#menswear Manila?

by MWM

With the advent of #menswear culture, with articles proclaiming of a new awareness when it comes to men “dressing better,” how does the Philippines fit in, with most of the population more concerned with trying to stay above the poverty line? Is it  practical or necessary to care about how one looks?

The hot, humid temperature automatically excludes most typical jacket- and-dress-shirt fare one sees in fashion magazines, websites and blogs. A guy’s not going to dress up in an on-trend slim suit while commuting in a jeepney in the sweltering heat. Even a dress shirt and slacks is pushing it for many; you risk reaching your destination with sweaty armpits and wrinkly, saggy pants.

Dressing up with any semblance of style is not something most guys think or care about. The relaxed dress codes and the realities of the daily grind for most middle-to-lower-class workers further emphasize comfort over style. This oftentimes means t-shirts, jeans and sneakers as the default standard. And when it gets cold in the mall, movie theater or restaurant? Hooded sweatshirt.

In the last year, I’ve become more interested in men’s style. There’s no shortage of fashion sites and blogs, plus the dwindling but sometimes-still-relevant print media, both local and foreign, that are helpful and inspirational in developing and achieving personal style. However, I have several nitpicks about the purveyors of current men’s style. One is the obvious: Some of these clothes are too expensive and are only meant for the upper-classes. Another is that trends such as the typical, classical suit-and-jacket aesthetic or the flamboyance and gaudiness of big, cosmopolitan cities are just too atypical for the daily grind of third world living. While a Prince of Wales Check jacket, or “go-to- hell” slacks may work on the streets of NY or Tokyo, they probably would look out of place in guys riding the MRT during rush hour. They may call attention, but in a bad way.

I want to focus on the “in-between” or “middle ground” in terms of affordability and style. Fashionable, but not too ostentatious. Classical and comfortable wear that would fit in in one work or task-oriented setting (office), but would fit nicely in an altogether different (perhaps more upscale ) social environment (party, restaurant). 

Good clothes are important. Dressing well can make you feel more confident in accomplishing one’s goals and positive in projecting your image onto the world. In addition, the right kind of remark (“I like that shirt,” or “You dress nice”) from colleague or acquaintance, i.e., the opposite sex, can further boost one’s morale.  And isn’t that why we were clothes in the first place? (To paraphrase Dead Poet’s Society: “Too woo women.”)

If anyone happens to accidentally bumps or drops into this site, there will be a few missteps, misspoken words, dumb comments, unfounded facts, etc., and for that, advanced apologies. For the most part, this is me solidifying and coalescing (and even reconciling) my thoughts and feelings on fashion in a third world backdrop. Hopefully, saying this with utmost humility and modesty, as many sites and blogs have done before, it’ll give just a dash of advice and inspiration for regular guys looking to raise their style game.