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What watching K-dramas might do to your wardrobe

Korean dramas have a way of affecting us long after their stories have been told. Sometimes it’s because they made us re-examine a corner of our lives, or because they broke our hearts or boggled our minds — but sometimes it’s for a reason as simple as being influenced by K-drama fashion. In a previous article we talked about how fashion in K-dramas is used to build a character and tell a story, but sometimes we don’t realize our own aesthetic is being affected until it’s too late. Way too late.

It wasn’t until I had several dramas under my belt that I realized my taste and fashion choices were being radically impacted by the heroines I had spent so many hours watching and rooting for. How can you not love a heroine who’s exasperated and down on her luck, but still full of gumption and goodness? Actually, this describes all of my favorite K-drama heroines.

The quirkier the heroine, the quirkier her wardrobe — the more I loved both. Bright colors, mismatched patterns, statement eyeglasses, multiple layers, furry gigantic parkas, and of course, rabbit ear headbands. All of these elements became not only completely delightful, but highly desirable.

Whether it’s ideas for what to wear to work, or reimagining what you consider your personal style, K-dramas are a goldmine of inspiration. K-drama heroines are experts at their balance of working professional (no matter their gig), and the fun, cute fashion that reigns during their down time. Or, you know, anytime they run into the other half of the OTP.

Park Min-young in City Hunter was the perfect blend of buttoned-up bodyguard at work, and cutesy girl at home in her giant sweaters and girly headbands. Lee Chung-ah in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop was another favorite, in her flannel shirts, aprons, and eyeglasses.

Perhaps one of my favorite examples of K-drama heroine fashion come to life is the beloved character Cheon Song-yi as played by Jun Ji-hyun in You From Another Star. From the Jimmy Choos, to the Iope lipstick, to basically everything she wore in each episode — viewers tore up the Internet looking for knock-offs and lookalikes. And what’s the use in pretending. I did the same with almost every pair of sunglasses she wore.

You From Another Star, and countless other dramas, are a great example of K-dramas influencing people’s taste — what they wanted to wear when they went to class, to work, or to the grocery store. I love when the fictional world spills over into everyday life in these ways. It means the world of the story is rich enough to affect you in a sensory way.

In other words, you can pop on your best Cheon Song-yi-esque sunglasses and coast through a difficult day with the nonchalance she pretended to have. When you’re at work, you can channel Park Min-young’s competence and confidence in her endless array of pencil skirts and blouses in What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. Or, you can use Lee Hana’s geek-chic in High School King of Savvy as an inspiration to let your inner nerd shine.

You can drool over Kim Nam-joo’s gorgeous pant suits in Misty, which became a thing of legend, and (obnoxious though she was), Lee Sung-kyung’s outfits in Cheese in the Trap — the sequined skirts and flowered tracksuits and pom-pom headbands — all these are the things that make K-drama fashion so colorful and fun. And infectious.

Why are we so affected by the styles and fashion we see on the screen? Granted, some of it is because advertising (especially in the shape of PPL) really works. Another reason is because the stylists are incredibly gifted. They can not only put an outfit together that’s enviably perfect, but one that suits the character’s persona, the emotions of the scene, and the particular point in the story.

But it’s not always as simple as merely admiring and then imitating something that struck a chord with you. As I hinted at above, the influence of K-drama fashion sometimes goes beyond mere aesthetics and starts affecting your attitude, too. It’s the place where inspiration brims over into the concept of channeling a character — not just a look, but a mindset.

This is the only kind of role-playing I can pull off: masquerading in my mind as a favorite K-drama heroine. It’s different from cosplay (at least in my definition), because it’s more about mindset than it is about costume. It’s about channeling something you enjoyed, and finding a positive way to deposit it into your everyday life. This can take any form, but often clothing and accessories are the easiest way to trick your brain.

Am I the only one that does this? I’m hoping the answer will be a resounding no, and there’s actually some psychology to back me up: the concept of “acting as if.” I won’t get too deep into the definition here, but the basic concept is behavioral. You project your intention or goal or aspiration, and it guides your attitude and mindset. Fake it till you make it.

So yes, I put on my cat ear headband and polka dot sweatshirt after a particularly bad day, and yes, it makes me feel better. But I’m doing more than putting on some K-drama-inspired fashion — I’m channeling years and years of K-drama heroines that were full of gumption and goodness, despite the challenges the day brought them.

