I remember a time when, if one needed a knockout dress for New Year’s Eve, the only place to go was Rustan’s flagship store in Makati City.
There, one could find a romantic formal by Valentino or a colorful dress by Christian Lacroix. I remember my friends Reret Bonoan finding Rifat Ozbek, or Leah Navarro buying a pinstriped pantsuit by Alexander McQueen. There was a local label called Panache designed by Chona Kasten, and there were stunning Emanuel Ungaro chiffons and Gucci gowns.
Fast-forward to this brand-new century’s marketing whiz, Rustan’s Dina Tantoco. The daughter of Marilene Jacinto and Ignacio Arroyo, she is a mother of three and one of the chicest women in Manila.
For this exclusive PDI shoot, Dina wears her personal choices of the best holiday formals for you to consider, rethink and even buy.
In the following Q and A, learn more about this woman of steely substance who shares her career secrets, and reveals her personal taste.
What outfit do you love wearing?
Now, I love wearing fitted pants, boot-type shoes (because they are high-heeled yet comfortable) and a loose shirt or blouse.
Tell me about your fashion sense as a little girl. Were you precocious?
I don’t remember being really choosy about clothes before that, though. I was always more concerned about the fit of the clothes than the prints and colors.
Where did you go to school?
Star of the Sea in Hawaii, ISM, then the University of Southern California. I majored in business administration, with a concentration in marketing. My favorite classes were market research and marketing strategy.
Did you engage in charity or civic work as a teenager or student?
Yes, we were involved in outreach programs throughout school; we went to Isabela to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Where and how did you meet your husband?
I met him in high school, but did not date him until after college, when we were both in the States.
How did you adjust to the early years of marriage?
We had a child, and immediately became domesticated in a house in Boston, Massachusetts, where we first lived.
How did you adapt to being a housewife?
Being a housewife is part of my job, but since I also work, the hard part is really time management, and making time to do everything I want to do at home. The easy part is that I truly do love staying home, and hopefully one day I can be a full-time housewife.
Do you also host parties at home? What are your top rules when hosting?
I host parties for small groups, because our dinner table can fit only a maximum of eight. I enjoy thinking of the little touches which I’ve also learned from my mother-in-law. From my mom, I learned how nice it is to try to have a more formal dinner.
For the most part, it’s really about the company and the food. Sometimes we play games after dinner and chat.
What are your principles when it comes to decorating and fixing your own home?
You need to mix and match so that your personality comes out. You don’t just buy into one theme. Somehow it all comes together, even if it is all different.
Who does the disciplining and who does the babying with the children?
My husband does the disciplining and I do the babying.
What is your favorite spot in the house?
Our bedroom—that’s where we all goof off and play before bedtime.
What principles govern your family life?
Weekends should be for the kids. They look forward to it as a time to do activities, play with their cousins and go out with us. We’re not really strict with rules, but we prioritize family time and spirituality.
How do you juggle your time between being a businesswoman, homemaker, wife and mother?
This is very hard. I always seem to prioritize my work, but after my third child I told myself that I needed to have a better work-life balance so that I could spend time with my kids. It has been working out.
What is a typical day for you? Or is there such a thing as a typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day. During busy times, we are usually out of the office and in the stores where we are doing meetings, castings, events, photo shoots. But that is what is so much fun when it comes to marketing.
What do you wear to work?
I love wearing pencil pants and a blouse. Blazers are also among my favorites. Sometimes I come in dresses.
Which fashion designers influence your style?
Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and many more. I like a lot of different things. I love Zara!
What is your look when attending big events, galas, balls and all that?
I like changing it, but for the most part I like silhouettes that will flatter my body type. I also like colors that are unique. I typically look for something that will look different.
What is your definition of style?
Style is your personal expression of the way you are feeling at that time. Style can change even within the day. I believe it comes from within, and usually shows in how people carry the clothes they are wearing.
Try anything and keep trying—I’m still looking for my style, too! It really doesn’t matter because when you feel good, you look good.
What is your definition of a well-dressed woman?
She wears clothes that fit properly.
What is your definition of a best-dressed woman?
She has the ability to pull together a look so well you would never imagine putting those things together.
Who are your favorite couturiers? Who do you go to for gowns, Filipiniana?
Hindy Tantoco and I usually just buy from Rustan’s—there are a lot of unique gowns at the Dress Salon. I’m also usually so busy, that’s the best place for me to just go, fit and take it home.
Which fashion brands do you buy?
Zara, BCBG, Sinequanone, Natori, Flying Tomato, Tory Burch.