Getting through your first major work event

I’ve attended formal events for work before, but these major functions have different demands per industry. Events hosted by my previous company, which was in the consumer goods industry, dealt more with product launches and mall activations. Formal events were mostly reserved for corporate parties. Since moving to my position as Editor of, the digital home of MEG magazine, I’ve observed that the events I attend are of a different scale and nature; there are campaign releases, press conferences, photo shoots, interviews, and, as I learned recently, there are BALLS.

Left: my daily work uniform. Right: fish out of water at the Colours Gala.

Events of all kinds are now part and parcel of my job, so why I usually feel more than a little awkward at the grandest, most formal ones? Recently, I attended the Colours Gala honoring London-based designer Lesley Mobo; this was my first major straight-up dressy event. As much as I wanted to be that mysterious, swan-like creature that glided through the crowd, I’m afraid I was pretty much the opposite. I’m not usually this ungainly. I think it might be the combination of being out of my comfort zone (I traded in my blazer and glasses for a full-length gown) and being in the presence of designers I’ve long admired from afar. I lurked, not lingered, I stumbled, not sashayed, and tripped over a few things, including my own dress.

Talking to my friend and colleague Dazzle Ng later on, I mused that embarrassing moments that come with fish-out-of-water experiences like these aren’t at all unnatural. Feeling out of your element is a good thing. It means you’re navigating unchartered territory, possibly moving further along your career, and there is a lot of insight to be gleaned through quiet observation from the wallflowers’ side of the room (presumably near the wall).

If you aren’t feeling your best at a major event, like someone’s wedding or a friend’s party, take heart and remember that you’re probably not the only one feeling jittery. Try to fake your confidence so well that you end up believing it, too. Above all, don’t let your nerves or self-doubt keep you from attending these functions and missing out on what could be critical moments in your life. You have to start somewhere. Below are seven things I learned about attending these kinds of functions:

Have a fairy godmother (or be your own)

MAC’s Raf Mañosca created my beauty look for the evening.

When Cinderella’s evil step-family ruined her dress, her fairy godmother stepped in to loan the princess that iconic ball gown. With only hours to go before my own event, I had no dress and no hair or makeup appointment, but I did find fairy godpeople in Mr. Raf Mañosca of MAC cosmetics and Norlie of Basement Salon, who very kindly did my makeup and hair for the evening. You might want to ask a friend who’s handy with a makeup brush or flat iron to help with your beauty look. If all else fails, head to a salon for a quick and easy blowout; if you’re doing your own makeup, stick to a more dramatic version of your basic look by incorporating a bold lip or eye color.

Look for a dress you can rinse, wear, repeat

If you’re on a very limited budget, your go-to dress for formal events shouldn’t be a poufy ball gown that will make it evident that you’re wearing the same thing over and over. It should be a basic, modern piece with clean lines in a solid color, and it should fit you perfectly. My dress’ rich shade of navy could absorb both warm golds and cooler silvers, making it the perfect versatile piece to last me for years. I won’t be buying a new gown any time soon.

…but don’t overspend in the name of the occasion.

It’s tempting to justify dropping ten grand on a gown because the event is so special, but remember that you’ll be living in the real world the day after. You don’t want thoughts of your looming credit card bill to mar your otherwise lovely evening. My asymmetrical navy gown from Trois was going for Php1,699, a good price for a full-length gown; it’s proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to acquire an event-appropriate dress. We can all dream of a designer gown that’s worth tens of thousands, but until that’s available to us, there are tons of options out there. It shouldn’t take you too long to find one–I found mine within thirty minutes at Rockwell.

Spanx yourself in

If you know there are going to be photographers everywhere armed with deadly, heavy-duty cameras, prepare accordingly. If your dress is fitted, invest in one (or two, or more) pieces of shapewear like Spanx to smooth over any bulges and highlight your curves. Make sure they don’t fit so tightly that you can’t breathe! If your dress is a light color, go for nude undergarments, and buy seamless all the way so there won’t be photographic evidence of any wardrobe malfunctions.

Find a friend in the crowd

Even if you look fabulous, you’ll only perform as excellently as you’re feeling, and I know there are few things more intimidating than having to navigate a room filled with people you don’t know.

Thankfully, I spotted college buddy Aren in the crowd.

I arrived very early, so I was by myself for quite a while, but I think that was a good learning experience that pushed me to socialize. Luckily, I spotted a college friend, Aren Pe, in the crowd, which immediately improved the potentially awkward situation.

Speak up and introduce yourself

What if you really, really don’t see anybody you know? At times like these, you have to hang in there, fight through your nerves, and maybe even spot an opportunity to talk to someone new. I know I became really star-struck when I came face to face with Mr. Jojie Lloren, whose work I’ve admired for years. I finally worked up the nerve to talk to him, and he could not have been more gracious and witty! Push past the awkwardness and dive in.

A peek at the Lesley Mobo Spring-Summer 2013 collection

No prince necessary, but you’ll need your friends

Cinderella had her prince, but no one could help me at this event better than the One Mega Group team (Meryll Yan, Suki Salvador, L.A. Ferriols, Cat Triviño, Rain Dagala and Patrick Galang); their presence did a lot to calm me down at my first major formal work function. I remember thinking to myself, you’re at a ball. In a full-length dress. Watching Lesley Mobo show his latest collection. I think I pinched myself a couple of times, hardly able to believe my luck. Despite the mad scramble for a dress, my unfortunate stumble, and way-too-early arrival, I’d made it here anyway. I was witnessing the unveiling of a collection that was so viscerally compelling that it would later provoke reflection on the reason I fell in love with fashion in the first place. If that’s all I had to get through to be here, I know I’d do it all over again.

All photographs are by Rinse, Wear, Repeat

Update: This piece was republished on on November 6, 2012.

