By Anu Karwa
Love it or hate it, at least there’s easy access (and easy justification) to decadent sweets and wine on Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re celebrating your single status with your BFFs for Valentine’s Day or have been counting the days to pucker your perfect red lips for your S.O., these Valentine’s Day ideas are sure to make you smile in sublime foodie bliss.
Love of food or food for love, it doesn’t matter! Give these away as a Valentine’s gift or enjoy them yourself.
1. Add Umami: A Savory Valentine’s Treat
Add Taste No. 5 Umami Paste to any cookbook recipe, and that dish is instantly more delish. Umami is that difficult-to-describe “5th taste,” after sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Add a smidge of paste to any dish you cook to bring out a delicious savory quality sure to make you lick your lips.
2. Toast to Love with a Valentine’s Day Dessert Wine
No Valentine’s Day is complete without a glass (or 2 or 3) of luscious dessert wine. Inniskillin Icewine requires a labor of love to produce and is a precious way to celebrate your love. Unlike some dessert wines, which can be overly honeyed and throat-coating, this one has bracing acidity to balance layers of sweetness. Looking to seal the deal? Try it with a raspberry trifle or pear tart.
3. Valentine’s Day Gets Hot with This Love Tea
Curl up on the couch with a steamy, aromatic cup of Kusmi “Sweet Love” Tea and a good book or a good man—your choice. In addition to the built-in goodness of antioxidants in black tea, this blend has ginseng, guarana, licorice, pink pepper, and Asian spices guaranteed to stimulate your senses.
4. Valentine’s Day Sugar & Spice
If tea isn’t your, well, cup of tea, drop a few pillowy, handmade Champagne marshmallows into a mug of slightly spicy Cayenne Hot Chocolate. Chocolate and pepper are natural aphrodisiacs, so you’re in for a hot Valentine’s Day, with or without the romantic fireplace.
5. Sip a Romantic Red Wine for Valentine’s Day
For a Valentine’s Day wine pairing, how do you know if your bottle’s the one? When it’s a killer red with wonderful berry fruits and it’s called Sanvalentino. For your romantic evening together, you’ll fall in love with the Paolo Bea Sanvalentino 2006, $26.98, at the winelibrary.com.
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Anu Karwa, Epicurean Contributing Editor
Anu Karwa has been called a no-nonsense walking 411 for a new generation of female wine drinkers and home entertainers since she launched Swirl Events, an in-home and corporate wine tasting events company with a fresh, hip spin. For anyone who thinks Perez Hilton should be required reading . . . Read more of Anu’s top epicurean tips, tricks & product picks.
By Jennifer McGarigle, Guest Editor
When you take the time to make a gift yourself, your thoughtfulness is always noticed and appreciated. This Valentine ’s Day gift has benefits—DIY means saving money. Traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, such as chocolate truffles and long-stemmed roses, cost a fortune and last a minute. Instead, make a memory that lasts longer than Valentine’s Day when you give someone you love a homemade, beautiful bouquet of flowers.
For a Beautiful Floral Arrangement, Choose the Look of Your Bouquet
To make it easy to create a beautiful floral arrangement, select 1 of the following 3 styles, then follow the 6 DIY steps for making a floral bouquet.
• Singular Flower Bouquet Choose 1 kind of flower in 1 color. Whether you buy 1 bunch or spring for several of the same, you can’t go wrong with this look.
• Tonal Flower Bouquet Pick 2–3 flowers that complement each other in shape and that are in related tones of the same color. For example, a Valentine’s Day bouquet might include 3 flowers, each in different shades of pink, such as blush, medium pink, and fuchsia.
• Mixed Flower Bouquet Choose 3 flowers, again in complementary shapes. In picking colors, the trick here is to choose 2 that are in the same color family and 1 that is contrasting. For example, a bouquet may have 2 shades of pink with orange as the third color, or lavender and purple with fuchsia as the third color.
DIY Flowers for Valentine’s Day: As Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Here are 6 easy steps to make a gorgeous Valentine’s Day bouquet. To make it extra simple, we’ve created a bouquet of Gerbera Daisies, which is truly one of the most common flowers around. You can use these or any other flowers that are available at your grocery store or florist.
