Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tie Food

Q: “What do you think of people who put their ties inside their shirts while eating? I get that they don’t want to accidentally stain their ties, but I think it looks weird.”
- James, Antipolo

A: In all my tie-wearing years, I’ve never had to resort to this practice to “protect” my tie from getting soiled. If you’re going to wear a tie you have to know how to behave in one. We’ve all seen comedies where a guy’s tie gets eating up by an office shredder or gets trapped in a car door. In both cases, the accident happens because the wearers forget that they’re wearing ties. Same goes for eating. If you are aware and careful enough, your shirt and your tie should be spared from any eating disorders. You wouldn’t wear a jacket just to protect your white shirt from getting stained, would you?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Q: “Johnny Depp looks so cool in his fedora. Can I pull that look off here (in Manila)?”
- Lester, Sucat

A: I’m not going to give you any hope that you can pull this off without looking T.H. (trying hard) so just forget about it. I know, I know, it looks so good on magazines and on Capt. Jack Sparrow, but please… Some self-proclaimed fashionistas may think there’s nothing wrong with wearing a fedora, but you see, these are the same people who wear scarves when Ayala Ave. starts putting up its traditional Christmas decors.

If you’ve already bought yourself a fedora and are looking for when you can wear it, go to Intramuros, wear a barong Tagalog, and bring a cane.

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I promise to be more vigilant with my posts this coming year. 2007 was just so hectic!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dr. White

Q: “I’m a doctor and I have to wear a white coat while I’m on duty. Is there a way I can be more stylish or are doctors doomed to look like clones?”
- Dennis, Makati City

A: Treat your doctor’s coat like a white sport coat. For starters, nobody said that your coat should be made of gabardine or those cheap polyester blends. Consider light wool or a cotton-linen fabric and have your tailor cut it like a sport coat. White has made a real come back and there’s no reason why you can’t use this to your advantage. Like black, it is a versatile color that can pair with almost anything. “Almost” means staying away from pastel colored shirts (like yellow, pale green, etc.) so you don’t end up looking like a popsicle – could work well on kids though, if you’re a pediatrician.

Barong or Suit?

Q: “I’m going to get married this year and have not decided on whether I should wear a barong or a suit. What do you think?”
- Vince, Pasig City

A: I’ve always liked the elegance of a well tailored piña barong Tagalog and how it pairs perfectly with any bride’s wedding gown. The barong tagalong is also better on pictures because the style is more timeless and less trendy vs. suits or tuxedos. If you don’t believe me, look at your Dad’s wedding picture. He was most likely wearing a suit and see how obviously old the picture looks just by the style of the suit (not to mention the hair). That’s how your wedding picture will look like 10 years down the road. On the practical side, a really nice barong tagalong will still cost much less than a suit. It will also make it easier for the rest of your male entourage to stay in theme.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tucking Properly

Q: “What’s the best way to tuck your shirt in? I always get that blousy, frumpy effect when I tuck mine in. My Dad tucks his shirts in his briefs, would you suggest I do the same?”
- Eric, Quezon City

A: There are several reasons why you can’t tuck your shirt in neatly:
1) It could be too big for you. I’m guessing that this is likely the reason why your shirt is billowing out of your pants. The best solution is to have some tailor made. If that’s too much for you, then at least have your off-the-rack shirts altered exactly to your body proportions before you wear them. This solves 90% of tucking-in problems.
2) It’s probably not designed to be tucked in. How do you know? Look at the hem. Shirts that have a straight hem are designed to be worn untucked (for those still saying “tuck out”, for God’s sake, please realize that “to tuck” necessarily means an inward cramming movement – sorry pet peeve moment there). Shirts with a u-shaped hem are meant to be tucked.

As for using your briefs to hold your shirt in, you better be sure you won’t be taking your pants off because that’s just plain nasty.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

White Collared Worker

Q: “What do you call those dress shirts where the cuffs and collar are white while the rest of the shirt is a different color/fabric?”
- Lito, Quezon City

A: I don’t know if there’s a real name for them, but I just refer to them as white collared dress shirts. I’ve heard other people come to my shop and refer to this shirt as a banker’s shirt, probably because it is mostly worn by people who work in conservative corporate attire environments like banks, consulting firms and law offices. It’s also a popular dress shirt among CEOs because it has a very top brassy, old rich kind of feel and looks best under a well tailored suit and typically with French cuffs. I wouldn’t suggest this shirt for very young upstarts because, for me, this is the kind of shirt you have to earn to wear.

