After adopting Western clothing styles during the 50s and 60s, Korean fashion has evolved into a thriving and versatile industry that has gained popularity around the globe.
After the “Hallyu Wave” swept across the world, South Korea was lauded as both a powerhouse of musical talent and style — with artists’ viral music video concepts and stage outfits, as well as their simple airport ensembles, becoming the main influence for fashion trends both in Korea and abroad.
But since it can be rather daunting to keep up with the styles and trends being set by celebrities and Korea’s goliath fashion scene, we’ve done the research for you by collecting a diverse range of must-have Korean-style clothes and accessories, trends inspired by our favourite idols as well as a brief guide to Seoul’s fashion hot-spots — so you can create your own Korean-inspired wardrobe.
Korean-Style Garments & Outfits
These days, the everyday fashion of modern Koreans can often be described with one word: MINIMALISTIC. Though many might see or hear this word and associate it with ‘basic’ or even ‘boring’, the Korean minimalist style is far from mediocre — by layering garments, accessorising and mix-matching clothes, you can create a simple but unique outfit.
Upon reading the following outfit suggestions, you’ll notice that quite a few of these pieces are already a part of the average person’s wardrobe — so you can start with what you’ve got, rather than having to worry about buying an entirely new closet full of clothes.
Layered clothing — shirts beneath dresses and overalls, shirts worn over turtle-necks or, if you’re feeling especially brave, even denim jeans worn under a slip or maxi dress.
Skirts — especially tartan and mid-length ruffled-skirts, which are commonly paired with plain t-shirts or big jumpers.
Vintage dresses, as well as slips and wrap-dresses — these, along with wrap-shirts, have become a more common sight around Korea with designers incorporating the ‘wrap’ design to give a modern and more subtle twist to the traditional hanbok.
Coats — not only are they a must-have for the colder seasons, but they’re also a core part of the classic K-Drama outfit a.k.a denim or plain jeans, a shirt and a big ol’ coat.
Couple outfits (커플룩 or 시밀러룩) — which many couples use to show the rest of the world how much they love each other and how well they ‘match’ as people.
Oversized jumpers and cardigans, two-piece skirt-jumper or cardigan sets and jumpers with slogans and illustrative designs.
Anything linen, from pants, shirts and dresses to pantsuits and bags — these are a staple piece for the warmer months.
T-Shirts — black and white or colourful striped shirts as well as pastels, beige and tan pallets and printed tees with slogans or embroidered patterns.
Sneakers worn with coloured or patterned socks — brand-name sneakers are usually more sought after but aren’t necessary.
Accessorize with glasses, hairpins, berets and caps, brooches, enamel pins and earrings — all of these are an excellent way to express yourself and finish off your K-Fashion inspired outfit.
Since the dawn of time, celebrities around the world have been looked to for fresh and innovative clothing styles — today everyone, from actors and musicians to models and social media influencers set the fashion trends that we all follow.
So it comes as no surprise that Hallyu Stars are the main trendsetters of Korea’s fashion scene, with K-Pop and K-Drama idols leading the way to change traditional styles and encouraging people to express themselves with clothes.
The following styles and fashion items are a common sight in this era of Hallyu:
Pastel clothing colours were once viewed as being inherently ‘girly’, and unfortunately many still hold these views, but pastel colours can be worn by anyone — and no one has shown that more than K-Pop idols.
Choker necklaces and coloured contacts — a trend that was first introduced by Vixx back in 2015, thus ending the stigma around male idols wearing chokers.
Furry fleece jackets — pictured above with Vixx’s leader “N” Cha Hakyeon — and fuzzy, colourful jumpers — shown below by the ever-stylish Hyuna.
Wide-legged pants and shirts with extended sleeves — a trend which sprouted from the ‘long sleeved jumper’ style that was popular with male and female idols alike.
Pointed-toe heels — worn below by Sunmi — which look especially good when paired with denim.
Hairpins and large snap-clips have had a surge in popularity, with many artists and singers donning either one statement snap-clip or wearing many shiny pins on the sides of their head — as seen below with Seo Hyun of SNSD and BoA.
A popular fashion style is the “Homeware Trend“, which include simple, comfortable clothes that one might wear in their house such as loose pants, linen shirts, roomy sweaters and light coats — often in earthy colours and light pastels.
The 2016 drama Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (쓸쓸하고 찬란하신 – 도깨비) helped the “Homeware Trend” take off with both Korean men and women. After watching the drama, many viewers wanted to recreate the cast’s outfits and make their own “Goblin-style” wardrobe.
Seoul’s Fashion Hotspots
Seoul has gained international recognition as the “Fashion Hub of Asia”, which means it’s hard to travel around this stylish city without stumbling into streets, or even whole districts, lined with clothing outlets, pop-up shops and malls.
The north-river neighbourhoods of Hongdae (홍대), Insadong (인사동), Itaewon (이태원), Sinchon (신촌) and Edae (이대) and the southern hotspots of Gangnam (강남) — such as Sinsadong (신사동) and Apgujeong (압구정) — are all constantly abuzz with shoppers from around the city. Here visitors have hundreds upon hundreds of fashion outlets to choose from.
Since these colossal fashion hubs can often overwhelm first-time visitors, areas like Samcheong (삼청동) and Hannam (한남동) are more suited for those seeking fewer crowds and a less gentrified atmosphere.
Konglish, Korean-English slang, fashion terms you should know when shopping in Korea:
- Y-Shirt 와이셔츠 (wa-i-syeo-cheu) — Collared dress shirt
- One Piece 원피스 (won-pi-seu) — Dress
- Muffler 머플러 (meo-peul-lo) — Scarf
- Man-to-Man 맨투맨 (maen-to-maen) — Sweatshirt
- Walker — Boots,
- Mori Beret — Beret,
- Beobeori 버버리 (beo-beo-ri) — Trench coat
Feature Image Source: ©Photo by Ori Song, 29.05.2019, unsplash.com