I would like to congratulate those of you who recently graduated from college. It would have been a long four or five years for most, allowing you to finally put this stage of life behind you. The next chapter is to build a meaningful and, hopefully, long career by joining the workforce full time.
As you make this transition, the time has come to lay a few things to rest. Being old enough to work means it is time to start acting like an adult. And this starts with getting rid of the kiddie things you carried around with you during your school years.
Since you are not a college student anymore, the first thing you need to ditch is the backpack.
Why ditch it
Yes, it is easy to carry. Yes, it can store a change of clothes, a pair of rubber shoes, a beach towel, bottles of water, and even a small desktop computer with the monitor and keyboard all at once. And yes, it's got more pockets than the cargo shorts you like to wear to school. I get it, it's very convenient to use.
The thing is, a backpack is the same thing that grade school students use after their mothers pack it with lunch and oversized textbooks. And no matter how expensive, how much leather is used, or how beautifully designed it is, it is still a backpack.
Another reason to stop using the backpack is that it is the biggest contributor of wrinkles to long-sleeved shirts and blouses. Worse is that the straps can transfer dirt to the shoulders of your clothes because they tend to be dust magnets.
Instead of carrying a backpack to job fairs, I suggest that gentlemen replace it with a genuine leather or faux leather briefcase. Choose a color that matches your shoes, belt, and watch strap to help you stand out for the right reasons.
For the ladies, purchasing a handbag is a must at this stage in life. However, fitting documents in a handbag can be challenging without folding them.
For cases like this, consider procuring a genuine or faux leather portfolio. If you find this to be too cumbersome, a simple Manila envelope should suffice.
While plastic folders are great at keeping documents dry, they make you look like a grade school student. However, there may be times when a Manila envelope alone may not be practical, such as during the rainy season. For these times, stick with clear or translucent plastic because greens, blues, and pinks really scream kiddie.
Where to get it from
The more expensive leather bags can be purchased in boutiques in most malls in the Philippines. Less expensive brands, that still offer good quality, can be procured from the leather sections of most malls.
Those who prefer to get faux leather bags can check out flea markets. Some of the more popular places include those in the Green Hills Shopping Center or in Divisoria.
In the case of faux leather portfolios, they can be purchased from most bookstores, such as National Bookstore, or from the school supply section of department stores. A wider selection can usually be found in flea markets like those in Green Hills Shopping Center and stores in Divisoria.
Genuine leather and faux leather handbags can be purchased just about anywhere shoes are sold, making them much easier to buy than a gentleman's briefcase.
Manila envelopes can be purchased just about anywhere; even the grocery section of drugstores carry them. Just make sure to purchase the long version as most school records are printed on legal-sized paper.
The next thing that young adult entering the workforce need to pay attention to is the watch. For ladies, it can be part of an ensemble to complement ear rings necklaces, rings, and bracelets. But for men, this may be the only piece of jewelry worn.
Why ditch it
Plastic watches scream kiddie because that's what children wore in grade school. And while some of the more affluent families could afford expensive models, they were still plastic watches.
Sure, Swatch or Casio's G-shock aren't designed to be kid's watches, but those are considered to be casual and, maybe, sport watches, respectively.
You'll need something more formal for your next interview which, in this situation, is something encased in metal. Go with stainless steel, gold, or rose-gold because they are timeless. Avoid cases that are poorly plated or painted, especially those that come in odd colors, because they are not much better than plastic ones.
Under no circumstances are you to wear a calculator watch, even if it is a retro timepiece. Nothing screams kiddie more than a plastic or metal calculator watch on one's wrist. If you need to do some heavy calculations, use your mobile phone instead.
Leather straps are the most formal and great for day and night wear. Their only drawback is that they tend to absorb perspiration, especially on a hot day.
Metal bracelets are fine, so long as they don't have a compass attached to one of the links. And since metal isn't absorbent, they are great for the summer.
Avoid watches that come with plastic or rubber straps because they still end up looking like a plastic watch even if the case is metal.
While the general rule is that timepieces should be simple, office protocol isn't as rigid today. This means that you can now wear a chronograph to the interview. However, leave the diver's watch at home because like Casio's G-Shock, it is a sports watch.