Suit Separates

Q: “I’m going to be travelling and was thinking of wearing a khaki blazer with my khaki pants, but they’re not of the same shade of khaki. Is this okay?”
- Stan, Greenhills

A: At the risk of people thinking there’s something wrong with your suit, it might be better for you to either wear another sport coat or maybe pair your khaki blazer with jeans. It also looks more relaxed and contemporary.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Short Comment on the Malu Fernandez Bruhaha

Since Malu had already publicly apologized for the hurtful things she said in her "From Boracay to Greece" article, I think the Editors-in chief of the two publications she wrote for (Manila Standard and People Asia) should also issue their respective apologies for not doing their jobs.

As EICs they should have prevented Ms. Fernandez's article from being published owing the potential sensitivities that it will touch on; style of writing not withstanding.

To the Editors-in cheif of Manila Standard and People Asia, crawl out of your rocks!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jeans & Socks

Q: “I’m wearing jeans and brown leather shoes. What color should my socks be?”
- Alvin, Greenhills

A: Shades of brown, grey or navy will all work. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that wearing jeans automatically meant white athletic socks. If you’re wearing sneakers or rubber shoes, yes. Leather shoes, NO.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Watch Your Watch

Q: “Is there a rule about whether your leather watch should also match your shoes?”
- Melvin, Mandaluyong

A: Strictly speaking, they don’t have to; although, for dressier occasions I personally think it just looks a little bit more put together if all your leather accessories (belt, shoes and watch) matched.

If you have either black or dark brown leather watches, I think there’s really not much to fuss about. These two colors go with pretty much anything. However, leather watches with colored straps (like blue, mustard, etc.), work better with casual clothes, where color pairing and matching aren’t as critical.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Creative Black Tie

Q: “I’ve been invited to this event that says ‘Creative Black Tie’ as the dress code on the invitation. What in God’s name is that?”
- Steve, Makati City

A: The “Creative Black Tie” dress code just means that you are being given license to be a little bit more contemporary and trendy with your tux or dark suit. Usually a solid black dress shirt minus the tie works well for events that call for this dress code. If you want to play it up a bit and be more, well, creative, consider a velvet suit or tux. I’m glad you took the extra step of trying to find out what this dress code really meant instead of making the wrong assumptions. Believe it or not, some have interpreted this to literally mean decorating their black ties.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not So Skinny Jeans

Q: “Skinny jeans are the ‘in’ thing now; but, I’m not exactly skinny. Are skinny jeans really just for skinny people?”
- Erick, Loyola Heights

A: Umm... If you’re not skinny, then they’re just plain tight jeans. For guys with average builds, low-rise boot cut jeans help create a slimming look.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hot Suit

"Thanks for the new article, Sartoman. Nice and helpful as always.

BTW, I've been meaning to ask you. What makes a business suit a "summer suit" -- one that is more appropriate to be worn during the summer. Are summer suits supposed to be without lining or are they supposed to use very light material/fabric? Would appreciate your view on this. Thanks."

-- Jason, Japan

A: There are two Es that generally drive what we wear -- Event and Environment. For suits, the Event influences the Cut & Style of the suit, while Environment dictates the Fabric that you will choose.

Summer-friendly fabrics include Linen, Light Wool and Cotton. Personally, I like linen because it is both laidback and stylish. It's admittedly more challenging to wear because of its wrinkly nature, but that's also its charm; definitely not for the obsessive compulsive corporate drone.

When temperatures reach mid-30 Celsius, your skin acts like Post-it Notes with the extra amount of sweat it produces to cool itself down. So, your summer suit should be a little more roomy. And, since linen suits are typically loose-fitting, they allow for good ventilation on a hot day. This one pictured here from Banana Republic is a classic light khaki linen number. If you're going to a tailor to have one made ask him to use Italian or Irish linen as these give good body and are relatively less wrinkly vs. ordinary linen.