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When I saw the second MALE lead of Shopping King Louis wear a pink fuzz lined parka and I had to get one... I did 🤣

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Oh I want to go back and see what this is!!

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Episode 16 😅

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I just did!! oh my goodness.. did my eyes really see that. Did he wear a soft pink fuzzy lined coat! And you have one of those!! wow!!
impressed ; ) am sure you rock it way better than him.

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When I first saw it, it was 3 seconds of “WTH is he wearing?” followed by “I kinda want it”. By the end of the scene I was like “Must find that coat!”

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My Kdrama style icon is Healer’s Ajummha. T-shirts, sweaters, messy hair, and knitting needles are my jam. However, I did start wearing earrings again, and when forced to dress nicely put in my threader earrings and pretend to be a bitchy 2FL. (Not a psycho one though, I don’t want to force anyone to love me)

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Hah!!! I imagine myself like Misty, butin reality, I'm Healer Ajummha as well. Lol!!!

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Ajummha is my style guide too.

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Jun Ji-hyun sports the most outrageous fashions. Her mismatched mermaid heels nearly gave me a heart attack.

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I agree with this alot. I enjoy dressing well and looking good, and I get alot of ideas. For example, I would never think about wearing a trenchcoat before, but I got one as a gift and instead of just throwing it in the closet I wore it (admittedly after some tailoring) and it became one of my favorite coats. And if it wasn't for Kdramas I wouldnt even consider it.

And looking good really does affect your mindset. When I have on an extra fly outfit, I'm power walking around NYC like I own it.

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My dressing style is very minimalistic and I stick to a few color palettes.
I don't get much influenced by these but I do admire their fashion. Especially the winter coats!!
But, I did buy a threader earrings out of a whim and wore it once!!

I would love to buy those oversized sweaters though. Am a sucker for oversized clothes.

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I love their winter coats! Actually even their padding jacket I dig.

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It is absolutely hilarious that a college student who comes from a middle-class family like Kim Bok-joo would have so many fluffy adorable winter coats!

I know that this is K-drama and certainly suspension of disbelief is needed on all fronts including the wardrobe department, but where did she get the money to buy all the coats when she clearly struggled to come up with the money to keep the appointments to see the hot doc? Furthermore, how do they all fit in her small dorm closet?? 😆

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Once, in Pinocchio, the lead male was moving somewhere and he only had one piece of luggage to move all this clothes and things. I couldn't help but think, that luggage would barely hold even one of those many winter coats he wears throughout this drama!

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😆😆I had the same reaction when seeing Ji-ho of Because This Life Is Our First with her one small suitcase when she has so many enviable outfits and coats.

I always engage some mental gymnastic pretending that they all use the convenient and cheap shipping/delivery services in Asian for the rest of their clothes and things. 😅

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At least in Let's Eat, we knew where Dae -young's clothes were.

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Moving with one suitcase. Sipping on an empty cup(at least fill water people!!). Running with high heels even when your job is a cop or detective. The list goes on.

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Guys I can’t - I don’t know how this is related but I need to bring this up - the students’ Burberry school uniform. This triggers me on so many levels.

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What? Burberry? Explain please ????

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@mayhemf those kids who went to Burberry Senior High School - School 2017, Angry Mom, Signal to name a few...... 😎 Signal’s Hae Young’s trigger me the most since he was supposed to be Uber poor with broken family, yet he was went to Burberry high....,

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Not wardrobe per se, but since Park Min Young is the highlight of this thread, I’m gonna bring up what Min Young did to my life - in Hearler, she sported to 2 piercings on her left ear - helix and close to rook. They're beautiful. I loved them and convinced myself I should get my left ear pierced the same way. My ear hurt so much for the first 6 months, but I don’t regret it, and still love my piercings to this day ☺️☺️ Thank you Park Min Young. And oh kdrama, how much you influence my life......

