Style I Love: Nothing But the Basics

I'm gonna let you guys in on a little secret, okay? Despite what I or anybody may say, you don't need to have a lot of extravagant pieces in your closet to have fine style. It's really about how you put things together, how you make your outfit more than the sum of its parts. Hell, you can just put basics together and end up looking pretty sharp. That's the mark of a true man of style in my book - a trait that was so expertly exhibited by Erich when I met him last Saturday at the Rockwell Urban Bazaar.

If you examine his get-up closely, nothing really stands out. Thick framed glasses, well-fitting button-down, no non-sense belt, ankle length trousers, discreet loafers - all pretty standard issue to me. When you consider the totality of the look, however, you'll see a man who's a level above every other guy you'll see at the mall. Maybe it was the effort of tucking the shirt in which made the difference. Or maybe it was the fact that every piece fit him so well. Whatever it was, he made the most out of what he wore. Like a true man of style, he made the basics his own.

Short-sleeved Button-down (Uniqlo), Belt (Marks and Spencer)
Ankle Length Trousers (Tailored), Loafers (Superga)

The Store: Glenmore Bespoke Shoes

The most awesome discoveries in life are those you don't expect. That's exactly what went down in Metrowalk today when I went to search for some new DVDs, but instead found this amazing shoe store hidden among all the pirated goods. In contrast to everything around it, boy, was this stuff legit. It was a custom shoe shop where you could design your dream shoes and have it hand-made and turned over to you in a week. So utterly awesome.

I've been looking for a store like this for the longest time!

A taste of what this wonderful discovery can do

The store's called Glenmore Shoes and if you ask your dad or lolo, they'd probably know about it. The store's been around since the 60s, but the the family that owns it only revived it a year and a half ago. Better late than never I'd say, because based on the samples I saw, these guys know what they're doing. They know classic shapes, they know fine craftsmanship, and they know quality materials. Always a stellar combination.

For only P4,300, you could already have some self-designed brogues, oxfords, and loafers! If you think that's pricey, how about I tell you that you can pit their products against the high-end pairs you can find in Rustan's? You know, the Marc Jacobs and the John Varvatoses of the world? An effing bargain if you ask me, son. As for their moccasins, they go for P1,850 and they make some fine ass desert boots too.

These brogues are perfect, just like they made them in decades past!

Goodbye Topman Mocs! These mocs are just as good if not better!

Some lovely loafers for your consideration

Tasty Clarks-ish desert boots for a lot less!

Clearly, this opens up a whole lot of options for my shoe closet and yours. It's like being a kid in the candy store. Matter of fact, I already have some ideas of what shoes I want made. How about some blue brogues like this? Or some tasseled loafers like this? Or some wonderful desert boots like this? Sky's the limit, you guys, and I think I'm not exagerrating when I say that this is quite possibly the most wonderful discovery I've had this year!

Glenmore Shoes
Unit 19-G, 2nd Floor, Metrowalk Complex
Meralco Avenue, Pasig City, Philippines
Landline: 409.8960
Mobile: 0908.491.8790

The Item: Band of Outsiders Saddle Shoes

Now why'd you have to do that, Scott Sternberg? Right when I finally got a piece of some Band of Outsiders shoe action, you release these awesome (and probably more expensive) saddle shoes to make me feel sad about. As with everything Band, these babies are just perfect. Round-toe shape, quality make, crafted leather sole - perfect, perfect, perfect. Only thing bad about 'em is that I have another Band dream left to fulfill. Oh well, maybe I'll just stumble onto them at Lane Crawford on our next Hong Kong trip, preferably on sale please!

The classic saddle shoe combo of black and white, done the Band way

A simple twist with the all-caramel uppers

A peek into the craftsmanship of the handsewn leather soles

Photos courtesy of Selectism

The Happening: Ari Gold Ties It Together

When it comes to my favorite fictional characters on TV, Ari Gold of Entourage is way up there. I just love the way the world's biggest Hollywood agent seems to pull out witty offensive insults out of his ass every single episode. What I don't love as much, though, is the way his tie game looked earlier on in the show. You'd think he'd figure it out (he wore a suits and ties every episode), but he truly only got it right in the currently running seventh season.

The problem with his technique in the earlier seasons was that he was using super wide ties without buttoning the top button of his shirt. There was a disconnect in the look he was going for because he chose the formal power tie while going for the very casual unfastened top button. Not good. What's more, he chose a Windsor knot, which makes his already thick tie look more oversized than it is for an open collar. Clearly, this is not something Don Draper would do.

