Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Open Letter to My LV Bag

Dear Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas Broadway,

I've had you for two and a half years now, and I don't know how I feel about you anymore.

The moment I saw you dangling from the shoulders of that well-dressed guy at school, I coveted you with such fervor. Seeing hordes of stylish people on the streets of Hong Kong toting huge LV monogram messenger bags didn't help quell my yearning.

I have never wanted an article of sewn-together canvas and leather as much as I wanted you.

So I bought you, once I had saved up enough to pay your rather steep price. I placed you atop my table for a week, just admiring your meticulous stitching and the perfectly symmetrical placement of your monogram squares.

I carried you everyday, and enjoyed you despite your cumbersome flap plus belt thing closure. When I carried you, I got lots of compliments from my co-workers. Every time I opened you up to reveal that rich orange lining, I was pleased.

A long two and a half years have passed and hordes of kids in Hong Kong (and now even in my hometown Manila) are still toting those LV monogram bags, but carrying you doesn't make my heart flutter like it used to.

You have been demystified. The fact that every other office employee with a decent-paying job yearns for LV monogram as if it were the holy grail and totes those bags with such delicacy as if they were precious gems somehow decreases your value in my eyes.

Now I am torn, on whether to keep you as a memory of the many months I desired you and how I finally got you, or sell you to someone who would definitely enjoy you more than I do now.

I think I'll keep you, in my bag shelf, for just a few months more. Between my fanny pack and my mesh-and-reflectorized-piping sling bag from my raver days, you will rest for a little while more. For every time I open the closet and catch a glimpse of your linen dustbag, I will remember how even the most pressing of my desires can fade.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

support local designers!

Dean & Trent cardigan from Backstage, random tank, Uniqlo jeans, Sperry Topsiders, YSL bag

I got this cardigan today from a store called Backstage that stocks up clothing and accessories by young local designers, this particular one by Dean & Trent. I love the epaulettes and the buttons, and best of all, the price!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hair Affairs

I could not stress enough how important I think hair is to one's personal style.  I'm currently in the process of growing my hair out from a crew cut into a longer 'do, so allow me to muse about hair while I wait.  It might be due to the Asian sense of aesthetic in me that I tend to put a premium on well-maintained and well-dressed hair.  Occasionally I would see a person on the street who captures my attention so forcefully, he/she exudes lightness and body at the same time, his/her movement is sensual and gives off an ethereal vibe, and I realize, it is mostly because of that person's fabulous hair.  I can also clearly recall instances wherein a perfectly stylish outfit would be tainted by a lousy, mousy 'do.  Allow me to share my thoughts on this essential element of style.

my next haircut option one: model George Alan

Hair need not be flattering, you just have to like it.  This is not to totally push aside the artistic principles of angles and proportion, but what I'm trying to say is that with hair (same goes for all other things that you wear), what the wearer likes goes above any other rules imposed by others.  This is why most makeover episodes of America's Next Top Model make me cringe; they try to challenge the girls by drastically changing their hairstyles, transforming them into something they're not.  I mean, a beauty queen in a Mia Farrow 'do, a girly-girl with all her hair chopped off, a brash boho chick given an elf-ish haircut, come on! 

Case in point: the woman shown below sports a hair do that in my opinion doesn't do much to make her prettier, or sleeker, or slimmer-looking (although it does add a few inches of height!), nor is it neat, but I think it works.  It's just that needed dose of "crazy" to set her apart from all the fashion glitterati and the effect is purely iconic.

Screw the coordinating-skin-undertone-with-hair-color rules, color it whatever you wish!  In line with what I previously said, I think people aren't having as much fun with their hair as they should.  Take your cue from the woman below, Sophia Bush on crack and weed.  But seriously, one would think that peacock colored hair combined with pale skin and dark clothes would translate to Hot Topic-clad wannabe goth kid but dare I say that the effect is quite fashion-y, in a good way!  I think the secret lies in the subtle variation of tones throughout the head; some parts tend to look more green and others more purple.  Any of you guys know who she is?  I would love to know; she is just captivating.

As most of my friends who had known me from college would know, I've tried every natural hair color known to man (in order): from sun-kissed blonde to copper-red to plummy red to bleach blonde to ash to chocolate to black, you name it, I've done them all.  That's why for the next time I have my hair colored, I have decided to  branch out into the hues not commonly occurring naturally on human heads!  Here are some of my choices:

Purplish-plum (Comme des Garçons SS 09)

Extra-bright orangey red (okay so this is his natural hair color, but  it is extra bright, and on my Asian skin, natural is the last thing this color is going to look like)

If there's one hair styling tip that I would offer to guys, it would be to go easy on the product.  For most men nowadays, it's all about getting that pieced-together messy look and achieving height and nothing can look more artificially masculine than a guy with a Dep-supported sculptural piece on his head.  A good rule of thumb would be a dime-sized amount of product for the whole head; lets exercise some restraint here.  In fact, some men can just let their hair down, running a comb through their hair a couple of times and they're done!  My new blogger friend Frederic, wears his hair excellently, combed with a side part.  Classic-cool.

