Author Archives: Alina Co

About Alina Co

Alina Co is a broadcast media professional, working as Writer and Producer. She is also a voice-over talent for commercials and AVPs, and a professor at Assumption College teaching broadcast communication. She loves traveling, meeting new people (yes she is lakwatsera and hyper!), drinking coffee, hunting bargain books and writing fiction.

lips

Most controversial fashion ads of all time

Friday, 26 February 2016 | Written by
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One of the most tried-and-tested advertising approaches is the adage “sex sells.” In the world of beauty and fashion, where the image of a perfect body is celebrated, it is inevitable that clothes or apparel will be sold through provocative images.

Shocking, arresting, scandalous, these ads have had their share of critics, causing them to be banned in some conservative countries. But even so, you can’t help but admit that these shocking images are not easy to forget. Is it creative brilliance or a mere attempt to garner attention? You be the judge.

  1. Sisley “Fashion Junkie”

Italian brand Sisley is a fashion sibling of Benetton. Though Benetton appeals to a universal market by offering basic apparel, Sisley primarily caters to the young and classy. It previously came up with very wholesome Travelers’ diary campaign, but in 2007, as the young market was evolving into a young, wild and free-spirited bunch, Sisley launched its “fashion junkie” campaign. In the ad, the models were supposedly sniffing the dress.

sisley fashion junkie

  1. American Apparel “Tights”

Controversial brand American Apparel has had its highs and lows – from being the number one urban street fashion brand to declaring bankruptcy and eventually ousting its founder and CEO Dev Charney (who reportedly was sued for masturbating in front of an employee). But one constant in American Apparel’s existence is its consistent pseudo-pornographic advertisements. One of its most famous (or infamous) ads was called “Tights”, illustrated by a woman apparently photographed mid-climax.

american apparel tights

This advert was banned in several countries, but what is so wrong with orgasm, considering the public lauded the Hysterical Literature?

  1. Wonderbra “Hello Boys”

A photo showing a woman wearing lingerie is no big deal these days. But in 1994, a billboard of this Wonderbra campaign reportedly caused several drivers to divert their eyes from the road and suffer a car crash. Hello boys, indeed.

Hello Boys

  1. Alexander Wang Denim

The picture says it all. In an effort to make denim the sexiest clothing a girl can wear Alexander Wang offered this tantalizing close-up with this 2014 Steven Klein-shot campaign starring model Anna Ewers. After a public backlash, Wang attempted to defend the campaign, saying, “It’s not provocative just in terms of sexy, but provocative to provoke conversation…I’m not dictating what that message is exactly. The interesting part is to see how people interpret it, and what they have to say about it. Of course, there are going to be people who disagree with it.”

alexander wang

Advertising is all about communicating to its audience and transferring messages – whether it be a goal to sell its product, connect with its target market, or spark a discourse. As long as the brand knows how to distinguish between obscene and tasteful, empowers rather than degrades, then controversial sexy images can be considered a form of art rather than a cheap effort to get heads to turn.

devil wears prada

To bid 2015 adieu, here are 15 things I learned as the editor of a fashion/beauty section

Sunday, 3 January 2016 | Written by
devil wears prada

New Year’s Day, morning. Like every morning of New Years past, I sit down, steaming hot coffee in hand, and take a deep breath before I reflect on the past year. It might sound cliché, but I’m traditional, not to mention a firm believer that jotting down resolutions and re-affirming goals and creating new ones profoundly help in one’s growth as a person.

Besides my personal list, I was set to write another version for this section, Philippine Online Chronicles’ Beauty and Fashion, which I have handled and edited since April 2013.

But something stopped me as I poised my pen to write the list. Instead of writing your goals for the new year, I thought the best way to go about it is to find out first what you learned the previous year.

Month after month, my team of writers publish great stories, each crafted with their own creative perspectives, and fashion and beauty quirks. Who knew that in 800 words, you could learn a great deal about not only trends and pop culture, but also about yourself?

  1. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Fashion and beauty are external ways we express ourselves as individuals. Sometimes, though, these factors take a back seat as we live our day-to-day grueling schedules.

the beauty experiment

But the trick in keeping happy and curious is to experiment (Read: The Beauty Experiment)! Stay foolish, as what the great late Steve Jobs said. Play with fabrics (Read: The Neoprene and Mesh fabrics) don’t be afraid to show your quirky side (Read: The Virtues of Quirky Dressing) and take it one day at a time (Outfit Ideas from Monday to Sunday) in finding out what you like. Keep on surprising yourself!

  1. Take care of yourself.

You can have the nicest clothes and the latest beauty products, but if you’re stressed and unhappy, then you will look what you feel like.

