Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Gurus Speak

I am a proud recessionista, I think most of us are.  When you work in an industry like ours, you always have to look your best (and not be seen in the same outfit twice).  Call it vain, but it's part of the job.  And to tell you honestly, our salaries are not even enough to cover our clothing allowance.  But whether you work to be vain, or you're just plain vain—there never seems to be enough money to support our vanity :)  And with the global recession looming over us, we're all the more challenged to make the most out of every peso spent.

So I’ve rounded up Manila’s best stylists (most of them I'm proud to have worked with) and asked them how they’ve survived the rough times and managed to still look great without burning a hole in their pockets.  You might be wondering why it's not me who's giving the tips; that's because I'm preggy—thus, not qualified to give good sound advice... just yet ;)  Here they are, in alphabetical order:

ALYANNA MARTINEZ, Preview’s editorial assistant, looks smashing in an H&M tuxedo jacket and necklace, Zara satin jodhpurs and cobalt blue suede pumps, and a Marc by Marc Jacobs oversized clutch.

Why she loves it: I got these jodhpurs at a steal for just P750; it’s a trendy piece so it was a must that I got the best deal I could for them.  I love my cobalt blue suede shoes; they can be paired with practically any color combination.  My tuxedo jacket has been worn in countless occasions—with a dress, skirt, trousers or even denims.

Pro tips:

1. Accessories, like this $30 H&M necklace, is a fun way to add an interesting element to a would-be-rather plain outift.  The oversized clutch is an investment piece that I got; it's worth it when you calculate the cost-per-wear value with the countless times I have used it.

2. During these trying times, scrimp on clothing and invest on good shoes, bags and accessories instead.  These can last you many seasons while scrimp on trendier items.  For clothing, try thrift stores for unique and affordable pieces or get first dibs on sales.  The trick is mixing high-end with more affordable pieces for a look that looks like it cost way more than what you spent for. 

BIANCA SANTIAGO, Chalk’s fashion editor, puts on a thrift cropped blazer, Hanes V-neck tee, k2 gray skirt, boots from the Nordstrom rack, and necklace from Forever 21.

Why she loves it: This is one of my favorites for casual, fuss-free reasons—all basics which means I can mix and match these with any other piece in my wardrobe and to come up with different looks.  Most of the pieces I have on are great buys, scored from thrift stores to mall shops. 

Pro tips:

1. Invest in the basics.  A plain white tee can provide unlimited outfit options, taking you from casual to dressy. 

2.  I'm a fan of the menswear trend.  So, instead of buying more polos and jeans, I rummage through my brother’s closet to borrow some of his pieces for quick alternatives.  I adjust it to my size by folding or tucking it in! Just be creative and resourceful when it comes to dressing up!

3. Be a conscious shopper. I always ask myself before every purchase if I can wear that certain piece more than three or even five times.  

ERICA PAREDES, Metro’s Beauty Editor, wears a blazer from SM girls teens wear, white shirt, braided necklaces from Platinum Mall Bangkok, Target black leggings, and brown vintage boots from Ukay-Ukay in Baguio.

Why she loves it: This is my favorite no-brainer, default outfit for days I don't know what to wear, or I don't feel like thinking of what to wear. The entire outfit cost me less than P1500, making it the best deal ever. The boots were on sale for P100! Definitely recession-proof, and still stylish.

Pro tips:

1. Go vintage. If you don't like the idea of wearing clothes once worn by strangers, look through your mom's and titas' old clothes and accessories. I'm quite sure you will find a few gems!

2. To make a pricey item worth the purchase, consider how many times you will actually use it. If it's too trendy, forget it.

KERI ZAMORA, freelance fashion stylist, is seen wearing a vintage Leonard that she inherited from her mom.

Why she loves it: I enjoy “shopping” in my mom's closet, because I won't have to spend money.  I'm thankful that my mom really takes good care of her things so even her gowns or dresses from the 1970s still look great.  It amazes me that some styles really last forever.

Pro tips:

1. Accessories are the key to giving your outfit a boost.  Vintage sunglasses or your lola’s tambourine necklace can do just the trick.

2. Take good care of your vintage finds by storing them well.  Who knows? Your daughter might be able to benefit from them when she grows up, too!

3. When inherited designer buys do not fit you, make sure to visit your trusted seamstress to have it altered to fit to your body.  You don’t want to risk these precious finds being damaged in the wrong hands.

NIKKI SANTIAGO,’s Fashion Assistant, sports her mom’s lace camisole, an old dress turned into a DIY skirt, Topshop garter belt, Tonic gladiator wedges, Esprit handbag, Beautiful Obsessions rose ring (P 350), Accessory Lab yellow stone earrings and her boyfriend’s watch.

Why she loves it: The lace camisole can be worn alone as a top and it adds femininity to the outfit while the garter belt and wedges toughen the look. I cut off the upper portion of an old purple dress and turned it into this lovely billowy skirt. I also chose a bag with a classic shape that can match any outfit. My pair of gladiator wedges costs only P1090 and I wear it all the time as it’s very comfy and trendy at the same time. I got the garter belt on sale and even if it’s part of a really old collection, it still works for many of my outfits.

Pro tips:

1. Shop your closet and your mom’s and your sister’s. Share! You can borrow even your boyfriend’s clothes and accessories since the “boyfriend look” is fast becoming a trend.

2. If you’re going to splurge, spend on something that can transcend times and trends like a great pair of jeans. That way, you get your money’s worth.

3. Don’t just buy shoes because their pretty. Make sure they’re comfortable and most importantly, they fit perfectly. Or else, they just end up in your closet doing just that: looking pretty.

4. Buy local! Great style doesn’t necessarily come with a high price tag. 

Hope you learned a thing or two from these fabulous stylish moguls.  Remember that it's not important what brands you wear; what matters is HOW you wear them ;)

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