Pinoy Men’s Essentials Part 1
Almost every men’s fashion site has a list of essentials for the male wardrobe. To that end, here’s my choices for a solid clothing foundation, but catered to the regular Pinoy guy. This is classic wear not just here but all over the world – these styles will never die, and they are guaranteed to make you look smart, fresh and put-together. There’ll a bit of info about each item, focusing on its versatility and, more importantly, how and why it applies to third world/Manila living. Think of these items as not just as a good cornerstone to any closet, but good standbys when you’d rather not angst over what to wear. Again, because of the subjectivity and high opinions of fashion, you don’t have to take this advice or list to heart. Even better still, take something from it and extrapolate it into what works best for you.
1. The Oxford Cloth Button Down Shirt, a.k.a., the OCBD – an American (and British) prep staple for generations, this shirt works both in an office and casual setting, the latter for when you want to look more dressed dressed up. Most guys in the corporate or business sector wear a typical broadcloth, which is thinner and more comfortable, but those shirts should really be accompanied with a jacket and tie, for their usually worn with a jacket and tie – usually not required for an office-casual environment. Plus, those shirts tend to look nasty by the end of a hot day – sweat-stained with floppy collars, sometimes even – gasp! – untucked. Not a good look. In some circles, OCBDs, with a slightly thicker fabric, actually look just as good wrinkled and slightly beat up – giving it a rakish, devil-may-care feel appearance – and the button-down collars will stand up to any wear. With rolled or unrolled sleeves, tucked or untucked, these shirts look good with anything from a pair of dress pants and shoes, to jeans, even shorts and sneakers. A typical white or light blue is a good base, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try pink (but make sure it’s not a vivid pink pink, but a watered-down, almost subtle hue).
2. Gingham or Small Check Button-Down Shirt – An alternative to the blankness of white or light blue, gingham gives off a nice, attractive pattern. With check or plaid shirts, make sure to pick smaller squares or patterns (as big, thick lines or blocks tend to look unappealing), and try not to pick colors which are too loud (yellow) or don’t complement he rest of your wardrobe.
3. Slim Dark Blue Jeans – while almost every other guy has a pair, they tend to be of the faded variety that can only be worn in informal or office casual settings. A dark wash jean can also look dressed up when paired with with a blazer. Not much else to add, except to keep in mind the length and not have the pool around your ankles (otherwise known as stacking). Plus, keep the fit slim, not tight or skinny.
4. Chinos or Khakis – Sure, everyone owns and wears jeans (on a typical day, moving alongside the masses of people is like wading through a sea of denim), but when you want to look different, chinos/khakis are a good alternative. Whereas denim can be thick and restrictive, these pants tend to be thinner and cooler-temperature-wise. Tan and beige are traditional khaki colors, but be careful of getting stains or spills on them. If light hue isn’t your thing, navy chinos can give a jean-like color minus the rough fabric.
5. Polo Shirts – Written about ad nauseam, but when options are limited in hot and humid weather, short sleeves and a collar is the smart, practical way to go. The pique fabric or traditional polos provide comfort in the heat. There are the solid colors (personal preference for light blue or navy), but tipped polos or stripes (single or multiple) inject much-needed dash of color and variety. Also remember to stay conscious of fit – the body should be slim, the sleeves should hug around the middle of the bicep (and not be baggy or hover around the elbow), and the bottom of the shirt should not extend too far down past your belt (if you’re keeping it untucked).
The best part? All these clothes are interchangeable. Depending on the colors, you can switch up and still look consistent and cool. Stay tuned for for part 2.