Oh, and make sure you add an extra layer of deodorant/anti-perspirant for good measure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Speedo Limit

Q: “I’ve noticed that more dudes are wearing Speedos in Boracay. Are board shorts out? ”
- John, Pasay City

A: Okay, so Daniel Craig in Casino Royale made the ladies drool in that skimpy number. But, reality check people… not everyone has killer abs or a swimmer’s build. Seriously, I don’t get why some guys think that wearing a man-bikini is a chick magnet. On the contrary, unless you’re reeking with mojo like Mr. Bond, a skimpy Speedo can cause more damage to your manhood than it can enhance it.

If you want to show off the body you worked so hard in the gym for, remember that you’re upper body is just as exposed when you wear board shorts. Unless your objective is to show off your thighs, then by all means, wear your water-proof briefs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Honeymoon Jitters

Q: “I’m getting married soon and, this may sound a little unusual, but I’m stressing about what I should wear to bed on our wedding night. I don’t want to turn her off with my usual pambahay attire. Any suggestions?”
- Oliver, New Manila

A: If your “usual pambahay” (home clothes) translates to Disney pajamas, then I can see why this would be a concern. Those of us who are married can probably relate to how you feel. While the excitement is there to get the wedding reception over and done with so that we can get to the real party, there is a small feeling of anxiety to make sure we don’t do anything to mess things up. And, wearing the wrong thing can do just that. The top answer in a survey among newly married women on what sleepwear would have made them fane sickness on their wedding night was seeing their new husband in a loose tank top (sando). Showing up for bed in your jammies tells her you’re ready to sleep – “No action tonight, Dear.”

The unanimous choice for the sexiest, failsafe men’s sleepwear – a fitted shirt and boxer brief combination. Oh, and what’s comforting is that she’s probably worrying about what to wear to bed too.

My suggestion … as your wedding gifts, give each other the sleepwear that turns you on. Leather does not count as sleepwear.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Who Wears the Pants?

Just recently, I met with a new client who went to my shop with the simple objective of having pants made. He had seen the work we did for his friend and liked the way we were able to get his buddy out of his 80’s style inertia. So, he figured it was time for him to invest on some tailored clothes as well, starting with the easiest and simplest article –- pants.

What he thought would be a measure-and-run session ended up to be an almost hour-long orientation on the details to consider when having a pair of pants made. Here’s a summary of the check list we went through:

 FABRIC: Yes, there are other fabrics aside from khakis and denims. For office and smart casual dressing, favor light wool. For the first few pieces, stick to the basic shades of grey, navy and black. If you’re not up to dry cleaning and want a low maintenance fabric, polyester blends are what you are looking for. If you’re going to the beach or looking for something more casual, have a pair of linen pants made. This is the perfect fabric for the summer and goes well with leather sandals.

 PLEATS: For those who haven’t noticed yet, pleats, those tucks or folds found on the front part of pants, are OUT… for now at least. While pleats serve a practical purpose of allowing for extra room and movement, they are generally not flattering to the figure. They can cause your pants to balloon, if not pressed properly, adding an illusion of added pounds or unflattering bulges. If you’re still having anxiety attacks at the thought of wearing unpleated pants, take the baby step of having single-pleated pants made instead. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to retire those Sperry topsiders soon too.

 WAISTBAND: There are generally two ways to execute your pants’ waistband -- Center-button or Overlapping. I prefer the overlapping waistbands for a more contemporary look. I also find that this style is best for flat front pants.

 BELT LOOP: Make sure you tell your tailor if you’re going to wear your pants with a belt that’s wider than average. This will make sure he adjusts your pants’ belt loops wider than the standard 1 to 1½ inches width.

 SIDE POCKETS: I bet you never thought there were options when it came to pockets did you? Well, there are basically two styles to choose from: Continental or On-seam/slide pockets. Continental pockets are those that are cut on the front part of your pants, almost parallel to your waistband. This style is also more contemporary and stylish, but less functional. It’s just a little bit more difficult to reach into continental pockets, especially if you’re pants fit exactly to your body. If you’re the type who uses your pocket a lot, like me, I suggest you go with the traditional on-seam/slide pocket.

 BACK POCKET: Decide on one, two or none. Typically, dress pants only have one. Apart from your wallet, what else would you put in our back pocket anyway?

 CUFFS: I’m not a big fan of cuffs largely because I don’t like the way they break the clean silhouette that a good-fitting pair of pants creates. Having no cuffs also creates a vertical illusion; perfect for the average 5’6” tall Pinoy. Should you prefer cuffs, they are typically 1¼ inches wide and are more appropriate for casual pants.