Step 1: Gather the Flowers Together
Whether you buy individual flowers, 1 bunch, or several, put the stems together in your hand, arranging the flowers so they line up head to head.
Step 2: Organize the Flowers by Their Length
Lay the flowers down on a surface so they are the same height from the top down.
Step 3: Assemble Your Floral Bouquet
Bunch the flowers’ stems together and tie them with a piece of raffia.
Step 4: Trim the Stems of the Flowers
Cut the stems so they are even. Be sure to use water tubes for any stems that will be out of water for more than an hour or so. Once you present your floral bouquet to your special someone, the stems’ ends will need a fresh cut before being placed in water. This ensures that the flowers will drink and last longer.
Step 5: Wrap Your Floral Bouquet Like a Present
Skip the paper or other wrapping altogether if you can’t find something pretty. Instead, use ribbon to tie around the stems of the bouquet. You can buy ribbon from most florists or fabric or craft stores. Be sure to cut frayed edges off the bottom edges of the ribbon. (If you use water tubes, wrap the stems in paper.)
Step 6: Give Your Flowers Poetic License
For an added personal touch, pick a favorite poem, handwrite or print it on a card, and attach it to the bouquet!
And there you have it—6 easy DIY steps that will guide you in making a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day!
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By Samantha Daniels, Guest Editor
Professional Gift Ideas from a Celebrity Matchmaker & Dating Expert
When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, the most important thing to remember—focus on the person for whom you are buying and get him or her something special and personal. On Valentine’s Day, it’s not about the cost, it’s about the sentiment.
Here are my favorite Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your special someone.
Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him
A Custom-Made Shirt for Him
Personalized gifts are so much more meaningful than off-the-shelf, and you can buy your honey a Valentine’s Day gift certificate for a custom-made shirt from Rothman’s, the legendary New York men’s clothier. What does this mean for you? Starting at $95, you can actually chime in and help design the shirt that your sweetheart is wearing!
Get Him into the Game with Poker or Blackjack Lessons
Another unique Valentine’s Day gift idea—a gift certificate for poker or blackjack lessons from the School of Cards. Lessons start at $150. Any guy would love to learn a few tricks to use in the casino, and you can actually go with him and learn a thing or two yourself!
What to Get Her for Valentine’s Day
Make Her Go “Aww” with This Gift: A Framed Picture of You Together
An unexpected and sentimental Valentine’s Day gift? A framed photo of the two of you. Usually, framing photos is a girl’s hobby, so your honey will think you are très romantique if you do it for her. Go for something with glitter, such as a Swarovski crystal frame, $400 and up, from Ferrare with Company. Just make sure you pick a photo that you know she loves.
A Jewelry Gift to Match Her Personality & Taste
Jewelry is always a woman’s best friend, especially on Valentine’s Day. And you want to buy good gifts for good girlfriends, so choose a piece that speaks to your sweetheart’s personality and style. For some ladies, a romantic heart necklace might be the one, such as those from Sisi Amber, for $125–$230. Or if your gal likes a more minimalist look, try some earrings from David Urso Jewelry, starting at $100.
Valentine’s Day Gifts For Him, Her, or Both of You
Totally Original Gift: A Piece of Artwork
Something unique and original will get a Valentine’s Day smile because it shows that you really care. Try choosing a piece of art like one from Uptown Art Works for a Valentine’s Day gift. For $249 and up, you can buy or even design wall art that highlights your sweetheart’s life according to where he or she has lived over the years. What fun!
Everyone Loves a Gadget Gift
These days, everyone loves tech gadgets, so why not give the latest cool accessory to your iPad-obsessed honey. The one I am loving right now is the Kensington Keyfolio Bluetooth Keyboard and Case, for $99.99.
Creative & Inexpensive Gifts for Him & Her
Get Tickets for an Event
Valentine’s Day gifts don’t have to be expensive as long as they are thoughtful. Great Valentine’s Day ideas: take your girl to a chick concert like the cover band Abbamania or buy tickets to take your guy to a car show like the New York International Auto Show.