As the seasons went by, thankfully his ties became narrower and his top-button went fastened. (Maybe a function of becoming the head of the world's biggest talent agency?) He discovered the magic of the thinner four-in-hand tie knot too and now, after seven long seasons, he can finally insult the best of 'em while looking like the big power player he always makes himself out to be. Never too late for some cohesiveness now, so let's hug it out, Mr. Gold.

The tie almost dwarfs the powerful man in the suit (from earlier seasons)

Getting better but I'm not entirely convinced just yet (succeeding seasons)

Boom: four-in-hand knot, top button closed, and the pocket square doesn't hurt too

The Item: Trickers x Lane Crawford Brogues

I thought I was done with the Hong Kong posts, but damn, how could I have left these out? I spotted these unbelievable brogues in Lane Crawford on our last day and man, was I blown away. They're from a brand called Trickers and if you haven't heard about them, then you better get familiar. They're an English brand which has been making quality shoes for the London's elite for five generations now. Hell, they even make shoes for the Prince of Wales himself, so you know you're going to get the royal treatment with every pair. Only problem is, you have to pay like a king to get some. Okay, maybe only a duke, but still, those are some pretty pricey kicks, guvna.

I fancy the pair in the middle most. The contrast sole is a good look!

The Item: Topman Tasseled Moccasins

For the longest time, Topman has lagged behind Topshop in terms of the variety of its shoe offerings. Ever since the whole plimsoll trend came alive, it's been plimsolls all day, everyday, every damn day on those Topman racks. Needless to say, I've been wanting some dressier options for the longest time, and today, my wish was finally granted. Tasseled leather moccasins, anyone? Yeah, I thought so.

I tried these babies on and man, it was love at first wear. They were so gosh darn comfortable I wanted to walk out with them upon putting my feet in. As you can see, the visuals ain't bad too. Fringes, tassels, matte finish - so so nice. A bit heavier on the pocket for about P3,500 a pair, but that's a price I'm willing to pay if Topman's going to start bringing in some more grown-up shoes like this. It's been a long time coming and I am, how you say, excited!

The black's a looker, but the maple pair's the winner for me!

A perfect fit! Now if I can only find ze money...

Style I Love: The Charm of the Tuck-in Look

I'm usually not the tuck-in type of guy. I just do it when I have to. I mean, in this ungodly heat, why close off more holes where cool air could breeze in, right? Thankfully, though, these Uniqlo oxfords came into my life and changed this previous take. They're somewhat longer than what I'm used to, so I had to tuck them in. Surprisingly, as I wore them with regularity, I noticed I was tucking in my other shirts too. Then I realized, I was slowly becoming a convert.

My friend and I were talking earlier about the allure of the tucked-in look and we concurred that it must be the neatness which pulls the aesthetic together. The lack of messy shirttails makes the wearer look more mature and refined than usual and the highlight of the belt also gives the outfit a whole new dimension with which to play with. All you need to pull it off, really, is a well fitting shirt and a nice belt. So damn easy. Look at me, even on the casualest of Fridays, I still found myself putting it in my pants. A simple style switch, but It's addicting, I tell you!

Oxford Shirt (Uniqlo), Braided Belt (SM Department Store)
Nylon Watch (Timex), Jeans (Zara), Shoes (Toms)

The Item: The Legendary "Take Ivy" Book

I'm not really a big book person, so the fact that I'm waiting for this one title to be made available here is pretty much a big deal. Oh, and did I mention that the book was first published in 1965? Yes, the cult-ish classic "Take Ivy" is going to be re-released in the United States on August 31 after a million-year wait and word has it it's been pre-selling like hotcakes already. Why not? New York Times called it "a treasure of fashion insiders" and rightfully so, as it features a chronicling of my favorite style decade unlike any other.

Here's the big idea: Four Japanese style enthusiasts went around America’s elite Ivy League universities and photographed the trademark trad look of the era. Simple enough, but the results were a lot more iconic than anyone could have hoped for. They took pictures of a time when style was truly authentic, when men didn't try too hard, and when the classic American look ruled above all. What amazed me more than anything was just how put-together every single subject was in the pictures. I guess those really were the good 'ole days, after all!

