The Uniform: Work

I wore a uniform to work for two years. I worked at a plant and had to wear company-issued, ill-fitting and high-waisted khaki pants, collared shirts that were only slightly less unflattering than the pants and closed shoes. Needless to say, I didn’t like my uniform and tried to minimize the times I was seen in public in it.

A few months back I moved out of the plant to our Makati offices. And yes, as shallow as it sounds, one of the things I looked forward to the most was not having to wear my uniform anymore. A few weeks in, though, I wanted my uniform back.

For the first few weeks, I found myself sitting on my bed, with closet and cabinet doors flung open, staring. I was now back to having to think about what I had to wear to work. I took for granted how easy I had it when I could dress myself while half asleep (which was the case sometimes, since I woke up at 4:30 am to go to the plant). I just had to grab a pair of pants from their pile, any of the shirts from theirs and I was good to go. Of course, that was no longer the case now.

To save myself the unnecessary stress and, also, to get myself to work just that teeny tiny bit earlier, I figured I should come up with my own uniform for work: a wardrobe that would require minimal effort in putting outfits together in the morning before work. I wouldn’t have to worry about putting together outfits half an hour before leaving the house. I’ve done the careful thinking and stressing before I’ve even bought the pieces, making sure it will fit with the look I want to achieve, and will go with multiple things that I already have. In other words, I could still be half-asleep and dress myself appropriately for work, albeit this time with more variety, and better-fitting pants.

In the two years I was at the plant, I didn’t shop for work clothes. I’ve had to overhaul my wardrobe a bit, clean out the stuff that no longer fits me either physically or style-wise (stylistically?). I’ve had to really think about what I wanted to look and dress like. I had to be careful about not buying things on a whim, like I did when I started earning money, only have to those purchases end up in the discard pile after my wardrobe clean-up. So after careful thought and consideration, this, in condensed form, is what my new work uniform looks like:

The Uniform

Pencil skirts – I bought two black ones from Zara and had our family tailor copy one of them for three more. Two of them where in basic fabrics, khaki and houndstooth-ish gray. But the third one was in a bright purple-blue tweed with green, yellow and pink threads running through.

Skinny cropped pants – I bought a pair of J. Crew Factory Winnie pants during my NYC trip, fell in love them and promptly bought two more. I’ve been looking for a similar fabric in other colors to have some made, but no luck so far.

Sweaters – Zara and Uniqlo for fitted v-neck ones, but I also have looser sweatshirt-ish ones similar to the gray one above.

Shirts – Slim fit cotton ones from The Gap and Uniqlo and flowier, looser silk ones from Massimo Dutti and Joe Fresh. Alas, Equipment is still beyond my reach.

Pointy flats and heels – The flats pictured above are J. Crew Vivs, but mine are my favorite Anthology Carnabys which pretty much look exactly the same. Massimo Dutti, surprisingly, has some well-made, comfortable and relatively affordable heels.

I will spring for something printed (dots) or with texture (like that tweed skirt) or with more color (a deep purple silk shirt from Joe Fresh) sometimes, but as you can see, almost everything is in a neutral: white, black, gray, navy, khaki (the influence of the plant?) or blush.

And because everything is in either a neutral or in a classic style or cut (or both), everything goes together. Like I used to with my plant uniform, I can pick any bottom and any top (there will be some exceptions, of course) and be good to go.

I have a uniform again.

A first: A shoe review

I am not a shoe girl. Yes, I will oooh and aaah over a particularly lovely pair of shoes once in a while, but as you may have already noticed, I am a bag girl at heart.

So if I go on here and write about shoes, then you can expect that I feel really strongly about the shoes. And, yes, I do feel very strongly about the Anthology Carnabys.

My first sighting of the Carnaby was a blurry picture on Twitter from Karrots, Anthology’s former designer. It was a photo of the prototypes for a pointy, patent leather flat. I was looking for a dressier alternative to ballet flats and these seemed like the perfect option. They would also be my first pair of Anthos. I’ve heard so much good stuff about the brand, but haven’t found a pair of their shoes that I loved enough to take the plunge. And these basic, classic flats were IT.

I had to wait about three to four months before Anthology actually got the shoes to market. I have to admit that I thought they were a bit pricey for flats, but I bought the beige ones anyway, remembering the feedback I’ve heard about Anthos.

I had a good feeling about the shoes already when I fit them at the store. The patent leather was soft, which was a concern for me, since more often than not, patent leather shoes tend to be rigid. Pliability of the leather is even more important with pointy shoes and with flats, to avoid any pain at the toes or at the back of the heel where the back of the shoe hits the skin.

I’ve worn the shoes to work, during 12 hour days and they were great. No pain or bloodied heels, no wrinkling of the leather, the shape was perfect, they looked good with practically everything. In short I loved the Carnabys. So much so that I bought a second pair in black.

I brought these shoes with me during my NY trip as a back up to my trusty ballet flats. But as luck would have it, my ballet flats were soaked through when I got caught in the rain at the US Open. I had no choice but to use my Anthos the next day, as my ballet flats were still drying out. And I never looked back.

I put the Carnabys through the ultimate comfort test, walking Lord knows how many NYC blocks in a day, and they passed. With flying colors. I’d be out in the city the whole day, on my feet probably 80% of the time, I’ve never once felt any pain or discomfort due to the shoes. No pinching of the toes, no scarring at the back of my foot. Nothing. For patent pointy shoes, that’s amazing.

I thought I loved the Carnabys then, I’m crazy about them now. They look great, they’re a dream to walk in, plus they are proudly 100% Filipino designed and made. So go get them. Now. Before I decide to hoard and buy out all the size 7s available.

Click on the photos to buy the Carnabys from the Anthology site or to get information on where else you can get them.