The Classic Gift: Make a Mixtape
If you have time to be creative, a great gift for anyone on Valentine’s Day is a new music playlist. But when you’re loading a Valentine’s Day playlist onto that memory stick or burning it onto a CD, don’t forget to choose a mix of music your significant other likes, not a mix of your favorite music. And make sure to throw in songs that mean something to you as a couple—this will make the song list extra special!
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By Nancy Rotenier
The pressure is on, fellas. Valentine’s Day. How seriously does the fairer sex take Valentine’s Day? It’s a religious holiday—think Barney’s Warehouse Sale. In guy terms, it’s the Super Bowl. Since our first crushes, we’ve been Disney-ed into believing in happily-ever-after, and we’re going to leave our rose-colored, heart-shaped glasses permanently in place, thank you very much. Read the bad boyfriend warning label: Valentine’s Day is our fairy tale, we play the fair maiden. You better let your inner Prince Charming loose—or you’re going to have one very pouty princess on your hands.
To avoid Valentine’s Day Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder, give good gift. It’s pretty simple. If we spend hours getting dolled up—slinky red dresses, Valentine’s Day smokey eye makeup, perfect red lips, put in some time picking our gift. Here, the top 7 things you should NEVER give a woman for Valentine’s Day—and plenty of tips to give good gift.
And girls, it’s time to accidentally forward this to your shopping-impaired boy or your best friends’ significant others. That can be your BFF gift to her!
Top 7 Good Gifts/Bad Gifts That Make or Break Your Boyfriend Status
• Chocolate Gifts for Valentine’s Day
Bad Gift: Were you not paying attention the 1,452 times we asked you if our butt looks fat in these jeans? Clue in! We are ALWAYS on a diet. We want something we can wear on our ring finger, not on our hips!
Good Gift: We will, however, make an exception if you make a chocolate Valentine’s Day treat by hand. Chocolate truffles are easy to make, require few ingredients, no kitchen equipment, and come with a guaranteed “oooh, you made something just for me?” The points you score? You can’t count that high.
• A Gift for WHOM? Valentine’s Day Lingerie
Bad Gift: Hellooo. Anybody home?! Who exactly is getting the gift here? Not to mention that once we put it on, we really don’t get to wear it very long. Not that we’re complaining . . . rest assured, we know what to wear on a date, and we know what to wear under it. But when you give us a romantic Valentine’s Day gift, we want to feel like you know us.
Good Gift: Go for a personalized or monogrammed Valentine’s Day gift that says you didn’t grab any last-minute lingerie. From pendant necklaces to pillows with our initials, it’s easy to have something made just for us.
• Anything That Plugs in for a Valentine’s Day Gift
Bad Gift: The scary thing is, we just might have to explain this to you. Valentine’s Day gifts should be personal, not practical. Practical, as in vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, coffee maker. Get us what we want, not what we need! If you treat “I need a dustbuster” and “I need new shoes” equally, you don’t deserve to date us.
Good Gift: The best Valentine’s Day gifts are unique, indulgent, unexpected, something we wouldn’t necessarily buy for ourselves. Think keychain with a pink leather heart, a sexy necklace, even a Polaroid camera to capture our big smiles when you surprise us with other gifts throughout the year.
• A Perfume Gift for Valentine’s Day
Bad Gift: We know that perfume is sexy, that’s why we wear it. We know that scent triggers memory, that’s why you’ll go to the perfume counter, test different fragrances, and think the one that evokes familiar feelings of love and happiness is perfect. It’s not. It’s your mother’s. And smelling like your mother isn’t sexy.
Good Gift: We would love a sensual scent for Valentine’s Day—as long as it reflects who we are. Girlie girls will go for fresh or floral, classic sophisticates will opt for something subtle and balanced, rocker chicks go bold. Not sure which way your girl swings? Answer 5 quick questions on our perfume personality quiz, and you’ll know if she’s floral, fresh, classic, bold, or sweet. And you’ll get a signature scent suggestion to match her perfume personality.
• Valentine’s Day Bouquet of Flowers
Bad Gift: Flowers can easily say, “He loves me not” when they feel cliché, last-minute, impersonal, or overpriced. We know it’s supposed to be the thought that counts, but when it’s no thought, those dozen red roses just die on the vine.