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Does perfume count as a fashion statement?
I am thinking of a certain aspiring chemist who briefly interned at Atelier......😆

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Lmao yes! 😂😂 And she made me buy that $160 cologne because she’s awesome like that. I can never forget how I just threw my money away just like that at the sight of her Pomelo Paradis 😂😂

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I completely forgot i was supposed to go to the store and check it out!
Are you using it? 160$ is a lot! I pay that for the extra large Coco Channel Mademoiselle and lasts me a year ; )

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Oh 160bucks is in CAD, so it’s probably like 120USD for you which is I guess still a lot, but it’s not as horrible as my currency. 😔

I wear it for non-formal gatherings, like hanging out with friends and fam. The scent used to be too strong for my taste, but I like it. I don’t mind the wearing it more often. Chloe is still my favourite scent, but Atelier is my option. But again I kinda don’t want to use it since I want to preserve it, but years down the road, it will expire 😫 sigh struggle is real.

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Certain someone I know is too cheap to spend $160 and might have stopped by Sephora the last couple times just to get a little sample spritz to feel lifted by the new ID.....*coughs*

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@kimbapnoona lmao awwwwww! You've checked it out! ☺️ What did you think of the scent? Honestly I could have done the same, but I went into Sephora, saw the Atlier Cologne stall, and was possessed to swipe my card without even thinking of testing the scent first 🤯 My ID at that time was NoSelfControl.

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Hahahaha @13infamyss I remember your story!! What else can a girl do but purchase it right away when a salesperson has to locate that one last special bottle somewhere hidden in the store just for you? 🤣

I actually really like the Pomelo Paradis scent! It is very similar to what I usually wear -citrusy and fresh.

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@kimbapnoona Yes that too! That’s just so.... inhuman thing to do not buy an item when your salesperson went above and beyond to get what you were looking for! And to be really honest that Pomelo Paradis white box was legit sparkling, I couldn’t turn away and not buy it. 😖😖

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LOL.. She did buy those eventually!!

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but isn't it getting difficult to wear perfume these days? i attended a function that specifically asked men and women to be "fragrance free" - meaning no aftershaves or cologne for the men, and no fragrances (perfume or cologne) for the women...

i don't wear cologne anymore, but i think this ALLERGIC CULTURE is really going too far.....

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It is!!! But yknow what I don’t care lol. I mean I wear perfume to a scent free zone at minimum - one spray on my neck then wrists. I used to spray it all over me, I toned down. I tried to be completely scent free to follow rules, but I just can’t stand not wearing perfume! Especially when some people, let admit, aren’t “scent free” themselves. 🙃🙃 to be more precised people in the summer. 🙃 I need to get their scent off of me.

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Really? I do go easy on fragrances and don’t use anything strong.
But this is the first time am hearing this. Guess no one invites me anywhere :))
I would never go to the gym without some spray or at least some powder. I have to smell something nice so I don’t smell others.

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Yes this is true. Most of the places I go to - especially workplace environment have a scent free policy. Some would even have that policy at their reception desk. My company does. Some people have severe scent allergy, I used to work with them, therefore you have to accommodate.

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The orchestra I play for do have a no perfume rule since we do sit closely next to each others for hours and it will be especially bothersome for wind players like me who constantly need to take deep breaths.

But I do hear ya regarding the allergy culture. I generally do try to be considerate, but sometimes when it is overly demanding (like a dinner guest who expects me to cook something to cater to his/her allergy needs) then I start to have my own allergic reaction to their allergies!! 😭

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yeah. I am gluten-free due to some health concerns, so I always tell the restaurant that its a preference and not an allergy. It puts them at ease.
I think as more people do these allergy-free stuff, the real people with allergies won't be taken seriously.

Ha ha! Ask them to bring their own food. I usually take something which I can eat when I go to my friends place to grill.

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Hahaha @mayhemf you are the best kind of guests!! Sometimes after a long shift in the kitchen I wish every guest would bring their own food, even the ones without allergies!

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I don't expect people to cater to my food allergies, so I will always offer to make something. That way I know I'll have something I can eat. In any case, I always have emergency snacks.

But if I tell you I'm allergic to your cat, please do try to keep it away from me. Breathing isn't just a hobby.

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I got new perfumes after watching my ID is Gangnam beauty!

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Yayyyyy!! Glad to know I wasn’t the only one who gave in to the temptation called PPL 😂

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Almost got that Pomelo scent but ended up with YSL Blouse.

