9 Wardrobe Essentials for Dressing Up in a Tropical City

I just started my own vlog! The first episode is a lookbook.

At first, I was at a loss about the theme of the lookbook. Back to school? (But I just graduated!) Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall wouldn’t work, too–since I live in Manila. I eventually realized that I couldn’t choose a theme for my lookbook because I often dress up using the same items in my wardrobe–regardless of the weather and the occasion. My outfits at school, work, and at laidback hangout sessions are indistinguishable from each other. That’s why I decided to just vlog (and blog) about my top wardrobe staples–the nine items that I use regularly.

The two main requirements I have for all my outfits are to be comfortable and to look put together.

Those requirements have become so much more achievable once I trimmed down my wardrobe choices. Ironically, I found it much easier to prepare outfits. For example, my wardrobe is generally exclusive to white, brown, nude, and blush tones. Occasionally, I add hints of red, maroon and marsala. (I’ve maintained the same color palette in designing my home, too.) By limiting my choices only to specific color families, all tops, bottoms, and accessories match each other easily.

This has made me minimize wardrobe space, time wasted looking for something to wear, and also money spent buying clothes that I won’t wear repeatedly. Uniform dressing is the way to go!

Out of the different items I have in my closet, I listed these nine items as my ultimate go-to wardrobe essentials.

1.) White Button Down Polo

It’s as comfy as a pajama, but it’s suitable for both work and play. There’s just something timeless and elegant about how understated a white button down is.

White Button Down Polo from H&M

2.) Skinny/Slim-fit Denim Jeans

I’m in skinny denim jeans almost everyday. It’s stretchable enough for the occasional climbing-up-the-ladder-to-find-a-good-angle demands of my job. But it’s also appropriate for delivering pitches and talks–especially when paired with a blazer.

I’m also most confident and comfortable in skinny jeans. I think it’s generally flattering, but covers whatever I want covered.

Skinny Jeans from Marks & Spencer

3.) Silk Cami Top

This isn’t actually real silk. (No budget for legit silk!) But it (slightly) mimics the luxurious look of silk. I like it as a replacement for my the old, suffocating kamisons I used to wear–which always had lint by the fifth wash. I use these ala-silk cami tops to layer outfits with light cardigans, denim and leather jackets, or low-cut dresses. They’re versatile, comfortable, light, and easy to pack.

(Not) Silk Cami Top from H&M

Jacket from ANTHILL Fabric Gallery

4.) Denim Shorts

Comfy, easy to match, and easy to pack–but I’m not always comfortable to wear it in school or for work. I just have one pair of these. But I abuse them by wearing them almost daily whenever I’m on vacation.

Denim Shorts from Miss Selfridge

5.)  Off Shoulder Blouse

I don’t feel comfortable in sleeveless outfits. (My arms aren’t toned, and the skin on my arms have light scars and rashes.) That’s why I love off the shoulder blouses. They cover what I want to be covered, but they give off a warm, tropical vibe, too!

6.) Blazer

I was in high school when I first fell in love with blazers. They can transform any casual basic outfit into a chic, #girlboss, I-mean-business kind of outfit. But when it comes to blazers, I stir clear of black and dark blue. They usually look way too formal for me. I love blazers in white, nude, blush, and maroon.

Blazer from Mango

7.) Culottes

Culottes are the most comfortable bottoms I have! They’re baggy and presko, but still look work-appropriate. I love the culottes from Harlan + Holden so much that I bought two pairs: one in brown and the other one in black.

Culottes from Harlan + Holden

8.) Denim Jacket

I’ve always thought that denim jackets can make any outfit look more adventurous. Whenever I wear something boring or something too formal, adding a denim jacket immediately solves the problem.

Denim Jacket from Forever 21

9.)  Plain White Shirt

The white shirt is perfect for casual outfits and is the best building block for outfits that involve lots of layering and accessorizing.

White Shirt from H&M

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Thank you to Carmy Joaquin + Roxy Saquido from Hoppipolla House (hoppipollahouse@gmail.com) for working on this with me! It was so much fun to work with you! They haven’t launched their social media accounts yet, but you can email them if you have inquiries.