Good Gift: We’re up for the red theme to get in the Valentine’s Day mood. But instead of giving us some long stems, how about we show you ours? We want to be your Valentine. So, get us a little red dress for Valentine’s Day, and we’ll look like your Valentine, too.
• Regifted Anything for Valentine’s Day
Bad Gift: It’s over. Need we say more? In case you need this spelled out, there is no eco-friendly, budget-conscious, time-saving excuse on the planet that will redeem you for this Valentine’s Day gift gaff! And don’t think we won’t notice that it’s the scarf you forgot to give to your mother or the necklace your ex-girlfriend never wore—or did.
Good Gift: It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man in possession of a car must be in want of directions—BUT HE WON’T ASK! Get over yourselves when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts. You don’t score points going it alone and getting us the wrong gift. Celebrity stylist Stacey Mayesh has fab finds for Valentine’s Day, and you can be sure if she wants it, so do we.
• On Valentine’s Day, Sale Is a Four-Letter Word
Bad Gift: Ordinarily, there are few words that make our hearts sing louder than sale. But if it pops up on the register when we return your A-for-effort Valentine’s Day gift, let’s just say singing is not what our hearts will be doing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Just don’t make us feel like you were bargain hunting from the get-go.
Good Gift: Baby, you know the bling’s the thing we’re looking for on Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s THE RING, or a tiny token of your affection, jewelry gets you in good with your girl. Does she wear delicate jewelry? Look for a thin chain with a small pendant on it. Does she like to make a statement with her accessories? Then, go with a cocktail ring.
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By Stacey Mayesh
I’ve got 9 great gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. These romantic, sexy, personal, and creative ideas are paired with the best selection of specific gifts to give, gifts to get, and gifts to get you in the mood for love on Valentine’s Day. From that personal touch making a special iTunes playlist to the personal touch giving a massage, these Valentine’s Day gifts will give you and your significant other that Valentine’s Day—and morning-after—glow.
1. Romantic Valentine’s Day Gift for Two: Midnight Magic over Manhattan
What’s more romantic than a night at the luxe Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa in New York? Your honey and you get the VIP spa suite from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00a.m., with private steam room, hot tub, fireplace, and side-by-side massage beds. After your 2-hour massages, dine in bed on lobster, caviar, and Champagne.
Reserve Mandarin Oriental Hotel VIP Spa Suite, $1,750, call 212.805.8800 or email email@example.com
• DIY Spa Night to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
If this sexy splurge is beyond your budget, get in a DIY mood and be your own private masseuse, then surprise your honey with Champagne and strawberries.
2. A Twist on the Traditional Present of Valentine’s Day Chocolates
Gourmet treats like baked goods put a smile on anyone’s face. My two faves? Chocolate-dipped Oreos—OMG, heaven! And, this Hot Stuff Cookie Bouquet. I can personally vouch for their deliciousness, since my hubby co-founded the company! Sadly, it’s contributing to my inability to lose weight—those last few pounds!
Buy Heart Sprinkles Chocolate-Dipped Oreos, $19.99 (box of 12), at cookies.com
Buy Hot Stuff Cookie Bouquet, starting at $29.99 for 5 cookies, at cookies.com
3. Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve for Valentine’s Day
Cutest heart tee ever from APC and other Valentine’s Day-inspired fashion.
Buy APC Heart Cotton-Jersey T Shirt, $75, at net-a-porter.com
Buy Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Striped Wool Intarsia Sweater, $480, at net-a-porter.com
Buy Sauce Heart Pocket Sweatpants, $88, at shopbop.com
4. Love Notes of the Snarky Variety for Valentine’s Day Fun
Go for some naughty notepads and uncensored cards.
Buy Urban Outfitters Nifty Notepads Comeback, $5, at urbanoutfitters.com
Buy Urban Outfitters Why I Must . . . Notepad, $7, at urbanoutfitters.com
Buy Someecards True Love Cards & Envelopes, $12.50 (box of 6), at urbanoutfitters.com
5. Let Your Love Sparkle with the Gift of Valentine’s Day Jewelry
What would Valentine’s Day be without something sparkly?
