While they’re often associated with contemporary streetwear, hoodies as we know them have been around a long time. Originally developed in the 1930s, they were designed as a piece of practical clothing to help meatpackers in upstate New York keep warm while they worked in walk-in freezers.
Since then, hoodies have slowly become an iconic piece of clothing. Today, most Filipinos have at least one hoodie, despite the fact winter, spring, and fall are not a thing here and a lot of us not have never stepped into a walk-in freezer.
However, they weren’t always such a hot item in the Philippines. This particular writer still remembers the grunge era when they still called “hooded sweatshirts” or the charmingly quaint “kangaroo jacket”. Hoodies were usually the thick, jersey cotton pullover type and we didn’t generally see them worn in the country outside of places like Baguio or Tagaytay.
The hoodie reached a huge bump in local popularity due to influences from American street style trends and the explosion of the BPO industry in the country in the late 90s and 2000s, when more and more people found themselves working long hours in an air-conditioned work environment. What’s more, this was a casual work environment where few employees were required to wear a coat and tie, and t-shirts and jeans were considered to be acceptable work wear.
The air-conditioning in these BPO centers was (and still is) often cranked up to prevent servers and computers from overheating, and little regard was given for employee comfort. Thus, hoodies became a natural fit in this environment. They were more stylish and comfortable than the previously more common nylon jackets and offered more warmth in this type of environment.
Fast forward to today, everyone’s got a hoodie, regardless of where they work. They’re perfect for stowing away in bags or leaving at workstations for when conditions get chilly. With the hood up, they offer some anonymity and help shut off the outside world, which we seem to be doing more often given how ugly the outside world is.
However, not all hoodies today are the same. Wearing the wrong one can make you look like a bottom-rung employee of a fly-by-night BPO or a disgraced emo fan from the 2000s. In the years since they’ve become part of mainstream Philippine clothing, it’s become clear that there’s more to picking the right hoodie than going by brand name. Here we have a few ideas on how you can choose the hoodie that’s best for you.
Pullovers vs. zip-ups
Pullover hoodies are a street and workwear classic. Rocky Balboa wore one when he jogged up the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Most of NWA wore pullover hoodies as did Eminem during his iconic Slim Shady phase. But if those references seem a bit dated, well, it’s because the pullover is no longer as popular as it once was, though it still maintains its loyal following.
The classic pullover cut tends to be slightly bulky even when fitted to the correct size as its main function is to keep the wearer warm. Because it lacks a zipper seam by which warm air can easily escape, it’s quite effective at this.
The signature “kangaroo pocket” in the front of most pullovers is actually intended to be a hand warmer and makes the overall garment even cozier by trapping even more warm air. The lack of a zipper up front means that you often see pullovers with prints and designs used as statement pieces, pretty much like you would see on a printed t-shirt.
Zip-up hoodies have been around since at least the 1960s and are now the most popular type of hoodie in the Philippines. While not exactly new either, they have a more contemporary look and are easier to integrate with a variety of outfits. As they’re easier to put on and take off without pulling out the shirt you have under it, zip-ups are much appreciated for their convenience.
The zipper on this type of hoodie has a tendency to let warm air escape, so as a general rule, they are not as warm as a pullover. Zip-ups are more easily sized down, and much easier to wear than a similarly sized pullover as you can easily take them off without unintentionally removing the layers under it.
The Philippines is a warm country, and even during January, you’ll still find yourself sweating if you move about outdoors. This means getting the most warmth possible is not a huge concern, so zip-ups are definitely more suited for the Philippines. Unlike pullovers, which are invariably casual or suited for hardcore workwear, zip-ups can be more easily dressed up or dressed down as the situation demands. If you only need one hoodie in the Philippines, make sure it’s a zip-up.
Unless you’re a girl, stay away from oversized or baggy hoodies. When you’re young, you can probably wear an oversized garbage bag and make it look good. That said, when you’re over 20, you should probably start thinking about getting hoodies that hug a bit close to your body. Of course, you don’t want to look like an overstuffed longganisa but you want to make sure that your general body shape can be seen.
One way to quickly find if a hoodie is too large is if the garment’s armpit is more than an inch away from your own when you spread your arms out. Generally you want something that conforms to your arms and sides without binding them. However, a classic pullover might be difficult to put on or take off if you wear the right size. A zip-up tends to be much more forgiving than pullovers as you can get the right size or even just size down with fewer consequences.