 BREAK: And lastly, pay attention to how your pants break. This refers to how the ends of the legs of your pants fold when they hit your shoes. The break needs to be subtle. A large break makes you look like you borrowed a taller friend’s pair of pants, while having no break, makes you look like you had a Cherifer™ or Growee™ overdose.

As we wound up our discussion, Mr. New Client leans forward and whispers, “Oh, and do you think you can give me a butt with my new pants?” Mind you, this is a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) to which the answer is, “I can only work with what the Almighty has given you.” And if that’s not enough, my shop is 10 min. away from Dra. Belo’s clinic.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Blog Updates

To those who wrote me asking why I have not posted anything for May... Sorry guys, I've been travelling and have had minimal internet access. I'm back and will be posting answers to the questions I received soon.

A special thanks to to those that had suits and office clothes made at my shop after reading this blog. I hope you love your new clothes!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sport Coat vs. Suit Jacket

Q: “This is something that’s always confused me… What’s the difference between a sport coat and a suit jacket? Oh and by the way, how do I get a tailored suit from your shop?”
- Jonathan, New Manila

A: The main difference is that suit jackets come with matching pants while a sport coats (or blazers) are designed and created to be worn independently. I can understand your confusion because a lot of designers’ men’s lines are showcasing “suit separates” to improve the versatility and wearability of their couture. Dark colored, two-button, single-breasted suit jackets (e.g. navy blue or black) are safe to wear as a blazer paired with jeans. I’d be more careful with mismatching pin-striped suits; in fact, it’s best not to. Other suit jackets that can be passed off as sport coats are those made of corduroy, plaid and tweeds. When an office dress code says “sport coat”, that just means you don’t have to wear a suit with matching jacket and pants. E-mail me and let’s talk about making a suit for you.


Q: “I am an iPod junkie; I listen to it even at work. My problem is where to put it. My phone already occupies one of my pants’ pockets. If I put it on the other pocket, my pants already bulk up. Right now, I end up putting it on the table or just holding it when I’m on the move. Any ideas? ”
- Marco, Pasig City

A: Thomas Pink, makers of bespoke dress shirts, offers an ingenious solution to your problem. They’ve come out with a limited tie collection that includes a hidden pocket at the back for the ubiquitous iPod. Although, while I give them props for this innovation, I can’t help but think of how uncomfortable it must be to have something constantly tugging on your neck. I haven’t been able to find this locally so the best place to check it out is through the Thomas Pink site: Personally, I find that my shirt’s breast pocket works just fine for small gadgets.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Male Indulgences

For the longest time, a big buckle belt has always been on my To Buy list; the perfect accessory for low-rise, boot cut pair of jeans. While there are many out there, I was looking for a belt with a less Brokeback-looking buckle. I was overjoyed when I finally found one. But, is a 2.5-inch wide strip of genuine Italian leather with a big matte silver frame buckle worth almost P 4,000? Hell yeah! This was my most recent indulgence. My search was over.

Did I feel guilty with my purchase? Not the least bit. I believe that, once in a while, we have to reward ourselves with life’s little luxuries. After all, money is useless until it is spent. So here’s my Top 10 list of what I think every guy should indulge on when it comes to style and grooming:

1. Italian Leather Shoes
This is where quality comes with a real price tag. While it may set you back anywhere from P 7,000 to P 25,000, a pair of real Italian leather shoes completes any outfit perfectly. What you are paying for are style and durability. Forget about comfort. I don’t think commuters are part of Mr. Ferragamo’s target market.

2. Custom Tailored Dress Shirts
If you still haven’t discovered the pleasure of wearing a dress shirt (a.k.a. long-sleeved polo) that’s constructed to the unique contours of your body, you’re totally missing out. Oh, and the added benefit – a trim silhouette from being able to tuck your shirt in without the sloppy, blousy effect.

3. Custom Tailored Suit
Any self-respecting man needs to have a bespoke suit in his clothing arsenal. Sure, an Armani will always be an Armani. But, what I’m talking about is a perfectly tailored suit that hugs your shoulders and gives you a slimmer more streamlined look. Keep in mind that most designer suits are made for Caucasian body proportions. Since Asians are generally shorter and more slender, the chances of a suit will be too large is higher when you buy off the rack. So, go out and find yourself a tailor. There’s no substitute!

