A Guide to Buying Winter Clothes in Manila for Your Next Winter Holiday 

By Oriana Cuenca

The Philippines has its own version of the four seasons: hot, hotter, hottest, and not so hot. Our tropical location comes with perks like fruits and crop tops all year round, but our days of sunshine leave us unprepared when it’s time to travel.

Sapporo, Japan

If you’ve ever booked tickets for a white Christmas, you’d know the struggle of preparing for your winter getaway. The online guides to winter clothing are full of terms as alien as snow itself. Down Coats? Long Johns? You’ve never heard of them, and the confused sales lady at the department store has likely never heard of them either. Large international brands might have what you need, but the prices don’t come cheap.

For those looking for a budget-friendly guide to winter shopping, you’ve found it. Here are some tips for choosing the right winter clothes and some stores where you can buy them.

ALSO READ: Fall and Winter 101: A Pinoy Traveler’s Guide on How to Prepare for the Cold Seasons

First: how many layers do you need?

Image: Ylanite Koppins | Pexel

Youtube winter guides tend to recommend three layers—a turtle neck, a sweater, and a coat. Bloggers look great in their outfits, and everyone says they’re super warm. The problem is, these are people who have lived in the snow all their lives. For the summer child, a wool coat might not even be enough.

The number of layers you need depends on how warm each layer is. Ideally, for us, every layer should be insulating. For the 10°C to 20 °C range, three good layers should be enough. A thermal turtleneck is a great first layer. There’s no need to add a shirt underneath since it wouldn’t add any warmth. For the second layer, a thick sweater (usually knit or wool), puffer jacket (the padded jacket with horizontal stitches), or a lightweight fleece (synthetic sheep coat) should help trap in the heat. The third outer layer should keep you warm and protect you from the wind and snow. For temperatures like this, both a wool coat and a thick puffer jacket would keep you warm.

South Korea in winter

For temperatures 10°C and lower, it’s recommended to wear Long Johns under your clothes. Long Johns is just another term for thermal underwear made of cotton, polyester, or wool blends. They’re a thin and lightweight layer worn over regular underwear for extra warmth on colder days. Follow it up with a thermal turtleneck, a sweater, and a lightweight puffer jacket.

If the temperature is still positive, you can get away with a wool coat, but you might want to use a thick puffer once the weather hits sub-zero. Puff jackets may not be as fashionable as coats, but they’re far warmer. Sure, people in movies seem to be able to look gorgeous in thick winter coats even at -5°C, but these are the kind of people who’ve lived in winter all their lives. If you haven’t tested your tolerance to cold, then you may want to play it safe and stick to a puffer jacket. Don’t forget the hat, gloves, and scarves!

Now that you know what you need, here are some suggested places for your winter shopping Manila:

5. Surplus

Surplus offers items tagged as the “excess production” of big-name brands. This is the kind of place where you can score a Zara coat for as little as Php 2,000 – 3,000 (they’re usually in the Php 4,000-7,000+ range). They’re found in a number of SM Malls and have a line up of coats and puffers, but stock here changes often. They definitely have a variety of styles and colors to choose from.

4. UNIQLO

UNIQLO is most people’s go-to for base layers. Their HEATTECH collection draws sweat away from the body to keep you fresh under all the layers, and the stock comes in HEATTECH, HEATTECH Extra Warm, and HEATTECH Ultra Warm. There are HEATTECH versions of scarves, socks, pants, leggings, and turtlenecks. If you’re pressed on time or looking for convenience, UNIQLO is a great option for your first layer, but there are many cheaper (and warmer) alternatives online.

3. Terranova

Terranova is an Italian retail store that sells low-cost fashion. As an international brand, Terranova follows the seasons like other big-name stores, but the prices remain decently affordable. This shop is a great place for scarves, gloves, and bonnets. Look out for their touchscreen gloves (the ones with a different fabric on the thumb and pointer) to be able to use your phone and snap pictures even with the gloves on. They have more winter jackets than coats, and a decent puffer jacket would be around Php 1,000 – Php 2,000 while an extra warm jacket would be Php 3,000 give or take.

2. Online Stores

There are velvet lined leggings on Lazada that are twice as warm as the UNIQLO HEATTECH Ultra Warm and cost roughly the same. For those who don’t need something that thick, there are fleece-lined leggings that cost less than Php 500 but also provide more warmth than the pricier UNIQLO options. It’s also safe to buy gloves, scarves, and bonnets from online shops, and they tend to have more variety and warmth than any physical store in the Philippines.

While base layers and accessories can be found online, it’s much more difficult to find good 2nd and third layers. Size and thickness are difficult to gauge online, so there’s a greater risk of making expensive mistakes. Online outerwear tends to have prices comparable to some of the physical stores in this list, so you might want to stick to base layers when doing online shopping.

1. Ukay-Ukay

For the cheapest coats, jackets, and sweaters, look no farther than ukay-ukay. Thrift shops have stocks that come straight from countries that have winter, so their shelves are usually stocked with winter clothes starting mid-December. They don’t offer much in terms of base layers of accessories, but ukays have some of the warmest and cheapest 2nd layers if you can find them. Budget stores usually don’t have thick sweaters, but the right ukay places will have ultra-warm pieces for less than Php 500.

Thrift shops are also the best place to score branded winter wear for men. Ciao Grazie Fashion Gallery, an ukay-ukay hub in Las Pinas, had Columbia, North Face, and Adidas winter wear for a little over Php 1,500. The prices were close to some of the affordable brandless options, but the quality of even a secondhand name-brand cannot be beaten.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to shop at your winter destination. There would usually be shops all over that sell the winter wear you need, and you’ll be able to gauge the thickness of the layers you need when you’ve already gotten a taste of the cold. No matter how you choose to shop, just remember to never underestimate the cold. Winter is a beautiful time, and you would want to be warm enough to experience it.

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