7 Tips for Shopping at Uniqlo

Since its 2012 launch in the Philippines, Uniqlo has quickly become the go to shop of the practical Filipino fashionista. And it’s no surprise, as the brand is well known for churning out affordable, yet quality clothing for men, women, teens and even children! This megachain from Japan is no stranger to Pinoy shopaholics and travelers, who used to fly to other countries just to get their Uniqlo fix.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan, and I can sincerely say that if I had to choose only one brand to get all my clothing, it’d be from Uniqlo. I like that this company offers mostly the basics, with some trendy and Asian inspired pieces thrown in the mix to add some spice. I also love it’s value for money and most of all, the way the clothes fit my Asian frame. Of course, Uniqlo is not without its (minor) flaws.

Uniqlo Ginza

The mothership: Uniqlo’s 10 storey main branch in Ginza, Japan.

This article is all about what to indulge in, and what to avoid, when you’re in one of their stores. If you’re a Uniqlo fan too, read on, and I’ll teach you how to shop like a pro! Note though that these tips mostly apply to the male shopper.

1. Never buy at regular price, at least in Philippine branches. Here, they come up with weekly offers, and your favorite items will eventually get discounted. Just be patient. When they do, that’s the time you grab ’em. Sure, you may miss out on some trendy pieces that come and go and never be on sale, but who cares? It’s not the end of the world. Follow Uniqlo Philippines on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter for first dibs on weekly “Limited Offers.”

2. Avoid their denim jeans and especially their (ugh!) jeggings. I know this may come out as shocking. After all, who can resist prices that go as low as Php990 a pair with free hemming? Simply put, a real man needs real jeans. This statement needs its own blog entry. But for now, if you’re looking for a pair, walk away from Uniqlo and head on over to Levi’s.

3. Get only the basics. I’m not saying their trendy pieces are bad. They are in fact very well executed. Staying with the basics has mostly to do with wallet discipline. It’s easy to lose control on trendy clothes that come and go, and you don’t want to be left with a closet full of clothes that will be “useless” after a while, along with an empty wallet and a mind brimming with buyer’s remorse.

4. Avoid the printed tees. They call this their UT line. Generally speaking they are, well, corny.

5. The Supima line is a must buy. This line of basic t-shirts oozes with luxurious quality and yet priced for everyman! “Supima” is a mark of quality for pima, one of the best types of cotton in the world. They fit better than Uniqlo’s regular tees too!

6. Airism and Heattech are two of Uniqlo’s best products. Durable, well-fitting and very, very comfortable, Airism is daily underwear that’s cool and perfect for our tropical weather. Heattech is for stealthy layering for travels to temperate countries. Their prices seem prohibitive, but you don’t need to stock on them at one go. Build your “inventory” by buying one or two pieces at a time as your budget allows.

7. Bottoms should be a snug fit, at least at the time of purchase. This applies to chinos, shorts and the like, as Uniqlo makes them with stretch fabric which loosens with wear. You do not want to have sagging pants after three washes.

So that’s it. Do you think my tips make sense or do you have some disagreement? Do you have any other tips to add on? Let me know in the comments section. Happy Uniqlo shopping!

Another 10 Golden Rules for the Modern Man

10. Be conscious about coffee breath.

9. Smell good, but mildly so.
8. Do at least once a week: go to church, exercise, drive a manual tranny car.
7. Be loyal to quality, not brand.
Be loyal to quality, not brand.

Be loyal to quality, not brand.

6. Shed old clothes like a snake sheds old skin; be a Samaritan and donate what you don’t need.
5. Diversify: own several brands of shirts, jeans, shoes, watches, cars.
4. Unsure of what car to buy? Get anything better than your country’s taxi and you’re all set.
3. Embrace patina: leather wrinkles, watches scratch, tarnishes on your car’s paint job will buff out.
2. Make your boss look good, more so if it is yourself.
1. Do not scrimp on underwear.

