Season's best dressed

In my mind- and don't laugh, though I think you will- my face is pale white, lips half-frozen as I catch my 7AM train in the middle of winter. There are plenty of things in this mental image that is just wrong. My face has never been pale white- the New Zealand sun is harsh and there is less of the pollution that shields your face from darkening UV rays. Winter in Auckland is hardly ever that cold, not when you're talking an average of 7 to 8 degrees. You'll even see someone (usually a fat person) in nothing but a summer shirt, as Kiwis generally think that to be physically affected by the elements is a sign of weakness.

But this is my image, my truth. I am forever done with heat, and sweat and fitted clothes when your body is hardly ever fit for it. So I embrace the coming of the colder season with a cheery nonchalance even as my skin struggles, my nose bleeds and my wallet moans.

A work colleague laughs gently trying her best to indulge me when I say that a new pair of winter boots I had just bought arrives at the office by courier (you don't leave $350 leather boots sitting outside your door unguarded the whole day) is an 'investment'. 'Do you somehow get some money back?' she asks me as if I was dumb enough to use the word 'investment' in a context that was second-nature to her (she's an accountant). 

'Actually I do' I reply. "It makes me realise that I deserve the best things in life that I am able to get for myself." 

I actuall didn't really say that.

I just smiled and laughed sheepishly, indulging her in return; I don't really need to explain myself to anyone and that for me, is one priceless luxury I can afford to give myself again and again.

Nike shoe of the week

I remember when I was working for the Provincial Government of Pangasinan, there were these so-called calamity loans that everyone scrambled to get because the interest was so cheap that it was almost-nearly free money. As the name suggested, it was supposed to be something that you used to fix whatever the typhoon had damaged. Well, I used it to fix my Nike craving, haha. 

I accumulated really good and rare pieces and learned the sad truth that you didn't really seriously train in Nikes; they didn't last long (the pairs I had left in the Philippines had all nearly disintegrated) and if you wanted them to last, you just have to use them as something that complemented your outfit (or showed the shoes off), or to not use them at all- I think I'll never be entrepreneurial nor rich enough to just admire them in their box. What good is beauty or perfection if you just admired it from a distance? (I think this may also mean there's something wrong with your head).

It's been a while since I experienced true-blue shoe lust and I felt it again with these Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit SEs. Apparently, an initial version of these (how did I miss it??) came out early in the year in collaboration with Japanese fashion label Comme des Garcons. While I think most collabs with high-fashion labels are more misses than hits (a lot of them are downright ugly), the VaporMax CDGs present that clean but avant garde aesthetic that Rei Kawakubo is known for. The shoes get rid of messy shoelaces (which means a tighter fit that is perfect for my narrow feet) and there's this rectangular strip that runs on both sides of the uppers for that streamlined look. 

I've obviously trolled through YouTube doing research on the shoes and it's not something that everyone will like instantly- but then that's fashun for you; it's truly not for the faint-hearted. Or the budget conscious for that matter- this one costs $320....

Sneakers of the Week: Raf Simons + Adidas Stan Smith

I have a pair of the regulation plain white Stan Smiths, but would I fork out NZD$ 460.90 for a pair of Raf Simon designed ones?

The editor's notes on Mr Porter describes it as: 

Mr Raf Simons puts his unique stamp on one of adidas' most iconic shoes: the 'Stan Smith'. This collaboration replaces the sneaker brand's signature perforated stripes with the revered Belgian designer's initial, and is made from a premium leather that's polished to a glossy lustre. The heel tabs and tongue are coloured in black, as opposed to the usual green, creating a bold contrast. 

While $NZ 400+ is not outrageous for shoes (I have custom Nikes that cost over NZD$ 380), I would tend to make sure that exclusivity aside, I'm getting something else for my money. You can cross out comfort; Stan Smiths are not the most comfortable of shoes as the leather gets painful on your feet at the end of a long day. And white sneakers are worn because they provide a clean contrast to an outfit. The whole point of them is that they make you look young and subtly casual without drawing attention to themselves. Sure, you get a small thrill when someone recognises a brand you're wearing, but Raf Simons isn't exactly in that level of label recognition even if his work is in so many ways more superior than a whole lot of these brands.

So that leaves you with having to decide what really floats your boat- a standard one, or a designer version that costs 3X as much? I admire Raf Simons (when he was at Dior and more so now that he's putting some much necessary wit to Calvin Klein), but I may have to pass on this one; unless it goes on sale for half the price lol.

