Dapper Without A Suit

“Comfort and simplicity are two keys that I follow when it comes to fashion.” —- Fawad Khan (Pakistani actor)

I have a confession to all of you: Despite that, I call myself The Dapper Runner even if I don’t even own a single suit. I don’t have a plan of getting one at this time.

Yes, that is right!

The main reason for not owning a suit is the hot and humid weather in Metro Manila. I can’t stand wearing layers and layers of clothing on my daily commute simply because I sweat profusely even during the cool northeast breeze of January. I just bring an extra shirt in my bag instead. Also, I don’t attend parties and formal events.

Several self-proclaimed style gurus may claim that not owning a suit makes a man underdressed. I beg to differ. I consider it impractical and way too flashy on the Philippine setting. Unless, if a man is a lawyer or hotshot banker that requires him to wear suits. I believe that every Juan can be dapper without owning a suit. It also depends where we are located, how much our clothing budget is, and the industry we work for.

As you can see I usually wear white or light-colored button-up shirts with either dark jeans by Uniqlo or navy trousers because of my previous job in a financial services firm. We were lucky enough that business casual was acceptable. As long as we follow the company’s dress code and not looking sloppy, we’re good to go. I also wear business casual when I go to church on Sundays.

When going out on weekends, I just wear my favorite all-occasion combination of chambray shirts, white or black t-shirt, and chinos. Polo shirt and walking shorts combo are fantastic during summer. We have incorporate comfort in weekend clothing.

I also have a small collection of layering such as a rain jacket, a sweater, a blazer, and a windbreaker. I wear them when needed.

Before I wrap things up, here’s some friendly advice to you guys:

  • Retain and utilize your timeless clothes especially your favorite plain shirts and trousers.
  • Donate those faded and dated ones to the charity.
  • If your clothing needs refitting, go to your tailor.
  • Mix and matching can sometimes be tedious if we are not familiar with the color wheel. You can stick with the basic colors such as black, white, navy, gray, olive, and tan. Those colors are very easy to mix and match. It’s also nice to have shirts with tattersall and the more common plaid pattern.
  • If you believe that you need a suit, don’t buy ready to wear. Go to your trusted tailor and get a bespoke suit.

At the end of the day, being dapper is all about the right amount of confidence (and practicality) on what we wear.

What to Wear for Hassle-Free Leisure Traveling

Greetings gentlemen!

There are great things we enjoy most on having vacation overseas such as learning new languages, trying out new food, commuting like locals on a day-to-day basis, taking pictures, practice your passion, and meeting new friends or potential business partners. Traveling for pleasure helps us to relax and stay clear from work-related stress.

However, some things aren’t really as fun as we think especially for those who will fly abroad for the first time. A few examples can vary from fulfilling visa application requirements (typical Philippine passport holder woes) up to boarding at the airport. Even our clothing can be a catastrophe if we wear the wrong outfit and bring what we don’t need. I have learned a lot from my experiences of traveling through the years and I have been taking these seriously.

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Feeding cookies to sika deer at the Nara Deer Park

Here are the six things I have learned from traveling on commercial planes:

1. Lightweight clothing. It is a fact that nothing beats looking sharp at the airport especially on business trips. But, it is impractical when we are having a vacation. Any decent and comfortable casual clothing will be good enough to make us look great. Make sure that there will be no shirts with offensive and especially racist statements, please! I highly recommend bringing at least a couple of button-down shirts, plain t-shirts, and a nice fitting pair of cotton trousers. Chinos are my personal favorite. Besides, we can shop for new clothes abroad if we find something great, fits well, and right for our budget. In case we’re going to the beach on a weekend, much better to bring just a pair of walking shorts, swim shorts, a few lightweight shirts.

