While there are tons of research proving that studying abroad can be beneficial for you socially, and intellectually I haven’t quite heard that it could improve your fashion sense too. Well I’m here to tell you that yes, studying abroad can definitely help you in the fashion department. I could go on, and on about how some fashion tips I acquired outside of the states may not hold up as well at home as they do in Korea, but then again fashion is constantly changing right? So why waste time worrying about what will and won’t go out of style? Instead I’m going to share with you all of the fashion tips I learned while living in Seoul, the fashion capital of Korea.
The Importance of Shoes
The many steep hills at Korea University did not stoop the extreme shoe swag of the various students that trudged across campus from building to building. I honestly wondered how so many women could walk in heels, and still live to tell the tale. Nearly a year in Seoul later, and there I am upping my shoe game for all of KU to see. While it’s not exactly an obligation to wear heels to be stylish on campus, I did notice that both men and women of Korea University managed to gain awesome shoe points (if that’s a thing) while still staying on top of their studies. Truthfully, I love heels. I have so many that I could probably create a instagram just for them, but I never felt as comfortable wearing them everywhere because 1) Women on campus tend to look down on other women “doing the most” and 2) It was never conditioned in my head that being fashionable while being a student went hand in hand. I can tell you now that shoes makes the outfit just as much as jewelry does, if not more so. I’ve learned to take a bit of risk when it comes to wearing heels, gym shoes, wedges, and even basic flats. Using shoes to up my fashion game isn’t such a bad idea, huh? Who would’ve thought Korea University could teach students outside the classroom too?
There’s Nothing Wrong with being Cute
The definition of cute in America matches to that of a seven year old girl while the definition of cute in Korea matches to every man’s dream girl (did you catch that SHINee reference? Hope so sherlock!). I used to think that the healthy kind of cute in Korea (and there are plenty of unhealthy examples) was an obsession that creeped towards borderline pedophilia, but studying there changed my perception. Having phone cases in the shape of animals, bows as accesories in your hair, and even socks with the lacy rim (you know what I’m talking about) shouldn’t make you any less of a woman. Wanting to have things that are signified as “cute” isn’t something we should be ashamed of. I mean seriously? Who doesn’t want a hello kitty phone case? (I used to have one for my old Iphone). Point is there’s nothing wrong with being cute, and I’m thankful that Korea has taught me that. The next time someone (man or woman) tries to make my koala keychain feel childish I’m going to give them the one finger salute, and say, “Was that adult enough for you?”
Hair done, Nails done, Everything did
All over Korea I watched with envy as mostly every woman had their nails done. It was insane. Some designs were extravagant, and others were a simple manicure. I have always gotten compliments on how my nails look, but I’ve never kept up strict maintenance for them. I was inspired to take better care of my nails, and even invest in allowing myself to get pampered.
Not everyone had their hair, and makeup done all the time, but it sure looked like it. A messy bun, didn’t even look messy because it was strategically placed to still look presentable. While I do see this concept on my campus, it was more prominent at Korea University. I literally felt pressured to have my hair done everyday, and to also put on at least some mascara and eyeliner. I applaud any woman (and even men, because metrosexuals duh) who make time to put on makeup in the morning, you ladies/gents are the MVPs. It is not an easy job, and I’ve been inspired to try to look a little more presentable by doing something to my hair or adding a touch of lipgloss. A little color never hurt nobody, right?
Passion for Nightlife Fashion
It’s not a secret that I have a thing for the nightlife especially in Seoul. I don’t have much experience of it in different cities, but compared to Cincinnati Seoul’s nightlife is WINNING. Not only are they winning in terms of the various amounts of clubs, bars, and areas dedicated to nightlife, but in fashion too. I’ve seen girls and guys dressed to the 9’s! Heels, tight dresses, blazers, and ties. And I’ve also seen some really cool laidback styles. Sneakers, crop tops, and tee shirts. It seems to me like everyday (no matter what time) is a fashion show. Whether the fashion is street style, classy, or modern chic Seoul never failed to amaze me when it came to how well dressed everyone was (and to even how well dressed they TRIED be, tried). That’s not to say people don’t dress well here in Cincy (Cincinnati), but I just saw more of it no matter what age people were in Seoul.
You’re Never fully dressed without Accessories
Thought I was gonna say smile huh? I learned in Korea, but not necessarily from Koreans themselves, that jewelry and other accessories really help your outfit. I have to admit, I fall short of this rule. I have a few earrings and necklaces, but I’ve never put much thought into statement pieces. My besties from Britain have actually taught me quite a bit about accessories whether they be watches or bracelets, earrings or rings. I’ve definitely invested in better statement pieces to go with my outfits.
Hats, and purses are accessories too! I’ve come back from Korea with a passion for hats. And while the hats that I’ve seen here in America are A oh Kay, I think that the designs in Korea have a little cute thought. Who would think to put a single smiling banana on a pink hat? Korea. I also enjoy their purses. Seeing women, and even men walking around with stylish bags made me gasp in awe at how well put together they were. I obviously went straight to Myeongdong to pimp my purse style……for cheap of course.
If you’re not beat for the Grocery Store, you’re not Ready
I can’t even tell you how many times I went to Home Plus, and saw a woman (or couple) grocery shopping while they were dressed like models. Perhaps I went on a day where it was ‘dress to the 9’s for Home Plus’ day or something, because it was ridiculous. I didn’t see a ton of young people shopping for groceries (which is a problem), but the ones I did see were definitely runway models. I mean they have to be right?
All of this isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist in America, but I don’t live in a city that emphasizes fashion like New York or LA. I really hadn’t been paying attention, because Korea really focuses on appearance. So when I got there I started noticing all these fashion trends, and slowly but surely followed suit. I guess I’m good at adapting when I’m actually looking out for it!
A few more fashion tips I learned in Korea include:
- Tucking in shirts into pants, and skirts
- Utilizing my closet
Have you ever traveled to a country that taught you some fashion tips? What were they? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @champagneroses_
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