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I would wear them with:

 KENT & CURWEN Checked Wooo-Flannel jacket, NZD$ 2,038

KENT & CURWEN Checked Wooo-Flannel jacket, NZD$ 2,038

 SANDRO Terry appliquéd Loopback cotton-jersey sweatshirt NZD$ 297

SANDRO Terry appliquéd Loopback cotton-jersey sweatshirt NZD$ 297

 ACNE STUDIOS Nalon wool sweater, NZD $471.17

ACNE STUDIOS Nalon wool sweater, NZD $471.17

 JAMES PERSE Slim-fit stretch cotton poplin cargoes, NZD$ 501

JAMES PERSE Slim-fit stretch cotton poplin cargoes, NZD$ 501

Goodbye Winter

It was 20 degrees today. Hardly that warm to be honest. I started putting the knits and the bulky jackets; I've learned the hard (and expensive) way that you don't store knits on hangers. They need to lie flat to keep their shape. 

I went to work in thin wool pants and a midweight Oxford shirt with just a thin cotton undershirt and I was actually cold in the shade while waiting for the bus.

But spring is in full swing and there are some nights when you promise to remember to store away the winter duvet for something less stuffy, but it's really not that warm at least for me. On one hand, when it gets really warm, I can take it and the locals struggle.

I'm going to miss the season's clothes the most; winter dressing is richer, fuller. And you stress less about not being in shape or revealing that winter fat accumulated because you always thought it was too cold to run or exercise. Not that I have problems with that but I feel I could do better getting into shape. 

Much as I love slim-fit knits and tight black denim, I would trade those for a singlet and a pair of shorts anytime- as long as I'm fit and buff.

 A bit of DIY so I could use a winter jacket for those summer-nights when the temperature dips

A bit of DIY so I could use a winter jacket for those summer-nights when the temperature dips

Winter is coming...and the colour theme is black

I remember my first working winter in New Zealand. I took the train to the city from Henderson and as it sped down the track, I would spy spots of colour in an otherwise wall of black- everyone was in black. It seems apt as Kiwis stubbornly cling to the belief that the only acceptable weather is warm, sunny and summery; anything that is opposite is an anomaly, an outrage like disliking Marmite or betting against the All Blacks.

Some have budged from the winter uniform since then but black, like anything quintessentially Kiwi (most of the current national sports groups have the word 'black' in their names after all), will never go out of style.

  Country Road  Wool Cable Knit Crew in black; the new  MacBook Pro  15-inch (space grey which is almost black in person lol) with Touch Bar & Touch ID;  Nike Zoom All Out Low  in black/anthracite;  John Varvatos Dark Rebel  cologne;   Country Road  Slim Tapered Black Jean;  Kmart shag-carpet  in black and silver. 

Country Road Wool Cable Knit Crew in black; the new MacBook Pro 15-inch (space grey which is almost black in person lol) with Touch Bar & Touch ID; Nike Zoom All Out Low in black/anthracite; John Varvatos Dark Rebel cologne;  Country Road Slim Tapered Black Jean; Kmart shag-carpet in black and silver. 

I Want To Be Famous

The family says that my nephew Migs is turning out to be like me- vain. But it's quite inaccurate. When I was his age, I was invisible. Other boys were taller, more fit, had better, more conventionally handsome faces. The expectation for me was that I should do well in school- which I did anyway with an effortlessness that belied the fact that I was only choosing to excel in the things I liked. Who cared about math, or Filipino?

I also (secretly) wanted to be the school crush, which I actually was, for about a year, a strange one, when I was elected Class Adonis in all but one class. But it had been so fleeting that before I could revel and bask in something that I thought I never could have, I was found out to be more than just the standard pretty face and the following year, I was Mayor in a couple of classes and Vice Mayor in some. Boring.

And I think that's the essence of attractiveness- it should be natural; it should be confirmed unfortunately by others and not by your own pronouncements. And it's also, sadly, always fleeting unless embedded in something more lasting than a face that starts to shift with the years.

I never did find out what people saw in me in that one memorable year but suffice it to say that I've been chasing it all my life, because really, beauty- especially the kind that makes you go out each day with clean clothes and a positive demeanor- is something to aspire for.

I think Migs will be alright, but I would hate to be in his shoes. This generation sucks. Migs hates his nose which is perfectly fine but it's challenging to convince him of that when 'normal' today is how you want things to be. 

There are a number of things about myself that I would have changed as well but I've discovered that three things do the trick- exercise, prudent eating (on most days) and clothes.

Here are some I'd like to have in my wardrobe if I was a twelve-year-who-could-pass-for-16 and with access to my adult income! (Migs would have picked these as well).

Lost weight, will fit into Nudies

In my mind, I'm nearly 6 feet tall and weigh 70kgs. That's the physique that holds when I look at clothes. In reality, things are a bit different- my actual physique sort of closely resembles that of Tom Cruise; a bit squat with a weird lumpy chest and shoulders too wide for my 5 foot 8 frame. 

But I live to hope and dream, at least for fashion. I've lost nearly 5 kgs (which a friend claims is all water weight from the heat) and looking at Nudie, I'm feeling the slim denims and the classic aesthete vibe- (flannel! greys!).