Especially in this day and age where you’re accessible 24/7 thru your phone and laptop, take time to go offline, relax and savor the silence. As what this section reiterated in our articles, Losyang is a state of mind, and when you’re feeling blah, listen to your “Feel Pretty Playlist.” What other ways do you de-stress yourself? Tell us about them.

  1. Make health your priority

Studies show that healthy eating and exercise can reduce stress. I know, I know, those crispy potato chips and sugary drinks seem like the perfect antidote to that bitchy client who yelled at you, or those piles of paper work your boss put on your desk. But eyes on the prize, my friend: eat healthful, guilt-free snacks, learn to sit and stand with good posture, and learn from the inspiring story of Oggs Cruz, who lost a hundred pounds through proper diet and exercise.

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  1. Make it a habit and a commitment.

Give it your 100 percent commitment, the same way with your significant other or your job. It’s the only way. Learn from The Morning Beauty Habits You Should Have story.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try new things

Productive individuals dare to step out of routine and try something new. Here are some ideas to get you started: trek your first mountain, join a marathon, travel to a new place for the first time, get your first tattoo. What you will learn from the experience would do wonders for your self-esteem and self-love, if not for your beauty or complexion, and so what?

HongKOng coat i like

  1. Loving and creating beautiful things keep away the blues

In this digital era, people are going back to arts and crafts to de-stress and for the fulfillment of creating something out of nothing. The best thing is, you just need your hands, not a computer, to create it! Hence, don’t be afraid to DIY and to create your handmade products like crafter Apol Lejano-Massabieau and the male crafters, whose imagination made quirky home décor possible.

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  1. Beauty and fashion are forms of art

Some people have a misconception that beauty and fashion are shallow. That’s not true at all!

One only has to look at how pop culture and makeup are being combined (Read: Pop Culture Makeup for Beauty Geeks), and how art can inspire us to create fashion and vice versa (Read: What to Wear in Art Exhibits; A Jewelry Artist’s Masskara Festival inspiration)

  1. One can use beauty and fashion to promote advocacies –

–Whether in celebrating love (Read: Rockin Rainbow Looks that Show Love Wins) or promoting our local brands.

  1. Fashion doesn’t have to be expensive

Truth is, real fashionistas are creative and resourceful, just like writer Loren Dimaano, who learned to recreate fashion hand-me-downs.

10. Make fashion work for you

This is one of the best things I learned from this section. You need to be yourself in fashion. Find your signature look and be consistent. You can veer away from time to time, but always with that style that shows off your unique personality.

11. Fashion is functional

This is actually an off-shoot of item number 10. Fashion should be functional, take it from the advice of our writers: one who bikes and one who works for an advertising agency. They answer the question: what should you wear?

12. Relax, there’s hacks.

When in doubt, look for hacks. There’s a practical solution and simple process for everything, including when you’re always running late!

13. Study fashion, its evolution and what it means. devil wears prada

Remember that unforgettable scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly humiliates Andy Sachs in the office? Andy snickers at the belts and calls them “stuff”, causing Priestly to lecture her about the origin of what Andy was wearing.

Her method may be questionable, but Miranda was right: you should know the origin of fashion and its lingo: for example, what does hipster mean, and what women wore during the oppressive years.

14. Fashion can change you.

And indeed, it can. Just observe how a well-primped hair-do or a well-put together outfit can put a spring to your step the whole day!

Or how pointy pumps can empower you as a woman.

15. Fashion can make you stronger.

One just has to read an Editorial Assistant’s diary entry to find out the huge amount of work that goes behind putting up photo shoots, writing stories and publishing a magazine month after month. Read the inspirational story here.

P.S crafts with soul

3 gleeful finds at the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2015

Tuesday, 18 August 2015 | Written by
P.S crafts with soul

This year’s Global Pinoy Bazaar was held in Rockwell Tent from August 8- 9. All I can say is, two days is “bitin”!

In Manila, where shoppers are on a hunt for good finds, bazaars like Global Pinoy Bazaar are a welcome breeze from the commercialized, mass-produced products of your convenient SM and Robinson’s malls. (READ: 15 local kikay brands to support)

Organized by youth movement Yabang Pinoy, a bazaar that features proudly Pinoy products not only helps Philippine entrepreneurship flourish, but also introduces the country’s creative crafters and designers and their products to the Philippine market. Such as eager shoppers like I am.

Most of the products are lovingly hand-made, one-of-a-kind, with the designers making only small batches of bags, clothes, accessories and home decors. Foodies didn’t go home hungry as the bazaar also featured locally-sourced products like cacao, bugnay wine, coffee, pastries and organic juices.

