Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fashionista 101

I am not an expert in the fashion world. But I have fashion-sense.

I completely agree with J Alexander when he says that "fashion is not for everyone". I have seen people wear designer clothes only to make them look like a dressed up elephant or some aging person who tries desperately to look like a teeny bopper even if all those sags are splashing and screaming in the wrong places.

And so this blog is dedicated to the fashion scene.

I'll start with a few basics and let's stick to men's dressing first. A few tips on dressing to impress:

1. Shoes. It's not the brand stupid. Nobody cares if you wear a Vuitton or Ferragamo. Remember though that dirty shoes stand out more than a spit-shined pair even if the latter is only Manel's or Wade. Once upon a time, I used to buy Ferragamo or Bally. One pair could buy me 10-15 pairs of Wade shoes and while the feel on the feet may be a bit more impressive for the designer shoes, seriously it wouldn't matter if you're seated more often than not. Remember, dirty shoes are a reflection of who you are.

You also need to keep it simple. Always make sure you have a pair of brown and black shoes to match your clothes. Don't wear cowboy boots under formal outfit unless you want someone to be asking where you parked your horse...

2. Hair. Here's the cut. Unless you're a movie star that needs to get that pompadour of yours all slicked up with the hardest of gels because of all that glitz on the movie set, you should make sure that your hair is cut suitably for your everyday get up. I see some kids with mohawk styled hair over a formal outfit and it looks like the guy is a douchebag from planet Mars. If you can't seem to maintain your mane well, make sure that you cut it short enough for low maintenance. And no, you don't have to go to Frank Provost just to get a haircut. Even Bruno's can provide you a decent cut. Remember, the style has got to fit you. If you're 50 years old, getting a Justin Bieber look screams the word GAY BOY all over your face.

By the way, carry a comb or brush in your bag or pocket. Just because it's windy outside is no excuse for looking like you got yourself electrocuted at the last MRT stop.

3. Formal. Do you need to get it tailor made or do you just go retail? I get my barong tailor-made. It's a tad more expensive since they're not made en masse! But I make sure that Bergamo makes it a unique fit. Retail clothes are not sized up for the height of the person. It's usually made to measure your chest and perhaps a bit your neck size. But that's as far as it goes. Getting long-sleeves at retail are more of a problem particularly for the Asian men. Lacoste long sleeves are made for Europeans and you'd have to go through the whole length of having the sleeves altered shorter. Many of the formal clothes by European labels like Armani, Topman, and Zara are tailor-fitted for the slim dude. If you happen to be on the paunchy side, you may want to get a Spanx and suck up that gut before you engage in clothes that have the slim look. Spending money on alteration is also mandatory if you're getting retail clothes. The waistline size for pants as well as the length is important. Do not just fold the pants underneath and put tape or staple them together just because you can't afford alterations! Getting one size bigger for your waist isn't also helpful.

I have a general rule of thumb. I only have pants tailor made. They fit my waistline just right so that when I put a belt around my waist, there is no telltale sign of creasing because the waistline is larger than my size or that it's too small that my belly is all over the snaps. When the waistline gets a bit tight, it's not time to change your pants. It's time to get more exercise because our flabs are in the way.

Muscled men or those into pumping those arms should get a size a bit larger. Those bulging biceps and triceps on slim clothing will rip apart those expensive clothes. A cardinal rule for bodybuilders is that formal clothes should not be tight and taut on your body. T-shirts and muscle tees are the only clothes that should hug your body like Glad Wrap. You don't have to go on the advertising rampage that you work out. We get it!

The problem here is that musclemen wouldn't mind spending on Protein supplements but scrimp on the peso when it comes to spending on clothes that fit the man. Remember, the only time that people will appreciate those muscles is if they bother to look at you because you're naked or posing. Otherwise, get some decent clothes that don't make you look like a sack of potatoes bulging in the wrong places. And try to avoid those spandex and nylon fitting clothes that show your nipples all over the place. You need to get a bra!

4. Color coordination. If you have a hard time understanding the colors of the rainbow and have not developed an eye for harmonizing hues, dude, you don't have the right to dress up. Even the pauper next door is more color coordinated with his black t-shirt on top of faded jeans while you're splashing around in your pink shirt and green pants! It's like you're a wild radar screaming to Osama Bin Laden that you're part of the landing lights in Pakistan!

Mixing and matching clothes is a good way to dress smart and keep people guessing at how many outfits you have. Nevertheless, it is a good reminder that color coordination is the rule to mix and matching. Colors should complement and not necessarily match. Otherwise, you'd be mistaken for buying clothes in an ukay-ukay shop.

5. Elegance. A hallmark of the Pinoy OFWs are the bling blings in gold around his neck. A hallmark of the Pinoy government officials are the bling blings on his hands. Your jewelry should not fade into the background of your clothes. Wear your jewelry to accent your clothes and NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. In short, your jewelry or bling does not have to scream out loud that you've come from the desert or probably hit the lotto the day before. Like a movie , your bling plays only a supporting role. Unless of course you're actually advertising to the muggers that you want to be beaten up and robbed on your way to your car.

