Favorite Things | Matters of taste

The President of Greenwich on skinny jeans and dressing for the job you want.

Interview  DIANE CLAIRE J. JIAO | Photography  JONATHAN BALDONADO 


Albert Cuadrante has a sharp eye for aesthetics. It comes with the job. As a marketing man for major companies and an advertising professor in the Ateneo de Manila University, he knows the devil is in the details.

HL_fave

He is a stickler for design, no matter if it is a multimillion-peso campaign he is launching, the family home he is working to build (“I didn’t know there were so many kinds of tiles, they’re driving me crazy”), or the shirt he is wearing.

Dressing up is crucial in the corporate world, where people are often judged based on appearances. If you look neat and put-together, Cuadrante says, people tend to assume you must put in that same effort in your work, dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. His rule of thumb? Always dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

What are your favorite items of clothing?

If I’m going to work, I’ll usually wear a gingham polo shirt. I think gingham is a very versatile print. Most my pants are gray because they work both with black and brown shoes. And then, I like to wear my Cole Haan LunarGrands since I can dress them up or down. Oh, and colored socks, always. I also own three suits in navy, gray and black—all tailored. If it’s in the day, I’ll wear gray. If it’s at night and the event is very formal, I’ll wear black. If I’m going abroad, I’ll bring the navy suit since it’s dark enough to be formal. To keep it casual, I just wear it without a tie.

HL_fave2

What styles of clothing did you have a hard time adapting to?

Skinny jeans. They brought me back to the 1980s when everyone wore baston pants! Besides, it’s hard to look good in skinny jeans if you’re not skinny. I had to take it slowly—I switched from bootcut pants to straight-cut pants, then to slim-fit pants, before finally trying the skinny fit.

What would you never try again?

My diagonally striped shirts have all been donated to Caritas.

You cofounded Sarto Manila, one of the most well-regarded tailors here. How did you get involved in that?

When I was still in Proctor & Gamble, I discovered a tailor on Makati Ave. I would show him my pegs and he followed them closely. I recommended him to my friends, but they didn’t know how to talk to tailors.  Soon, I was spending all my weekends accompanying my friends to the tailor and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I’m bringing so much business to this shop, I’m spending so much time advising their customers, and I’m not getting anything from this!’ So, I pirated the tailor and the cutter and put up Sarto.

Have men become more aware of and open about fashion ?

I think so. I remember 10 years ago, it was such a novelty to be into fashion. That’s why we had terms like ‘metrosexual.’ But now it’s more normal. Men are wearing more color, for example. Before, they used to favor only black and blue. Now, you see them in pink and purple. A lot of it is psychological. Someone once asked me, ‘How do you get away with not wearing socks?’ Just don’t wear socks!

What tips would you give someone who wants to start getting into menswear?

Know your body. It’s so basic. It dictates how far you can go with a particular style. Height is so important—I see so many people who wear clothes that make them look short, or don’t take advantage of their length. Work with your skin color too. if you’re pale, don’t wear pastels that will wash you out. I have olive skin, so I don’t wear browns and greens. It’s also useful to have someone who can give you an honest opinion. My wife will sometimes call me out and say, ‘Are you really going out wearing that?’ And of course, you have to be willing to listen to them too. So when she says that, I go back in and change.

Kudos on being recently promoted to Greenwich President. Do you miss marketing at all?

I do miss marketing. I’m trying my best not to be an overlord to my marketing manager now. Marketing is very subjective; it’s a matter of taste. So I will bite my tongue if I can and defer to her instead. But if it in any way involves menswear, I will really speak up. ‘Don’t make the talent roll up their sleeves because it makes him look like a gigolo.’