Frederic of talesfromfrederic.blogspot.com

Conversely, a few men can pull off a super-styled coif, and if you are positive you can, by all means let the teasing begin!  

height done right (from The Sartorialist)

But chances are, you aren't part of the one in 385,593,475,893,754 who can.

The last piece of advice I would give is to never, ever take hair seriously.  It's just hair.  Dye your whole head green for the weekend and switch back to your natural color before Monday comes!  If the hair gets too damaged from the processing, buzz it all off; wear a wig or go bald!  Allow yourself to try out different things and don't let anyone (even me) tell you what to do with your hair.  With all that experimenting, you will eventually strike gold and find that hair style that speaks volumes about who you are, one that people will remember you by, one that makes you feel like the most beautiful creature on earth, and maybe then, hair would be the only accessory you need.

my next haircut option 2: stylist Keegan Singh

Friday, September 26, 2008

gray skies today

APC bib-front t-shirt, Uniqlo black jeans, vintage Rolex, Balenciaga Men's Day Bag, Bottega moccasins

with Zara cardigan

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The "Dandy" in My Project

Oscar Wilde, outspoken dandy

So you have been reading my posts for a little while now, taken a peek at what I wear on a daily basis and the things I own, and might be wondering why this blog is called "The Dandy Project".  I mean, you don't see me in slim pinstripe suits with polka dot pocket squares, floral ties and turquoise socks do you?  How preposterous of me to call myself a dandy!
Ancient connotations of dandies were rather negative.  A famous dandy, Baudelaire, commented that the dandies had "no profession other than elegance...no other status but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons....The dandy must aspire to be sublime without interruption; he must live and sleep before a mirror."  Dandies lacked noble blood, connections, and any innate characteristics of aristocracy. They were like actors living out fantasies that could never come true, adopting outward characteristics that aided in this public and personal deception.

from men.style.com
However, dandyism, I believe, is more than just Savile Row suits and colorful socks.  Although the living out fantasies stuff, I'm totally up for!  I wouldn't call it a lifestyle, but it certainly is a way of looking at things.  Aside from really taking care of yourself and spending time on your appearance, these are the things that I believe make the modern Dandy:

1.  Finding joy in the ability to take on different personalities with your clothes.  I remember in college, my friend Michelle and I would have costume days where we would come to school dressed as cowboys, goths, or even as sales associates of a local boutique Tyler.  Let me illustrate by way of my stuff.  When I wear this, I imagine myself to be ________

A lumberjack.
plaid shirts from Hong Kong

The Dark Knight.
Martin Margiela cuff

A Native American, or my uncle in the early 90's.
Bottega Veneta suede moccassins

2.  Dandyism, though extravagant and all-out in nature, can also be subtle.  Little unexpected pops of color or print add just the right amount of "crazy" that makes for a good conversation started, and that surely sets you apart.  I say unexpected pops of color because that whole corporate pop of color thing where they do red pointy stiletto pumps with a black top and skirt, or umm yellow pointy stiletto pumps with a black top and skirt is sooo 2002.

A dandy has got to have his colorful socks.

Hermes Looping bracelet, my daily pop of orange juice.

3.  A modern dandy appreciates good tailoring: sublime cuts, perfect fit.  It is said that the Victorian British male has been described as a hidden consumer, his consumption of fashion undertaken away from the public sphere in the relative privacy of the tailor’s suite.  And nowadays, it seems that all my new clothes are coming solely from the tailor!  This blog is witness to how tailor-crazy I have been nowadays, pictures of my newest projects coming up soon!

Sir Ian McKellen, a man with a great relationship with his tailor

4.  And lastly, I think true dandyism is in the details.  To people who come to me for advice on how to dress up, I always say well-chosen accessories, accessories that say a lot about the wearer, really bring depth to a look.  (Shout-out to Chauss and her Bliss Lau body chain.  I totally understand why you can't part with it, I couldn't imagine any piece of jewelry that would be more YOU!)

striped bowtie from Brooks Brothers and vintage floppy velvet bowtie

Martin Margiela necklace...

...which opens to reveal three dice inside, speaks of my inner gambler!


I made this scarf myself!

the DIY scarf

Ok so I didn't weave it, nor did I dye the threads myself, but the paint splatter pattern is all me! How to:
1.  Buy an inexpensive navy pashmina scarf.
2.  Trim away the tacky fringes.
3.  Lay it out on the floor, and with a paintbrush dipped in thick white paint, drop swirly patterns on to the scarf from above.  Make sure to line the scarf under with newspapers, if you don't want to end up with a mottled driveway like mine.
4.  Leave it out to dry, and it's done!