A lot of blogs already scanned the pages of this fabled compendium for our convenience, but the best you can find here, here, and here. Though these pictures may seem enough, I've been hearing a lot about the quality of the translated articles, so Fully Booked, Powerbooks, or National, please make it happen. I don't have the money to shell out $2,000 for the original copies on eBay, so the re-release asking price of $24.95 would be much more welcome! (Below's a preview and some hard-hitting recommendations for your further excitement).

The Happening: Last Minute Shopping

So it goes that our Hong Kong adventures ended where it all began, in the halls of Uniqlo, where I was able to get some last minute shopping in a few hours before our trip back (and I mean we-were-the-last-ones-on-the-plane-because-of-it last minute). I got two button-downs, one soft green oxford and a short-sleeved madras number.

The oxford I got was a fresh departure from the usual whites, powder blues, baby pinks, and yellows which we've come to accustom with this shirt. There was an aqua blue option too, but it was a little too acid for my liking. The madras shirt was just too damn charming and comfy to pass up, so I had at it. Looking back, I should have grabbed more, but I'm happy. Just reminiscing about the trip makes me want to book again next year. I sure hope I have enough savings then. That said, frugal mode - on!

Such a refreshing color, perfect for those gloomy days!

A lovely pattern with the mix of green and reds

The Sale: Trilogy's Warehouse Sale

Admittedly, I've been a bit self-centered these past few weeks, with my ramblings about Hong Kong shopping and all. But now, dear readers, it's time for you to spend some money yourselves. Trilogy's having their Warehouse Sale tomorrow until Sunday with 50% to 70% off such awesome brands like Generic Surplus, Nike, Puma and Obey. I'm dropping by wallet-less just to check out the fun, but you, you come and bring some cash. I'm sure you're bound to bring home something sweet out of the store that everybody and their momma loves.

Daddy wants some new sneaks, but you kids go and have some fun!

In case you still don't know

The Happening: The Unexpected Jacket

I've always wanted my own Harrington jacket. I almost got one in Hong Kong too from Ben Sherman. My size, on sale, navy blue color, funky Beatles pattern lining: it seems like destiny, right? Well, not quite. I already got the Band of Outsider Sperrys on the same day, and I wasn't comfortable with unleashing so much moolah in a span of several hours, so I laid my hand down. Then and there, I thought I lost out, but did I really?

On our last day, we went to the Lane Crawford in IFC Mall with a keen eye for other great finds. Who knows, I may spot another Band-ish bargain there, and true enough, I did. I tried on this khaki Ralph Lauren windbreaker and the giddy prepster in me fainted. I could've sworn that I saw it in the snapshots of the "Take Ivy" book. Whether or not I'm correct, I love the timelessness of the jacket nonetheless. Hell, even my dad liked it. Not bad for something that I didn't plan on getting not and too shabby with the half price off. I think I'll live without the Harrington, thank you very much.

Some wonderful features: collar tab, cuff buttons, flattering length, overall awesomeness

Style I Love: Chunky Boots and Folded Jeans

Of all the recurring looks I saw on those Hong Kong streets, it seemed that this chunky high-top and folded jeans combination sits atop the list. Unlike us Filipinos who prefer slimmer footwear nowadays, these HKers aren't shy with their kicks, just like this dude we spotted in Disneyland. I'd have wanted a smaller cuff on those jeans, but the look has convinced me to throw on a thick pair and roll them babies up. (These Sebagos would be a fine first step in the shoe deparment). Ah, the things you discover in a foreign land.

Exactly the kind of thing you'd wear to a theme park, yes?

The Happening: I'm with the Band!

Eff all the doubters out there. I'm here to say, with great conviction, that dreams really do come true. Call me materialistic, but I've achieved one of the goals I never thought I'd do: Own a pair of Band of Outsiders Sperrys! Yes, going in to our recent Hong Kong trip, I knew that I was going to see some Scott Sternberg magic first-hand, but actually own one? That's crazy talk, you guys. Except, that's exactly what happened.

So there we were at the Times Square Mall in Causeway Bay, minding our own business, when I saw this massive Lane Crawford sign that attracted me. I heard from designer Joey Samson that Lane's pretty generous with their sales, but I went in with no expectations. I mean, they do carry super expensive stuff, and when those go on sale, well, they're still kind of expensive. Anyhow, I still mossied along, browsed the goods, and there they were.

Lane Crawford during the sale season is a definite must visit!