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Omg, Kang Mi Rae love for Atelier perfume inspired me to check it out and get the smallest one.They are so expensive but totally worth it :)

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SAMEEEE. I pierced my ear the same way UEE did in Ojakgyo Brothers because it looked so good on her! Unfortunately for me, I can't stand the pain in my ears (it is reaaallllyyyy painful especially when you sleep) for the first few weeks and I gave up. Good for you, you have succeeded the ear piercing!

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Yep so true. I didn’t sleep on the left side of my bed and I remember passing out from so much pain when I was cleaning my piercings in the first and week. Would I pierce my ear again and go through that 6-month pain? Nah. 😂 I joked about the pain whenever they asked me why I didn’t do the same for the right ear, when really, I never had plans to pierce it cuz Healer’s Chae Young Shin only had her left ear pieced. 🙃 I stick to copying exactly what I loved. Hehehe

That’s really unfortunate that you gave up on it tho 💔

Also, I remember when my dad first saw my piercings, his eyes bulged and asked if the conch stud wouldn’t accidentally fall off and get into my ear, I’m like 🙄🤷‍♀️..., parents 🙃

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I pierced my second hole above the standard hole when in college. Even that hurt for weeks. And I did both sides!! Especially sleeping was painful since I couldn’t turn both sides :). I can’t imagine doing that in the cartilage area. It hurts thinking about it.

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Your mobility in bed was more restricted than mine since you pierced yours both sides, yikes! But yep good old days 😎 never again lol.

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KDramas have great stylists. I can’t afford their wardrobe and I don’t have a need for them. However, I did look for Park Min Young’s earrings in WWWSK. I found similar earrings at Banana Republic last year!

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I absolutely am a practitioner of KFMM, otherwise known as the Korean fashion mindmeld!! The savage disconnect between my frumpy exterior (de rigeur in Beantown- we have standards, duh) and my powerhouse interior is all due to my 'amulets', articles of clothing that allow me to channel my fave personas!

It's an everchanging cast.....right now I am craving the flowing multicolored layers of Bai Qian's outfits in the mortal world, ...so I layer same fabric, monochromatic multi-tiered pieces and it satisfies me.

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Does the Beantown frumpy include lots of fleece like it does in the Pacific Northwest?

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Yes, it does- comfort is (always) the first consideration! @ndlessjoie

This is a little-known historical fact, but the main driver for the Tea Party (other than tax) was the dammed uncomfortable woolens the brits favored. The Sons of Liberty wanted freedom from scratchy clothes😎

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You're not alone @missvictrix! I also role-play myself into K-drama characters. I try to emulate my wardrobe after my favorite female heroine at the moment in the best way I can and replicate her mindset throughout the day. I don't exactly change my persona, but it can become a fun mind game that I play to give me motivation. Currently following Song Hae-rin's chic editor confidence from RBB.

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She's great! I want to work there.

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actually, wayyyy before Secretary Kim, my fave work outfits on a K-drama character was from 'The Man Who Can't Marry' - Uhm Jung-hwa's character. I remember seeing her chiffon tops and pencil skirts and loved them, and was super happy to find similar tops at a local shop! definitely wore them a fair bit that year... omg - a decade ago >.<

... let's stick to Secretary Kim as the work outfit role model of the 2010s then 😅

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I am alright with the fashion and it's influence, but I am not alright with how the young part timer who owes a loan shark a ton of money has a better coat and purse collection than someone with steady employment.

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true that! I look like a homeless person compared to the kdrama convenience store part timer ; ))

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That’s very true 🤣

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🤣🤣🤣 same tho

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Lol, that is one gripe I have with the kdramas too. How exactly is a poor struggling part-timer capable of having a different high-quality bag to match every outfit for every day?? Investing in one that can match all outfits is one thing but multiple? LOL no way.

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Thinking about BTLIOF and how JiHo had all those giant coats, but when she moved out she had one tiny suitcase (the same one she had when she moved in). Where did all the coats go? Where did she store them when she lived with SeHee? That room was small, and I didn't see a closet.

These are the things that go through my head when I see kdrama fashion. Lol!

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My exact thoughts!! And all the other kdrama heroines who are supposedly poor yet somehow can afford to not repeat outfits in 16-20 episodes. Haha.

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Oh, and ALL the outfits she wore in Misty, pretty much. I think there was exactly one that I wasn't all that fond of. And at least on that show we got to SEE where she stored them!!! Thank you Misty!!!