4. Piña Barong Tagalog
A piña barong has a way of making anyone who wears it look like a respectable, self-made man. Don’t ask me why; that’s its magic. You don’t have to be a groom to own one. Leave the jusi barongs to students.

5. Dress Watch
I asked some women what they notice first when they check out how a guy dresses and the #1 answer – their watch. Women have a natural radar for bling, so this comes as no surprise. Personally, I find leather strap watches more stylish than those with metal bracelets. I’ve had my eye on Bulgari’s Assioma for some time now; just a little more skipped lunches …

6. Sign Pen
Do, this… borrow a Mont Blanc pen from a friend and sign your name with it. Feel the way your hand glides effortlessly on the paper and discover that your signature can actually look like it’s from someone who makes important decisions.

7. Razor
You’re probably surprised to find such a mundane item like a shaving razor in this list, but I have gotten a lot of questions about achieving the perfect shave; and there’s no better place to start. A lot of guys scrimp on their razors thinking that anything with a blade will do. Wrong! Get yourself the Gillette Mach 3 Turbo and understand what I’m talking about.

8. Skin Care Products
What do Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise have in common? They’re all over 40 and they look a lot younger than a most of us! The secret –- a regular skin care regimen. Exfoliate and moisturize! L’Oreal’s Vita Lift makes sure that I don’t go to my high school reunion looking like one of my former teachers.

9. Underwear
I often hear guys ask why anyone would spend so much on underwear when no one sees it anyway. I think those that think this way miss the whole point of wearing underwear. Underwear is both functional and sensual and no other brand understands that more than Calvin Klein; the only brand worth exposing when wearing low-rise jeans.

10. Jeans
The #2 things women check out in guys after watches – our ass (although I have a feeling this is really #1)! And, nothing showcases this “asset” more than a pair of perfect-fitting jeans. Visit Ino Caluza and get yourself a pair of custom-made Viktor jeans that shows off your booty!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Defining "Smart Casual"

“Smart Casual” just means dress to look smart and respectable, even if you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed. Note the term isn’t “geek casual”, so looking smart does not translate to looking like the Google founders pre-public listing (yes, money buys you your personal stylist). Simply “casual” dress code is another way of saying “dress comfortably”.

Most style guides were written with the U.S. corporate dress code in mind, so you will find that “smart casual” based on these write-ups are typically a sport coat or suit jacket worn over a button down shirt without a tie and paired with jeans or khakis. Yes, that looks cool but it isn’t the most comfortable for our climate. Wear it here and you may find yourself being ushered to the stage and given the microphone when you get to the event you have been invited to. Here’s something that’s more appropriate for the Filipino male.


Short sleeved or long sleeved shirts are both acceptable. Smart casual dressing typically rules out sport shirts since these are reserved for simply “casual” dressing. The safest is to choose plain colored shirts. If your event is happening during the day, opt for light colored, short sleeved shirts while dark colored and patterned long sleeved shirts are preferred for evening invitations.

“Can’t I wear printed shirts? Traditional shirts make me look so stiff.” Okay, let’s get things straight (no, not your sexual orientation)… stiffness, (wipe that thought off, we’re talking about clothes) is not caused by the type of shirt you use. It’s the attitude you project when you’re not comfortable and confident with what you’re wearing. The only way smart “traditional” shirts can make you look stiff is if your maid put too much starch on them. Don’t have time to pick the right pattern? Then a plain black shirt is your safest bet. Tucked or untucked? Your call.


Pants are really simple – unpleated, tailored-fit and no cuffs.

Pleats are out – for now. (If you’re asking why, you’re probably still wearing double-breasted suits.) Pleats, the folds on the front of your pants, were created to provide more flexibility. On the down side, they can make you bulge if your pants don’t fit correctly or if they were not ironed properly. For a neater, slimmer look, unpleated pants are the way to go.

The fit of your pants is critical. If you don’t have custom-tailored pants, invest on some; start with 3 basic colors -- grey, black and navy blue. Tip: Don’t go to your Dad’s tailor.

Cuffs break the length of your pants and can make your legs look shorter. It also takes away from the smooth, clean silhouette that perfect-fitting unpleated pants create. So for us who have been eating Star™ rice and are still taking 1-6-12 vitamins, cuffs off!