Geek Firmware Upgrade Version 2012

A.K.A five New Year’s Resolutions for twenty twelve. A new year is a chance for us to tweak ourselves, run smoother, remove the bugs and the occasional crash. Truly, a man’s preferences evolve. He is also forced to adapt to the changing times, and most importantly to adjust for irreversible aging. And like firmware upgrades, it doesn’t have to be dramatic revisions. More often, some subtle tuning is all that is needed.

And so, here’s my personal list of five improvements and bug fixes for this new year:

1. A few steps forward towards health. A few months ago, I’ve been hitting the stationary bike and lifting some weights. Not hard core, but I began wearing pants a size smaller and it’s quite inspiring. I’m also saying no soda (not even diet), and no artificial sweeteners. My blood sugar was on the high side of normal, but I figure artificial sweeteners might be more dangerous than helpful in the long term.

2. Move towards organic. Not only for food, but for other grocery items as well. It is only lately that I realized that some products such as shampoo and toothpaste produced by multinational companies may not be entirely safe and healthy to use. After all, for most products nowadays, price and profit margin are the main consideration and heaven knows what they put in those things. I could only hope for a Whole Foods Market to open in the Philippines.

3. One watch a year, one gadget a year. This is an attempt at a stricter discipline when it comes to spending…for geek vices in particular. Wrist watches have been a recent passion, and it is very easy to lose control–and my entire savings for that matter–to this addiction. Limiting myself to buy only one watch will not only save my wallet, it is also a fun, exciting and challenging quest to research and pick just one from a sea of choices. Same goes with gadgets: if I decide to ditch my crappy Blackberry Playbook for a Macbook Air, that’s it, upgrading to iPhone 5 would have to wait until January 1, 2013 the earliest. If I am unable to buy a watch nor a gadget for 2012, that would be better. My savings account will thank me (hey, that actually sounds very mature!). Hopefully I can apply this resolution not only for 2012, but for the succeeding years beyond.

4. Tweet the traffic for public service. Not everyone has the MMDA iPhone app. And not even MMDA can tweet the traffic situation in all areas at all times. If I get stuck going south bound in South Luzon Expressway (which happens a lot but fingers crossed for 2012), I’ll let the Tweetdom know to help others from falling into the same trap. It’s the least of a good that I can do, given my permanent mean streak and irreverence on Twitter which will not change anytime soon, by the way.

5. Migrate from iPhoto to Aperture. Truly a geeky and trivial new year’s resolution but just to explain: currently I upload my photos to both which is not only uselessly redundant, but a waste of hard drive space. 2012 onwards, I will use Aperture as my only photo management software (and I encourage everyone to do the same).

Just like the Facebook app that releases an update every so often, this set of personal resolutions is by no means absolute. Besides, we all have to apply kaizen to keep us from hanging and crashing.

Have you installed your own personal firmware upgrades yet? Happy twenty-twelve everyone!

A Story of Survival

Last week, my BlackBerry Bold 9700 took a dip in a swimming pool with me. I was tipsy and I was nudged to the water with my clothes, car key remote, phone and wallet (please, no further details on the how and why). Intoxicated, it took me half a minute to realize that my electronics have been submerged. Worse still, when I got the phone out of the water, I turned it on in panic to see if it still works. The LCD backlight flickered then died. I took the battery out. It’s amazing how worrying and cold water can instantly sober up a person…

The drying process

I was out of town, and it happened early morning and I was too wasted to fuss over it, so I just wiped the phone with a towel, put it in front of a fan, and went to sleep. As soon as I woke up, I searched for a hair dryer and used it on the phone for several minutes. I could see condensation on the lens of the camera. The water damage indicator strips on the battery and phone are both red. Telltale signs that some water did get inside the phone.

Back home, 18 hours after the incident, I googled for ways to save a wet phone. There were a lot of suggestions on using silica gel and rice (uncooked dumbass!) to absorb the moisture, so I did both:

Step 1: phone, battery, MicroSD, and car key remote innards zip locked with a bag of silica gel for 24 hours.

