fashion
Refresh your closet with inspiration from Korean street style and semi-formal wear. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Want to dress like your favourite Korean actor or singer? Clean, minimal silhouettes and neutral palettes are integral to South Korea's wardrobe. If K-dramas make up most of your evenings off, then you're probably used to seeing actors in oversized dress shirts tucked into high-waisted relaxed slacks or long coats over cosy, elegant sweaters, ending in socked loafers or plain white trainers. Not only do the neutral tones make for a great capsule wardrobe, but the pieces can also be easily dressed up or down - that's the charm of K-fashion.

Thanks to the global stardom of K-pop idols and Korean cinema, we're increasingly curious about bucket hats, experimental streetwear and puffer jackets. "Korean fashion is all about oversized clothing and layering. With the rise of K-pop and Korean influencers, more and more people around the world want to adopt their style," said Sherry Fikry, a certified fashion stylist from FAD Institute of Fashion and Luxury in Dubai.

Looks are strategic, too. An exaggerated silhouette offers the wearer more room for creativity and sculpting. Take actress Moon Gayoung, in the Netflix-streaming series 'The Interest of Love' (2022), for example. Her daily office attire, consisting of loose dress shirts in pale blue, beige and cream, rolled up sleeves, and tucked into high-waist pants, has created a buzz on TikTok. Fikry says high-rise wide-leg pants accentuate the legs and help you look taller.

Now's the time to elevate your closet with tasteful winter pieces you've been dreaming about, and shop the trendy laidback look favoured by the young Korean population. Fikry shares some styling tips for the UAE weather, from caps with relaxed suits to the classic sock-and-shoe combo.

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1. Layering with long coats or oversized blazers

Versatile long coats have been a Korean wardrobe staple for years, so having this classic piece could help you pull off a variety of looks. Coats need not be reserved for a formal dinner party. In fact, throw a maxi-length coat over a pair of baggy blue jeans, a white tee and a hat, and you're good to go. Since they're season-specific, you could opt for a lighter fabric to wear far into spring, says Fikry. Oversized blazers are another staple that can be thrown over the shoulders when it gets too warm: "Layers are something you can take off easily - you don't have to fully wear them".

2. Cropped puffer jackets

Though puffer jackets are in this season, the world over, they've been a part of Korean winters for years and are conveniently called 'padding' coats. The cropped variant is being used to create an exaggerated silhouette, often worn over all-black, -white or -beige athleisure wear. Our options include puffer jackets in the trendy corduroy fabric, along with sleeveless pieces that look exceptionally flattering on monochrome sweatsuits for a sporty feel.

3. Wide-leg pants

The looser the fit, the better. Skinny jeans were ruled out long ago, and fashion trends in Korea adopted wide-leg pants with fierce enthusiasm. The relaxed, straight-leg fit is seen in sweatpants, jeans and slacks, with the pant hems draped fashionably over the shoe of the day. The style is flattering on most, even if you pair it with an equally oversized top or a sophisticated cardigan.

4. Hats galore, from buckets to beanies

Topping off every other outfit with a hat is a must. Whenever you have that niggling feeling that something's missing, complete the look with a bucket hat, cap or beanie. With athleisure wear dominating the trends, these headpieces are mostly seen elevating casual streetwear in the winter. But, ball caps extend to semi-formal outfits, too: "Korean men like wearing caps on relaxed suits, those that aren't tailored to fit, and it looks very cool and edgy," said Fikry. Though bucket hats are for all seasons, they could be a more weather-appropriate option during the UAE winters, as well as the classic snapback.

5. Sling-back pumps and chunky platforms

Chunky trainers are a given, but chunky loafers that add an inch or two to the height are an equally frequent sight. They're worn with long socks under midi skirts, but work just as well with baggy pants. Fikry says platforms are still going strong in Korea and are popular as winter boots and sneakers. Then, we have sling-back pumps with a low heel, reserved for more business-casual attire, when socks and platforms just won't do.

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