6. Underwear. Let's start with the top. Underwear should be coordinated with the attire. Never wear black underwear under light clothing. You don't want to look like a zebra. Never wear a sando under barong or formal attire. A chinois t-shirt or crew neck/round neck/v neck t shirt fits a barong perfectly - whether it is short sleeved or long sleeved barong. And for every body's information, unless you're wearing a colored barong, all undershirts must be WHITE!

Now with the bottom. Boxers are nice wear especially if you want your jewels to hang loose. While it's more comfortable, it also makes it uncomfortable when "junior" begins to come to "attention". But make sure that the boxers fit well and not protruding all over the place (over your slacks and showing a crease under those pants). Oh yeah, puhleez do not wear basketball shorts under your clothes. It's so Filipino! It's so third world. Pinoys love to wear basketball shorts under all their clothes. I think it's a fetish. There's the usual underwear and then they wear these basketball shorts over the underwear and then they were their pants on top of it. Sheesh!!! Their crotches must be full of fungal infection (it's smelly down there and the odor is permeating in the elevator).

A few tips for underwear:
- Boxers are underwear and NOT SHORTS. Do not parade in the streets wearing your boxers and letting your jewels hang. Strangely, Filipinos also wear briefs under their boxers! Naman!!! In this hot and humid country, you have just cooked your precious eggs. No boxers under jeans! Never mind that Gangsta look where you see on MTV hip hop singers with hoodies on no shirt shucking to the a song and baggy faggy jeans worn all the way to the hips and a buckle as large as a coconut to match.
- Low-rise or regular briefs? Whichever makes you comfortable. For fashion sense though, it's good practice that if you intend to wear low-rise briefs, please shave your crotch. It's not nice to see a full bush hanging out of your underwear like a strange flower arrangement in a funeral parlor. Low-rise are for fit people. The skimpier the underwear the more fit you should be. You don't want to look like a large ball on a tiny slingshot wearing those tighty undies.
- Men wear briefs. Cotton or lycra. Just briefs. Those skimpy itsy weeny bikinis are only for macho dancers who gyrate to the tune of "Another one bites the dust" humping their seemingly oversized crotches sheathed in the tiniest underwear in the air or on a pole. Of course, you can have a few in your drawer for those daring hot nights with your partner. But do keep it in the closet and in the bedroom.
- It's a sign. When the garters are about to loosen up and the edges are getting "fried" and frayed, it means that you've got to replace them. It's a good reminder to replace your undies every 3 months as long as you have at least 14 pairs. The less undies in your closet, the more frequently you need to replace them. And YES it is not good hygiene to just invert your underwear inside out for the next day's wear!
- The brand does not need to be showing off! Do not wear your pants so low just to show off that you're wearing a Hugo Boss or Armani or Papi or Toot brand. Showing off the brand of your undies is only for picking up men in gay bars. Unless you intend to do that, don't show off the wrong signals in public.

Finally, socks are considered underwear. While you can get away with wearing no socks under your espadrilles, fine if you're wearing clothes meant for relaxing. But when you're in a corporate suit, make sure you wear socks and please, check that your socks have not been eaten by the cast of Ratatouille. When there are holes in your socks, buy new ones. You wouldn't want to get caught in a situation where you're mandated to remove your shoes and your toes are sticking out like a sore thumb!

7. Scent. They say that your scent tells a lot about your personality. Remember, just because someone endorses it does not mean that it fits your body type. A mild, fresh, out of the shower scent is always a head turner. Some citrusy, floral smell is more fit for the younger crowd while the stronger masculine smell should be reserved for the 30 or more generation. Pick one that suits your sense of smell and persona! And puhleez do not splash the whole bottle all over your body! In the same vein as smoking is irritating to the public, so is too much cologne or perfumery in a person. You don't need to be a walking LUSH store! Remember, heads don't necessarily turn because they appreciate your smell. Smelling very obnoxiously can make heads turn - to look at who carries that irritating smell?

8. Jeans. The ultimate everyday wear. They can used for both formal and casual occasions. It's the kind of jeans that go into your body that speaks of who you are. Hip hop low or skinny? Super low rise are only for the fit and the few. If you have a body that looks like a punching bag, go for the regular jeans. Skinny jeans are only for the skinny people. If your legs are like the trunk of a tree, do not wear skinny jeans because they will look like ballet tights on you. Hip hop clothing is definitely NOT fashion sense. You may be going through a phase in your life, but if you're reading this blog and you're already 21, and you're NOT a hip hop artist in some band, you shouldn't have a shred of hip hop styled jeans in your closet anymore.

Ripped or acid wash? It's really nicer to get your jeans fading naturally through extensive washing. But if you want that faded look from the get go, the faded areas should be centered on the thighs and butt areas and not the fade on the crotch area. Ripping also gives some macho feel. But the tear should be in the RIGHT places. Tears on the crotch and butt area are dedicated and reserved for gay action where rips are intentionally placed to pick up other men. If you're not into this, I suggest you stick to regular jeans so you don't send wrong signals and get banged up in the butt on the wrong side of the street.

One doesn't need expensive labels to dress well. You can make heads turn as a sign of appreciation by the way you carry your clothes and accessories. Or you can make heads turn as a sign of disgust at the pitiful state of those expensive labels on you.

Remember, we dress to impress!

[ photos from and liz jones fashion on men , barong photo from alvin rafael fashion photography]

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