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Maybe it's not meant to be

I have a fondness for shoes. And it's justified by the fact that apparently, this predilection is inherited according to my mother; so when science and your own mother are in agreement then it must be true. Anyways, I've only just gotten back again to buying Nike. There was a period- I think it was a  full decade- when their designs just didn't appeal.

What brought me back to the fold was when the Flyknit came out in 2012; finally, a shoe that had a slim silhouette as opposed to the imposing bulkiness of the Air Maxes that had been a Nike stalwart since the 80s, and whose look has seem to be permanently stuck there (which its devoted fans love).

The Flyknit was meant to be a racing shoe but of course anyone who takes their sport seriously seem to use another brand altogether for training and actual competitions. I don't do either so the shoe suits me just fine. Since then, I've bought a pair of Roshe Ones, a customised NIKE I.D. all-white Roshe Ones (which I regret and have only worn once), Flyknit Lunar 3s and Flyknit Trainer Chukka FSBs. 

To be honest, the shoes all have faults- the Roshe Ones have hard tubular laces which create painful pressure points on top of my feet. The Lunar 3s which I only found in a size 9 (and still bought them even if my true comfort size is 8.5) have a tendency to loosen up if you're wearing them all day, so woe to you if you actually use them for training/running and they happen to be half a size bigger. And the trainer chukkas, while adequately water-resistant, are truly for the outdoors- using them like for the city possibly puts you at risk of slipping on urban surfaces for which the shoes have absolutely zero grip. And yet looking at its Flyknit texture would you honestly use it for hiking in muddy conditions?? 

But as all Nike fans know, we buy the shoes in spite of their faults because they're like nothing else, and that's reason enough especially if you can afford them anyway.

So when the Lunarepics came out there was no question that I wanted a pair. My excitement grew even more fever pitched when Nike.com finally opened an online store for New Zealand. But at $270, I had to do some research before forking out the money. I got the chance on a trip to Melbourne which in hindsight, was organised partly because I was hoping to get the shoes in Australia.

But as it turned out, the black variant was rare; while it wasn't available at the outlet stores, I was able at least to see how they looked and my initial fear that they would look too bulky was put to rest. They looked just fine. Apparently, the women's version is identical to the men's and a black variant was available, hooray! And at just $150, it was a steal, but my joy was short-lived- checking it out at the counter, we discovered that the pair I had were two different sizes like WTF? Some stupid ass-bitch was out there wearing different sized shoes!

And my bad luck continues. I think. I finally bought them online and even after track and trace has placed them as having arrived in New Zealand 10 days ago, they have yet to bust out of customs, quarantine or whatever goddamned place they're being kept in. 

I didn't even get to the gym for a whole week (well, I had sinusitis anyway so) because I had used the shoe purchase to keep me motivated to sticking to my gym schedule; sans the shoes, I just lost the spirit. 

Silly I know, but if you're not a Nike devotee, you just wouldn't understand!

Post Script: the shipping did say 9-12 days and if that period discounted weekends, actual delivery should commence next week. I hope.

I'll pass on the camo

'Is camo coming back'? is one question we should never ask, because it never goes away. I get my camo moments though I always stick to pants as camo jackets make me a bit paranoid. I have this fear that I might get attacked in public by some psycho who thinks I'm with the army or the police because yes, I've been mistaken as belonging to either too many times to count. So if I do some sort of print (which is actually rare), I will skip the one logo on the breast pocket (do hip people still wear Lacoste??) and go for hipster like an American West inspired cotton shirt (which if you squint, can actually pass for a camo print); or be nationalistic for someone else's country with a flag themed collar on a crisp white Zara shirt. But one of my favourites, perfect for Auckland's predominantly temperate climate, is a simple nylon jacket from Gucci sporting designer Alessandro Michelle's endearing signature bee applique.

 Gucci Men woolen jacket with bee applique

Gucci Men woolen jacket with bee applique

H&M lands in New Zealand 1st October

The (trying hard) fashionista in me should rejoice but I had the chance to see what H&M has to offer when I was in Melbourne and I was shocked that 50-65% of its stock was garbage. Bad seams. Bad fabric; the kind that doesn't forgive you after one wrong cycle in the washing machine. Bad fit (especially if you're fat and bravely asking the sales associate if they had something in uhm, 2XL). For about 80% of the general population, when will we ever learn that we're just deceived by stylist's tricks, photoshop and even by our own sense of bad judgment? And mine is this unwavering belief that if I visualised it hard enough (which I do), I can adequately fill those sleeves and those pant legs as if I was six foot flat with perfectly proportioned limbs.

I mean I don't look that bad, but I'm definitely not six feet tall and for most of these clothes, an additional 3-4 inches in height makes all the difference in proportion and symmetry. Sure, it's definitely how one pulls it off but again, one could over exert one's self-confidence. 

Take your cue from H&M itself and the irony that while it purports to make high fashion accessible for everyone, the majority don't fit the physical template these clothes are presented in.