The city of Seoul, South Korea is basically the place to be if you're looking for pop culture and fashion. Not only did this country popularize K-pop music and Korean dramas, but they have also introduced new fashion trends in the industry. For the uninitiated, just check out the styles of the typical Korean idol. It's basically about splashes of color and mixing and matching different types of ensembles. Or, you can also check out other Korean models who are popular for their big eyes and doll-like faces.
Interested to learn more about Korean style trends? Well, let's take a look at two kinds of alternative fashion trends in the country:
As its name suggests, idol fashion can trace its origin to Korean idols. So, it's best to have your favorite Korean idol in mind when choosing your own outfits. Note that since the trend varies depending on the Korean idol, the rules for the trend are not set in stone. Plus, since idols change their look regularly, you'll always be free to experiment and try new trends.
But, it's not entirely flexible. The idol look is distinct from the fashion of western celebrities, since it celebrates mismatched clothes, varieties of color, and fashion from different generations. In short, it's based on mixing and matching outfits that are not necessarily complementary or of the same color.
Five Tips for Rocking the Idol Style
1. Mismatched outfits. The idol style is about wearing outfits that you wouldn't expect to look good together. Think sports jacket with a chiffon skirt. Or, a graphic tee combined with an office blazer. It's pretty unusual, but it works for Korean idols.
2. Color Wheel. The idol style is all about an explosion of color, but not random colors. To stay in style, consult a color wheel and match the ones with the same base color. For instance, blue-green and blue-violet look great together since their base color is blue.
3. Pop-Art Prints. Wear ensembles with pop-art prints from top to bottom. When it comes to color, the brighter the better!
4. Texture. Most idols have athletic bodies, but that doesn't mean they flaunt it with skin tight leggings and tight crop tops all the time. When it comes to idol style, you can get away with looser outfits. Imagine a crop top with ultra wide-leg trousers that comes with pop-art prints.
5. Confidence. If you want to look like your favorite idol, then you have to act like an idol. Don't care about what other people think, and just own it.
Ulzzang literally means best face in Korea. In fact, the terms refers to Koreans who have managed to achieve fame and popularity online because of their looks. In the online world, they take their popularity up a notch by posting their selfies and letting other people rank them online. Following Korean beauty standards, they usually have a cute doll-like face and style. Not surprisingly, their popularity has led them to become models for top Korean brands. Since these brands have different forms of styles, it follows that ulzzangs also have different styles ranging from cool and edgy, to cute and girly.
Four Tips for Rocking Ulzzang Fashion
1. Matching Outfits. Since Korea's entertainment industry is the dramaland for TV series on love and romance, it follows that matching boyfriend and girlfriend ensembles are the way to go. In fact, on Instagram the Ulzzang fashion trend is even better with photos of cute couples holding hands, going on dates, and hanging out with matching outfits. After all, two is better than one.
2. Combination of tight and loose outfits. Let's face it, oversized sweaters paired with tight skinny jeans are just too cute! So, it's no surprise that these are the basic style staples for the ulzzang fashion. But, it doesn't end there. Following the general rule of mixing tight and loose outfits, you can also get away with short skirts paired with oversized T shirts.
3. Bright colors. Let's face it, you're more likely to look badass than cute in a dark-colored ensemble. So, it's obvious that the cuter colors are the alternative; so think bright pastels or neon colors.
4. Loud prints. Ulzzang loves big and bold prints of cartoons, art and puns, which are printed on a large graphic tee. After all, the bigger the graphic, the better the statement.
Couple Look (Keo-Peul-Look)
When it comes to the matching couples trend, it's okay not to go all out from top to bottom. You can just stick to one matching item such as matching sneakers or couple rings. If you want to keep it a dirty little secret, then you can just stick to matching bottoms. After all, we all do crazy things when we are in love.
Three Tips for Rocking the Matching Couple Trend
1. Matching Accessories. Since everything is better with a partner, matching couple accessories are just the best. Imagine cute couple rings and heart-shaped necklaces, but remember to choose accessories with a variety of colors. Think colored watches and colorful bangles.
2. Androgynous styles. If you're a girl on the hunt for a matching outfit with your boyfriend, then its important to consider his tastes too. So, rather than girly-girl outfits, consider matching skinny jeans, sneakers, hoodies and graphic tees. After all, a successful relationship is all about compromise.
3. Keep It Simple. The couple look is all about looking simple but sweet. To rock the look, be minimal when it comes to flashy jewelry or outfits. The only thing that needs to stand out is your matching outfits, and nothing else.
This trend seems pretty familiar, and that's because it actually is. Hip-hop can trace its origins back to the 1980s in America. As its name suggests, it's basically the look for anyone who lives and breathes hip-hop music and lifestyle. But in Korea, it is not as strict. You can love any kind of music and still rock the look.
The basic style staples for this trend are harem pants, baggy shirts, snapback caps and hip-hop sneakers. It seems pretty masculine, so you might have seen it before from popular boy bands like EXO. However, women can also rock the tomboyish look. If you need an example, then look no further than K-pop superstars Girls Generation.
Five Tips for Rocking Hip-hop Fashion
1. Glitter and Gold. Hip-hop style is all about standing out, so it's no surprise that its accessories revolve around eye-catching, often gold pieces. Think long chained necklaces and golden wristwatches.
2. Splashes of Patterns and Color. The style is all about wearing colorful and baggy shirts. When it comes to patterns, the ones that are popular in Korea's hip-hop scene have the symbols of Boy London and HBA. When worn by idols, hip-hop ensembles have matching styles but different colors. Think jerseys with the same style but different colors, which are meant to show both the camaraderie and individual styles of each K-pop group member.
3. Sneakers. Besides music, hip-hop is also about dance so it's no surprise that sneakers are a style staple.
4. Tattoos. Korean idols who rock the trend are seen showing off tattoos, which can be either fake or real. If you need an example, then look no further than Kim Jaejoong.
5. Harem Pants. Koreans who love the trend usually wear bottoms that have a loose texture at the top, and are cinched around the ankles.
Koreans who just can’t 'fit in' fall in love with Joseon Punk. The subculture is meant for outcasts and young adults who need to release pent-up energy and frustrations that they felt while growing up. It is also influenced by bands with a 90s pop-punk sound such as Nirvana and Greenday.
It is interesting to note that women scarcely seem to be a part of the subculture, since Josean Punk’s activities (such as jumping around in mosh pits) are seen as 'unladylike' and aggressive.
How to Rock Joseon Punk
There's one key tip to keep in mind when styling an outfit based on Joseon punk - and that's to keep everything big and baggy. The style staples for the Joseon punk look are baggy pants and large shirts, which seem to be the complete opposite of Korea’s feminine mainstream fashion.
And when it comes to prints and color, Joseon Punk can be anything that you want it to be! One key idea behind the whole punk genre (and Joseon punk is no different) is freedom and self-expression, so have fun with mixing up your style and experimenting with different tones and textures.
In closing, we can see that Korean fashion is entirely different from Western fashion. It takes pride in mixing and matching different types of ensembles in different splashes of color. Although we usually avoid outfits and prints that aren’t complimentary, it’s interesting to note that they can actually work.
What do you think?
Got any more tips to achieve the Ulzzang trend or the Idol trend? Let us know in the comments!