Fashion

Men at work: Your office wear upgrade

Seven men from different lines of work, all exceptional examples of dressing the part.
IMAGE Edric Chen
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A man’s occupation affects the clothes he wears—and vice versa. In a time when many of us don’t necessarily go to a traditional office, it’s interesting to see how men choose to present themselves with clothes. An actor, chef, designer, shop owner, and more reveal the reasons why they put on what they put on. Spoiler: The common thread is a philosophy of comfort and propriety. In other words, it’s for work.

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A big part of dressing for work is the impression you make on other people. JASON QUA, who handles finance for men’s wear boutique Signet, is particularly keen about this. “We want to show people the different ways you can wear our stuff,” he says. “We want to represent, not just the suiting side of our business, but also the casual side.” Whether he’s out to meetings or manning the store, Jason likes to mix it up as a way of showcasing their wares. He sees his daily outfit as a way of championing one of Signet’s core assertions. “People think that if you’re wearing something nice, you’re not comfortable,” he says, referring to the fine suits that he and his co-workers can often be found in. “That’s a misconception that we want to disprove.” Jason wears his own Sartoria Dalcuore suit, Drake’s tie, Bretelle & Braces Braces, and a Simonnot-Godard pocket square from his store Signet, and an ascot Chang shirt.

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Working in a creative industry affords you a bit of leniency with the dress code. However, that doesn’t preclude sartorial expectations altogether. ALEC RIVERA understands this. He’s the founder, executive producer, and accounts director of ManilaMan, a young and prodigious production house that has worked on videos for brands like Nike, Globe, and Viber. It’s the kind of work that requires you to dress comfortably for creative environments like shoots, without compromising the way you present yourself when meeting with clients. Alec walks that tightrope with a look that he best describes as “tailored,” concerning himself most with how everything fits. He usually finds himself in clothes that are fairly casual: button-downs, polo shirts, and jeans; but always in slim, sharp, contemporary cuts. Alec wears an Adolfo Dominguez t-shirt (P4,950), Louis Vuitton necklace and bracelet, and his own jeans, belt, and watch.

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These days, MARKKI STROEM wears a bright red suit jacket to work. That’s not something we can recommend to many other people (perhaps only four other people), because this month, the singer and actor will be playing the role of Tommy DeVito in the local theater adaptation of Jersey Boys, of which the colorful jacket is a signature look. But Markki also recently found himself dressing up for work more anyway. “I wear suits, ‘cause I sing jazz,” he says. “I take pop songs and put them in a time machine, take them back to the 1940s, 1950s, and I jazz-ify them.” As part of living the roles he plays, Markki likes to do the same for the way he dresses. “I add a modern twist to the old style,” he says. That’s a style advice we can recommend to anyone. Markki wears a Van Laack sport coat and shirt, and an Hermès scarf and pin.

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If you recognize TOM ESCONDE and can’t imagine why, we’ll remind you: It’s because you’ve seen him on a few billboards as the winner of this year’s Century Tuna Superbods. Since prevailing in the tuna brand’s search for sexy people, Tom kicked off a career as a model, for which he often wears relaxed clothes: a T-shirt, hoodie, jeans, and sneakers. It’s the classic off-duty model outfit, which, with a physique like his, is really all you need. But when he’s not off to TV appearances or photo shoots, Tom attends to his day job as perhaps the last thing you imagine him doing. The Filipino-Swedish model also has a full-time job as an IT technician, helping people troubleshoot their computer problems. Tom, the tech support guy, wears a dress shirt, slacks, and oxfords, which allow him to blend in with mortals—just like a particular journalist from the Daily Planet. Tom wears an Adolfo Dominguez jacket (P17,500, with removable lining), Pedro del Hierro leather jacket (P26,500) and jeans (P4,450), Pedro sneakers, and his own Ralph Lauren sweater.

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Function, comfort, presentation, and style are the four tenets of GAB BUSTOS’ job as the head chef of The Girl and The Bull and 12/10. But it’s not just about the food; they’re also his guiding principles in dressing up for work. Both restaurants are lauded as much for their great dishes as they are for their charm and atmosphere, all of which Gab has created and maintained by involving himself in the different aspects of running his restaurants. He often finds himself jumping in and out of the kitchen, manning the bar, talking to patrons in front of the house, working service, and meeting with his team. So to suit all occasions, Gab keeps it simple: jeans, chinos, a T-shirt, or a kitchen-friendly oxford shirt, mostly in black or white. Gab wears a Van Laack shirt, Lacoste Live pants (P6,850), and a Miansai bracelet (P6,950).

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“Jeans and a shirt,” says OLIVER SEGOVIA, when asked about what he wears to work. “When the occasion calls for it and I have to pretend to be an adult, I reluctantly get into a blazer.” Oliver seems to shrug off the fact that he’s the founder and CEO of AVA.ph, the local e-commerce site that prides itself in a curated roster of apparel and accessory brands. He works in fashion, but his utilitarian style philosophy has more in common with the tech industry. “I have to make so many decisions every day that it seems like a waste of cognitive load to spend a lot of time scanning a closet, matching tops and bottoms, and picking out shoes.” Yet Oliver knows the importance of dressing well, especially in his line of work. He negotiates form and function by thinking long-term: “I carefully select staple, investment pieces that can stay in my wardrobe for five or more years, and I stick to those.” Oliver wears a Van Laack sportcoat and belt, Pedro del Hierro shirt (P3,250), and Hiltl pants.

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For INO CALUZA, dressing for work means dressing to represent. Ino is the creative director and designer of Viktor Jeans—the local custom-made denim brand that he founded 13 years ago. Back from a hiatus, with fresh ideas to reinvigorate his brand, Ino now spends a lot of time at his store in Greenbelt to meet with clients and his atelier in Antipolo, where he makes his denimwear. But wherever he goes, the designer is always his brand’s best spokesperson. “When I realized that I was going to be in this business, the first order of the day was to wear all Viktor. You become the brand. You become a walking billboard,” says Ino. And he insists that it works—in fact, he finds that his clients order the kind of jeans that he wears to meet them. That’s a testament to the importance of always wearing your own. Ino wears a jacket, shirt, and jeans from his label Viktor, and Northskull bracelets. All other prices available upon request.

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Styling: Clifford Olanday
Shoot Direction: Paul Villariba
Grooming: Joan Teotico
Hair: Mayve Canamo
Production Asssistant: Ednalyn Magnaye

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Miguel Escobar
Assistant Features Editor for Esquire Philippines
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