I can pinpoint exactly that moment in time when I said no to piled-on accessories. We were doing the September 2007 cover for the 20th anniversary of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and had 13 models coiffed in Twenties-style pincurls, completely in the buff, save for an extravagance of jewels. Stylist Liz Uy had called in a veritable Fort Knox and each model was literally dripping in gold. Looking over the archives reveals this cover came at the tail end of a luxe bohemian moment where chandelier earrings co-existed happily with a stack of bangles; I remember talking to Liz after the shoot about how this was the time to start paring down.
Chanel’s Black Satin (P1250, Rustan's Makati) will give [your manicure] an edge.
I grew up thinking jewelry should be worn as a set; that’s what my mommy said— in fact, up to this day, I still get the occasional phone call whenever she sees me in the papers without my earrings. Forgoing all my bling wasn’t a major moment in my life; there was no drama. I just woke up one day and decided to stop wearing my earrings, necklace, and bracelet all at the same time. I’m not quite sure if it had something to do with getting older, this paring down; what I’ve learned though is I no longer have this compelling need to “show” my personality through piles and piles of accessories. I buy better quality pieces that speak volumes without having to shout, like a medieval-looking, spiky brass pendant that hangs on a chunky chain hand-forged by Michelline Syjuco, or a cocktail ring of faceted amethysts set on pavéd snakes by Janina for Jul Dizon. I’ve learned to think of accessories as punctuations; when you have too many of them, you start to lose your train of thought.
The first time I walked out of the house with nary a piece of jewelry, I remember feeling quite naked, like I forgot to wear my pants. It was difficult to get out of the mindset that without any form of adornment, I would look plain. Luckily, I was able to take refuge in my shoes. I spend much more money than I should on them, and now, by taking away all the baubles and bangles, they can rightfully claim all the attention. Naturally, when I put the focus on my feet, I realized how a pedicure—and, subsequently, a manicure—can take the place of all that jewelry.
Go classic with Revlon Red (P289, SM Makati)
I’ve always had a fixation on nail polish (full disclosure: I co-own, together with some high school friends, Nail Spa). It completes a look; for example, if you’re wearing a little black dress: Chanel’s Black Satin will give it edge, Revlon’s Red will imbue it with traditional glamour, and Deborah Lippmann’s inky blue with metallic green glitter confection called Across the Universe is a sophisticated and unpredictable choice. There are so many color choices for nail varnish now; I find it a lot more fun than playing with eye shadow. Although my sisters, who only wear the classic nude or blue-red on their nails, are quick to admonish, I’ve had a blast wearing a rainbow of pastel-hued polish (one for each toe) à la Sea of Shoes’ Jane Aldridge, as well as taxicab-yellow nails (care of Chanel’s Mimosa) with a purple silk Jun Escario high- neck gown (although admittedly it was a pain dressing around the yellow hue for the next two weeks). I put on an unexpected metallic, like Nars’ Desperado or A-England’s Lady of the Lake when I’m wearing prissy florals. At the Preview Ball, I couldn’t accessorize with proper jewelry because the effect was aging, so instead, I went with a disco glitter on my nails, Barry M.’s Blue Gli, which tied in perfectly with the blue of my shoes. I’m not saying this because I have vested interests, but I’m always excited when I have my manipedi done at Nail Spa; it’s become a novel way to approach dressing up.
This article originally appeared in Pauline Juan's Fashion Sense for Preview's August 2011 issue. You can download back issues of Preview here.