Esquire Recommends: *10 God-Level Style Moves for Now, the Next Decade and Beyond

We’ve been teaching you how to put clothes together for 10 damn years, so if you haven’t learned anything, let me remind you.

In celebration of our 10th anniversary, we at Esquire Philippines have rounded up our favorite products of the year, from cars to cocktails. As part of our annual Man at His Best (MAHB) event, we’re putting the spotlight on the brands and products that caught our eye. 

We present our top style tips of 2021. 

When I started my journey as a fashion editor in Esquire Philippines almost nine years ago, the extra 10 percent—or that flourish that set you apart—were pocket squares. Think about that for a moment. It was the age of the sartorial peacock, sprezzatura, ankle-bearing pants, and the DB suit with all the trimmings. It seems strange now how we worried ourselves to death about how to park that tuft of fabric in our breast pocket. It was thrilling.

To paint a fuller picture, it was the time when the bomber jacket was king, trousers with elasticized waists were novel, and shops on the radar of this legacy title were very expensive and mostly foreign (if it’s easy to pronounce, it doesn’t belong here).

As well, the framework of men’s style was rooted in icons: Marlon Brando (and his white T-shirt), Paul Newman (and his raglan sweatshirt), Alain Delon (and his marvelous hair), and Steve McQueen (and his everything). In our imaginings, great style was a world exclusively populated by the dangerously cool. It was suspended in the strictly classic and, because this is the Philippine edition of Esquire, also covered in a veil of darkness.


But things shifted. Though we were enamored of the dead, tastes fluctuated, this title changed (from the glamour of print to The Wild West of online), and style, because it never exists in a bubble, moved on.

Point is: Style is alive. The clothes you put on your back are a response to what is happening in the world. Just look at what you’re wearing most days: polo shirt + terry shorts + lounge slippers—the waist-up dress code that has evolved from Zoom meetings. The old gods of Esquire may disapprove but they also know that things that matter move forward.

In this roundup, I offer the most important things to remember to stay in step with style right now, in the next decade, and beyond.

Photo by Burberry.

1| Get the fit right.

Remember this style rule and you can forget the rest. Whatever the fashion, clothes are governed by correct fit. In recent years, T-shirts, trousers, and jackets have all blown up, while the suit, that cornerstone of proper menswear, has developed extra folds and flaps. The perfectly trim, which was considered The Only Way for the longest time, has fallen to the wayside in favor of looser and, frankly, more comfortable expressions.

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But just as the classic three-button suit has guidelines, so does roomy tailoring. The oversize look hangs on the frame a certain way—it looks cool. Put another way: To pull it off, wear clothes designed to be oversize. You can’t just size up.

The Takeaway: One of the easiest ways to get into the loose look is the trouser. Pick up a pair of wide-leg pants (they’re everywhere now). Make it work by minimizing the break and then balance the feeling with conventional pieces elsewhere.


2| Have a custom suit made.

Not even the vagaries of time can tear down the suit. It’s a Never Fail, an Always Works, and something that should be in every man’s closet. And before you can say, “Well, Esquire, I’m just at home growing mold,” remember that there will be a time when you need a suit. There will be the wedding, the party, the ball, the in-person presentation with your boss, and, in the very, very faraway future, that quiet time beneath the earth.


Be a king and get a suit. But please skip the rack. In Manila, a made-to-measure or bespoke unit (the latter is the ultimate goal) is within reach with many fine suitmakers such as Tiño and Masanting Sastreria ready to create a set that will drape beautifully over your misshapen body.

The Takeaway: You only need one great suit. Choose a classic with a punch. For the jacket: three buttons, peak lapels, side vents. For the trouser: maybe a higher rise, full cuffs, no break. Navy. Bring your dress shoes when getting measured.

Photo by DIOR.

3| Subscribe to the sneaker.

More power to the style snob who would never wear sneakers no matter the occasion, but for the rest of mankind, sneakers are part of necessary style. In the past decade, not only have they persevered, but they’ve also shown the most growth. You wore them when they were called rubber shoes. You put them on when they were nicknamed ugly or daddy. And you’re wearing them now in the great age of designer collaborations. 

Sneakers also deserve their own entry over monk straps or penny loafers because, even if you think they’re a cop-out—a sort of surrender to comfort—they’ve remained on your feet, taking you to your destination. Best of all, they come in so many flavors, from retro runners to hiking styles, minimalist to Earth-friendly.

The Takeaway: It might be a good idea to improve your portfolio with designer sneakers. The Dior B30 if you like white. The Nike x Sacai VaporWaffle if you like black. But maybe not the new Yeezys unless you have very big balls.

Photo by CARTIER.

4| Wear a watch.

So I don’t want to argue about this anymore. Even if you have several soulless slabs of high-tech metal glued to your fingertips, you still need a watch around your wrist. The importance of the watch is never diminished by the super accuracy of the digits on a mobile phone or a smartwatch. In fact, its meaning is heightened as it transcends telling the time and signifies more important values: success (as with your first Rolex), a memory (as in the inscription on a JLC Reverso), freedom (as in your underwater companion, the Seiko Prospex).


