366 – On Workwear Stories

Today’s outfit has a lot of stories – from the work shirt, to the pants, even the boots I wear. Let’s start from the top, going down.

I bought this military work shirt in olive green from Uniqlo around 2015 as I wanted something similar to military-style polos I would usually discover while visiting thrift shops. Back when I was in college, I would check out thrift stores around my immediate area to see if I could find good pieces at a reduced price. I stopped this practice once I graduated and got a job, preferring to invest in new clothes.

This work shirt, which was also issued in navy blue and khaki, is actually the first generation of this piece of clothing. Subsequent re-issues used a lighter material and had a roomier fit. Nowadays, I find earlier iterations of this shirt at a surplus shop in a shopping mall chain – with the brand tags removed.

In my case, versatility and utility were the main selling points for this work shirt. It pairs well with khaki trousers for that 1940s military look, as well as standard denim jeans for modernity. The two breast pockets were large enough to accommodate other items that would have otherwise crowded my trouser pockets, such as a wallet or a pen. Moreover, I could simply roll up the sleeves in warm weather and unfurl them when it gets cold.

Next up is this pair of denim trousers from local clothing purveyor Bench. I originally bought this deeply colored pair as an emergency purchase back in 2017 after the pair I was wearing that time got ripped along the inner seam. (Ownership of that old pair has since reverted to Dad, who had it made into shorts.)

However, I still sent this for alterations as I purchased it as a straight-cut pair. Straight-cut jeans are called “baston” (pronounced bus-ton) in Filipino, as the word itself literally translates to walking cane. This is similar to the fit of Levi’s 501 jeans, with a straight leg – and this style is often linked to older Filipinos.

The trip to the alteration shop turned out nicely, as the seamstresses there managed to make it a tapered pair similar to drainpipe trousers. They also cut it to proper length, eliminating the need to cuff the trouser legs. Six years on, this pair of denim trousers has become a mainstay in my wardrobe.

I’ve long wanted to feature these suede work boots from Danish shoe brand ECCO, and thankfully this entry serves that purpose. I bought this pair from a small shop that sold slightly used footwear from the US, managing to haggle down the price from P2,500 ($50) to P2,200 ($44). I had the money on hand, so the shopkeeper was more than willing to sell it to me.

However, just like other shoes under the brand – this pair was not exempt from the so-called “curse of ECCO.” Aside from having a reputation of being expensive, some people who bought ECCO pairs reported the soles degrading – either turning into powder or a sticky mass of gunk. The latter happened to this pair, which led me to have it resoled for P600 ($12).

The resoling job was commendable, as I was able to use it again without worrying about the old soles degrading at the least opportune time. It also allowed me to easily drive a bigger vehicle, such as a diesel-powered SUV, with these boots. Suede often has a rugged look to it, which matched the work shirt and trousers I wore in this instance.

Olive green military work shirt: UNIQLO
Denim drainpipe trousers: Bench
Shoulder bag: Bench
Suede work boots: ECCO


29 thoughts on “366 – On Workwear Stories

    • Now that you mentioned it, St. Paddy’s Day was last Friday!

      Lucky you! Here in the Philippines, there’s a certain stigma whenever someone who didn’t join the military or police wears camo — so olive green will do.

  1. Wow, your clothes really are quality! I remember owning jeans and shirts that lasted more that’s 5 years too, but it has become very rare. Nowadays, most clothes start to deteriorate after the first laundry cycle. 😞
    But I have to admit that as far as Uniqlo is concerned, I’m having an experience that is similar to yours. I bought a few pieces long before Covid, and they are still good. 👍

    • Thank you! 😊 If anything, I guess it’s proof that investing in good clothes from the get-go will more than make up for the amount spent — in the form of durability. I actually have a pair of Levi’s trousers that are almost 20 years old, and still going strong!

      Despite the brand’s rather low reputation in Japan (it’s the country’s “basic” brand of clothes), Uniqlo’s pieces do last long. I do suggest buying the special collections when they’re on sale — got myself several pieces from Uniqlo’s collaboration with Michael Bastian, JW Anderson, Engineered Garments, and Liberty London. 😁

      But if there’s any brand I would suggest avoiding, it’s H&M. The only times I buy from the fast fashion giant is when I need accessories — and its Close The Loop program (where you donate textile scraps and old clothes) grants me a discount. To be fair, I purchased two leather belts from there that are still in good shape.