Buy Marc by Marc Jacobs Key to My Heart Stud Set, $78, at shopbop.com
Buy Tom Binns Faith in Fate Heart with Safety Pin Necklace, $55, at shopbop.com
6. If It’s Valentine’s Day, There Must Be a Slinky Lingerie Gift
Sexy play suit . . . sexy knickers . . . for a sexy evening in.
Buy Stella McCartney Sam Partying Silk-Blend Playsuit, $195, at net-a-porter.com
Buy Agent Provacateur Harri Silk-Satin Briefs, $150, at net-a-porter.com
7. Tell Me a Love Story for Valentine’s Day
Most romantic book ever.
Buy Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, $10.26, at barnesandnoble.com
8. For Valentine’s Day, It’s a Love Song Serenade
Make your significant other a new music playlist for lovers on iTunes. Just be sure to include some D’Angelo, the master of seduction.
Buy D’Angelo songs at iTunes, $0.99–$1.29 (each), at iTunes.com
9. True Love as a Work of Art for a Unique Valentine’s Day Gift
Speak of love this Valentine’s Day with a limited-edition, letterpress print that says it all: “We Are So Good Together.”
Buy We Are So Good Together by Dylan Fareed, $50, at 20×200.com
• Say It Like You Mean It with Personalized Valentine’s Day Gifts
• Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts You’ll Really Want
• How to Dress for a Hot Date
Stacey Mayesh, Fashion Contributing Editor
I am a NYC-based fashion stylist who has worked with top tier magazines (Marie Claire, InStyle, Elle, Lucky), and celebs (Selma Blair, Jessica Alba, Susan Sarandon, Sean Combs) for 15 years. I was recently featured in Vogue and on NBC Weekend Today. I now work with private clients bringing a fresh . . . Read more of her fashion secrets
Our Interview with Young Hollywood’s Hot Designer
Don’t miss our interview with hot young Hollywood’s favorite fashion designer, Jay Godfrey, on NBC’s fashion and lifestyle show, The Thread. Watch tonight at 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m in New York City and the tri-state area. Check your local listings.
By Daniela Apeloig
Think outside the box of chocolates for a unique Valentine’s Day! We know it’s the thought that counts, and giving us anything for Valentine’s Day is thoughtful, including chocolates and flowers. But these gifts are not exactly unheard of. We want to be wowed by creative, personal, unique gifts for Valentine’s Day, gifts that show us you know us—and love us. That is romantic. Here are the top 10 unique Valentine’s Day gifts we WANT, starting at $8. Oops! “Accidentally” forwarded this email to your boyfriend instead of to your best friend? No worries. Happens to us all the time. And when it doesn’t, our BFF “accidentally” forwards it to him for us!
1. The Valentine’s Day Gift with the Keys to Your Heart
Take your Valentine’s Day gift and the memories that go with it wherever you go with this pink heart-shaped leather key ring. Every time you open the front door or start your car, you’ll use this stylish and sentimental token of love and smile. The key ring can be monogrammed to make it even more personal—isn’t that the cutest thing?
Buy Smythson Magenta Heart Key Ring, $60, at smythson.com
2. Bring Sexy Back with This Valentine’s Day Delight
The sense of smell is incredibly sexy, and the right perfume is like love potion. Enter Trish McEvoy’s Sexy 9 Musk, a rich musky-sweet scent as sexy as its name. We have yet to find someone who isn’t in love with this fragrance, and he’ll love it on you. That is the point of perfume, after all, isn’t it?
Buy Trish McEvoy Sexy 9 Blackberry & Vanilla Musk, $52 (.5 oz.) and $98 (1.7 oz.), at trishmcevoy.com
3. Rub Each Other the Right Way for Valentine’s Day
Set a sensual mood when you light up a room with this set of 6 natural-oil candles. Make the mood last even after the candle burns down—you’re left with warm oil to smooth onto skin for a massage. Mix and match the 6 enticing scents—Cucumber Water, Grapefruit, Pink Lotus, Dark Vanilla, Bourbon, and Truffle+Gardenia—to see which spark your flame.