Step 2: Phone and all its components buried in a tub of rice (cover and store for another 24 hours)

After doing the steps above and keeping the phone off for more than 60 hours, I finally decided to turn on the phone. Voila! It works perfectly. This is amazing, considering there’s so many components that can be damaged: the camera, keyboard, lcd, radios (i.e. wi-fi, bluetooth, 3G), chips and motherboard, speakers and mic, USB and headphone jacks, so on.

The things I did to save a wet phone is not guaranteed, your mileage may vary. But if your phone does get wet the following will increase its chances of survival:

– take the battery off immediately and don’t turn on the phone (ie. press any button)

– hair dryer (some disagree because of the risk of frying your phone, but I say just be careful and gentle)

– silica gel and rice (yes, it seems to work, no urban legend)

– most importantly: patience! let the phone dry for at least 3 days

On Watches

First, let’s get this out of the way: it’s okay to love watches. It’s the only piece of jewelry a man is supposed to wear, and that’s a good enough reason to invest in a couple. Or three. Or five for that matter. Anything more is okay only if collecting watches happens to be your hobby. Otherwise, owning three to five is just about the right amount. I wouldn’t recommend having only one. Wearing the same watch every single day doesn’t make you cool because you seem pragmatic, rather, it makes you look like you’re too strapped for cash to the point of self deprivation of the good life.

I’ve read somewhere that a good rule of thumb is that your best watch should cost roughly your paycheck for three months. Some of you may think that’s too much, but again I tell you, it’s okay. Stay within that budget and you can shrug off the guilt of splurging. The great thing about watches is that they’re timeless (oxymoron?) unlike other expensive things like gadgets that quickly go obsolete or cars that rapidly depreciate and break. With care and minimal maintenance, any decent watch should last you for decades, and that my friends is one helluva ROI.

So what is a “decent” watch? Anything that’s both Swiss and mechanical falls into that category. Automatic is standard, but get a hand-would ticker if you can. Hand-would is the horological equivalent of driving stick (read: cooler). Would I recommend certain brands? To each his own, really. Though I could recommend brands and models to avoid: Tag Heuer, Rolex and Omega (which are quality brands by the way, no doubt about it). We are not communists in uniform; do you really want to own something that everybody else already has? Sorry to burst your bubble if your dreaming of spending your commission on a Seamaster.

Chronograph or Diver’s watch? I say neither, unless you race at BRC or dive for corals in Bohol. Let’s not be pretentious folks; forget that steel Submariner you’re saving up for. Most of us spend our weekdays in cubicles, or are in sales, or wear a corporate barong everyday to the office. For us, there is the “senator” watch: that of thin profile and leather strap.

A good example is the Certina DS-1. The best thing about the DS-1 is its superb value. I’m 100% sure it fits anyone’s 3-month salary budget rule, unless you’re on minimum wage.

The Certina DS-1 tucks neatly in the cuff of your office long sleeved shirt; discreet yet elegant.

Another handsome senator watch to wear at the office is the Tissot Visodate. It’s in the same price range as the DS-1 and is therefore a bargain.

The Tissot Visodate: a full serving of class with just a dash of retro

If I get into meetings with a middle manager wearing a quartz I tend not to take him seriously. A firm handshake with eye contact leaves a good and lasting first impression, but if I see a funky DKNY on your wrist with its second hand jerking you’ve lost your cred immediately and completely. Avoid quartz like a plague; life’s too short wear a crappy watch.

But this rule has an exception: The Casio G-Shock. It’s the one quartz watch you’re allowed to own. In fact, everyman should have one. It’s like saying everyman should have a pair of jeans; it’s one of life’s essentials. Hitting Boracay this long weekend? Going on a photo walk? Having booze and barbecue at a friend’s backyard (or garage)? The G-Shock is your appropo timepiece.

