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Looking Good: Don’t overdo casual Friday

Posted On 2011 Nov 28
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BY OSCAR F. PICAZO

OSCAR F. PICAZO

FOR Filipinos, one of the most satisfying things to do is to see and be seen. Below are some sightings in the Philippines. A couple of the sightings have no formal names, so I invented the phrases to describe them (Donald Tramp, Batman’s dimpo mini-cape).
So you want to be posturyoso or posturyosa (smart-looking)? Remove the dimpo on your back, avoid the saggy-pants look, don’t even dare to do the Donald Tramp, don’t overdo casual Friday, go easy on the shades and scarf unless you really need them, and go for the slim cut if you don’t sport a hefty belly. And please, use your technowatch to keep time.
Casual Friday – n., a sartorial invention from Seattle, Washington that dictated the wearing of casual rather than formal clothes (button-down shirts, tie, and dark pants) on the last working day of the week, a phenom that quickly became global and infiltrated the weekend and soon led to the wearing of shorts, halter tops, and flip-flops on Sunday mass and worship services, thus converting the “Sunday’s best” behavior to “Sunday’s worst.”
Dimpo mini-cape – n., a handkerchief, face towel, or square piece of cloth placed on the shoulder or back of a perspiring child or adult to prevent the person from catching a cold.  Half of the dimpo is placed under the person’s shirt, and the other half flaps like an unwanted wing, making the person look like a poor superhero of Gotham.
Donald Tramp – n., a fashion style that tries to combine the formality of the corporate Donald (jacket and tie) with the informality of street wear (denim jeans and rubber shoes). Verdict: divided they stand, united it falls.
Preppy – n., adj., a look that recalls the upwardly mobile WASPs garbed in khakis and button-down madras and oxford-cloth shirts, and sockless topsiders, smart-looking in the Ivy League, country club, and yacht-y settings of its origin, but certainly anachronistic in the heat, dust and floods of the tropics.  Topsiders are all the rage in monsoon Asia these days, which makes you wonder where those boat shoes are worn in the absence of a yacht:  to escape the flood in a banca?
Saggy pants – n., a fashion trend that allows you to show your anal crack without being cited by the excited police for indecent exposure.
Scarf – n., a male fashion item that started showing around their necks in the mid-2000s, patterned after the Palestinian practice.  The red-and-white traditional colors of this Levantine cloth gradually gave way to neutral, non-political hues.  It soon went west and met the winter scarf, and the rest is history.  Today the male scarf is all over the winterless tropics as protection against the sun and dust, as absorber of perspiration, as a thief’s or carjacker’s facial cover, or as an overused metrosexual fashion statement.  Curiously, women’s scarf has retreated back to the closet after so many pretenses of being pashmina.
Shades – n., Filipinos’ favorite accoutrement worn more as a fashion enhancer rather than as solar protection.  It’s universal use in wakes and funerals, even on gloomy days or darkest of nights, makes the grieving look like Mafia men, misplaced fashion critics, or Oriental versions of Jackie O.
‘Slim cut’ – n., a fashion trend that highlights the showing of strong biceps and muscular chests among young males, and beer bellies among their middle-aged brothers, fathers and uncles.
Technowatches – n., big-faced multifunctional timepieces beloved by race-car drivers and Filipino males who, despite the nanosecond accuracy of said wrist displays, are rarely on time for dates and appointments.
Ukay-ukay (U2) – n., the trade in used clothing that is a boon to cost-minimizing customers, and a bane to sales-maximizing local garment manufacturers whose business U2 tends to crowd out.  U2 represents the terminal stage of the life-cycle of the global garment business.  The design for the garment originates in the west, it travels to the east to be manufactured in labor-cheap export processing zones, it goes back to the west to be bought and worn for a few seasons, and then it is discarded and shipped back to the east to be disposed cheaply, perchance to the same poorly paid worker who made it.  In many instances, U2 is the only way that the poorest households can get a decent garment to protect them from the elements and to look a little bit fashionable to the U2 crowd. A rich matron caught wearing U2 will say, “No, this is vintage.”
Editor’s Note – The author is a health economist who has lived in four countries (the Philippines, the U.S., Kenya, and South Africa) and has worked in 23, mostly in Asia and Africa. He has retired from the World Bank and is now based in Quezon City, doing occasional consulting assignments with development agencies, foundations, and nongovernmental organizations. He finished economics (magna cum laude) from the University of Santo Tomas, M.A. economics (and Ph.D., minus dissertation) from the University of the Philippines, and was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in health financing at the Johns Hopkins University. He was the literary editor and then editor-in-chief of “The Varsitarian,” the student organ of U.S.T. He was a poetry prizewinner of Focus Magazine in 1980 and is now trying to resume creative writing.  This is his first published nontechnical article in 30 years.

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