Here are my top 3 gleeful finds at the Global Pinoy Bazaar 2015.

  1. P.S. Crafts with Soul

What would Instagram photos look on wood? P.S Crafts with Soul décor and crafts are created through the decoupage technique. Decoupage uses paper cut-outs and special painting techniques to paint art on wood.

P.S crafts with soul

These cute items caught my eye, not only because of the colors, but also the designs that I feel “defined me as a person”. There’s a reference to books and travel and who could resist owls?

P.S crafts with soul2

Missed the bazaar? Like their page on Facebook. You can also buy P.S Crafts with Soul in Common Room, Katipunan, a new arts and crafts store and workshop that just opened three weeks ago.

  1. Gouache Waxed Canvas Lunch Bag

These lunch bags on display caught my eye. The design is classic but with a handcrafted look. And it’s unisex too. I saw the bag and I immediately imagined giving it to colleagues, who would love to use the classy lunch bag in place of the plastic or metal ones they use. As co-owner Louie Roco explained to me during the bazaar, they use waxed canvas, a technique that’s relatively new in the market. At P750 a piece (discounted), it was a real steal! Now, if only I had brought more money, I may have bought half a dozen.

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Upon further research, I found out Gouache started as a crowdsourcing venture in the SPARK PROJECT. Louie and her partner saw the need for quality camera bags at an affordable price. Through the donations in the web site, Gouache was able to fulfill their vision of working hand-in-hand with artisans to create specialty bags that will stand out in the market.

To know more about Gouache, visit Gouache’s website.

  1. Proudly Promdi products

Behind Proudly Promdi is Ken Alonso, an Ilokano who sources delicious delicacies from different provinces in the Philippines, re-packages and markets them. The results are eye-catching, more high-end products like cacao tablets, Bugnay wine, rice wine and other local delicacies.

Proudly Promdi Products

The Tsokolate by Art & Naomi is bitter, rich, decadent and delicious. My husband and I put condensed milk to make it thick and sweet and dipped plain donuts for a perfect merienda.

Visit Proudly Promdi on Facebook.

The Global Pinoy Bazaar is organized by Yabang Pinoy.

Photos from Global Pinoy Bazaar 2015, P.S. Crafts with Love, Proudly Promdi and Gouache FB pages

The invisible sisters of Manila

Wednesday, 3 June 2015 | Written by

three_women_crocheting_bagsBlue, pink, yellow, and green splashed my eyes. The monobloc table-turned merchandising display setup at the Lopez Memorial Museum was abloom with crocheted bags and wallets of various colors and designs. Body bags were at the left side, some with striped patterns, embellished with a flower accessory or two. Two women were rearranging stacks of pouches of all shapes and sizes. A black, shiny wrist bag caught my eye. Despite the great diversity of color and style, the bags had two things in common. One, they all carried the brand “Invisible Sisters,” and two, they were all made from recovered and recycled trash.

Yes, trash, or garbage if you prefer.

Visitors and customers like me would always do a double-take after being told the exquisite bags were made of discarded palengke plastic bags. A meticulous middle-aged female customer fiddled with the crocheted bags. “You mean this is not string or yarn?” she asked incredulously.

“Opo, Ma’am, plastic po ‘yan,” Ate Rica, the leader of the group, promptly answered.

 The Invisible Sisters

The plastic bags are collected and made into bags by a group of urban poor women – all mothers and grandmothers – called the Invisible Sisters.

“May nakapagsabi sa’kin, yung kumare ko, na may ganitong grupo. Marunong naman ako mag-crochet dati pa eh. Sumali ako doon sa workshop ni Ma’am Rica,” Josie Tolentino, 51 years old, said as she recalled how she became an Invisible Sister.

alina_and_ann_wyzerThe Invisible Sisters is the brainchild of American environmental artist Ann Wizer.

“I began in my house in Manila in late August 2008. I wanted to create a second livelihood project that also reuses waste, while creating jobs in the process. Learning from lessons of my Jakarta XSProject, I wanted something simple and easy to replicate.”

Wizer’s recycling project in Jakarta was hugely successful. Trash-pickers from slums shredded foil packs from junk food packages. The strips of trash were used to plump up and embellish functional furniture such as sala sets and executive chairs. The project yielded income for the poor women and at the same time, reused and recycled tons of trash polluting the slums of Jakarta, Indonesia. The installation entitled High Chair currently on exhibit at the Lopez Memorial Museum is one such product of the trash-pickers, Ann Wizer, and the furniture-makers that Wizer hired.

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High chair embellished by recycled garbage

In the Philippines, Wizer decided crocheting would be a more viable idea.