2. Layering. It is important to wear jackets or coats when traveling in cold weather. Make sure it is well insulated and lightweight. Also, those must have enough pocket to keep our passports and boarding pass. I wanted to bring my favorite leather jacket before leaving for Japan but it was a little bit heavy so, I left it at home in favor of a lightweight fleece zip-up sweater I purchased from Uniqlo last October. I am really surprised that the fleece sweater worked well when I was in Osaka last October. I was even wearing it to warm up right before I ran the Osaka Marathon. Another great option is nylon jackets (e.g.: bomber and down jackets) just in case any clothing made of fleece can be too tacky for you. We can wear our jackets before boarding on the plane for convenience. This will not apply if were going to the beach on our summer getaway.

3. Sunglasses. Those will protect our eyes from the harmful sun rays regardless of the weather regardless if those are a pair of Aviators, Wayfarers, or even a pair of five-buck shades. As long as it is not those specs good for industrial work. Unless, if you’re attending a cosplay event or a steampunk-themed party. The type of weather will determine the color of the lens we have to wear. I highly recommend gradient brown or gray lenses for all-season eye protection.

4. Comfortable shoes. I find running shoes comfortable despite the lack of versatility compared to boots and dress shoes. Many people may find running shoes as the oddball or ugly duckling of our traveling ensemble. But comfort and convenience are important. Modern-day running shoes have an impeccable cushioning that helps us to withstand long hours of walking from one tourist spot to another. Most of all, there’s no need to take off your shoes at the airport security checkpoint. During my most recent trips, I wore a pair of now-discontinued New Balance 870v4. If you’re not into running shoes, a nice pair of old school sneakers will do.

5. A small backpack as your hand carry.  No offense to so-called stylish people out there, but satchels and overnight bags do not work for backpacking no matter how stylish they are. Trust me! I highly recommend (not required) backpacks because they are easy to carry. Those can range to a simple water-resistant waxed canvas to the lightweight and sophisticated Cordura nylon commonly used for day trekking. If you are not comfortable with backpacks, go for lightweight tote bags.

6. Running gear. Our running shoes will not be complete without our trusted running top and shorts. If you’re a running junkie like me, you’ll need your running gear after finding a nice route or park along with the place you’ll be visiting. Besides, we can also wear those whilst pumping iron at the hotel gyms if you’re not into long-distance running. Don’t forget to research the best running routes in the place you’ll be visiting first.

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String a pose at Fushimi Inari-Taisha in Kyoto. Photo by Gilbert Enriquez

Always remember that comfort comes first before we can carry our clothes in style when we are away from home.

The Quest for the Right Style

Back in May 2015, I decided to upgrade my appearance, financial planning strategy, and outlook on life after getting bored with the daily routine and all sorts of clutter for the last six years. I also became really curious about the growing popularity of the gentleman’s lifestyle revival here in Manila at the same time. Coincidentally, I was preparing for a job interview for the position that I badly wanted.

I wanted to transform from a guy on fauxhawk and skull shirts to a more refined young professional. First, I took off my earrings and stopped wearing those. But, I didn’t know what’s next.

It all started a few years ago with my fascination with dressing up like David Beckham and browsing male fashion influences from Fashion Beans. Then, I went to a barber to get a fresh haircut. After paying off my loans and saving more than enough money, I started buying timeless clothes and made to order shoes over trend. As a result, I became more confident and got a position in Human Resources. I will share with you the most appropriate business casual wear for men with the right fit and color combination without breaking the bank in the future.

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The toughest part, however, was cleaning up my closet. I realized that there were too many well-loved clothes that were too dated and no longer fit my more athletic physique. So, I decided to pile those up and donate to the charity right before Christmas of 2015. I didn’t just improve my style, I also helped less fortunate people who are in need of decent clothing.

Currently, I’m developing my own capsule wardrobe after being inspired by the tutorial videos by Paul Nagaoka on YouTube. Settling on minimal yet timeless clothing made my life easier and helped me to save more money. As you can see above, that is my usual midweek workwear. Since I live in a hot country, I don’t really wear jackets.

I still admit that my style of clothing is still a work in progress. I’m not a guru and I’ll never be like one. I have lots of things to learn.

The quest for the right style has just begun.