Fashion Lessons I learned From Korean Women

I learned a lot in Korea. I learned how to read a new alphabet, I learned that I shouldn’t be a teacher, that I love spicy food and that most people making good craft beer abroad are either American or Canadian.

Korean women taught me a little something, too. They taught me how to layer clothes like an absolute goddess. They’re pros. It doesn’t matter the┬áseason, it could be freezing cold outside or 100 degrees with 90% humidity, girls be layered to the nines.

They taught me that it’s okay to check yourself out in a passing mirror, or any reflective surface for that matter. They taught me to use my front┬ácamera on my phone to apply my lipstick and how to care for my eyebrows properly.

I loved shopping in Korea, I loved the flowy fabrics, girly shapes and different lengths of the pieces. I loved the makeup sections in different department stores. But mostly, I loved people watching in these places, picking up styling tips from the girls on the street.

Different Length Pieces

The cardinal rule of layering, I’ve found, is to make sure your pieces are different lengths. Otherwise you look like a big old pile of puff underneath whatever your top layer is because no one can see you’ve got more going on under there. Long t-shirts with short sweaters or long sweaters with cropped jackets.

I thought that layering long pieces would make me look short, but with a pair of heels (another Korean essential), you can have a long leg and rock the tunic pieces.

Scarves and Hats
Korean Fashion with hat and scarf

As soon as the sun lost it’s strength, even more layers were added. In the winter, when gale force winds blow in from Siberia, the blanket sized scarves and cute knitted beanies were out. Like the jacket, the scarf and hat are an accessory that needs to be changed often. If you wore the blue hat yesterday, you surely cannot wear the blue hat today, what would people think?

Jackets

It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees outside, Korean women had on a jacket. It wasn’t about utility baby, it just looked good. I once asked a Korean girlfriend of mine how many jackets she had, I had never seen her in the same one twice, “19 I think”. After a little bit more counting in her head she nodded, “yes, 19. Why? Is that too many?”.

Colored Lips

korean fashion

 

Makeup is not taken lightly in Korea. From the first layer of BB Cream to the top coats of blush and lip stain, Korean women do makeup right. The one thing you’ll never see a woman of any age without? Colored lips. Korean women have this perfect way of applying lip stain to make it look like they’ve just finished a lollipop. They are ever so slightly colored to make it look almost natural.

High Heels

Like I just mentioned, high heels are a necessity in Korea. Even sneakers have wedges in them. Most Korean girls I knew were about my height (5 feet) or a little bit taller. They have no problem, even from as young as high school, wearing heels all. the. time.

Glasses

Korean Fashion

Glasses aren’t geeky, they are chic. The right frames can bring out your eyes, accentuate a narrow face or create a jawline where there isn’t one. I met so many Korean girls that didn’t even need glasses, so they would buy regular glass lenses. Glasses are a fashion accessory the same way that sunglasses are in the summertime.

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Laura Bronner

19 Comments

  1. I agree with your lessons learned here! I always loved lipstick but didn’t start wearing it until Korea…I just love the lip tints and all the affordable cosmetic stores and all the options! I also love buying accessories here! They have the best cheap minimalistic jewelry and great hats! I am pretty excited because it feels like this year they have adjusted their sizes to be more western… I could be completely wrong though! When I first came out two years ago I was too tall for all the clothes! Now this year I am finding I can even get into a small in some stores…Let’s just say I have been a shopping fool lately!

    • Ah! I miss the shopping there – I always found stuff that fit me length-wise (I’m a shorty) and I can NEVER find that kind of fit back here in the US. Also – YES the accessories. I used to pillage those cute stores in the subway stations around Seoul.

  2. 19 jackets, like woah! I wish I owned that many. I probably own about 12, split up between South Africa & Korea. I think the biggest issue us expats face is we DO own as much clothing, but it just isn’t all in one place! I love the layered look- I just wish Korean clothes weren’t so tiny. They also do their makeup right…unless they do it wrong (overly white face makeup!)

    • ooo yea, the overly white face sometimes! So true – I forgot how many clothes I had until I came back home – it was like shopping in my own closet!

  3. Great post! I always laugh to myself how much Korea has changed me in the strangest way. Prior to moving here, I wore wedges or heels frequently, owned multiple coats/jackets/THINGS and generally looked put together at all times. However, for some reason, after moving here I’ve shed those habits. Maybe it’s the overwhelming self-obsession/weird facade here among local women that turned me off? I’m not too sure, but it’s been a [welcomed] total 180 degrees.

    As far as the women always wearing heels: I’ve seen women walking in Jeju’s Manjanggul Caves wearing sky high heels as well as the Boseong Tea Plantation. Gotta give it to them, they’re dedicated to their craft! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I could always tell if a tourist was Korean just by the way they dressed! They really have their layering look down.

  5. I can definitely agree that Korean women dress well. I don’t really like the gradient lip but they’re really good at applying it on. I like how some girls experiment with fashion. I also noticed anywhere you go in Asia, it’s all about the legs. Legs, legs, legs for days. Even in the winter. God bless them for going out in subzero temperatures in panty hose and a skirt.

  6. I wish I had taken advantage of the vast array of makeup and shopping. I guess being a tomboy, it didn’t appeal to me and it was againsts my nature to shop ’til you drop. Now that I have left, it would have been a great oppurtunity to learn how to take care of my skin and dress a little bit more stylish.

    • The makeup in Korea is stop notch, but luckily the rest of the world seems to be starting to realize. I’ve actually found quite a lot of the makeup I used in Korea here in the UK!

  7. I love Korean fashion and especially make up! It’s just an amazing amount of cool pieces and products! Thanks for sharing this! I totally agree with the layers of different lengths! Makes sense!

    • Ugh! Me too. Japan had some AMAZING shopping. Unfortunately I was on a bit of a budget when I visited, so couldn’t splurge like I did while I was living and working in Korea. Such lovely, feminine pieces there!

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