From the latest trend in diamonds to the wildly popular depilatory that pulls body hair out by the roots, we've tracked down the hottest gifts for women this year that will make any bearer of gifts a hit on Christmas morning.
In clothing and accessories, this is the year of scarves, pins and novelty sweaters. Females from teenagers to grandmothers are wearing them.
Prepared for brisk business, stores have laid in a particularly wide selection of scarves. If the breadth of the choice is bewildering, ZCMI Area Manager Linda Harmes suggests "the larger scarves that can be draped over the shoulder and tucked in at the waist." Buyers at other stores concur.
If the lady in question already has several scarves, consider a gold-toned scarf clip. They just came to Salt Lake City this fall, and they are selling like the proverbial hot cakes. Responding to the scarf rage, publishers have published a variety of booklets and books on how to tie a scarf. They are a great "little" gift, ranging from $1 to $20.
Large, metallic pins worn on sweaters, dresses and jackets are also selling strong. "It seems the bigger and flashier the pins are, the more they sell," a Mervyn's clerk observed. Managers at other stores agreed. Nordstrom has a strong demand for matching gold pins and earrings, said Susan Draayer, sales promotion coordinator for that store.
In fact, the hottest look in jewelry this year is large and metallic, be it gold-toned or silver.
Stores from Nordstrom to Mervyn's are doing runaway sales in women's novelty sweaters. Novelty sweaters are ornate sweaters that often have bright patterns creating a baroque tapestry look. (The jumbled, jigsaw look of two years ago is out. So are undecorated, solid colors.) "Bright colors are the best," said Joe Schneeberger, regional vice president for Weinstocks.
Novelty sweaters include sweaters with leather trim, feathers, sequins, beading or any eye-catching pattern. In the pricier range, they are hand-knit. But don't let that intimidate you. You can get a modestly priced sweater that sports the same look.
Our survey showed that the items that sell in the collector departments of the pricier stores are the same items that sell at the less-expensive clothing stores. Scarves, clips and sweaters are selling as well at Mervyn's as they are at Nordstrom.
If you are leaning toward a personal gift, colognes and perfumes are good. Worried about getting the wrong scent? You can't miss with Calvin Klein's "Eternity."
"It has been, by far, the heavy hitter," said Jack Seal, director of merchandising at ZCMI. And lighter scents are the rage right now. Nordstrom and ZCMI also report strong sales in a new cologne: "Carolina Herrera."
Leather and suede items are very hot - whether it's a knit sweater with leather strips at the shoulder, an expensive suede suit or a casual bomber jacket.
Knit dresses are doing almost as well as the sweaters. If you are still confused by the hemline controversy, you're better off going long. "Definitely mid-calf," Harmes said.
Swatch has gone into telephones and they are selling as wildly this year as the Swatch watch did a few years ago. The hottest selling watches this year are Guess watches.> If the lady prefers to buy her own clothes and already has a phone, thank you, there's the Epilady hair remover, an electrical depilatory that removes leg hair by the roots.
The depilatory is a run-away best seller nationally and the trend is reflected locally. "We stocked 5,000 Epilady hair removers. We've sold every one," said the manager of a major retailer. "They absolutely blew out of here." Depending on where you get it, the depilatory sells for around $70.
Home fragrances are doing brisk business. Potpourri and potpourri burners are selling out. "If you are going to a party and want to take the hostess a gift, potpourri is a great one," Draayer said.
The electric potpourri cooker is the 1988 twist on the potpourri rage that began in 1977.
If you are interested in other gifts for a woman's home, ZCMI and Weinstocks report strong sales in giftware, particularly glassware. Waterford glass is strong at Weinstocks. The trifle bowl is doing well.
This year, more than years past, is a strong year for giftware rather than practical home items, ZCMI and Weinstocks report.
However, the national passion for Presto's Salad Shooter is reflected locally. It is one of the hottest selling home items. "We sold over 400 of those last week," Seal said.
If all of this falls short of the money you wanted to spend, there's the still-popular tennis bracelet, in more designs than ever.> "Tennis bracelets are the hottest things going in diamonds," says John Baumgartner, merchandising director for diamonds at Best. > The demand for the simple strand of small diamonds has stayed strong since Chris Evert's diamond bracelet broke during a tennis match, earning the bracelet its sporty name.
Local jewelers report a wide selection of tennis bracelets, ranging in price from $1,000 to $50,000 - and the demand is high.>