Korean Women are Turning Hanbok Into a Fashion Statement

By April 24, 2017

Growing up in Korea, I thought modern hanbok was only for people who lived an alternative lifestyle, like those who visited temples every day and ate like Buddhist monks.

When I was young, the only person I knew who regularly wore modern hanbok was a martial artist who ran a kumdo dojo downtown. Unlike the colorful hanbok that we wore on holidays and special occasions, modern hanbok seemed to come only in drab earth-tones, like burnt orange, greyish green, or anything else that reminds you of the word ‘muddled’.

But fast forward to 10 years later, and I realized modern hanbok had evolved beyond what I had imagined was possible. While in the past I only saw middle-aged Koreans wearing modern hanbok, more and more Koreans in their teens and 20s are finding cute modern hanbok and wearing them on special outings, like a visit to the palace or a lantern festival, or even just on a regular day. I did a double take when I saw Sarah from 2hearts1seoul wearing this adorable outfit on Instagram:

sarah hanbok

The top seems to retain the classic features of the jeogori, or the shirt portion of the hanbok, with the shape of the collar and the goreum, the long pieces of fabric you tie in the front to close the jeogori. But this modern hanbok has shorter sleeves and goreum. This has three advantages: it makes the jeogori easier to put on and to move around in, and it’s better for warmer months.

The original hanbok skirt also spans from your chest to the floor, but the modern hanbok skirt is just the right length for everyday wear—long enough to remind you of the classic hanbok but short enough that you can walk around in the park without stepping on your own skirt and falling over.

I love how Sarah styled her modern hanbok with a cute chain purse and sandals. As a millennial who buys everything from shoes to a potato peeler online, I had to give into my natural instinct and scroll through her feed to find out where Sarah bought her set and also explore other modern hanbok looks Korean women love.

It turns out, the possibilities are endless. From light pastels to dark winter colors and from sleeveless jeogori’s and midi skirts to long-sleeves and mini skirts, there are so many amazing options.

seorinarae
Image Credit: Seorinarae
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Image Credit: Sodan
leesle
Image Credit: Leesle
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Image Credit: Seorinarae

And the best part is, modern hanbok is so easy to mix and match, not just with other modern hanbok pieces but with non-hanbok clothes as well. For instance, I love this longer version of a jeogori paired with dark denim. It reminds me of the classic white button-down, except this one is really a stand-out piece.

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Image Credit: Leesle

This super chic trench coat looks so comfortable, you could throw it on over any outfit, whether you’re wearing hanbok underneath or not.

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Image Credit: Leesle

And if you love voluminous skirts, there are so many to choose from, too. I love this layered look featuring a fuller skirt:

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Iamge Credit: Seorinarae

And if you love a bold statement piece that’s sexy, try this black see-through jeogori paired with a red skirt.threadandneedle

Image Credit: Thread and Needle

Finally, if you want a polished office look that doesn’t scream modern hanbok, try this dress. This one definitely blew my mind, and it showed me that there is really no limit to how much hanbok can evolve.

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Image Credit: Leesle

Traditional hanbok, with its full, billowing skirt and the jeogori that accentuates the wearer’s soft neckline and shoulders, has a unique sense of majesty that’s hard for modern hanbok to replace. But modern hanbok makes the hanbok more wearable and convenient. Since modern hanbok also provides a wide range of options when it comes to cut, style, and the degree to which it departs from the traditional hanbok, more and more people are able to wear hanbok more often and enjoy it, incorporating it into their daily lives.

If you love Korean fashion and culture, a modern hanbok piece, whether it’s a jeogori, a skirt, or any other item, might be just what you need to add a little Korean twist to your wardrobe. And if you’re dying to buy a modern hanbok for yourself, Leesle and Seorinarae ship internationally.

+ Would you wear modern hanbok? Let us know in the comments below!