“I asked the Filipinos I knew if any one knew how to crochet. All I got were blank stares, but it didn’t matter: we started in my garage with a pile of colored wires from computers, used dry cleaner bags, and the supply of old plastic bags.”

With the help of her cook Rica Galgao, who eventually became the project coordinator, Wizer was able to jumpstart the project.

Nagtanong-tanong kami ni Ma’am Ann sa mga foundation ng mga kababaihan dito sa Maynila. Nagsimula kami sa isa, hanggang sa dumami na nang dumami,” Rica recalled their start-up days.

Galgao was the first to learn how to crochet plastic bags. She invited and trained women, while Wizer helped in the designs and marketed the bags locally and abroad.

Today, the Invisible Sisters has over 200 mothers and grandmothers crocheting for income. Between them, they have over 500 children and an even more staggering number of grandchildren, most of whom have no regular income.

Empowering women

Fifty-one-year-old Josie Tolentino or Aling Josie was a Management graduate but got married at a young age. She never worked all her life, being a full-time housewife to her husband and four children, the youngest being only nine years old. She relied on her husband’s income until she became an Invisible Sister.”

“Malaking tulong na din po sa amin. Lalo na kapag istambay lang kami sa bahay. Pagkatapos kong magluto at maglinis, wala na akong ginagawa. Kaya malaking bagay talaga.”

Aling Josie is one of the fastest and most skilled bag-makers in her group. On the average, she finishes one to two bags per week.

“Nakaka-engganyo po talaga. Si Ma’am Rica linggo-linggo, dadaan sa bahay namin, kokolektahin ‘yung mga bag, sabay binabayaran kami sa mga natapos namin noong nakaraang linggo. Malaking bagay na din kasi naisasama ko sa panggastos sa bahay,” Aling Josie explained with a wide smile on her face. She added that the best thing about her craft is that she is able to take it anywhere and work on it!

“Nagko-crochet ako sa harap ng TV, sa bahay ng kamag-anak namin,
sa bahay ng kumare ko habang tsumitismis,”
she shared, covering her mouth when she laughed.

bag_blackbag_pursesbag_pink_green_yellow

At her age, she is proud to be able to provide for her family by doing something she loves. She learned to crochet when she was a high school student. The only thing she had to adjust to was spooling plastic instead of the usual material used which is thread or string.

Aling Josie showed me how the bags from the palengke and tiyangge are cut into strips and spooled into the crochet hook. Once the plastic string is locked, the weaving begins.

And once the crocheting starts, there’s no stopping the flow of their creative juices.

“Yung mga designs namin, nakikita namin sa ibang bags din. Tumitingin-tingin ako kung saan-saan. Pagktatapos, pag may gawa ako na mabili, sasabihin ni Ma’am Ann Wizer na ulitin ko ’yun para mas maraming benta,” 41-year-old Eva Ravino said while crocheting yellow and green threads into a half-finished bag.

Soft curly hair framing a smiling face, Aling Eva told me her story straight out.

“May heart ailment ako at tsaka hyper-thyroidism. Pero hindi ko na lang iniinda itong sakit ko. Itong pag-crochet ko, nalilibang ako. Nakakalimutan kong may sakit ako.”

But what made Aling Eva burst into tears was when she recollected how her daughter took pride in her work. “Yung anak kong AB Theater Arts student, kinuwento niya sa mga kaklase niya itong gawa ko. Pumunta sila sa bahay namin; sabi nila Nanay, ang galing mo naman, nakakatuwa yang ginagawa niyo. Sabi ng anak ko, ang galing- galing talaga ng Mama ko. Proud sa akin ang anak ko.”

 Invisible trash, unseen women

For Ann Wizer, the project succeeds in hitting two birds with one stone. Everywhere, there are garbage and factory waste that clutter and clog land and seascapes. Often, we don’t see or refuse to see these eyesores.

junkyard

“We don’t know what to do with them or how to get rid of them so we try not to notice them,” Wizer said.

In the same way, uneducated and poor mothers and grandmothers are invisible in our society. They are deemed incapable of all but the simplest tasks.

In the book Half the Sky, New York Times journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn wrote, “Nearly everyone in poor countries recognizes that women are the Third World’s greatest underutilized resource.”

The Sisters have created something out of virtually nothing — beautiful crafts out of mounds of trash, a sense of fulfillment, and a way out of  poverty.

Aling Josie and Aling Eva, together with their sisters, vow to continue saving the environment, amidst a trash-polluted Metro Manila, one piece of garbage at a time.

They used to be faceless, nameless women, but are now getting more recognized due to their growing productivity and skills.

