Monday, March 23, 2009
All my school life I’ve worn a uniform. And so when I got rejected at UP and had to go settle for uniform-wearing college, you could imagine the itch of those wool pants and the uneasy feel of the tetoron shirt badgering me almost daily. I hated wearing a uniform. I wanted to express myself through my clothes, no matter how limited my wardrobe was then (therefore my attempts at self-expression would be limited as well). I know of a number of people who hated the idea of a uniform too much, it was a major factor in deciding what career path they chose.
Recently, however, having worked in fashion for awhile, and edited a fashion magazine for men, I am slowly feeling the symptoms of fashion fatigue. Or maybe I am just numbed by all the photographs and the clothes and the following of trends, whether I’m just browsing through them on the Net, seeing the ads in Esquire, or incorporating them in my personal wardrobe. Right at this moment, fashion is not making sense to me—apart from being a source of entertainment: the McQueen mankini, the Prada dress shirt, the Fendi wedges! And slowly, the idea of the uniform is getting more and more attractive.
Of course this is not to mean I come to the office these days in a white tetoron polo and wool pants. But if Steve Jobs, easily one of the most famous geeks in the 21st century, can appropriate a uniform (black mock turtleneck, jeans and New Balance sneakers), I should be able to try coming up with my own.
In my 20s, I was wearing all those retro stuff in polyester from Bambang, alternating them with an outfit made up of slim pants in a techno fabric and a simple black tee (fuelled by the aesthetic of Helmut Lang). And then in most recent years, I began dressing in the office like a bakasyonista: tailored shorts, a lightweight polo shirt and loafers, with a bag that looks decidedly beach-bound. I still dress like this in the office once in awhile, and on weekends.
Just recently, however, I bought myself several cotton pique shirts from Bench: two whites, and three more in different colors, the bch leaf emblem quietly whispering in each shirt’s left breast. I pair it with two pairs of jeans: one that is soft and artificially faded, and one that has beautifully faded with age. All of a sudden, the thought of dressing up everyday has just become less tedious and complicated. Which is the only way to dress up in this heat. Grab the shirt, grab your pants, wear the shoes, get out of the house and slip into the airconditioned cab. You don’t even have to look in the mirror anymore because you know exactly that you look fine, and that everything matches.
I do not feel at all ordinary about it. Or lacking in style. While I have been one to wear trends before, I have never been attracted to men who overtly wear trends. Clean and simple, mukhang mabango, is and will always be, I believe, the best way to go if you’re a man looking to look your best and most attractive. I think the cotton-pique-shirt-and-jeans look fits right in this description. And the rules are almost too simple:
1)Get the right size of shirt and jeans. Not a size bigger or a size smaller.
2)Everything looks good when you’re fit, so exercise a little. Everybody needs to once in awhile. A cotton pique shirt and a pair of straight cut jeans are great definers of your efforts at the gym or at circling the UP oval.
3)If you can, tuck the shirt in and wear a leather belt which should be at least in the same color family as your shoes.
4)The shoes. A well-polished pair of leather shoes, whether its a brogue or a loafer, seals the deal for this look. The choice of shoe, and the way it’s shined, elevates the simplicity of this casual get-up to striking and even impeccable.
I wear the shirt and jeans with a braided leather belt and my old faux snakeskin slip-ons. I feel cool and easy and, yes, a little too pleased with myself, with the idea that it didn’t take me forever to put it together, and that I could focus on the more important things throughout the day instead of worrying if my colors match. The shirt says preppy and light and approachable, and the jeans hint, I think, at a little rock star cool. The whole look says you’ve made your decisions and are confident about them. And its easy to assume there are more interesting things about you than your clothes.