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Style Substitute: Shoes

March 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Style Substitute is a series that will show you how replacing just one item in your outfit can have such a large impact on the rest of your appearance. I know that most won’t have the time or resources to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe, so I’m going to start off one piece at a time. Your transformation to a dapper gentleman will be a gradual one, also ensuring you won’t be the butt of your office’s jokes if you suddenly show up one day looking very different. Yes, it happens a lot here in our country, which should be the topic of another article entirely.

Your typical Filipino office worker probably goes to work in black, pleated “dress” pants, a billowy dress shirt, square-toed, synthetic loafers, and a too-wide necktie. While I can write an entire article on the entirety of this outfit, let’s take a moment to focus on shoes. Shoes make the man, as some say.

More after the jump!

Read more…

The highly popular polo shirt and how to wear one

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

In this terribly hot, humid, Filipino climate, polo shirts — or collared t-shirts — are seen as the easiest way to dress up. They go well with jeans, khakis, and even shorts. Growing up, polo shirts were the staple when mom asked me to “wear something nice”, and I bet it’s the same for a ton of you out there.

Note: I don’t really know how it happened, but in other countries, the term polo is exclusively used to refer to a t-shaped shirt with a collar and placket. Here in the Philippines, however, button-up shirts, both long and short sleeved, are called polos as well. I’m not going to question this anymore as it’s just a matter of Philippine culture — similar to how sneakers are called rubber shoes.

I’m never a proponent of going for expensive brands. Most of my polo shirts are well under 1000 pesos each. Going the ukay-ukay route is always an option — just check for any stains or foul odors that may not go away so easily. The key here is to go for something that FITS, the right FABRIC, and in a CLASSIC DESIGN.

FIT

Let’s start with the fit. As with any shirt, you want something that flatters your body type. No, sleeves that end at the elbows do not flatter your body type. You want the shoulder seams to end precisely at your shoulders. Trimmer guys will want to opt for the slim fit, while larger men may want to consider a standard cut. Still, the shoulders are the most important aspect of any shirt’s fit.

This is definitely not a look you want to go for. We’ll talk about the pleats some other time.

Lacoste Pique Polo

This is how a standard cut polo should fit. Shoulder seams end at the shoulders. Larger men will appreciate this cut, while slimmer men should opt for a more modern fit which tapers at the sides.

Now, there will always be people who don’t like clothes that actually FIT. Here are two of the arguments I usually hear:

1) I want to be comfortable

An issue some people might raise is that a loose-fitting polo equates to comfort. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. A loose fit will leave one with more fabric hanging from their body. The looser the fit, the harder it is to move around, as well, due to the unnatural drape of the shirt not permitting the body to move as freely as it should. The unnecessary extra fabric also traps heat and sweat, adding more discomfort for the wearer.

2) Loose fitting shirts hide my large belly 

Just to clarify, I am by no means endorsing skinny polos that are worn by anorexic models. I am simply an advocate of wearing clothes that fit. Polo shirts that are too loose add unnecessary bulk to the wearer. To support my case, the man in the first picture above is probably a model with an above-average physique. However, the polo shirt which is probably two sizes too large makes him look two sizes heavier. Buying shirts too large will just hang past your elbows and go past your crotch.

For more tips on how to dress as an overweight man, this blog post is a solid read http://everyguyed.com/fashion-101/fashion-tips-overweight-men/

FABRIC

In terms of fabric for everyday polo shirts, cotton is always the way to go. Polyester — especially when not used in the moisture-wicking weave commonly seen in athletic gear — tends to trap heat as well as body odor. In the unlikely event that you get caught in a fire, polyester will also melt into your skin. Cotton is much more breathable as well, a major factor to consider in our climate.

There are a lot of performance polo shirts going around. I’m seeing some people wear them as part of smart-casual wear, which is akin to wearing basketball shorts instead of real shorts, or a jersey instead of a t-shirt. While some of them truly are superior to cotton in terms of breathability, moisture-wicking, and other factors I don’t fully comprehend, it is recommended to leave them to their original purposes e.g. Tennis, Golf, or other sports.

STYLE / COLOR / DESIGN

LOGOS

Brash and loud as opposed to neat and classic

Avoid overly loud logos and designs. I do not recommend the Big Pony Ralph Lauren polo shirt seen everywhere lately. It’s just too tacky. Professional athletes get paid millions for adspace on their trunks / shirts. You are not a professional athlete. If you’re wearing polo shirts, keep the logos simple. Logos the size of the Lacoste Crocodile, or even the originally smaller Ralph Lauren logo may be considered.

DESIGN

Polos with strange designs have also been popping up as of late. Tribal-inspired designs, loud checks or stripes, and other tacky looks are being sold everywhere. If you want to go for a pattern, neat horizontal stripes are always classic, whether thick or thin. Solid colors are highly recommended.

Basically, you want something you can wear as part of several outfits: shorts, jeans, chinos, under a blazer, or under a sweater. The key here is to buy something versatile. If you can wear an item of clothing with practically anything, it almost pays for itself.

BRANDS

Lavish spending is out of the question for a lot of us. Brands like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren are mostly out of our reach. In times like these, going for any brand that satisfies the conditions outlined above is the smartest option. Even Lacoste can have tacky designs. The most expensive polo shirt can look terrible if it fits the wearer poorly.

Even generic department store brands carry solid colored, unbranded polo shirts, which in my opinion look the best anyway. Just make sure the fabric is free of any synthetic material. I’ve purchased polo shirts from the supermarket that fit great and cost less than 250 pesos.

IN CONCLUSION

A staple of the Filipino man’s wardrobe, a polo shirt successfully bridges the gap between casual and formal. Depending on the man’s nature of work, polo shirts can even be considered as everyday work wear or part of his daily dress code. However, done poorly, it can accentuate the wearer’s flaws and make the wearer uncomfortable.

Done well, however, a polo shirt can make a teenager look like a man. A shirt with a collar is always more flattering on any man. Do not be afraid of the polo shirt. Wear it with gusto and snicker at how well-dressed you are compared to the rest of the t-shirt wearing world.

Oh, and please DO NOT POP THE COLLAR.

Thanks for reading!