Photos:  by Alina Co, Some Rights Reserved

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The whimsical and fairytale-like world of crafter Apol Lejano-Massabieau

Sunday, 24 May 2015 | Written by
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When you get a glimpse of Le Pomme, a shop that sells plush toys and home décor, whatever worry or stress you’ve been feeling that day immediately dissipates. The fabric sculpture of animals and fruits are so soft you just feel those tense muscles loosen up. Take a whiff of those plush-scented apples and you become Dorothy pining to come home to the smell and warmth of family. It’s calming, the way the place is strewn with small, soft things that take you back to your playful, whimsical eight-year old self, the part where you make stuffed animals your best friends.

Le Pomme

Le Pomme, or the Apple in French, was envisioned by crafter and owner Apol Lejano-Massabieau to be primarily a place for kids and for adults who have a passion for everything whimsical.

“I really love it when people come here and they see something. And you just see that it brings them joy. Oh, this is so lovely, oh my god ang cute! And they take it home and every time they look at it, it’s something fresh, gives them something to smile about every day. And I like that,” said Apol.

Apol, a magazine editor for several years in the Philippines before she moved to France, had always loved making things with her hands. Imaginative and creative as a child, Apol always had a soft spot for the arts and crafts.

“I would make stuffed animals, I would always accessories my jeans, my t-shirts, sometimes my pillow cases,” Apol said.

Le Pomme3

When she married her French husband, Apol had to leave her magazine editorial job behind and start anew in their home in France. Because there wasn’t much of a market for writers in English there, Apol found herself channeling her crafty side.

From online to actual store

Apol bought a sewing machine and started making plush toys for adults, which she sold online. It became a hit in popular craft online store Etsy.com.

When she came back to the Philippines, she noticed how there wasn’t any specialty store that catered to children’s toys.

“I look around in the local market and I don’t see a lot of things being offered that are for children.  Or if there are, it’s more plastic things, things that are mass produced. It’s all about brands, all about consumption, consumption, consumption and I just feel that we need to show children that there’s another aesthetic, a more thoughtful way of doing things. To learn how to sew, learn how to make stuffed toys, learn how to make dresses or bags,  I want them to learn the value of working with our hands, of not just being all the time in front of the internet, watching TV, or doing things that are already manufactured already for us.”

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Apol then established her whimsical home in Malugay Street in Makati, a store so homey and colorful that even yuppies who just happened to pass by couldn’t resist taking a look at Apol’s creations.

According to Apol, a best-seller among moms is the sleep angels, pillows shaped like angels that are lavender-scented.

“These are little pillows that you take with you when you sleep and then smell the lavender. Lavender is a calming herb that will help you sleep better at night,” Apol said.

Le Pomme2

Apol gets her inspiration not only from colors, patterns and textures, but from her own 5-year old girl. In fact, the idea behind one of her best-selling toys came from her.

“It’s called the swaddled teddy bear and that came from looking at my child, seeing that she’d take anything like a doll or a stuffed fruit and she’ll pretend it’s her baby. Take a handkerchief and wrap the stuffed fruit in that and that’s her baby. Adults, they don’t respond to it too much but children, that’s almost always the first thing that they touch.”

Le Pomme now also has set up shop in Rockwell displaying all hand-made products that both children and adults will love. But fans of Le Pomme have something more to look forward to.

“My vision for La Pomme is for it to be  a complete one-stop shop store for everything and anything children’s décor so I want to be able to add linen, furniture, storage and I want it to be  a mix of hand-made, recycled, upcycled,  everything whimsical, everything fairytale-ish, everything that will bring you back to a more  innocent time when we all knew where things were coming from, where all things we’re using comes from somebody who invested his heart into creating it.”

The story of your life

From being a magazine editor, Apol has successfully and quite delightfully translated her passion for words into something she loved doing as a child. And you know what crafters like her always say. When you create something with love, in transfers to the new owner who touches and uses the creation.

Take it from this crafter who does things with love. “I believe there are no rules. I think what you should follow is what you like. Because if you do put things together that are composed of things that you love, things that attract you, it will just make a story  and the story is that of your own life.”

Interview of Apol Lejano from Interior Motives, which, the writer is the Executive Producer, used with permission; photos from Le Pomme FB page

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Why I can’t wear a skirt to work

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 | Written by
heels 3

There was a time when I could afford to whip up something girly from my closet. I was particularly fond of a short dress, a pair of strappy sandals and chandelier earrings. I’d put on a pink lipstick and pout at the mirror, satisfied that I wear who I am—an adventurous, kalog, fun-loving girl.

