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Tag Archives: men’s fashion

Understated Paris (Hotel Residence Foch)

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The author in front of HRF

My wife and I go on a short holiday twice a year. Whenever we travel we always look for a hotel that is the most upscale within our budget, is located in the safest area, is a short walk  to the major sites while still being away from the maddening crowd and will offer us a glimpse into the way we would live if we were locals. We got that with the Hotel Residence Foch.

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Parisian apartment chic

It’s a narrow, classic style (Haussman era?) building with 7 floors. Very understated. The front desk/reception area is adequate in size and there is a small breakfast/dining area   opening up to a courtyard/garden at the rear of the property. Our room (61) was about 12 square meters excluding our en suite bathroom (which had a tub). Relatively new. Nicely  decorated. Very clean. Very quiet. Daily maid service. Comfortable queen size bed with good quality linens and pillows. Professional, welcoming and helpful staff. And, yes, there is a  lift.

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Lobby with breakfast area toward the rear

HRF, as it is affectionately referred to, is located on Rue Marbeau in the 16th arr. The neighborhood is not touristy at all (read: devoid of pickpockets, thieves or the occasional   homeless person). It is a short, convenient and safe 5 minute walk from the Port Maillot stop of Les Cars Air France (Port Maillot is also the nearest Metro stop). Rue Pergolese  (perpendicular to Rue Marbeau) offers a number of boulangeries, bistros and a Michelin star restaurant called Le Pergolese. From the hotel it is a 20 minute walk along tree lined  streets to the Trocadero from where one will get the most iconic views of the Eiffel Tower (Halfway through the walk, grab a croissant and cafe creme at one of the cafes located at  Place Victor Hugo). It’s also a 10 minute walk along tree lined streets to the Arc de Triomphe putting you at the top of the Champs Elysees (or the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore ifone prefers a more exclusive shopping experience). Pub Crawling and nights out are not a problem either because if you miss the last Metro, just take a taxi to the Palais des Congres (a convention center/concert venue/mall located right beside Port Maillot) then walk to the hotel.

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The Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero

The Hotel Residence Foch is a boutique hotel that is very attuned to a certain kind of French life. It gives you a base from which to experience the live quiet and comfortably, away from the crowd, dress well, eat a light breakfast, step out and be seen lifestyle of Paris. If that’s how you want to experience Paris then the HRF is for you.

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Posted by on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mid-Foot Strike! (Newton Running)

I’m a slug…  Really…  I am.  I eat, sleep, go to work, eat, sleep.  In the middle of that, I’m able to squeeze in a few hours of quality time with my wife and kids.  Oh!  My wife and I also get a weekly massage from our favorite home spa.

Why is it then, do I have a photograph of a pair of Newton Running shoes?  Well, it involves a floor-to-ceiling mirror, an ever tightening pair of pants and my wife thinking of a name for my belly.

It wasn’t always this way.  There was a time, I could be called “sporty”.  Athletic even!  Well…  Not really.  But!  But!  I was living a fairly active life.  Involving myself in a mutitude of leisure sport activities, such as, but not limited to:  futbol, golf, scuba diving, basketball, badminton, partying (?), hanging out at the beach every weekend (?), and many other activities similar to the foregoing.

So it was, while dining in a restaurant called Simply Thai in Greenbelt 5, that my business partner convinced my wife and I to take up running.  We don’t really know how it happened.  Somewhere between the phad thai and the beef rendang, we said yes.  Oh, well…

Half an hour later, we found ourselves in Bonifacio High Street registering for our first run.  My wife was prudent enough to join the 3K run.  But, because I was a fool and the thought of running a paltry distance of 3K just didn’t sit right with my masculine side, I registered for a 10K run.  Yes, a 10K run.  Hah!  (Chest thump).  Of course, after realization set in, self-doubt began to take over.  I realized that I’ve never run continuously for more than 3 kilometers in my life.  What if I don’t finish?!

Lovingly, my wife took my arm, looked at me with her most supportively determined face and said, “Looking good is more important.  We must get new shoes!”  (I swear that in that moment, I saw fire in her eyes).  She led me across the gardens to RUNNR and without batting an eyelash began to select her new running outfit.  I, on the other hand, methodically examined the numerous shoes offered.  They were categorized under “stability”, “cushioning” or “neutral”.  Not understanding why, I turned to the salesperson for some help and was told that people have different ways of running so I had to choose the right kind of shoes in order not to get injured.  He guided me to a contraption that would help analyze my gait.  Anyway, after all of that, I ended up with the Newton Running shoes in the photograph.  Needless to say, my wife was already at the cashier with her Newtons and a “few” other items such as her Nike shorts and a running top from Equipe.

