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The irony lies in the fact that she cut her hair so that she could afford to buy him a fob chain for his watch.  She was willing to sacrifice something of worth to get him something nice.  When cutting her hair, she made his gift to her useless.  He bought her hair combs to hold up all of her long hair.  Now they are useless.  The irony on top of that is that he sold his watch for money to purchase the expensive combs for her.  This irony is the twist in the plot.  It is then tied into the sotry of the wise men who brought such expensive yet meaningless gifts to show respect, loyalty and admiration to the baby Jesus. What could a baby do with gold? But it was the effort and the sacrifice that counted.  Just as it is in this short story. They both sacrificed something very important to themselves to purchase something special for the other.  That is true love.
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