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How to stay stylish in Manila heat

by Gaby Agbulos

THE heat in the Philippines right now is reaching scarily high levels, with many schools even suspending face-to-face classes because of it. 

Many areas in the country have also been forecasted to reach dangerous levels of heat, such as Palawan, Masbate, Iloilo City, Zamboanga City, and of course, Manila. 

As a result of this, many Filipinos are struggling to go about their day-to-day tasks: running errands, going to school or work, and of course, dressing up.

If you’re the type that puts on cute fits regardless of where you’re going, you may find yourself struggling to think of outfit combinations given the blistering heat, or you’re unsure of how to spice up your plain tank top and shorts combo. 

If you need help figuring out how to stay stylish despite the weather, here are some tips you can follow.

Photos courtesy of Francheska Lhian Nicolas
  1. Buy some summer staples for your wardrobe

No wardrobe is complete without the basics, and this goes for any season. Some go-to pieces you should have in this heat are plain tops and tank tops, both of varying colors, to serve as the base of the outfit that you’ll be building on. 

Denim shorts, jorts, and button-downs are also very in right now, especially if you want that perfect mix of casual and chic.

You should also have a pair of shoes that goes with casual, sportier looks, and ones that go with more formal ones. 

It would also help if you had a go-to set of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets for going out to add a touch of personality to your fit.

From your basic items, you can look for inspiration to figure out how you’ll be able to turn this into a unique outfit moving forward.

You can also do your research on what summer staples are in this season; 22-year-old Rhu Andre Santos, for example, loves to use lightweight sweaters or tops to add depth to his outfits beyond your average t-shirt and jeans combo. 

He explains that lighter fabrics are perfect for the hot weather given their breathability, allowing for less discomfort in this weather.

You can also always go right with crop tops, baby tees, and of course, a good sun dress. 21-year-old Bern Alimon’s go-to outfit combination is a crop top paired with a pair of loose pants or a long flowy skirt, adding depth to their fits by layering them and adding their signature jewelry.

“I swear by loose pants or long skirts,” she stated.

“They’re easy to style and layer whatever the weather.”

Photos courtesy of Francheska Lhian Nicolas and Bern Alimon
  1. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box

Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t dress up anymore. You can try incorporating different textures into your outfits, like using lace or mesh, or experiment with different colors. 

You can start simple by choosing one unique item as the centerpiece of your outfit, then style your way around it.

20-year-old John Mikhael Sario also recommends double-knee pants as a must-have in this weather. 

Another thing that people often forget when dressing up is that accessories are everything! Santos recommends caps, babushkas, or even just a simple set of keychains on your pants to enhance your overall look. 

Sario also likes to add shades to his fits, often pairing them with a polo or t-shirt and jorts. 

“People often underutilize accessories, especially in warmer weather,” Santos explained.

“Accessories add a certain flair to outfits, elevating them to new levels.”

And if you’re still struggling to figure out how to make your outfits stand out from the crowd, try to look for inspiration online to help broaden your horizons.

Sario, for example, used to revolve his outfit around inspirations like Tyler the Creator or ASAP Rocky and now scrolls through his Pinterest and Instagram accounts to help him figure out how to piece items together. 

Similarly, Alimon’s main source of inspiration is also one of her favorite artists: Kang Seulgi from Red Velvet. She also draws inspiration from many Korean stylists, with one example being Styled by Cherinara.

Other than Pinterest, you can also find inspiration by following content creators online. Some people 20-year-old Francheska Lhian Nicolas looks to for inspiration are Adrienne Reau, Elle, and Kaila Hashimoto.

If you want to embody more of a high-end vibe, you can do what Santos does: get inspiration from runway shows and designers. Some of his go-to’s are Vivienne Westwood, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. 

You can also look at specific eras or genres in fashion and focus on emulating their style, such as those of punk, minimalist, and the like, or you can take inspiration from the media you consume. Film, TV, music – there’s inspiration in everything if you look closely enough.

Photos courtesy of Francheska Lhian Nicolas
  1. Prioritize comfort over all else

In this weather, Nicolas notes that the most important thing is to either go for comfortable clothes or ones that show some skin. 

For this, she recommends either lace or mesh pieces. Some may find it uncomfortable, but since they’re thin, your skin can breathe easily. Micro shorts and boxers are also some other options you can go with – just be sure to add a layer of sunscreen on top.

Sario also personally avoids denim or corduroy pants when putting together his fit, as wearing them feels almost unbearable in this heat. He notes that it’s better to get loose trousers, as they allow airflow inside and are cooler to wear for the summer.

“Pick pieces from your wardrobe that you want to highlight, and build from [there,]” explained Alimon. 

“Test your outfit, [check] if kaya mo suotin with the weather. If you’re not comfortable with it, take a photo [to] help you identify and reflect on what worked or didn’t work for you, and adjust it.”

At the end of the day, Santos explains that the key to a good outfit is making sure what you’re wearing has good proportions as well as a nice silhouette that complements your body shape. 

He added: “Experiment as much as you can with your outfits because you’re the only one who knows yourself and the things you’re into.”

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