Cabin fever nearly got the best of me today (unfortunately for me, there wasn't a single hair to pull out!). So I rifled through my boxes of memories here at home, posted a lot of old pictures online, and found this essay that made me smile. I remember writing it for some straight male friends in the past, them clandestine and craving for fashion advice. I sent them this for their perusal(!). The piece is a peek into some of my own philosophies on style.
TALL & BEAUTIFUL
I've always hated leafing through men’s lifestyle magazines. Well, that’s a lie. I admit I get great ideas on dressing well. I fantasize about wardrobes that distinguish me from the hoi polloi . I also fantasize about the men. But that’s another story (don't worry, my dear hetero reader).
So what am I saying? Many times, I find men’s lifestyle magazines ridiculous. There are the clothes that cost a regular employee’s minimum wage, the promoted lifestyle that require a five to six-digit monthly income to sustain. And oh yes, not everyone can be that tall and beautiful! I say this with all my bitter heart. Though I exhaust myself lifting barrels at the gym, secretly watching suspicious growth pill infomercials on the shopping channel, and admiring the Adonis-like men who strut past the coffee shop I hang out in, sometimes I feel I fall short in my attempts to be in some model's shoes.
No. I will not surrender to the thought that only in fantasy can I enter the seeming impenetrable world of men’s lifestyle magazines.
I, even only 5’4” in height, can still be tall and beautiful. Yes, men like me or even those who try to claim to be an inch taller that what they actually are (you know who you are), can make fantasy a reality. It is my goal that post-digestion of this article, I have imparted and shared some possibility, some hope, some knowledge on discovering or resurrecting the giant Adonis in all of us beautiful and petite men. Here are some basic styling tips, to heighten ourselves beyond the prevalent standard of men's high fashion.
• First of all, stay away from common and mass-produced International brands. They cater mostly to men of their race; where a small size for them translates to a large for us. Would you believe that I actually fit in what they label "For Kids"? Leave the baggy style to the adolescents and the real hip-hoppers. Nobody wants to drown in an excess of fabric right? Well, unless you’re Elizabeth on her coronation day. Besides, if you resort to mass-produced garments, you’re bound to meet a twin somewhere in the mall. Being an individual is always important.
• When you’ve finally settled with the fashion aesthetic you’re comfortable with (e.g. preppy, casual, sporty, S&M), consider either local brands or products from our cute Asian neighbors like Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan (yes, ukay-ukay included). In most cases they carry the size just right for us: a small is really a small. Be wary of department stores because aside from having the same shirt with the guy across at the far end of the MRT, many of their fashion lines come in safe and bigger sizes to accommodate mass consumption of their products.
• Take your time when shopping. If many optimists urge us to live each day like it were our last, then dress up like it were so. I don’t mean deck yourself with boughs of holly, silly. I’m referring to keeping in mind the same urgency. Hence, to anticipate the end, time is of the essence to prepare for it right? Try on the items you like and don’t just pick them out like bread in a bakery. Take note that though it may look delicious on a mannequin or a hanger, it does not necessarily mean it will on you.
Taking one’s time also allows the consideration of price. Unless money is no object to you, go ahead and do an Imelda. For those conscious of a budget, keep in mind that there is always a cheaper alternative somewhere. And it’s great if you’ve got your girlfriend, sister, gay friend, or mother with you so that you consider endless comments and ideas aside from the ones running through your head.
• Make sure that the fit is just right. If it’s too tight that you find yourself constricted and uncomfortable, stay away from it. Pigs in a blanket are yummier served on a platter. Remember that most items shrink further after washing and drying. And there is the issue of the silhouette or what is commonly known as the ‘cut’. Ask yourself (and whomever you’re with) if it flatters your body type. Does it shorten your legs? Does it expose your child-bearing hips? Does it make you look sharp or like a hobo? Does it conceal your jelly-belly? And the most important question, Does it look like you're wearing the clothes or are they wearing you?
• What’s your favorite color? I say mine is green but it brings out the dark circles under my eyes. And sometimes, if I'm not careful I could look like a grasshopper or a forest patch. Though you’re itching to have that indigo shirt, to your friends it may make you look like an aubergine. Keep these in mind, and consider that it may be better to look at your favorite colors than to wear them. You’ll be surprised at how you’ll actually like how you look if you just try on a color other than your favorite.
Do pick a color that compliments your skin tone. If you’re on the fair side, light colors are great for a fresh and preppy look and dark ones accentuate what you’ve worked so hard to shield from the sun. Darker guys should stick to either light colors to lighten their complexion or dark colors that flatter and not clash with their skin tone. If you’re a black beauty, stay away from those tangerine and burgundy shirts lest you disappear by twilight.
Remember that colors have a life of their own and can swallow you alive unless tamed. Remember Big Bird? What comes to your head when you think of him? YELLOW and not the bird right? Do not let the colors you wear speak for you. Use them to work for you. And that includes extending your height vertically. Keeping tones close to each other when mixing pieces creates an illusion of continuity, thus lengthening the wearer. Juxtaposing clashing colors between a shirt and a pair of pants only cuts you horizontally, announcing how petite you are to the world.
• Someone once said that shoes are not mere accessories but an extension of your whole outfit. And by this, he was pertaining to the tip of the shoe. Thus, the usual options: Square-toe? Pointed? Round? Consider this first: how does it balance your whole look? Does it lengthen me in my ensemble? So, Square-toe? Never! Unless you’d like to look like a robot or worse, have the misfortune of having all your toes hacked off by a butcher. Round? Too round and all you’ll need is a tutu to frolic with a basket of flowers. Pointed? Careful with this one or you can look like Santa’s long-lost helper. The safest choices are the varieties that subtly elongate to a not-so pointy end.
• Lastly, WALK TALL. When one is comfortable with his chosen ensemble, confidence will simply flow like the rivers of the Amazon—--in all directions. Clothes do not make the man. You do. The right fit, the right colors, and the right shoes wouldn’t matter without the right attitude. So, taking charge of one’s fashionable life and making the clothes work for you makes any glossy magazine fantasy a reality. Great things come in small packages right? Really, they do.