In action:
self-made scarf, APC chambray shirt, black Uniqlo jeans, Bottega Veneta moccasins

same as above, but with Giordano Concepts jersey blazer and YSL tote

I got the bag for an obscenely low price during the YSL boutique closing sale in Manila.  I don't get much use out of it, but I still love it.  Here's a close-up:

YSL Sac Gavroche tote in green corduroy and brown suede

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ahead of My Time

...used to be the tagline of my now neglected, old Livejournal.  And telling time,  I believe, is certainly not the only purpose a watch serves.  I used to say that the first thing I look at when I meet a person, especially a gentleman, is his watch.  For most people, it is the one item that you don't change as often as you change clothes; you wear it wherever you go, whatever you do.  Hence, it says a lot about what kind of person you are, your lifestyle, and your tastes.  

The Patek Philippe Nautilus, an obscenely overpriced hunk of steel that I plan to acquire by the age of thirty-five

Don't get me wrong, I don't judge watches as mere status symbols, rather as strong statements of self-expression.  I certainly appreciate great design, at any price point.  Not having hundreds of thousands of pesos to blow on a timepiece is no excuse for wearing an ugly watch.  

Swatch: stark and basic, it lets crazy outfits and accessories shine!

Casio calculator watch: screams early 90's geek, in a good way.  Photo from Style Arena

Although slightly more expensive than a Swatch or a Casio, a Nixon watch would be a still relatively affordable choice for good design.  The fact that it isn't available in Manila yet is a big plus, you wouldn't see watch dopplegangers on a daily basis.  The Nixon Murf strong square shape and use of glass evokes a seventies modern vibe:

Nixon Murf watch in three colors

Aside from actual watches, one thing I inherited from my father and grandfather would be the appreciation for quality timepieces.  Nice watches were not to be hidden behind lock and key only to be worn on special occasions, they are to be enjoyed and worn daily.  I remember my grandfather would go to the fields to buy chickens wearing shorts, walking shoes, and a handsome Rolex.  After all, wearing an expensive watch as often as possible would lower the cost per wear, wouldn't it?

In my dad and granddad's tradition of fabulous-watch-for-everyday, I present my latest obsession for the last half-year or so: the Cartier Tank Americaine in rose gold.  It's one thing to wear a nice steel watch with jeans and t-shirts, but rose gold for everyday would be such a treat!  Rose gold gives off a subtle warm glow that isn't as severely yellow as yellow gold, but would still coordinate nicely with gold hardware on belts, bags, or shoes.  I want mine on an anthracite gray croc strap, to bring out the pinkness of the watch case! 

Cartier Tank Americaine

To end what might possibly be my longest post ever, allow me to share with you my everyday watch du jour.  It's a vintage gold Rolex I've borrowed from my father indefinitely.  He got this at a ridiculously low price, with a non-Rolex gold link strap attached.  When the [ugly] gold bracelet gave in, it was my idea to place it on a dark brown alligator strap.  Truth be told, I'm really just wearing this to pacify my "gold watch for everyday" craving until I can afford to get that Cartier!

jeans and a t-shirt

t-shirt from Backstage, jeans from APC, broken stitch sneakers by Martin Margiela

close-up of the shoes

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Objects of Desire

I will be in Tokyo for about a week next month, and it isn't uncommon for me to plan my purchases a month (or even half a year) before the trip.  So, inspired by a recent post by my friend Michelle, I am sharing a few prospective statement shoe purchases for that trip.

from Colette
At the top of my list are these cartoon-print Comme des Garcons for Heschung shoes.  The print was designed by manga artist Osomatsu Kun.  They're happy, they make a statement, but they're remarkably not too fashion-y.  (Not that I dislike the fashion-y look, but I still do like to change it up from time to time.)  A person who considers himself part of the fashion literati would appreciate this shoe as much as any pop pedestrian who recognizes "funky" style.  

from Eluxury
Reasonably priced and quite comfortable, the only setback for these Y-3 high-tops are the fact that they're high-tops and that I don't have much patience yanking high-top shoes on and off my feet.  Other that that, they're tres cool.

from Colette
Significantly more subtle than the first two, these Comme des Garcons laceups boast this stacked heel which I admit I have never seen before.  The classic shape and styling mean they will never go out of style.

from Y-3.com
These Y-3's evoke a sort of jazz-shoe look, just made a little more modern and sportier.  Great with black shorts, I can imagine!  

I have been told EVERYTHING is more expensive in Japan, but I'm earnestly hoping that since these shoes are all from Japanese brands, that they would sell cheaper, or at least at par with US and Hong Kong prices, in Tokyo.  

Does anyone have an idea if Japanese brands such as Comme des Garcons and Y-3, as well as others like Number Nine and Y's are cheaper in Japan?  I really need to know, thanks!

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