For slightly more dressed down events, pairing your shirts with khaki chinos (for daytime) and dark jeans are also acceptable.


Loafers or slip-ons complete your look. Black typically goes well with dark colored pants, while brown loafers pair well with brown slacks, khakis and light grey. This is also a good opportunity to wear your boots; no not the cowboy type.

Pointy, slim shoes compliment your tailored-fit pants. They say you can tell the type of man by his shoes. Don’t worry, wearing a pair of loafers does not make you one.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Button-down Collars

Q: “If I wear my polo shirt with button-down collars without a tie do I need to button the collars down?”
- Chris, Kuala Lumpur

A: Didn’t have time to do the laundry on your other polo shirts, I assume? Let me throw back the question to you -- Where are you going? If you’re off to meet some friends for a casual lunch or a relaxed night out, then sure, leaving your collars unbuttoned is acceptable. It says, “Let’s forget about work for a while.” However, for occasions or events where you need to keep a neat appearance and look a little more credible or trustworthy, say, if you’re meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time or if you’re going to a semi-formal business function and will wear a jacket over your shirt, then go the extra mile and button those collars down. It says, “You can trust me with your wealth and your daughter.”

All Blued Up

Q: “My girlfriend has been telling me to wear something that’s not blue. She says everything I own is blue. What should I keep in mind in choosing colors?”
- Color Me Bad, Pasay City

A: It’s not really very hard to work with other colors. The thing to keep in mind in choosing colors is knowing your skin tone. If you’re on the dark side, colors that will look good on you are light colors such as pale pink, white, gray and khaki. These colors provide a good complementary contrast with your complexion. You will want to stay clear of dark hues like chocolate brown, red and olive green since these create monotony in your overall appearance. For those with fairer complexions, colors that go well with your skin tone are burgundy, beige, brown and black. Avoid bright colors like orange, red and yellow because this creates an overpowering contrast with fair skin tones and can make it appear like your clothes are floating on you. This is especially true if you are pale or very white. Now, I hope that when your girlfriend said everything you owned was blue it did not include your briefs.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pairing Non-leather Belts

Q: “Your belt and shoes should match, right? Does this rule apply with cloth or military belts?”
- Loophole, Quezon City

A: I hope you’re not a military serviceman who is trying to make his uniform more fashionable. Outside the army, military-style belts are generally worn to accessorize a casual outfit; where you would typically be wearing sneakers. The rules are, therefore, just as relaxed. The thing to remember with military-style belts is that it should fit nicely with the overall color coordination of your outfit. You can actually take the color cue from anything that you’re wearing. To make it easy and fail-safe for you, match your belt with either the dominant color of your shirt or sneakers. Still too complicated? A white military belt goes with (almost) everything.

To Tuck or Not To Tuck

Q: “I’ve been seeing a lot of men wearing their shirts half or partially tucked. I find it sloppy. Is this acceptable?”
- Tucker, Parañaque

A: Let me guess… You’re over 30 aren’t you? Yes, it is sloppy, but that’s the look; just like out-of-bed hair. And, it’s also not for everyone. This style was introduced so as not to waste a perfectly nice belt by hiding it under an untucked shirt. So, if your belt is forgettable (e.g. ordinary office belts), then there’s really no point. I don’t suggest anyone get into the habit of doing this though because, like any other fashion trend, it will go from in to out faster that you can say pleated pants! The hard part is knowing when this look transitions from cool and trendy to being so 2005. So save yourself the worry -- either tuck or untuck.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Work Wardrobe

"I am a fresh graduate and I just landed my first job as an Assistant Product Manager in a multinational company. Our company is still one of those with a “business attire” dress code. Can you help me put together my office wardrobe without going broke?”
-- Yippee Yuppie, San Juan

First, congratulations on getting out of the unemployment line and for getting what seems like a good job! Way to go!

Let me guess, the only other time you probably had to wear something that resembles corporate attire was when you had to do your marketing plan presentation or your thesis defense, right? And, you likely borrowed your Dad’s tie and wore it over a plain white or blue long-sleeved polo, loosely tucked in a pair of pleated black cotton pants. No, I’m not psychic. It’s just what I see every year, over the past 8 years, of sitting in as part of the panel of judges for students’ final marketing presentations.