But then, something happened. It’s not because some manongs look at me in a lewd way when I commute, or because my fashion preferences evolved. You see, when I decided that I love television and video production work and chose it as my career, I noticed something. I do a lot of interviews for work, and direct people to do actions while the camera is rolling. I work with a crew and help the cameramen carry heavy camera suitcases, tripods and reflectors to locations.

In a work that has me moving around a lot, and having to “lead” the shoots so we will get all the materials we need on time, on budget, and set on a high standard, I gradually felt that those lacey trims, fringed skirts and candy-colored tops were contradicting what I was supposed to be. I needed to look more credible, more like an “authority.” I just had to change.

The dapper look (photo from Liz Uy's Instagram account)

The dapper look (photo from Liz Uy’s Instagram account)

Masculinizing the job

Being a leader or a manager is tagged as a predominantly “masculine or male” job. This idea has been embedded in society’s psyche because industries and businesses had been established by men, not women. The rules, the structures, charts, numbers, departments, schedules – all these were made by men for men. You can’t blame them for back then, a woman’s place was in the home – to run the household, take care of the kids, a tough job, if you ask me.

When the industrial era rolled around, and the husbands were killed in the war, women had to earn money and they found their place in the work sector. They worked mostly as nurses and secretaries — jobs for the “nurturing” female. Some found work in factory roles that needed able, careful hands. But none of these jobs enabled women to become decision-makers, leaders and managers. I guess you can consider them as supporting cast to the protagonist male.

But times have changed and we’re already past that era, or are we?

The need to look tough

Most women I know feel empowered. Yeah, we can all heave a huge sigh of relief, because the battle’s been fought already. We’re here reaping the fruit of their labor. But studies have shown that discrimination against women is still rampant, even in first-world countries, where 40 percent of women are in the work force.

According to research, women have to act more like men in order to be successful.

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote about the “Opt Out Revolution” in her book Lean In. What she found was that women climbing the corporate ranks tend to quit their high-flying jobs because they experience incongruence of roles. Her role as a “nurturer” in society’s and her eyes, contradict with her masculine tough job as a corporate executive, that’s incongruence. When a woman is stressed by this, she “opts out”.

Similarly, even female academics are haunted by this incongruence. In her article in The Guardian, Francesca Stavrakopoulou talks about how female academics tend to wear masculine clothes to be taken seriously.

She wrote, “masculine dress is the standard academic uniform, for academia remains an overtly male domain. As a result, female academics find their appearance scrutinized in ways a male colleague would rarely encounter.”

Thus, women who wear in a conventionally feminine way tend to be seen as frivolous. According to Francesca, this can undermine the perceptions of her intellectual and professional skills.

She adds, “dressing in order to be taken seriously indicates that the spectre of older, more explicit forms of sexism still hovers over us: a woman who adopts a more feminine style is too preoccupied with pretty things to be a serious academic.”

The battle’s been won? I believe not. Women may be more empowered now, but the fact remains: the roles assigned to women  during the olden days are much embedded in our subconscious, so much so that we are no longer aware of it. Want proof? Take, for example, the concept of power-dressing.

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Power dressing

Power dressing, in fashion magazines, is the style of women wearing androgynous, structured clothes, often for office or corporate settings. It sounds like a nice cover story or a main editorial for a women empowerment piece, yes?

But power-dressing, according to “Women’s Dress for Success Book”, is a by-word that came about in the 1980s as the result of more women entering the business realm. Essentially what it means is that women who wanted to be and look successful had to wear masculine clothes. It is the woman adapting to the way organizations have always been, including corporate attire. To power-dress can mean an empowered woman, but it can also go the opposite way—women trying to look more like men in order to fit in.

In the same way, I can react in two different ways as well. I can be like professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou who refuses to be daunted—“This infuriates me, and I refuse to accept it. My intellectual abilities as an academic should be judged on my work: my research, my publications, and my lectures.”

Or I can go to the easier route: accept that society has intrinsic biases towards gender, especially women and what they wear, and wear what I need to wear in order to be taken seriously.

For now, as I absorb a TV requirement for an interview with a successful businessman and prepare for a 4-day hike in the jungle of Pangasinan next week, I will just lay my dresses to rest in a drawer. In a tough world, with a tough job, surrounded by males who probably haven’t heard of the word “gender incongruence”, some things remain as they are.

For my work, I can set aside expressing my feminine side, because I choose to change. This is me growing  up.

And this is why, I’m not going to wear a skirt to the shoot tomorrow.

The author is writing her thesis on “Media mothers: the contrasting roles of mothers who work as senior managers in  media.”

