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.