In answering your question, I will propose that you treat your clothes as an investment rather than as an expense. With this outlook, you will want to get the best value for your money vs. just looking for cheap --which results in bigger expenses over time, since you will likely need to repair or replace them much faster than good quality items.

You don’t have to buy everything in one go. Gradually build up your wardrobe and favor classic styles (e.g. solid colored and vertical striped shirts) vs. those that are trendy (e.g. diagonal stripes) to minimize the need to update your clothes.

So how do you balance good quality with great value? Rediscover tailor-made clothes! Find yourself a good tailor with reasonable rates.

The cost of tailored clothes can even go lower if you take some effort to buy your own fabric in iconic Divisoria or Kamuning. Why not just buy off the rack? Well, if you look around you will see that most good-quality retail shirts don’t sell below P 1,300.00 and pants will likely fall within the P 1,500 to P 2,000 range. Consider too that you will likely spend additional money having them altered to fit you better.

Now for your wardrobe mix, here’s what I recommend for a typical 5-day work week:

TOP - Start with 3 long-sleeved polo shirts. Since you probably already have a white long-sleeved shirt, pick another solid colored shirt (maybe light lavender, if you already have blue), one striped and one checkered shirt. With your next paycheck, have 2 white short-sleeved linen (a.k.a. “gusot mayaman”) barongs made. Having this kind of mix will allow you to space your clothes in such a way that people don’t remember when you repeat a shirt.

TIE – Since most good-quality ties won’t go below P 500.00, maybe buy one tie a month until you have at least 5 ties in your arsenal. Again, pick tie patterns that are less trendy, like stripes and solids, so they last you for years. Tip: I built my tie inventory by asking family and close friends to give ties to me on my birthdays or Christmas.

PANTS – Since you will likely already have a pair of black pants, add another 3 pairs – gray, navy blue and brown. These colors are neutral and versatile enough to pair with any of the tops described above and with either black or brown shoes. Look for polyester blend material so you don’t have to spend extra on dry-cleaning.

Accessories? Get regularized first, and then write me again.

Smashing On Court

“I’m a little late getting into the badminton craze. One thing I noticed is that most people seem to spend some time (and money) on making sure they are well put-together on the court. What should I wear to blend in?”
-- Rookie, Pasig City

The objective in any sport is to win, right? So, don’t be a total LOSER by spending a ton of money on your gear and outfit before you even learn to play the sport decently. The next time you play badminton, watch how the people you describe to be too “well put-together” play and, chances are, they suck big time! So, advice #1 is to first learn the basics of the game before you spend most of your time wanting to look like badminton’s Andre Agassi -- Nathan Robertson. Now, assuming you can already hit that shuttlecock without raising one leg while pursing your lips, here are a few helpful tips in putting together your badminton attire.


There are two things to consider in dressing for badminton: comfort and movement.

Most badminton courts are virtual gas chambers. The wind is the shuttlecock’s worst enemy, so most courts are designed to keep it out. And, this means it’s hot hot hot! So, dress light. For your shirt, opt for those made with Dri-fit material to keep your sweat away from your body during play. Light cotton shirts also work well. Oh, and please make sure you bring at least 2 change shirts so you don’t end up looking like you played under the rain.

Badminton, as you probably already know, is a sport that demands a lot of agility and quick reflexes; so what you wear should allow for flexibility and sudden movements. Your shirt should not fit too tight so you can move with ease. Wear shorts that are slightly above the knees in length to allow you to stretch and gather momentum for those jump smashes. Reserve your oversized or baggy shorts for basketball. These types of shorts cover your knees, making it difficult to lunge and go for those drop shots. Under no circumstance should you show up in cycling shorts! This does not need explaining.


No-show, ankle high socks (a.k.a. peds) are best. They not only keep your legs much cooler vs. wearing those shin-high crew sports socks, they also
do not make you look like you’re turning 40 soon.


Probably the next most important gear after a decent racket is your pair of badminton shoes. Ever since badminton grew in popularity, there are now more cool-looking indoor court shoes, like Mizuno’s Wave Smash SR model, which is made with high grade rubber non-marking gum sole for great traction and stability on
Taraflex courts. And, this shoe cares for your feet too by giving the right level of cushioning and leaving them cool and dry during play.