Photo from Vogue.com

Spring/Summer 2015 accessory trends to love

Monday, 20 April 2015 | Written by
Photo from Vogue.com

While investing on clothes is more important, shopping for accessories is admittedly more fun. For a fashion enthusiast, walking upon aisles and aisles of accessories open up a world of possibilities. The most basic of clothing – say black leggings and a white tee, can be transformed into five different looks, depending on the accessories.

This 2015, upgrade you accessory arsenal with these Spring/Summer accessory trends. From casual (embroidered sneakers, lace up sandals) to high fashion (nautical ring stacks, playful pearls), these trends can keep your style meter fresh all year round.

Embroidered flats

embroidered sneakers

Photo from Polyvore

Women do a lot of walking and thankfully, the fashion trendsetters in the West have come to their senses. Designers like Karl Lagerfield and Coco Chanel have presented a collection of sequined and embroidered flats last year and RTW brands have followed suit. This pair of TOMS Jutti embroidered flats can be worn with a breezy, loose shift dress for a comfortable walk along the metropolis. You can’t help but be drawn to the intricate, dainty details of the embroidery that spells feminine and soft.

Lace up sandals / heels

Rebecca Minkoff Rio High Heel Lace

anna kendrick lace up sandals

Photos lifted from Vogue.com

Perhaps it has something to do with the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon, but lace up and gladiator sandals and heels have found their way back in the runways. The Pitch Perfect star Anna Kendrick, who’s often cast with wholesome, almost nerdy roles, rocks her designer lace up heels and ends up looking flirty. There’s a reason why lace up heels are called Spring’s sultry shoe.

 

Nautical ring stacks

Spring-Summer runway shows had us zoom into the details of an emerging nautical trend. Not only did some designers incorporate this in breezy, powder blue dresses (all the better for summer!), but also in accessories. The creative duo behind Valentino made a splash in the Spring-Summer 2015 presentation with marine symbols: corals, shells and sea urchins.

valentino_489186107_north_883x_1_vist1l1

Playful pearls and wood necklaces

A good accessory investment is a statement necklace. Others might take it for granted, but a statement necklace can save a dull outfit and an otherwise boring ensemble. So instead of buying cheap costume jewelry, purchase pricier ones that can last a lifetime.

marni_850273454_north_883x_1_sktm3h1

These babies have been seen gracefully perching on models’ necks last Spring-Summer fashion week. The playful pearls from Parisian brand Lanvin is a huge white pearl suspended on an abacus, while Italian brand Marni channeled the artisan spirit with jewelry crafted from wooden and natural materials. We’re hoping the talented Filipino accessory designers will use these as inspirations and combine with Filipino ethnic craftsmanship.

abacus pearl

Fringed bags

Fringe has been the IT fashion style since 2012, especially those fun, flirty dresses. It has earned a reputation for being too high-fashion, since fringe is something you wouldn’t normally wear for casual affairs.

Photo from Vogue.com

The fringed bag has graced the spring runways, and thankfully, those bags are hitting stores. An example is this round satchel from Rebecca Minkoff, a favorite of fashion editors for its fringe and embellishments.   Fringed bags look very boho. Worn depending on the occasion, and on the clothes, it can go from elegant and luxurious to very indie and festival-like.

Floral headpieces

Speaking of boho, this floral headpiece is for the free-spirited, wandering soul. It’s perfect to summer too! Sure, floral during spring sounds trite. But floral headpieces that blossom this way (it’s all in the details) can make a girl look pixie-like in a colorful dream world.

floral trends_spring summer trend

Tied belts

Used to think cloth belts are only for karate? Think again. Designer David Tale used tied belts to add a pop of color to a neutral outfit. It emphasizes the waistline too!

tied-belts-david-tlale_112142

 

Photos and research from Vogue.com, whowhatwear.com, instyle.com and purseblog.com

 

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#WomensMonth2015: a look back at what women wore

Monday, 9 March 2015 | Written by
2009ce2239_29-year-old_woman_german_portrait_custom_290x370_062013806

At least in the context of liberal countries, including ours, there are no restrictions anymore when it comes to fashion. Sure, there’s the school dress and church etiquette, but on any given weekend, a Pinay can wear anything she likes in the metropolis. Despite some of the older more conservative citizens being scandalized, micro-minis, short-shorts and see-through blouses are considered daring, yet trendy pieces women can wear these days.

And the fashion freedom is just a small part of the equation. Girls today in her twenties and younger, forget about what the older generation of women (think your grandparents and their parents and ancestors) had to go through back in the day. Women were expected to marry early and usually, to the man the parents approve of. They were expected to stay in the house, do household chores and take care of the children. And what did they wear? Well, they were expected to be all covered up. Not a hint of skin could be exposed. What they wore on their backs symbolized their being second-class citizens in society.

