With such a warm and humid climate, attire in Singapore is generally pretty casual, which works just fine for me. Of course certain environments and circumstances require much more conservative and formal attire, but these are circles of society (i.e. the work environment) that I haven't been associated with lately. There are many who dress smartly, and choose a wardrobe fitting for the climate. For the more casual set, Tee shirts and polo shirts are more common.
Polo shirts will typically have a company logo on the breast. The designer shirts will have a name or logo on the breast, or a new trend-- at the back of the collar, which is worn raised up, so as to make the branding visible. The logo and brand name font are large--
U.S. POLO CLUB
so as not to be missed or unreadable from, say across the subway platform. I am not familiar with many of the brands I have seen, and many seem very close or similar to brands more familiar to me (e.g. Polo Ralph Lauren). Certainly no accident. It is possible to purchase modest unknown brand polo shirts here very inexpensively-- say S$19.00 (about US$15.00) if you shop for them. No telling how long they will hold up. On the other hand authentic designer brands will cost you some serious coin.
Tee shirts are more interesting. Nearly every work crew pouring concrete, serving coffee, or working on something or other can be identified by their tee shirt with the company name on it. Sales events at the shops will usually have shop assistants or touts with matching tee shirts, and special events (runs, expos, festivals, etc.) will have tee shirts for the event. Of course this is not unique to South East Asia and Singapore. Tee shirts are perhaps one of the greatest advertising media available.
Then there are the cute saying, social message tee shirts, and tourist destination tee shirts, (often with a U.S. location), which are very popular here. Some examples:
"I SEEM TO HAVE LOST MY PHONE NUMBER-- CAN I HAVE YOURS?"
- "I'M GOING TO BE... KING OF THE PIRATES"
"LOVE IS AN ACHIEVABLE DREAM" (Seen on a 30-something male)
"SAVE THE EARTH-- LIVE GREEN"
"LOOKING FOR A BOY FRIEND? ENQUIRE HERE"
"SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA"
"HARD ROCK CAFE CHICAGO"
- "LITTLE MISS PERFECT" (Seen on a 40-something female)
- "A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES"
For several months now, I have been collecting data for a hypothesis I have formed: Tee shirts messages are always printed in English. This seems odd to me-- although English is the "administrative" language of Singapore, there are four official languages (including English). English is not always the first choice for many locals. There are also many foreign expatriates and visitors in Singapore. Yet I couldn't recall seeing a tee shirt with writing in a language I couldn't read (and unfortunately I only read English). In Shanghai the same thing appeared to hold true, and there are far fewer English speakers there. I suspect that many tee-shirt wearers have no clue what is printed on their shirt.
Recently I did see a tee shirt here in Singapore with both English and mandarin on it. The English read "Delaware Physical Ed", with the Mandarin printing beneath. This shirt raises additional curiosity for me in my tee shirt study-- does Delaware have a multi-language ed program in physical education, or are these shirts some sort of strange Asian knock off? Does Delaware Physical Ed have world wide mass culture appeal and this is some type of commercial venture?