Man oh man, on sale were these four Band of Outsider collabs with Sperry which were marked down by at least 50%! Yeah, that's still pretty expensive, but damn sure well attainable from my perspective. There were these green nylon + suede boat shoes, a suede caramel loafer,
gingham high-tops, and the one I got, the canvas reconstructed penny loafer. What else can I say? It was hella hard to choose, but in the end, I got the off-white canvas pennies, as it was really the most practical and versatile among the bunch!

Here comes the Band. It felt so surreal trying all these shoes on!

Ah, it was truly love at first sight. Still pricey, but an opportunity you can't pass up!

I consider these kicks to be my most significant purchase to date, not only because of the price, but what they actually mean to me. (Cue cheezy music, please.) Getting these shoes is the pinnacle of the many years I read blogs and oggled at these Band of Outsiders and Sperry mash-ups from afar, resigned to the feeling that I will never get a pair. Now that I have 'em, man, I can't help but feel that I've made it, baby. I damn sure well done did it.

The details printed on the outside are a fun design quirk and a Band of Outsiders staple

The colored stripes on the heel give the casual loafers another dimension of awesome

The Happening: Cotton On, Found!

One of life's greatest mysteries is not finding what you want when you want it, but finding it by chance when you've stopped searching. It's quite the roller coaster, really, starting with frustration, then depression, and ultimately, satisfaction. Thus was the manner in how we found our first Cotton On store. After frantically searching for it in Day 1 of our trip, my girlfriend just happened to spot it while waiting at our meeting place in front of the Langham Place Mall in the Mongkok area on Day 2. I was on the phone with her when she discovered it, and I could just feel her eyes widen at the sight of the previously evasive signage.

For all the hype we've gotten about the value-for-money offerings that this store had, it sure didn't disappoint. Not only were they open until 1 in the morning (we got there around 11PM), but they also has enough goodies to browse through to last us until closing and probably even later. What first attracted me were the seersucker drawstring short shorts which my man Paolo sported when I took his picture before. Just P700 for that bad boy! Their basic shirts were steals too. Two well-made scoopneck shirts for only P720, that's crazy! Ah, life. You're often cruel, but sometimes - just sometimes - you're kind enough to give awesome surprises precisely like this.

Now I know how Indy feels after discovering treasures!

A handsome navy scoopneck which I got with a rose-colored one (not pictured)

My new favorite shorts of all time. Great fit and cut well above the knee!

The Store: The Clarks Originals Shop

I don't have many regrets about the shopping I did in Hong Kong. I pretty much got everything I put on my well thought out list. However, there is one particular store that left me thinking to this very day, one that isn't available here, which makes it all the more painful. What's more, this store offers what I consider to be the it shoes of the moment, the must haves of 2010, the boat shoes of the season, oh enough with the hype!

I'm talking about the fine Clarks Originals shop I chanced upon in Silvercord Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. Unlike the ones in our local Cinderella shops, this is the true Clarks, you guys. The one that offers their timeless signatures - the Desert Boot and the Wallabee, in different colors and varying materials no less! I was about to get one, but the price stopped me. The Desert Boots were going for about P7,500 a pop and the Wallabees even a bit higher. Oh well. For now, I'll just stare at "the pair" I bought to make me feel better. Tell you about them real soon!

I wanted to get that suede tan pair at the right; hopefully next time!

Style I Love: The Grown Up Backpack

I've been pretty adamant about my stand on grown men and backpacks. Just so you know, I'm mostly against it, owing to the inherently juvenile nature of those grade school staples. (Hell, I didn't like 'em even when one of my icons, Kanye West, sported one).

However, this one particular backpack I spotted on a gentleman in the MTR subway in Hong Kong has been forcing me to reconsider. What else can I say besides, "Wow, what a beaute." The pairing of the navy blue body and caramel brown detailing drove it home for me. I say, if you're going to wear a backpack, get one like this and we won't have a problem. Well, not really. There's always me, probably scheming on how to steal your oh so precious pack.

The Item: Giordano Lightweight Windbreaker

While the rainy season has not really manifested itself in our country thus far, my dear mom taught me it's better to be safe than sorry. That's why one of the items I wanted to buy in Hong Kong was a lightweight windbreaker that will protect me from the elements while keeping me cool and sweat-less inside. Function aside, it would be great if it came in a bright color too, one that will make all those gloomy days bright again.

While that last statement would admittedly be asking too much, I think I covered all the other bases with this great find at Hong Kong's Giordano store on Nathan Road. This lovely red windbreaker is quite the looker with its simple monochromatic scheme and quite useful too with its hideaway hoodie option. What I love most about it though is its barely-there weight. Perfect for the tropics and my damn hyperactive sweat glands!

