As illustrated by perpetually well-dressed Manila creatives David Orbeta and Giancarlo Salazar
To us, scouring the internet for style inspiration is almost second nature. Sometimes it happens subconsciously, too, when we scroll at warp speed through our newsfeed for something––anything––that might incite wonder (no pun intended).
With hyper-refined social accounts and all that’s #aesthetic practically being the norm, what often gets us to stop for a double take are things that move us to take mental notes (obviously, so we could try them ourselves). This could be anything from a beauty look down to an unconventional styling idea worth hacking. And most recently, it’s been about an unprecedent yearning to borrow entire outfits from the boys. All this thanks to two Manila-based creatives cinematographer David Orbeta and graphic designer Giancarlo Salazar whom, we’re convinced, have magnificently hit refresh (or reset?) on the rules of men’s casual wear.
It’s not only that Orbeta and Salazar know how to effortlessly traipse around the jeans-and-t-shirt formula. The two long-time friends (who’ve practically grown up together bonding over things like Legos and Nacho Libre and now, fashion) manage to make men’s casual wear actually covetable and exciting. But by those, it’s worth noting, we mean simple at times but always sharp, non-intimidating but definitely memorable. Throw in the fact that they’ve got a penchant for thrifting and we’re sold––and ready to take notes.
Wonder: When you want to look your best in casual wear, what are things you always do or make sure of?
David Orbeta: Three things I usually watch out for are: first, whether I’m attempting too much. By that I mean putting together too many patterns, for instance, or colors or [elements] that clash. Second, whether there’s something interesting going on with my outfit. I try to make sure there’s always some point of interest––be it patterned trousers, a good jacket or an interesting shirt. Three, whether or not what I’m wearing makes me happy and reflects the image I have or want for myself.
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Giancarlo Salazar: They say the devil is in the details, so I like to look for small spots in the outfit where I can incorporate more detailed fashion choices. For example, that could be matching my watch’s leather strap to my leather shoes or matching the color of my socks with my trousers. I’m always looking for that little sprinkle to glue the entire outfit together. An outfit only ever needs one key element. And everything else is just there to help frame it. This could either be a cool jacket or patterned pants or a piece in a strong color (say, red or mustard). When I put an outfit together, I like to make sure that the pieces don’t steal each other’s spotlight.
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W: Thinking back, when would you say you both became more thoughtful about dressing up?
DO: I began getting into fashion because of my brother. He was always ahead of the curve when it came to fashion, just confident about wearing whatever he felt like. Growing up I’d always borrow his clothes when I wanted to look good. Thankfully we’re now at a point where we both borrowed each other’s clothes. We also go to each other for advice on outfits and send each other looks and zero in on what we want to look like.
GS: I think I’ve always wanted to be more intentional with my fashion choices, but I was either too shy or insecure to pursue it. My line of work is creative in nature and it sometimes entails going to gallery exhibits, museums and meeting other creative individuals. I think being around that environment gave me the push to be more thoughtful about the things I wear. It showed me that if they can do it, I can do it, too.
W: Any brands you frequent for your clothes?
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W: Walk us through the looks you shot today and how you’re styling them.
DO: I wore two looks today. One that leans a little more toward the side of me that wants to be a little more clean-cut and preppy. The other appeals to the side of me that loves black and alternative culture. For the preppy look, I wore a white linen mandarin collar shirt from Uniqlo tucked into cropped patterned grey trousers from Forever 21 in Davao (I found it when we were visiting relatives and didn’t want to go home without buying it) with an oversized brown tartan jacket that I got from YesStyle and Doc Marten-style boots that I got for much cheaper from C-Point in Marikina.
For the alternative look, I wore a black oversized Versace cowboy shirt (that I got from Anonas, because I wouldn't touch that shirt with a 10-foot pole at full price) with a black mesh tank inside that I bought off of Lazada. I tucked that into a pair of black H&M trousers that I must have altered to death and wore this with a very beautiful black belt that I borrowed from my brother. Lastly, I had on the security guard shiny black oxfords that I got from Swatch in (you guessed it) Marikina.
GS: The first outfit I had on was a little more formal. It can be worn to the workplace, meetings or formal events. I wore a navy checkered coat from Zara with a pastel blue Uniqlo dress shirt. The gray slacks are from Morgan Homme and the shoes are chestnut oxfords from Cole Haan.
The second look I put together was edgier, more laidback––perfect for parties or weekend night out with friends. I wore a patterned shirt from Topman paired with brown colored jeans from Uniqlo and a leather biker jacket from H&M.
W: In your book, what are some fundamental casual wear pieces to invest in or put on heavy rotation?
DO: A good jacket––whether it be a denim, leather or bomber jacket or even a blazer. When you realize that you don’t know what to wear, the right jacket can help you stand out without needing to put too much thought into things.
Next, a nice pair of trousers. If you want to look like you put in effort without actually exerting much, tuck a well-fitting plain shirt into a nice pair of trousers. The last thing would be a pair of white sneakers that you feel fit the image you have for yourself. You can literally match it with any outfit for any occasion. It also lets you keep most formal wear within the realm of casual.
GS: Plain neutral colored t-shirts. These can either be blue, gray or black. They can easily be dressed up with a nice jacket or dressed down if worn by itself. Good Chinos, too. They come in all sorts of colors and are cut in a way that’s more formal than jeans but not too fancy like slacks. They live in that nice in-between that gives you flexibility. A good piece is something that you can easily mix and match and I think the chino easily fulfills that role.
I’d also say invest in good chestnut leather shoes. They go with a lot of trousers (navy, brown or khaki) and they give out a professional vibe that you’re someone to be taken seriously.
Featured Images Giancarlo Salazar
Art Alexandra Lara