  2. 2015?  And it still looks this good! TBF, Uniqlo has always been one of my go-tos when it comes to quality, comfortable clothes for everyday use. 

    You have such a good style!!

    • Thank you! 😁 I actually have an older piece — a plain black raglan (3/4 sleeve) shirt — which I purchased in 2013. However, I had the sleeves shortened to the standard shirt length.

      Another piece I have — a half-zip fleece sweatshirt — dates from 2014. I still use it until now, though sparingly as it’s already summer here.

    • Hindi naman siguro budol if you managed to purchase one of the new models. 😆 I surmise they managed to resolve the problem on the production side.

      Naalala ko kasi yung isang Filipino menswear blogger na binibisita ko noon. He bought a pair of ECCO chukka boots, but was forced to return the pair as its sole cracked despite infrequent use. (Looking at it now, hinala ko old stock nabili niya.)

      Oh, and by the way — welcome back, Doc! Haven’t seen you in a while 😁

  3. Looks great! I love the clean military look as well. Those types of button ups are my favorite, but it’s hard for me to find them in a women’s fit. The men’s fit usually ends up a little boxy on me, but it’s still worth it if I can find a good shirt in that style! Also, those jeans are in such great condition still, even after so many years. definitely a good pair to invest in 😊

    • Thank you, Tara! 😄 Hmm…I guess you can try sizing down? Most work shirts like this often have a boxy fit as they follow a “function over form” aesthetic. Clothes that allow easy movement are a must in the military and in blue-collar jobs, where this piece of clothing takes inspiration from.

      For the jeans, I’d say the standard wash and line-dry contributes to its longevity. The tropical weather here in the Philippines allows for sun-drying, avoiding the use of tumble dryers that often ruin the fabric. I also use a minimal amount of fabric softener (about 1/8 of a cup is more than enough) whenever I wash this pair.

      • I wish weather was a bit better where I’m at. We have nice Summers, but our Winter can be pretty brutal so there’s no sun drying. Sometimes I’ll hang dry in the house though, to avoid the dryer!

  4. My spouse loves Uniqlo but they aren’t really cut for my proportions well (the pieces always end up too short but also not tailored). I don’t have a favorite brand but tend to shop at discount stores. I was just thinking about how some of my favorite tops are thrift store finds from over a decade ago!

    • I see; incidentally, my late mom also had a similar sentiment with Uniqlo. She found the small women’s sizes too small for her, while the medium sizes were too big.

      Now that you mentioned it, I suddenly remembered the counterpart of Goodwill here in the Philippines that sold old clothes. The best purchase I had there so far was a soccer jersey from the UK’s Liverpool FC I managed to buy for P50 (US$0.92). Got it in 2018, and it’s still in good shape five years later.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Love me some workwear! I’ve always been into denim and work boots, and each item has served me for years at a time—nearing a decade, in fact. What a nice post. Another related topic I’m interested in is EDC if you do that sorta stuff!

    • Now that’s great to hear! I’d say you bought items of superior quality, Stuart — the initial price may be slightly high, but the longevity more than makes up for it. Imagine using those for decades!

      Well, I’m planning to do EDC topics — might kick that off with a review of a folding knife I have here from 2018.

  6. I like that shirt a lot, and good for you for re-soling your shoes instead of just tossing them and getting new ones.

    Once upon a time here, military surplus stores were a great way to get inexpensive, good-looking items of clothing (many brand new) that would last for ages. Now the prices are through the roof, and my SO can’t find a decent pair of boots anywhere. “Progress.”

    • Thank you, Aspasia! 🙂 Personally, I believe that unless the shoe upper itself is ruined (rips, degradation or otherwise) — it still deserves a second life through resoling.

      Yeah, it’s almost the same situation here in the Philippines. We went to the province of Pampanga (where the former Clark Air Force Base used to be) back in December to look for military surplus, and spotted around 3 or 4 US military pieces. Mostly, it’s now cheaper gear produced in China…

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