10 Top Korean Fashion Trends in 2021
Fashion is influenced by a wide range of factors, from pop culture to even the current socioeconomic situation. Because of the various external influences, fashion trends can sometimes come and go rather quickly, and it may sometimes be difficult to keep up with the changing trends.
While people spend more time at home these days because of the pandemic, fashion trends have continued to grow and evolve. As we approach the last quarter of 2021, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Korean fashion trends of 2021, so we can make sure to look our best for the remaining few months of the year as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease.
The modern hanbok has slowly become more popular in recent years, but this trend received an explosion in popularity after the release of Blackpink’s music video for How You Like That in 2020, where the girls rocked beautifully customised modern hanboks.
Korea is a nation with a rich and vibrant culture, and the modern hanbok is a great way for the younger generation to stay connected to their roots while still being able to express themselves through modern fashion. And for those of us who aren’t Korean, we can appreciate their culture through modern hanboks, as well as feel as pretty as a princess!
Because it’s common to see shorts and miniskirts in Korean fashion, it might come as a surprise to learn that Koreans are quite conservative. However, while Korean girls have no qualms about showing off their legs, they’re more hesitant when it comes to revealing their shoulders or chest.
Sundresses are must-haves for the summer, but they are often sleeveless and can also be quite low-cut. This has not stopped Korean women from wearing sundresses though, and the solution is as simple as wearing a simple tee underneath the dress. Not only does this provide more coverage, it also helps to give the outfit a more laid back, summery vibe.
Because pastel shades are often regarded as soft and feminine, it’s not surprising that they’re usually popular with girly girls. However, pastel colours have recently become trendy not just for girly girls, but for all girls—and has even become a men's fashion trend! Part of the reason for the popularity of pastel colours can be attributed to K-Pop superstars BTS, who rocked pastels in their music video for their hit song Dynamite.
Since then, pastel colours have become a popular K-Fashion trend for guys, and many streetwear brands now include pastel colours in their designs for their unisex apparel, such as t-shirts, hoodies, and even sweatpants.
Korean fashion trends are influenced by K-Pop, and it is not uncommon to see K-Pop idols decked out in bright neon colours on stage. After all, a big aspect of K-Pop stage outfits is the ability to catch people’s attention easily, and neon colours definitely stand out even against the bright stage lights.
While not all of us may have the confidence to pull off a fully neon monochrome outfit, we can definitely start small by incorporating one neon item in our outfit. Neon items look especially good when styled with black due to the high contrast, and this will also allow the neon in your outfit to stand out without being too overwhelming.
Old is in, according to the newtro (new + retro) trend. Many youths also romanticise the past, and the newtro style is a way for them to express this nostalgia for a time period that they were never a part of.
Unlike vintage fashion, the newtro trend doesn’t require you to spend a fortune on authentic vintage pieces, and most newtro outfits consist of modern clothes that mimic popular styles of the past. While there are many different ways to dress in the newtro style, some popular items include button-up shirts, high-waist jeans, and striped tops.
Because of the cyclical nature of fashion, it’s not uncommon for past fashion trends to return to the spotlight once more. One of the fashion trends that have made a comeback recently is the puffy sleeve trend. Reminiscent of the Victorian era dresses, puffy sleeves give an outfit an elegant and feminine vibe.
Puffy sleeves are not limited to dresses either, and are often incorporated into much more modern designs, such as cropped tops. Such puffy sleeved cropped tops are especially trendy, as they are both cute and elegant.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that is surely the case when it comes to this particular trend! While chunky sneakers and sneaker-mule hybrids might receive some polarising opinions on whether they look good, their popularity cannot be denied!
Tennis shoes were once the go-to shoe in K-Fashion, and while they’re undoubtedly still popular, chunky sneakers have also established themselves as a top contender for the most popular shoes. While chunky sneakers come in many different designs and colours, just like tennis shoes, all-white chunky shoes are especially trendy. They’re also easy to style too, and can be worn with any outfit.
The school uniform trend has been around in Korean fashion for a few years now, and it remains as popular as ever in 2021. Korean fashion and Korean beauty value youthfulness, and nothing embodies youthfulness as well as a school uniform. Tennis skirts are at the forefront of the schoolgirl trend, and they’re popular not just for their cuteness, but also for their versatility, as they can be incorporated into a variety of different styles.
Tennis skirts are reminiscent of school uniforms because they resemble Korean school uniform skirts, but the school uniform trend is not limited to just Korean school uniforms. Recently, American varsity style designs have become more popular as well, and wearing varsity letter hoodies definitely gives off college student vibes.
Like tennis skirts, oversized clothes have remained a top trend of K-Fashion for quite a number of years, and the oversized trend is not limited to any one type of clothing. Oversized t-shirts are must-haves for anyone who is interested in Korean fashion, as well as oversized hoodies, and oversized sweatshirts.
Even if there isn’t ‘oversized’ in the name, that doesn’t mean a piece of clothing can’t qualify as an oversized fit. For example, baggy or loose-fit pants are also part of the oversized trend, as well as dresses with shapeless or flowy silhouettes. While this trend was influenced by American hip hop fashion, the oversized trend has transcended hip hop style in K-Fashion, and oversized fits can be styled into cute and girly outfits as well.
Even before the onset of the pandemic, face masks were not unfamiliar to Koreans. Not only is it common for Koreans to wear a mask even when they have a simple cold, masks are also often worn by celebrities when they go out during their own private time. International K-Pop fans have long considered face masks as part of Korean fashion, but in the past year masks have been incorporated into outfits not just as a necessity, but as a fashion item.
Reusable face masks have become more popular, and top Korean streetwear brands are starting to produce their own collection of face masks. Mask straps are also an aspect of mask fashion, and not only does it help to prevent you from losing your mask, you can also customise your mask strap to fit your outfit!
Some K-Fashion trends—such as school uniforms and oversized fits—have been around for some time, while others—such as newtro and face masks—are relatively new to the Korean fashion scene. However, they are all undeniably some of the biggest fashion trends of 2021, and while new fashion trends may emerge, these 10 top Korean fashion trends are unlikely to go out of trend anytime soon.
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