Another Hong Kong bargain at only about P1,000!

The Item: Sperry Topsiders at D-Mop

I'm sure we've all had it up to here with boat shoes. Everywhere I turn here in Manila, I see men sporting Topsiders, Docksides, or any other brand that now manufactures them all of a sudden. Now don't get me wrong, this is not an assault against boaties (I'm actually wearing mine now). All I'm saying is that it has become what skinny jeans were in 2008 - a trend embraced by all to the point of being uniform-y.

It doesn't always need to be like this, though. A quick solution to avoid looking like everyone else's feet is to get a pair that is of a different make and/or tells a different color story. Unfortunately for us Filipinos, I only found these traits in the Sperry Topsiders I found in D-Mop in Silvercord Mall, Hong Kong. The store (which also carries Puma, Adidas, Y3) had these wonderful 'Siders in white felt on white soles and brown nubuck on tan soles, which provided enough differences to be relevant. No, I didn't get them, but I wanted to (only P3,234 a pair!). If only I didn't discover "the pair" I would've nabbed these babies. What "the pair" is, you'll find out in the coming days.

The white felt and brown nubuck are my favorites!

The vintage logo on the bottom adds to the desirability of these kicks

But I think I like the tan sole on this number better

The Happening: Tsim Sha Tsui Shopping

Words cannot describe how I felt when we landed in Hong Kong. Just ask my girlfriend. I was literally foaming in the mouth in anticipation. What we've waited for for six months was finally here, and we wanted to hit the ground running to set the tone for the rest of our stay.

After a quick check-in at our conveniently located hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui (Butterfly on Prat St.) and lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Knutsford Steps, the games officially began. First up was the Miramar Shopping Centre on Nathan Road. It was small compared to the nearby colossal malls, but what it lacked in size, it made for in offerings. It housed favorites like Uniqlo, i.t, and Muji, giving me only about 30 minutes before I made my first purchases.

About a five-minute walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station

While the goods of i.t and Muji were quite lovely in their own rights, my first cash-outs all happened in Uniqlo. I mean, how can I say no to a salmon oxford shirt, sky blue cotton chinos, and a use-it-with-anything striped shirt? How about all three items for only P2,000? Dear lord, I thought they were kidding me! Only that much for three pieces which will now figure prominently in my wardrobe rotations!

The home of classic pieces in a multitude of colors!

A fun oxford variation from the typical whites, blues, and yellows

Ditto, for this ultra comfortable sky blue cotton chinos!

A basic striped roundneck shirt: What's not to like?

Still hungry for more, we moseyed over to Silvercord Mall on Canton Road to check out what we could find. Their store lineup was much better than Miramar's with a two-floor H&M, three i.t stores (one designer, one youth-oriented, one outlet), and the Nike flagship store with a Nike iD Studio to name a few. I wasn't able to get anything, but believe you me, you're bound to find something good 'ere.

The men's department is quite small, so no go for me at this branch

You can customize Nike's trademark pieces as you wish here!

Right across Silvercord is Harbour City - the largest mall in Hong Kong - filled with high-end designer brands. Needless to say, I wasn't able to grab anything here, but window shopping at stores like Lanvin, Prada, and Louis Vuitton gave me a sneak peek into what could be (soon, baby, soon). Overall, shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui took us the whole day and while our feet hurt like hell, it left us excited to see what Hong Kong had for us in the coming days.

If you love premium brands, this is your place!

The Happening: Hong Kong Hangover

After a long layoff, it's finally back to regular programming here at Styles I Love.Yup, I'm back, you guys, loaded with success stories about our tiring but oh so fulfilling trip to Hong Kong and its fabled sale season. Needless to say, I left with my feet destroyed, wallet empty, but my luggage overflowing with happiness. It's all I could have ever hoped for and more, and the experience made me contemplate going back to HK every August just to shop, shop, shop.

Anyhow, I was primarily on the hunt for basic pieces: Button-downs were atop the list, followed by trousers, basic Ts, shorts, and accessories. If the money permitted, I wanted to get some shoes and outerwear too. And boy, did it ever. The choices were so overwhelming that you won't know where to look first, making Hong Kong one of the most stylishly diverse cities I've been to with its unique understanding of personal style. Man, pay the place a visit. The sale's till end-August after all; plenty of time to book!

You damn right, it was spectacular!