The length of the hoodie is also an important detail. Ideally, they tend to look best when you’re able to still show off a small slice of untucked t-shirt down the back. Generally you don’t want them so long that you have to hold them out of the way when you use a urinal.
There’s a crazy number of different materials being used for hoodies these days, including different grades and types of cotton. Generally speaking, you want something that will last and give you the appropriate level of warmth for the weather. The best hoodies will age also gracefully like a nice pair of jeans, gaining a subtle character along the way, while those from inferior materials will just look rattier after each wash.
If you live in the colder parts of the Philippines, or if you’re the tiis-ganda type, thicker cotton or even fine wool hoodies are an excellent option and should last you for years while still looking great.
If you live in warmer parts of the country, however, (e.g. everywhere else) you may be better served by thinner cotton or poly-cotton blends, as the coldest you will ever get will probably be in a cinema where the air-conditioning always seems to be at full blast. If you get colder than that, you can always use your hoodie over a long sleeved shirt or wear a denim or military-inspired jacket over the hoodie for a sleek, urban look.
There are also hoodies made with water-repellent materials and technologies. While no hoodie known to man will stand up to the monsoons we face in the Philippines, these are still worth considering if you want one hoodie that could be occasionally used during less torrential rains.
Hoodies today come in a variety of textures, and we wholeheartedly agree (with a few exceptions) that a bit of texturing will make you stand out in a really good way, compared to flat-looking hoodies that seem to be glorified long-sleeved t-shirts. Speaking of shirts, a bit of texturing on your hoodie will help set-off your t-shirts and your entire ensemble in a very nice way, especially if the hoodie is a zip-up. When in doubt, a textured hoodie is always a good choice.
The heather gray hoodie is a classic, but it’s so common and ubiquitous that by themselves, they’re not exactly the most inspiring or stylish of choices. They also tend to make the wearer look bigger than they actually are, and even when well-cut they’re rarely the most stylish choice.
Darker-colored hoodies in different shades of dark gray or black tend to be a better choice. Not only do these colors tend to go better with a wider variety of outfits, but they also have a slimming effect, which becomes more pronounced if you wear them in the right size.
Bright colored hoodies are also available, and they can be stylish. However, these are usually better treated as statement pieces as it can be hard to find one that harmonizes with most of your other clothes.
Plains vs. prints
Plain hoodies are definitely way more versatile, and they can go with a much wider range of outfits. Printed and embroidered hoodies are usually best as statement pieces. While a hoodie with a print or some other design can be totally fine, they may be harder to work with for matching with the rest of your outfit.
In general, printed hoodies are fine when there’s a significance to the prints and designs. University or corporate hoodies can be OK if you actually do have a connection to those institutions, and hoodies that express some kind of fandom can be fun in the right context. However, rarely will they be as easy to match or dress up as a plain hoodie. Printed hoodies should be a secondary option, rather than your only one.
And please, for the love of God, avoid hoodies with large brand names. Not only are these the opposite of stylish, but you’re basically paying some company more money so you can advertise them while looking like some sort of streetwear-social-climber.
As we discussed, some types of hoodies are just more versatile for matching with other outfits. Slim-fitting but not skintight dark hoodies are an obvious choice, but depending on what your wardrobe looks like, there are a number of choices to be had.
Again, zip-ups take the cake for their sheer versatility, especially when considering the local climate. A fitted zip-up hoodie can look awesome over virtually any kind of office attire, and it will even complement an office barong and slacks quite nicely if you need it to.
You can do the same with a pullover, but when they fit snuggly, they’re a bit of a pain to use, having the tendency to rumple and drag on your well-ironed clothes the moment you even try to put them on or take them off. Being the stylish guy that you are, you want to have as few awkward moments in public as possible. You don’t want your pullover hoodie exposing any bilbil you may have in place of a six-pack.
As far as layering goes, zip-ups are also more versatile, as not only can you easily take them off or remove them, you can also easily wear a slimmer zip-up hoodie for layering under a jacket in case you need to travel somewhere cold. The zip-up front also allows you to show off the design of any t-shirt you might have underneath.
Love them or hate them (and how can you possibly hate them?), hoodies are now as part of the modern Filipino wardrobe as maong pants and Nike shoes. If you don’t already own a hoodie, sooner or later you will want a new one. And if you’re like most Filipinos who own hoodies, yeah — you’ll want a new one too. Trust us.
What other hoodie style tips can you give? We’d love to know!