Newtons are very comfortable.  The sole offers a lot of cushioning and support, while the portion called the “upper” is soft and well ventilated.  What sets it apart though, are the “lugs” located in the forefoot area of the sole.  This design forced me to correct the way I strike the road when I run, aside from the fact that they offer a lot of shock absorption.  Newton Running takes the science so seriously that there are even on-line tutorials (Go to YouTube and type in “Newton Running”) on how to best use the shoes.  Cool!

We’ve been running an average of 5K every other night since then (We’re night owls) and I did finish my 10K run.  Amazingly, my back, legs and knees don’t hurt after every run.  Our Newtons really work as promised and it has helped my wife and I find a common sport that we can enjoy together.

On to the next run!

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Magnificent (Magnanni)

 For those people who have read my previous posts, they would know that I have this thing for shoes.  Dress shoes.  The kind that guys like me who have shunned the corporate world don’t have any practical use for.  Yes, we may, on occassion, have the need to slip our feet into handmade leather loafers.  But, since these occassions are quite few and far between, a couple of pairs would be sufficient.

Right…

As if a woman would be satisfied with just a couple of bags…

Anyway, I was aimlessly walking around the mall one day, enjoying its cool, airconditioned confines.  As it was an aimless wandering, I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was going.  When I was just about done with my Chai Tea Latte, I looked around for a rubbish bin to dispose of my cup.  I asked a person in uniform for some help and realized that the uniform looked familiar.  Taking stock of my surroundings, it dawned on me that my wanderings have taken me into the men’s department of Rustan’s Makati…  Again…

Emotions of guilt and joy swept through me.  Or was it joy first and then guilt?  Joyful guilt?  Guiltful joy?  Whatever…  A plausible excuse must be found to placate my wife’s growing irritation at my increasing clothing bill.  But, wait!  I have not done anything wrong!  It was not my fault that I am back in Rustan’s!  My feet brought me here!  Yes!  My feet!  I had nothing do to with it, so there.

Satisfied that I have not done anything wrong, I finally glanced down at the magnificent pair of Magnanni shoes I have been cradling in my hands while I was undergoing my mental discourse.  Called the “Belton”, its exquisite brown sheen, delicate buckle, hand-sewn leather and the combination leather sole for the forefoot and rubber sole for the heel made me think about the movie Ocean’s Thirteen and how it was able to tastefully blend laid back elegance, impeccable style (care of world-renowned Filipino designer Kenneth Cobonpue), and careless wealth.

As much as I loved to imagine myself putting on a bespoke shirt, a light linen suit, slipping into these Magnanni shoes and getting into a Maserati Quattroporte (I am a family man, after all), reality must step in.  For the meantime, the shoes must be put back into its display stand and I must walk back to the parking garage, get into my vintage 4×4 and drive home.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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James Bondish… (Hackett)

 Ever since the time I decided to eschew the corporate life, I have been waking up with a smile on my face.  No more rush hour traffic.  No more long days.  And, I think more importantly, no more restrictive dress code.  My suits have been relegated to the back of my closet to make space for my casual, but otherwise, smart daily wear.

Of course, I’m not saying that I now look like a slob.  I still do appreciate clothes that are stylish and well-made.  It’s just that, rather than conveying a message of competition and assertion, I would like to think that the way I dress now conveys warmth and acceptance.  I think…

I do still work.  And, because of the nature of my profession (which I am trying to keep a secret), I still have meetings scheduled throughout the work week.  The difference is, the meetings are now more relaxed and informal.  Much like a meeting between friends.

Anyway, my more casual work wardrobe needed a little spiffing up.  Visa suggested that I shop around for a light sport coat that can be used for daytime appointments and not so formal evening functions.  Mastercard readily agreed.  And so, for the nth time, my credit cards find themselves in the men’s department of Rustan’s Makati trying to jump out of my wallet.

Being a regular guy, I made a mental map of the selling area and chose a route to follow.  After about half an hour, I was on my way to an elevated portion when I spied a blue jacket, which is pictured here, by Hackett of London that was left hanging in one of the fitting rooms.  It caught my eye because it was the first time I had seen something like it.  After ensuring that the room was empty, I entered to get closer to the item.  Maybe it was the yellow lighting in the room, I don’t know?  Called a “Blue Delave”, its soft blue color and luxuriously light linen fabric reminded me of the ocean, an immaculate shore line, and an ice-cold Daiquiri with those little umbrellas.  Or, maybe I’ve just been watching too many James Bond movies…

It wasn’t much of a fight, really.  I knew that this was the jacket I’ve been looking for.  It looks good.  It will go with the clothes I already have and it’s perfect for the tropics.  This is one time I gladly handed over my existence to the sales person and signed on the dotted line.

