding into menswear proper in the 80s. Then as now, Drake’s is all about clothes with a timeless quality – this jumper being a case in point.  

£195, drakes.com

New and Lingwood Dressing Gown

An Englishman's home is his castle and your Prince Charming has never spent so much time in his citadel. As his dressing habits have changed, so too has the status of his dressing gown. Time for an upgrade. As well as fitting out Princes Charles, William and Harry for formal occasions, New & Lingwood makes the Rolls-Royce of dressing gowns. The company’s signature silk jacquards are woven in Suffolk before being cut and stitched together by hand. Presumably, Tesco wasn’t thinking of New & Lingwood when it banned customers from shopping in their pyjamas.

From £895, newandlingwood.com

The Valentine's Experience Box from The Ethical Butcher

The brainchild of an ex-vegetarian, The Ethical Butcher aims to ensure that the meat it delivers is as environmentally-friendly and principally-reared as modern farming practices allow. This Valentine’s Day, the company has created a box that includes a classic recipe from three-Michelin-star chef Pierre Koffmann and a bottle of red from Enoteca Rosso. A 800g, dry-aged Aberdeen Angus rib of beef comes with a bottle of red wine sauce – made by slow-boiling beef bones for eight hours – a pack of Koffmann Potatoes, and a side of green beans.

£90, ethicalbutcher.co.uk

Hawksmoor at Home Cookbook

This hefty cookbook from steak super-chain Hawksmoor explains not just how to prepare and cook a great sirloin, but how to buy the best beef – and seafood – too (clue: opt for dry-aged, dictionary-thick cuts from Longhorn cattle and you’re usually on to a winner). There’s cocktail recipes, suggested wine pairings and advice on how to make the best burger in Britain. With 70 recipes in total, your lockdown Sundays are sorted.

£30, amazon.co.uk

ZDP-189 Bunka Black 7.5" Knife

He’s got the steak, he’s got the cookbook, now he needs the knife. Family-owned Yoshida Hamono traces its history back to blacksmiths on the Japanese island of Kyushu. As well as high-grade swords, the company manufactures smaller blades – like the seven-and-a-half-inch one on this hand-forged chef’s knife. It’s made from ZDP-189 stainless steel, the hardest money can buy, and has been left unprocessed at the top, where it will develop a unique patina.

£238, sharpedgeshop.com

Adidas Ultraboost 21 

Dopamine hits, remember them? Shots of those happy little fellows have become hard to come by since team sports were cancelled and social interactions banned. There’s still one way to generate some natural feel-good chemicals, though – by running. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Adidas has launched its latest Ultraboost trainer. The sole of the ‘21’ edition is now 15 per cent more bouncy, meaning that the harder your partner pushes the trainer, the harder the trainer will push your partner. These day, it's all about the small wins. 

£160, adidas.co.uk/running

Jaxjox KettlebellConnect 2.0

There’s only so many push-ups and air squats a man can do before he loses the will to workout. The adjustable KettlebellConnect 2.0 from JaxJox is actually six weights in one. Detachable disks increase the kettlebell’s weight in three-kilogram increments from 5.5kg to 19kg. Users can connect the KettlebellConnect to the JAXJOX app, with which they can track their reps, sets, weight, time, volume and power. To get the most out of the 30cm-tall piece of kit, join live kettlebell workouts through the app.

£249, argos.co.uk

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The dog’s barking, the little one’s screaming and the next-door neighbour’s been drilling all morning. Not that your partner is aware of any of this, of course, because he’s sitting at his make-shift kitchen-table desk wearing a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. The latest wireless over-earers from Bose monitor the sounds around you and produce an opposite signal to cancel them out, allowing your partner to power through the working day without disruptions. Bliss.

£349.95, bose.co.uk

Read more: The best Valentine's Day gifts for her