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My personal style has always been the "office" look, but ever since my drama life started (like eons ago... I'm old lol), I've definitely noticed that my personal style has been upped and I've also picked up things and adapted things into my person style that I've seen in dramas which have rubbed off onto me lol I think the biggest thing is oversized sweaters (from every autumn/winter drama ever), pea-coats (I first picked up on this style statement from 2002's "Winter Sonata"..... Yea, that definitely dates me lol), and the variety and tones in colours that I now wear have definitely broadened compared to the neutral tones that I used to only wear :)

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T.H.I.S. !!!
I feel like I love taking inspiration from Korean drama females to enhance my usual styles. Pairing colors and clothing combinations according to what some of my fav characters wear or modifying them to match my personal style!
I think the style I love the most is probably closest to Yoo In Na's style! She also makes everything she wears look absolutely amazing! If I can have her wardrobe I'd die happy!
My personal style is probably similar to Min Do Hee (because I am also very short, just 153cm!) But I'm not as fit as her haha

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What watching K-dramas might do to your wardrobe:

Realize you need a whole new one.

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Touchè!

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Kdrama/Korean fashion has really affected my own choices. But mostly hoodies, shirts and sneakers. I actually dress differently compared to "normal" here in Hawaii. Lol.

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I currently rotate between 7 winter coats. Enough said.

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I love winter coats a lot!!! I own 18 and several autunm/spring jackets. However, my summer clothes are...just...a few...I love winter clothes more!!! (and ironically, I live in a warm climate though=never snows for example=never freezing, just cold in winter).

As for drama fashion. I like some but I never fantasize about it (those actresses are alway between 45~48 kg, while I have 59 kg, so I never picture myself wearing or wanting them). But if I had to name a few, then Jun Ji Hyun and Yoo In Na have a great style on their dramas. Misty and Secretary Kim had great "office" clothes. I also liked Cheese in the Trap-drama college clothes. I loved Kim So Hyun style Let's Fight Ghost and Jo Bo Ah in My Strange Hero. I also liked some of the clothes in The Beauty Inside, the Prime Minister & I and SKY Castle. A special mention to Misaeng, not only Kang So Ra was stylish but the men as well.

But I think, overal speaking, that second female leads have great styling, sometimes, they are more stylish than the female lead. For example, Jun Hye Bin in Another Oh Hae Young; Jung Yoo Jin in Thirty But Seventeen & Romance Is a Bonus Book; Im Ji Yun in High Society; Sul In Ah in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon; Go Sung Hee in While You Were Sleeping, etc...This could go on and on...

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Ah I forgot Five Children. Loved So Yoo Jin, Shin Hye Sun and Im Soo Hyang styles. Speaking of Im Soo Hyang, I loved her clothes in Gangnam Beauty. I also liked Nam Ji Hyun style in Suspicious Partner.

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I definitely do the "dress the way I want to feel" thing. How you look greatly impacts how you carry yourself. I even have several tiaras that I wear when I really just need to feel like a princess for a while - even if I'm just sitting around the house in my jammies recapping.

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Amazing!!

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Hye-ran 's style in Misty was brilliant, it was just reinforced how much of a badasss she was. The stylist did an amazing job at pairing different textures, colours together, I've started to wear more red and burgundy colours.

I really liked Kim bok joo's styling in WFKBJ, I couldn't help but smile at the rainbow assortment of tracksuits. It was so nice to see someone look warm and comfortable! I'm still working on adding more colour to my wardrobe and expressing myself freely like bok joo!

I bought myself a long swishy coat and it's so much fun until you ride on public transport - reality vs expectation...

But I agree, it's more of a mindset when we incorpate pieces from our favourite characters. It inspires me to reflect on myself and what I have to say to the world.

Thank you for the post, I really enjoyed reading.