Now…  What to tell the wife…

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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For The Love of Suede (Cole Haan)

Some might think it as odd, but I like going down to my shoe closet just to take a peek inside and to make sure that my “investments” are well-preserved.  Every so often, I take them out for a cleaning (yes, even those that I have not used in a while).  One by one, I unwrap their protective cloth or paper cover, give them a once-over to make sure that no molds have grown (in Manila weather this is a must), and, depending on the material used for their construction, proceed to wipe, dust, buff or brush them.  They are then lovingly and securely re-wrapped for storage.

It might seem a bit on the anal side, but when dealing with shoes that cost more than a month’s salary for most people this kind of care is needed.  Indeed, it has been worth the effort.  Take these brown suede Cole Haan lace-ups as an example.  I bought this pair on a trip to Carmel, California back in 1999.  Yes, that was 12 years ago.  Yet, they look like they’ve been out of the box for only a couple of weeks.

The design is eye catching as it is slim and very contemporary.  Wearing it is a pleasure as the leather is soft and pliable.  The best part of the entire experience is when I run my hand softly against it to feel the luxurious suede nap.  I imagine a cobbler carefully selecting only the best hides for this handmade shoe and hoping that its future owner will have as much pride in wearing it as he had in making it.

Quality really is timeless.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The One Watch (Rolex)

It was 1989, dusk was approaching.  We were on the Star Ferry crossing over from Hong Kong to Kowloon.  The MTR would have been quicker but the rush hour crush was just too much to take.  Finally on the other side, we sliced our way through the huge Harbour City shopping complex and down onto Peking Road.  As we exited onto Nathan Road, known to the world as the “Golden Mile”, horns were blaring from the most number of Rolls Royces stuck in traffic I have ever seen.  After a moment’s hesitation, we crossed over to the other side and ducked into a basement arcade.

Sounds like the opening sequence to a spy thriller, but it isn’t.  It’s actually a pre-teen Me, being dragged around all over Hong Kong by my mother who was on a quest to buy a Rolex Submariner for my father.  Yes, we could have purchased the watch from any of the authorized dealers in the territory, but, it was the thrill of the hunt, and the store we were headed for provided the best deals in all of Hong Kong.

That first of several watches is the same one half-buried in the sand in the photograph.  My father handed it down to me back in university (probably as a reward for not getting kicked-out), and it has been the only watch I have owned since.  It is a classic.  The all steel construction ensures that it is robust.  Its double lock metal bracelet secures the watch to the wrist in all conditions and the white on black design of the watch face and the bezel is understated.  Not only does it look good worn with casual attire, this piece of steel peeking from under one’s shirt cuffs will get quiet looks of approval from those who know its true value.

If there is just one watch a man can own, this is it.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Sleek (Salvatore Ferragamo)

I have a confession to make…  I like shoes.  I mean, I really like shoes.  This is not unheard of among males, but to actually confess it is something different.  It’s liberating to say the least.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I don’t have hundreds of pairs.  I just have a “few”.  And, it’s not an addiction because I do control myself.  I can go into a store and just browse the displays.  After a few minutes, I walk out.  The problem begins a couple of weeks later when I walk back in the same store and “browse” the same pairs.  At this point, I am hooked and the only way I pull myself out of the store is to think about all the bills I have to pay for.  This goes on for a number of times and after every “extraction”, I congratulate myself and give myself a pat on the back for having such discipline and self-control.

Then, one day, it just happens.  I walk into the same store, ready to do the “browse” and step-out routine as always, but it just feels different.  I can sense something is amiss.  I quickly turn to step out of the store, but it is too late.  The force exerted by the Salvatore Ferragamo boutique is too strong to resist.  With my weakened resolve, I am pulled back in.

The salespeople, sensing a kill, er, a sale, put on their best smiles and begin plying me with the most beautiful pairs of shoes they have.  Next thing I know, I am walking out of the store with 2 to 3 pairs of ridiculously expensive dress shoes that I will get to wear once or twice a year, thereby increasing my personal debt by several notches and helping Citibank hasten its way back to profitability.

One of those shoes is the pair in the photo.  It is called the “Amedeo” and it is just superb.  The design is clean and sleek.  The leather used is soft enough to be comfortable.  It also has a strap that adjusts to keep the fit snug and helps to maintain its slim profile.  Two things, though, stand out when viewing this shoe.  First is the hand-stitching, which must have been done by santa’s elves.  Second, and for me, the more important thing, is the absolutely marvelous smell of the calf-skin leather.

Recommended for male shoe addicts.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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