It is also important that you bring a pair of slippers or an extra pair of rubber shoes to change to after your game because wearing your badminton shoes outside the court will damage their rubber gum soles.

Combine looking good and playing well and badminton can change your life. It got me a wife!

Grooming the Groom

"I am engaged to be married this September. My wife is, of course, going to wear a designer gown and I can’t wait to see her looking her best and being the envy of all the single guys on our big day. I am partial to wearing a barong but I want to stand out too! How do I not get drowned in the sea of barongs? Your suggestion would be helpful."
-- Well Groomed, Quezon City

It’s good to know that you belong to the new breed of grooms, where it seems that you are as involved in and excited about your wedding as your fiancé. It used to be that the guy’s role in wedding planning was just to write the check and show up on that faithful day. Having worked with many groom-to-be’s over the years I’ve noticed this fascinating and welcome evolution of how men are now as into looking their best for their weddings as their future brides are. I suppose this all happened when men discovered the importance of moisturizers, spa treatments and planning their wardrobes. Thank you, David Beckham.

Now to your question on how to be a stand-out, barong-wearing groom... let me just get this out of the way – DO NOT wear a colored barong! Your bride may look like she’s getting married to a member of the choir.

The elegance of your barong depends on two critical elements -- fabric and style.

As the groom you should opt for an intricately embroidered pure piña or piña silk barong fabric. There are fabric suppliers that can customize the embroidery to add to the uniqueness of your fabric. Piña and piña-silk fabrics would set you back anywhere from P 4,000 to P 8,000 depending on the embroidery.

Have your and your groomsmen’s barongs made by one tailor so you can have a hand in choosing the type of fabric and style your groomsmen’s barong will have. They should typically be less expensive than yours. For example, if you are using piña-silk your groomsmen can choose to use piña-jusi blend or plain jusi fabric.

On style, don’t be afraid to play around with the collar, cuffs and buttons. Regardless of the collar, I personally favor French cuffs, where your buttons match the cufflinks you will use on your cuffs.

A Mandarin Barong Tagalog is also a stylish way to be different.

Many forget that a wedding is the Groom’s day too. And, oftentimes, the Groom needs to be reminded that the old practice of leaving wedding preparations to the bride-to-be and just showing up on the day itself died with the double-breasted suit.

Traveling for Business - What to Wear

A question I've been frequently asked is what do I wear and pack for a short business trip?

Here’s a good principle that’s helped me plan my wardrobe whenever I travel: “Always dress for arrival, not departure.” If you remember that, then everything else follows. Let’s break this down into the two “E’s” to consider when traveling – Event and Environment.

Since you mentioned you were going on a business trip take some time to find out what the prescribed business attire is in the country you are going to. Do they wear suits or just a shirt and tie? Save on ironing cost and time by bringing long-sleeved shirts made of wrinkle-resistant material. Marks & Spencer has a lot of these. If you’re bringing a suit, choose a black one for daytime and night time versatility.

While in transit, I like to wear a suit jacket paired with jeans. This outfit gives me the comfort and style of the modern businessman. It also gets you better attention from flight attendants and airport personnel. On the practical side, wearing the suit jacket saves me the problem of not crumpling it in my suitcase.

It’s also good to be ready with one set of formal attire (black tie and a white dress shirt) in case your host decides to take you out to a fancy dinner or a dressy event.

On shoes, I tend to bring only two pairs. I wear a pair of rubber-soled loafers during the trip and for going around, and pack one pair of dressier lace-up shoes for business meetings and evening socials. If you’re the type that hits the hotel gym during your free time, then bring a pair of rubber shoes; they’re light anyway. You won’t need slippers since most reputable hotels give their guests a complimentary pair.


Check the weather of the country you are going to. You will need to make room in your luggage for a sweater or a jacket if you’re going to countries with <20oC temperature. If you are going to a very hot country like India or the Middle East, where I hear it is 40oC under the shade, bring clothes made of light material like linen and cotton. Good luck with ironing though.

And finally, I feel I need to touch on what NOT to wear during your trip, while in transit: faded denim jacket (unless you want to be stopped and interrogated to no end), flip flops and shorts (unless the plane you are taking has sand) and clothes with the brand screaming as part of the design (the surest way NOT to get a seat upgrade).