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I'm Park Shin-hye in heartstrings: simple dresses, cardigans, little T-shirts and looooong skirts. ❤

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Uh huh. Uh huh. Nodding as I read this. Oversized shirts with tapered pants and sneakers. Check. T shirt under dresses. Check. Love for sequins. Check. Winter coats!!! Lol everyone mentioned winter coats. And not just clothes, hair too. Yoo Inna for me is ponytail goals. Sooo pretty

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Right on the nose @missvictrix!! It’s odd. It’s like i subconsciously adapt the style of the characters I love. I identify with them, therefore i want to be closer to them. And the only way I can is via clothing. Clothes are definitely a huge part in the storytelling of a character

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I have always wanted to wear coats but unfortunately for me, I live in a tropical country :/

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Turtlenecks. 😎
This behavioural thing is real though, beyond fashion. The other day someone teased me that I laughed like a Korean because I covered my mouth. Omo.🙊 Now I’m super self-conscious at social gatherings, even though half of my friends watch dramas too. 🤣

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Usually the style that I like speaks out to me instead of the heroine that I'm looking for. So sometimes it's even the antagonists in designer wear our our heroes who look so nice in those turtlenecks & coats.
The heroine usually wears comfy clothing which I find very cute as well.
I think I accidentally found Korean & Chinese shopping websites around 4-5 years ago when I was looking for some particular style that I saw in a Kdrama.

BUT, this is where I stop. if I had money, I'd be buying things left & right, but I don't have. So I just look & leave it at that.... T_T
The closest I ever got was alternatively painting my nails in bold color.

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Ahhh yes. Fashion plays such an important role in your mood and not just how you look physically but how you're able to present yourself to the world. Makeup does as well, but that's a different conversation.

With the right outfit, you can pull off the confidence that doesn't come naturally and make it through your day a lot easier than you would otherwise. I feel like a good outfit is like putting on a layer of protection between you and the outside world. And it's so wonderfully versatile because you get to choose what that layer of protection will look like for the day.

One of the reason's I fell so in love with Kim Nam Joo's character in Misty is because of her outfits. They really complimented her personality and career trajectory in a way that was tangible. Plus, her outfits represented a side of myself that I want to display when entering my career field of choice. A strong, in-control and determined woman who means business. I've got places to be and things to do. And any outfit that speaks to that (ALL THE PANTSUITS) speaks to me.

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Sorry, I wouldn't say the way the female characters dress is at all inspiring
First you have all the candies with their knitted pompom hats and assorted uglies
Then the professional women in mini shorts (sure, try to go that way)
Everybody runs in stilletos
And finally you have the sharply dressed women in outfits size XXS .. beautiful but you know they will never work on a larger size

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The most impact K-drama have done in my wardrobe is the styling. I have not bought any clothes or accessories based on any heroine (tbh I cant afford nor I am the body type of most of the k drama heroines ) but I surely learn to maximize the use of the clothes I have through different styling . eg wearing t shirt under slip dress giving it more casual look, wearing turtle necks under shirts in fall , tucking clothes in certain way, layering warm clothes and so much more

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Yes. I want to try the turtle neck under a formal shirt. Sounds so comfortable and looks good too.

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YES !!!! u totally should give it try. I think it is good look in both formal n informal setting. Just add statement necklace for informal setting. Totally gives sophisticated/ chic look.

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It works because some iconic characters in dramas are aspirational in their personas. For example, you love Gong Hyo Jin's wardrobe (business casual) in It's Ok, That's Love 'cause of what it helps to project: a professional, elegant but laid-back career woman; so you aspire to that image.

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My ID is Gangnam Beauty influenced me to buy Atelier cologne. I also ended up getting a purple hoodie because of Sung Duk Seon in Reply 1988! I think KDramas are perfect for product placements because of suggestive advertising.

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This is so true, I especially love love the wardrobe of Sara in the beauty inside, I wanted to wear all the clothes she wore on the show, then there’s the other secretary with the long hair in what’s wrong with secretary Kim who’s wardrobe I also loved and also some of Yoon Jin-ah’s work outfits in pretty noona were to die for. Kdrama work outfits call to me🤗

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I was catching up on 'The Beauty Inside' (series) last night when the heroine said something like "The wardrobe doesn't do the acting, the actors do." That is a statement I've really got to disagree with. In K-dramas (all drama) the wardrobe carries much of the heavy lifting in defining the characters before the first word of dialog gets spoken. You immediately get a handle of social status, degree of wealth, job stability, ego, etc etc. No need to write a lengthy character description of the guy in a wrinkly old T-shirt, sweats and slippers on the street in the middle of the day. He's going to be the feckless unemployed brother of the heroine.

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