Wear a damn watch if only to signify that you are human. It doesn’t have to be a Patek Philippe Calatrava (that’s for later or when you can borrow dad’s). It can be any watch, including the vintage Snoopy model you found in a curious shop in Tokyo.

The Takeaway: How about a small face? For a while, watches were in a pissing match, with diameters getting bigger and bigger. But now, there exists an appreciation for classic proportions. What’s the most classic size? A 36 mm (best for dress), but anything sub-40 will do fine.


5| Put on sunscreen always.

I am happy to report that caring for your face is not considered a weird thing for men to do anymore. It’s become acceptable—and even necessary—to wash it, moisturize it, treat it, mask it, and protect it. So I say, carry on, menfolk. Show the world the kind of man you are: a man who cares about how you look on the blown-up Zoom screen that cruelly reflects the abuses you have inflicted on yourself (late nights don’t translate prettily on screen).

My one request is that you and all humans with skin do the last step diligently. Wear a lightweight sunscreen every day, most especially now. Sunlight seeps indoors, its unseen fingers touch your face, slowly destroying it. That film of protection will be your secret to immortal skin.

The Takeaway: The great thing about the popularity of skincare is the arrival of affordable lines. While the pitera of SK-II or the broth of La Mer are holy grails, there are alternatives that can also do wonders (The Ordinary, Cosrx). Ask your girlfriend.


6| Go with the flow.

Because you had limited access to your barber in the past year, you made very interesting hair choices. You grew it out, haphazardly trimmed it, or boldly buzzed it all away. The results ranged from okay to hilarious. Nevertheless, all hair is valid. Its ability to grow wildly is but an assertion of its nature. It is also a reflection of the moment. Be at peace with it.


And if you have access to the barber, return to a prevailing style. But, now that I think about it, there hasn’t been a king cut for a while. The last time I checked (it was too long ago), the cool thing was the French Crop. The classics such as the buzz cut, skin fade, and side part are on hand, too. It doesn’t really matter. Hair is the one thing you shouldn’t worry about now.

The Takeaway: Experiment. If you’ve allowed your hair to grow like a bush, you have material for longer styles. Try the quiff, the pompadour, or even the undercut. Maybe you’ll like it. And if it looks weird, grow it out.


7| Double down on fragrance.

It seems a dumb idea to wear perfume when you’re just staring at a screen at home. But here’s a truth affirmed during the lockdown: Fragrance affects mood. Not excited about facing the gang in that third monthly meeting? Put on some Bleu de Chanel and suddenly things are less painful. The day even seems beautiful.

The idea is not at all crazy. Wearing fragrance is not just for an audience. It is for you. Remember that perfume is very personal because it lives on your skin. Also, it is specific. Contrary to all the lists out there, including our own, there is never a singular best. The best scent is the one that appeals to you.

The Takeaway: Don’t pause your perfume game just because you’re at home. Wear your favorite scent when you need a lift. If you want something to wake you from the doldrums, look into the olfactory sensations of Hermès or Aesop. For something dependable, there is Bulgari.

Photo by BOSS.

8| Buy more things online.

Lockdowns have led to the acceleration of e-commerce. You do it. Your mom does it. Even late and lazy adopters, including people of advanced age and shopping snobs, have been forced to trust the mechanics of buying something they can’t touch because, well, there was no other way to get new things.

While there are details that can’t be replicated by e-commerce like, say, the high-end touch of upscale boutiques—Perrier while you browse, sir?—or simply the ability to bring home the new shirt immediately after purchase, there are upsides to online shopping: You can canvass for the most affordable option with just a tap. You never have to deal with surly sales associates. You can do it in bed. And you always feel giddy when packages arrive because they’re like presents.... that you bought yourself.

The Takeaway: The most exciting thing? E-commerce exponentially expands your reach. Unbound by location, you can get that hard-to-find exclusive from global retailers like Mr. Porter, FarFetch, Ssense, and more. It’s all for the taking.

Photo by Kenzo.

9| Break the rules.

Having identified these god-level style commandments that will keep you feeling good today and tomorrow, I now offer the most important wisdom: The ultimate rule is that there are no rules. We’re living in the wildest, weirdest, and not-normal times and the way you dress reflects this. The most important accessory? It’s not a vintage watch or a designer sneaker, but a face mask that will keep you alive. (There are stylish options, too.)

These standards are but a starting point, from which you can explore. If you prefer leather shoes over sneakers, go ahead. If you don’t like navy and are dead set on macabre black, I’m not stopping you. Leather sneakers exist and a black suit can be livened up by a bright tie. One last thing to remember? Style is personal. It should speak to your inclinations and preferences, whims and needs. Make it your own.

Photo by Loewe.

*It ends here but style continues.

And now, in true Esquire fashion, I break the rules one last time and end this Top 10 list at nine. Ten is expected and steady and flat. But nine? Well, it feels dangerous and exciting (like style). Nine is between an end and a beginning. Nine is standing on the edge of a cliff, looking into the depths, waiting to take a leap. 

I trust, in this moment, on the cusp of braveness, you are wearing a double-breasted navy suit, your found watch, and those brand new sneakers—plus a thin layer of sunscreen. Now, just take the next step. 

Man At His Best (MAHB) is Esquire's annual celebration that honors the life and work of inspiring men and women throughout the year.

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Clifford Olanday
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