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The Ultimate Styles in K-Dramas

Korean fashion is a thing now. Since the Hallyu Wave, people have taken notice of Korean trends, as seen among K-pop and K-drama stars. The style spectrum ranges from the conservative to high fashion, to even the outrageous and edgy.

In K-dramas, there are stylists who match the clothes with the characters the actors play. However, there are super stylists, who are a notch above the rest, and have created the ultimate fashion statements. Here are a couple of style standouts that have made me anticipate their outfits as much as I have anticipated their dramas to unravel.

That tiny waist: Pink ensemble Minjukim, a sought-after South Korean designer worn by fashionistas.

Seo Ye-ji in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is perhaps my favorite drama and current obsession. The Kim Soo-hyun starrer is a love story about a health worker and a children’s book author who heal each other’s “brokenness.”

Actress Seo Ye-ji plays the compelling storybook writer Ko Mun-yeong, who is successful, beautiful and wealthy, but has an anti-social personality disorder.

Seo Ye-ji is quite interesting as she is not only a good actress but is also accomplished in many fields. She speaks fluent Spanish, having studied in a university in Spain, does calligraphy and origami, and has certifications in English and even sex education.

She has acted in a number of TV projects but I first noticed her in a music video of K-pop group Bigbang, where she was partnered with G-Dragon. Then I watched her in Hwarang, where she played a princess. The last drama I saw her in was Lawless Lawyer with seasoned actor Lee Joong-ki.

Her character Ko Mun-yeong’s outfits in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay are to-die-for. She wears vintage pieces, edgy ensembles, ultra-stylish fashion statements, shoes that look like works of art, luxury bags and top designer jewelry brands. It all fits in with the look of this drama, which sometimes gives me Tim Burton-esque and Coraline feels.

IU in Moschino Dollar Sign denim jacket

IU in Hotel del Luna

A hotel for the dead, that’s what Hotel del Luna is. Already this sets the tone for the outrageous character of hotel owner Jang Man-wol, brilliantly played by K-pop queen IU. Also known as Lee Ji-eun, IU was nominated as Best Actress for this role in the recent Baeksang Awards, which is the Korean equivalent to the Oscars. Hotel del Luna was quite successful and was one of the top dramas in 2019. In fact, this month it celebrates its first anniversary.

This beautiful lace vintage piece embodies the Hotel Del Luna aesthetic.

Side story: I actually watched IU in concert last December and was blown away by her singing. I have an inside joke with a friend that when everyone was watching U2, we were watching IU. She is first and foremost a musician but has been making headway as an actress as well. I first saw her act in Moonlovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo, another favorite drama.

For Hotel del Luna, it is reported that IU wore over 100 outfits and changed to a different look every seven minutes for this 16-episode hit drama. She wore vintage and designer pieces combined with accessories galore. Since her character lived for hundreds of years, she virtually gave us a history of fashion.

Jun Ji-hyun's mermaid gets her first pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Jun Ji-hyun in Legend of the Blue Sea

One of my favorite Korean actresses is Jun Ji-hyun, who played the wacky and determined mermaid opposite superstar Lee Min-ho in the 2017 drama Legend of the Blue Sea. Though for a time in the drama, she had fins or was wearing clothes she picked up from the beach, there were great fashion moments.

I first watched Jun Ji-hyun in the wildly popular My Love from a Star, where she played a shallow actress who falls for an alien. Her breakout role was in one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time in Korea called My Sassy Girl. Jun Ji-hyun was recently revealed as an endorser of fashion house Alexander McQueen.

Pink sequined dress in a scene with Lee Min-ho from Legend of the Blue Sea is by Dolce & Gabbana.

Lithe, tall and statuesque, Ji-hyun’s mermaid character Shim Cheong in Legend of the Blue Sea would pick up clothes from the dumpster, put them together and look like a million bucks. However, she saved her best looks for home, where she lived with her destined love, Heo Joon-jae, Lee Min-ho’s role. Her envy-inducing outfits were definitely straight out of the runways but she had made it all her own.

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A centered life

In the “new normal,” the saying "Where two or three are gathered in my name…” …