G-Shock: the only quartz watch worth wearing

Think choosing a watch is difficult? It’s quite simple, really. It’s just like buying a pair of sneakers, the best pick would be one that’s comfortable and looks good on you at the same time. Also, remember that only you will be wearing the watch and no one else. So when deciding, only your opinion matters. Don’t consider anyone else’s. That includes your wife/girlfriend, your closest buddy or even me with this blog. A paradox, eh? Most importantly, it has to feel right when you wear it. How does “right” feel? You’ll know it when you feel it.

So go ahead and spend that bonus on a nice piece. The gratification of having a tiny, living mechanism on the wrist is truly an inexplicable joy. Letting everyone know how much you’re worth and that you’re a man of substance without saying a word is just an extra perk.

Kangaroo Windscreen Washer Fluid Quick Review

I felt I had to do a quick blog post on this as it had been raining the past several days. Think of it as my little contribution to public service.

This rainy season, it’s best to always check your washer fluid tank and make sure it’s full. Manila’s streets are grimy to say the least, and when you’re driving in the rain, your glass will get muddy in no time. You will need the washers to help the wipers out; the extra fluid will dissolve the grit and lubricate the wipers for a cleaner clean, and to help prevent scratching your glass. At the very least, plain tap water from Maynilad or Manila Water will do. No “deep well” water please, it will clog your washer system. I personally use filtered water, such as what can be bought from village water stations.

An even better solution is to use washer fluid, such as Kangaroo. This Made in Korea product is currently my choice for helping to get the grime out of your windshield this rainy season.  I’m assuming it has some kind of car safe detergent, as well as a rain repellant additive. While it’s meant to go in your washer tank undiluted, I personally dilute it: 1 part Kangaroo to 3 parts water. From experience, using this product pure causes the wipers to shudder.

With the Kangaroo-water mix, the wipers clean your windscreen more efficiently. At the same time the fluid improves visibility by leaving a rain repellant coat on the glass, thus making the rain water bead and quickly drip off.

At the price of a Big Mac Meal (Php149.50 to be exact), Kangaroo is your cheap ticket to safer driving in the rain. Go get a a bottle or two at True Value stores.

 

As you can see, my bottle is already two thirds empty due to the continuous rain this week.

Mid-year Resolutions

This entry is significant to me for a number of reasons: 1) It’s the first time I’ve written something mid-flight, 2) It’s been two months since I last blogged, 3) I came up with resolutions at the middle of the year!

You may ask why I made a list of mid-year resolutions. My straightforward answer would be I felt that I needed to “adjust” some things about how I am and how I do things. We grow older, preferences change, and, I would have to admit that for men, the maturity process is a perpetual thing.

Without further delay, here’s my list of 10:

1. Never again purchase a quartz watch, no matter how tempting.
2. Never again own a DSLR, no matter how tempting.
3. Seriously consider getting a pair of classic styled Vans and Converse, even though I’ve abhored them as far as I remember.
4. Stop wearing branded clothes with branding for the sake of branding, and start wearing branded clothes without branding for the sake of quality.
5. Kick the obsessive-compulsive behaviour of keeping stuff pristine, because a little wear and tear adds character.
6. As a corollary to #5, learn to love lo-fi, patinas, brassing, distress, fade, scuffs, etc.
7. Get only what I need and realize that the biggest, fastest, latest, etcetera isn’t always the best or most practical for me.
8. Never enter a sport shoe (or rubber shoe, as Filipinos would call it) store, unless my cross trainers need replacement.
9. Think thrice before disposing anything, no matter how useless or outdated it may seem at the moment.
10. Stop trying to look younger than I really am. Nothing wrong with caring for my body to be youthful, but dress appropriate to my age.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that these aren’t dramatic (and melodramatic) resolutions. Nothing about losing weight, recycling, saving money, eating healthier or any of the standard new year’s crap (that gets violated a week after they get written anyway). This list are mere tweaks, and are mostly about lifestyle. I posted this to be a reminder to myself, or to anyone who may feel that the list makes sense.