2009ce2239_29-year-old_woman_german_portrait_custom_290x370_062013806

So in celebration of women’s month, rather than talking about Dingdong Dantes wearing Marian Rivera’s heels, or discussing Kris Aquino headlining a women’s day event, POC decided to create a list of those oppressive articles of clothing that women had to bear in the old days, especially during the Victorian era.

The corset of the Victorian era

Those tight bodices of flouncy dresses were designed by male dressmakers. According to feminists, this was a symbol of patriarchy, men controlling women and molding them to the perfect image that they like.

Corsets were tight laces worn by women to have wasp-like waists. During the Victorian era, women wore heavy dresses over these corsets. No wonder a lot of women fainted back in the day. She’d literally find herself gasping for air.

Today, corset is considered an instrument of torture and a health hazard for women.

Two layers: smock or shift and another heavy dress

You’d think a corset is punishment enough. But in the 17th century, women were required to wear two layers of clothing: a petticoat, called a smock or a shift made of linen or wool and another heavy dress over it. Most dresses were divided into two parts: the bodice and the skirt. Sometimes, they wore two skirts.

It would often take two to three people to help a women dress up for a ball. No wonder Cinderella had to call on her fairy grandmother.

A woman of lower class would have a plain wool dress, often in a gray or brown color. If she’s a servant, she would wear an apron on top of her dress.

A woman of stature would wear a colorful dress made from various silks and fabrics that will show off her wealth. Also, women were already fond of wearing expensive jewelry then.

A veil over her head

During the Renaissance era, women who were unmarried kept their hair loose and untied. This is so that when a man sees you, he would immediately know if you’re a maiden or not.

Once married, women were required to tie up their hair in complicated braids and twists. Heads of matrons were often covered in veils. When widowed, women wear their sorrow with a hooded veil.

Pianelle: origin of heels?

Since they had to alight from carriages and walk in meadows and moors, women’s long overflowing dresses would often get dirty. To prevent this, male dressmakers created the pianelle, much like today’s open-toed mules or platform sandals.

But more than its functional use, the pianelle, especially in Venice, became a status symbol. It showed off a woman’s wealth, her attractive swaying gait and her servant, who helped her not to fall over.

Thankfully, we’re now way past those tight bodices, layers of cloth and itchy laces. Looking back, we can only utter a sigh of relief. However, there are still existing “corsets” that hold us down. These are discrimination in the workplace, battery of women, unwanted pregnancies, and lack of education among urban poor women. It’s still an uphill battle, but at least we can fight while wearing comfortable clothes. Time to loosen those metaphorical corsets, ladies!

 

References:

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/r/clothing-and-jewellery/

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/29/nyregion/review-fashion-the-liberated-woman-through-the-prism-of-couture.html

Photo from dearlaura.sg

Chinita chic

Sunday, 8 February 2015 | Written by
Photo from dearlaura.sg

In Asia, Philippines proudly display a variety of beauties, thanks to our colorful history and the many marriages with different cultures. But this coming Chinese New Year, it is very timely to celebrate the Chinita beauty. Think Heart Evangelista and Kim Chiu.

Often, Chinita beauties are defined by fair skin, a petite frame, and of course, chinky eyes

This February, be bold and beautiful by incorporating these style pegs into your fashion and beauty ensemble.

  1. Go floral

Red is already over-rated when it comes to this occasion. Online shopping site Zalora presented its CNY collection with lots and lots of florals.

Pair a floral skirt (which has hints of red) with a plain white top. If you dare, use a red lace-embroidered top and you’ll look fiery.

  1. Red accessories

Tone down on the red on your main outfit, and splurge on red accessories instead. Wear red nail polish and emphasize the color with this Rags2Riches Brick Red Banig Buslo Bag available through Ava, also an online shopping site.

banig

  1. Etsy accents

Etsy has the most fun DIY and handmade accessories. A quick search in their website showed the many ways you can celebrate the Year of the Sheep. My top 3 searches are these very oriental drop earrings, bright red satin baseball cap and handmade Chinese longevity marsala bobby pins.

cap

EARRings

booby pins

  1. The chinita eyes

Most girls wear eye makeup to make their eyes look rounder and bigger. This month, get your eyeliners ready to achieve the ultimate chinky eyes. Use thick liners and don’t forget to add mascara to those peepers.

  1. Modern cheongsam

If all else fails, be safe and go for a cheongsam. This contemporary cheongsam has a geometric print and Mandarin collar.

Photo from dearlaura.sg

Photo from dearlaura.sg

Celebrate the New Year and welcome luck this Year of the Goat by rocking that chinita chic in you. Kung Hei Fat Choy!

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