No Holds Barred: Great Finds from the Children’s and Teens Wear Department

In the quest to build a sensible, balanced wardrobe, it’s sometimes necessary to shop with no holds barred at the department store’s teens section. The children’s wear department is also a treasure trove of great finds you can use as you see fit. I’ve put together three looks revolving around some pieces purchased from the Little/Junior Miss section. Below, I also share four things I’ve learned since I started shopping here last year.

  • Expect to ask for the sizes on the larger end of the spectrum. As the clothes are made for slighter bodies that still have a ways to grow, adults shopping in this section should be prepared to look for sizes 14-18, or L/XL/XXL. The clothes you’ll wear from here will likely be for tweens and teens aged 12-16.
  • Things found here are likely to be more cost-effective, but fair warning: I’m not referring to big-name children’s wear brands that sell items priced on par with adult clothes. Instead, look for smaller labels or in-house brands that are often the first to be marked down during sale season. For example, a pair of shorts costing Php750 or 650 somewhere else, can run you 350-500 in children’s or teens wear.
  • Sometimes, some items may not cost that much less than a similar one in the women’s section, but are unique in terms of shape and style. I try to find other uses than how they were originally intended. Over a few months I’ve found loose dresses that can work as tank tops, jackets that can work as vests or cropped sweaters, and separates that are very wearable to work and weekend alike. Cute trends like peter pan collars and scalloped hems are often spotted here.
  • Take care to balance the pieces you buy here with more grown-up elements. I try to avoid going head-to-toe teens wear which can lead to saccharine overload. This may be cute for little girls, but no so much on a twenty-something. For instance, I like balancing a cute printed skirt with grown-up accessories like oversized watches and statement necklaces. Usually, I also go for heels.

I was delighted to find this dress in the children’s section of all places. I’m wearing size 18, the largest size, but the garterized waistband and a-line shape will be friendly to a lot of shoppers with a similar build. Because of the length of the skirt, which falls slightly above knees, Look 1 is wearable almost anywhere, even to work (just throw on a blazer or a cardigan). I chose to style with dainty pink accessories like these oyster-hued peacock earrings, pink headband, and pink studded cuffs to avoid the sweetness overkill I mentioned earlier. Neutral wedges finish the look.

The top in Look 2, a sleeveless blue number with a triple scalloped ivory hem, is also from children’s wear, and also a size 18. I use it only to wear tucked into skirts and pants, because on its own it is very short, with its hemline ending just past the navel. Here I styled it with a very grown-up pair of tailored navy pants (so worn that they are quite faded) and the same wedges as in Look 1. To ensure that I look my age, I also added a textured statement  bracelet featuring different shades of blue and ivory, which really anchor the outfit and give the eye something to focus on. I can also see this paired with an ivory blazer. Strong eyeliner and loose waves complete the look.

These shorts in Look 3 are from the teens section, size XL. I was immediately taken with the nautical design and styled it with a neutral gray shirt and some fun accessories, like my Stormtrooper bottlecap ring, tri-color bangle, and rose pendant. I also added just a touch of toughness via the black gladiator flats. This look is probably appropriate for anywhere you will be doing a lot of walking, as the shorts are very comfortable. I recently wore them on a flight as they don’t pinch when you are seated for a long time.

*All the items are still available now in the stores, but if you would like to know exactly where I bought them, please drop me a note at!

The 2012 Mega Young Designers Competition

I recently spoke to my friend, fashion designer Mia Syson, about her creative process, personal style, and design influences. Mia was a contestant on the 2010-2011 season of the prestigious Mega Young Designers Competition for up-and-coming fashion designers. While it is the longest-running fashion competition in the country, we have only recently seen the contest in television format. I’m a huge fan of some of the winners that the competition has produced, especially Aries Lagat and Russel Villafuerte, whose careers I’ve followed ever since they appeared on the Philippine version of Project Runway.

I was glad to hear from the people at Mega magazine that the contest is now airing its 2012 season on TV. I’m posting the ad with the show details to support the new designers. I love how they share a common cultural story, but with a thousand differing perspectives. All of this likely makes for a unique voice from each artist. As I observed from my morning with Mia, the creative process is something else to behold.

The air is humming, and something great is coming!

I’ve been offline for a while due to some behind-the-scenes repairs and improvements for the site (read: better pictures, a new look, more tips and new elements!). I’ll be back soon, but in the meantime please check out and like my Facebook page. Plus, follow me on Twitter! I’ll be testing out some cool new promos, tips and features, too.

Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on! These are NOT the last words of 🙂

About Rinse, Wear, Repeat

I’m a proud Outfit Repeater on her first corporate job post-college,documenting the working life outfit by outfit. The consummate EveryShopper, I love clothes, follow style blogs, and window-shop like there’s no tomorrow, but it’s equally important for me to spend within my means. Yes to Sustainable Shopping!

At the same time, Rinse, Wear, Repeat is also about my style inspirations, drawing from well beyond the office–a happy little poem about daffodilsa moody Impressionist painting, a beloved children’s book heroine. It’s also about family, friends, and acquaintances with whom I’ve shared everything from the briefest introduction to the most vivid, cherished experiences. Some of these can be distilled down to visceral sartorial memories, like the sandy texture of an heirloom brooch or the familiar print on a dress that belonged to someone beloved. So many things trigger so many memories. Most times they show up in my outfits.

Rinse, Wear, Repeat is my own little Practicality Blog, where I document my discoveries on trends, shopping on a modest budget, tips and tricks to save, and office style, while staying true to my personal aesthetic and penchant for nostalgia and romance. Each piece of clothing purchased, borrowed, or inherited, is part of the larger story told in myriad combinations.

Nothing left to do then, but rinse and wear again. Rinse, and wear again. Rinse and wear, again.