Buy Jimmy Jane Little Afterglow Sampler Set of Six Massage Oil Candles, $58, at jimmyjane.com
4. Embrace the Cliché with This Gift for Valentine’s Day
If Valentine’s Day seems cliché, we say, who cares?! Take the expected over the top with chocolate-covered strawberries. But these are no ordinary treats. Shari’s Berries will send you a dozen, hand-dipped jumbo strawberries in an assortment of white, dark, and milk chocolates, and decorated with red drizzle and tiny candy hearts. The cute factor continues with 4 heart-shaped brownie lollipops hand-decorated in charming Valentine’s Day colors.
Buy Shari’s Berries 4 Valentine’s Brownie Pops & 12 Valentine’s Berries, $54.96, at berries.com
5. Celebrities Love This Valentine’s Day Jewelry Gift
What better excuse than Valentine’s Day to want—and get—some sparkly jewelry that makes you feel special? This Rich Rocks necklace mixes classic and modern for an edgy statement piece. The brand is fashion-forward jewelry, and a favorite among celebrities such as Blake Lively, Brooke Shields, and Kelly Osbourne.
Buy Rich Rocks Gunmetal Multi Linked Oval Detailed Necklace, $90, at richrocksnyc.com
6. Dip Your Love in Chocolate with a Unique Valentine’s Day Gift
Make any date feel like a Valentine’s Day date when you skip dessert and create a romantic mood at home with chocolate fondue. This all-purpose fondue set works with chocolate, cheese, or anything you want to cook in oil. For chocolate-fondue fun, gather strawberries and other fruit, marshmallows, graham crackers, pretzels—or ditch the food and get creative.
Buy Crate & Barrel Cast Iron Fondue Set, $39.95, at crateandbarrel.com
7. It’s Love at First Sight with an Instant Gift for Valentine’s Day
Shake it like a Polaroid picture for Valentine’s Day with the instant Polaroid camera. We know we’ve all gone digital with our photographs, but there’s nothing like instant gratification with your significant other and seeing those photos smiling back moments after you take them. Forget the hassle of printing—be spontaneous and have fun. The camera is available in red, black, or blue.
Buy Polaroid 300 Instant Camera, $89.99, at polaroid.com
8. For Valentine’s Day & Beyond, Get Exactly What You Want
Wish your loved one knew exactly what you wanted without your ever having to ask? And without you ever hearing him say no? The Valentine’s Day gift fairy comes to the rescue with this customizable coupon book, where you decide what each voucher should be for. At a loss for words? How about breakfast in bed, a foot massage, “go out with me and my friends,” or even “kiss and make up”? You’ll have a lot of fun with this personalized gift.
Buy Everyday Grace Coupon Book for Your Love, $15, at etsy.com
9. Heart-Shaped Token of Love for Valentine’s Day
You love it when he makes you breakfast in bed, don’t you? Or you would love it if he ever did it. Give him a heart-shaped hint with this small heart-shaped frying pan. Heart your eggs, heart your pancakes, whatever your preference. Just make sure he knows the gift doesn’t stop at the frying pan, it stops when he uses it to make you breakfast in bed—then be a sweetheart and share!
Buy Urban Outfitters Mini Heart Fry Pan, $8, at urbanoutfitters.com
10. A Valentine’s Day Gift to Put You in the Pink
You’ll look pretty in pink with lips ripe for kissing, come-hither eyes, and gently flushed cheeks wearing the NARS beauty products in this Tainted Love Set. You get a nail polish, a lip gloss, and a limited-edition multiple stick with flecks of shimmering silver and gold for eyes, lips, and cheeks—all in shades of pink from soft to sexy.
Buy NARS Tainted Love Set, $59, at nordstrom.com
• Get Very Personal with 9 Personalized, Unique Valentine’s Ideas
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Win Jay Godfrey’s Ruscha Cowl Belted Dress
Jay shared his thoughts about women, now you share yours about his dress. Tell us how you would style his fabulous winter white dress, from shoes to jewelry and more, and where you would wear it! For contest details and to enter for a chance to win, click here.