Traveling without your family is a somewhat refreshing experience. In my case, I traveled with my bachelor uncle, my late father’s brother (as the third son, we call him 三叔). Perhaps the biggest inspiration for the travel geek in me, my uncle encouraged me to be independent and do things on my own, something I embraced with open arms. So I was virtually free to roam around in the places we visited when we went to San Francisco, where their sister, my aunt, had a house.
I had already made it my mission several weeks prior to get myself my first pair of boots during this trip. I didn’t quite mind which brand I got as long as it was one of the three I mentioned in the previous post that this is follow-up to. As it turned out, I got a pair of Timberland classics, although not the iconic Yellow Boots they’re most known for (I got that five and a half years on). The color I got was navy, with a white (angora, Zappos.com said) collar. It was either that with a size 7.5 or a gray-and-red-one, size 8.5. My foot is a size 7, but I wear 7.5 to 8 for comfort, so the 7.5 I got.
I was so delighted I wore them every single day for the rest of the trip, except for when we went to L.A., as I was told to wear something lighter. But upon returning, I began to let the inner stylist in me emerge, and started seriously thinking of outfits based around my boots.
Don’t judge me, I was really, really excited then.
If high school had allowed us to choose to wear any shoes we wanted, I’d have worn these boots everyday. But no, these were not black, and were too high-cut to my school’s liking. So I stuck to wearing them out and at no-uniform school events.
Another lucky break came during the Christmas holidays that year. My family and I were shopping in Duty Free Fiestamall, that department store by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where the peso-dollar rate goes low enough if you’re lucky. I had seen Caterpillar boots there for years already, but had never gotten around to buying a pair. I was able to this time, with an aunt’s generosity. And I loved them much more than the navy Timberlands, so much so that I wore them to my China study tour the following summer instead of my much more durable and versatile Timbs. I actually regret the move somehow, as they got wet quite a lot in China; my Cats weren’t waterproof, while Timbs are known just for that.
A string of pairs of shoes followed after that, with my getting a pair of boots almost at least once a year beginning in 2008 with our mandated combat boots for our Citizen Advancement Training fatigues (I only bought a low-cut, yet lace-up, pair of Skechers in 2007).
I’m afraid to say my self-styling isn’t as impressive as I would have wanted, especially due to my body build (or lack thereof). It’s also still centered around what I think looks attractive, and I confess that I barely ask others’ opinions then change clothes afterwards. In the first place, my shoes of choice are already somewhat… unorthodox in a country like the Philippines (but apparently not Taiwan or Japan!).
But I still don’t really mind as long as I feel happy with myself. This is the point of the whole post – through my proactive choice of what to wear, I created a unique identity for myself, with a fashion “sense” to boot (pun completely intended). I began to forge my own independent path through life, and begin to show a refusal to conform. I didn’t care that I was the only one wearing shoes like what I wear (though in university, I spotted a few other guys in Timbs or even Docs – good for them!), I was proud to do so, proud to say that I decided everything for myself.
It’s funny because right now, as I write this, I remember my uncle and cousins frequently telling me before that they wanted to put me through a makeover (at that time, there was this local show with gay stylists making over participants – I don’t watch TV much so I don’t know what they were talking about). I relish in the fact right now that I chose to make myself over, and I felt a lot happier and more empowered in the process.
Today, I under-style my outfits going out because the Philippine climate is too hot for my liking and the clothes I ideally would like to wear on a daily basis. Sadly, I just put on a polo shirt or T-shirt; button-downs are less common and are only for meeting days. I would love to put on a jacket and long-sleeved button-downs with the sleeves unrolled, but it’s not possible to do in this country without sweating the Pacific out of your body. So my really desired outfits, which seem to be for autumn wear, are limited abroad.
Nevertheless, I’m happy to say I grew up so much in this aspect of my life, and it’s even more pleasing because I did it on my own, choosing to stand out and make my own impact.
So that ends my introduction to this column. Here, I’ll be featuring new shoe purchases and some especially handsome or cool (from my point-of-view, or others’ if they offer an opinion) outfits-of-the-day, if I’m lucky enough to remember to take a photo or there’s one taken of me. 😉
Fashion tells us so much about ourselves through the clothes we wear, the way we wear them, how we walk in them, how much we talk or ask about them. It’s one of the first gateways into our inner beings. Wouldn’t you agree?