If the only watch you own is a plastic one, I suggest you leave it at home and just refer to your phone for the time.
Where to get it from
Thanks to the country's booming economy, people have a wide variety to choose from today. Branded ones can be found in boutiques in just about every shopping mall in the country. People will also find, more or less, the same brands in the watch section of these malls.
Watch dealers can also be found selling multiple brands in the malls. Just make sure that the store you are buying from is an authorized local dealer. While the model you want may not be fake, getting it from a non-reputable store means the warranty may not be honored by an authorized service center.
Ankle, Foot, or Printed Socks
It may surprise some that the main point of office socks is not to cushion one's feet but to hide the skin of one's legs.
Why ditch it
Skin tends to elicit an emotional response, which isn't welcome in the office. If you have nice skin, people may wonder what you do to pamper yourself. If you have flawed skin, people worry you have some communicable disease, even if it's just a bad case of mosquito bites.
Having said that, make sure to wear full socks that don't reveal the skin at all times, which includes whenever you cross your legs.
Nothing looks worse than a dark silhouette being marred by white flesh somewhere in between. No, skin should only appear at the ends, specifically the head and hands.
Skip the ankle socks because these are for the gym or basketball court. Ditch the foot socks because that's for the weekend. And never go sockless because that is for the beach.
The popularity of foot socks, in lieu of stockings, for ladies has also given rise to one of the biggest fashion sins today. While it is great at keeping the feet from getting blisters, foot socks are not meant to be seen.
It's kind of like seeing the underwear of sweaty men peeking out of their pants when they bend over. Yes, we know that men use it, but underwear is not meant of be seen because it kind of disgusting when you think about the sweat and smell it absorbs.
Think of foot socks as the underwear of feet. They are not mean to be seen because of the sweat and smell you get when you wring them dry after a long day. In addition to this, the fabric of foot socks peeking out of shoes mars the appearance of footwear, especially when they are nicely crafted.
Not only is it a sin to have foot socks peeking out from shoes, but selecting a color contrasting with the shoe is another faux pa. To illustrate, pick black foot socks for black shoes so they blend properly. Brown for brown and beige or a nude for other colored shoes. The best color would be a pair that looks invisible on your skin, so pick something as close to your skin tone as possible.
Don't get me started on printed socks. Worn by your parents or grandparents while they were in grade school, it was usually combined with short khaki pants, a black belt with a huge buckle, a white short-sleeved polo shirt with a school patch sewed on it, and black buckled shoes that maim feet. While they may be the rage in colleges recently, they make you appear juvenile at work.
Finally, do not play with your shoes. Some people have the bad habit of flipping them up and down or dangle them from the toes to expose bare feet or, worse, foot socks with holes. This is the equivalent of someone dropping their pants to flash you their underwear or bare bottom several times.
Where to get it from
Full-length socks can be purchased at any department store in the country. They usually come at a discount when purchased in packs of three. The nice thing is that most sales people will allow you to purchase three different colors instead of just a single hue.
Consider going with local brands because they tend to be better designed for Philippine conditions. While foreign brands may appear to be cheaper at first, they tend to lose their elasticity quickly. With things like garters coming loose, socks start to bunch up at the ankles after just a few washes.
Cheaper ones can literally be found on sidewalks along the streets in Divisoria. However, these may be best used as a stopgap measure as they are not expected to last very long. Buying cheap socks may end up being more expensive in the long run because you'll need to buy replacements more frequently.
Again, I would like to congratulate those of you who graduated recently. I still remember my own journey in college and know that it is no small feat completing this stage of your life.
Whether you will be working full time or going back to school for further studies, you already crossed the line that separates your being a kid and an adult. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, there is no turning back the clock. And since time marches on, the moment has come for you to finally ditch the kiddie stuff as you enter the workforce.
That doesn't mean you can't have any fun with your wardrobe anymore. On the contrary, it actually means that you now have a wider range to choose from. And having more choices is what being an adult all is about.
Just don't choose the kiddie stuff anymore.