Korean dramas have given us many things. Well-written characters to cheer for, unrealistic expectations of potential life partners, memorable soundtracks, and an unshakeable craving for ramen at odd times of the day. Another thing that can be credited to these K-dramas is the endless inspiration for dressing as if you’ve stepped out of the pages of a magazine or a particularly well-style storefront.
The meteoric rise of popularity of Korean dramas has ensured that many big names in fashion want their bit of the pie as well. International labels like Roger Vivier, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Alexander McQueen have essentially become staples in K-dramas.
We’ve rounded up seven of our favourite characters who have a distinct style and decoded their style for you. So the next time you’re stepping out, take a page out of their notebook and put your best foot forward…
Yoon Se-ri from Crash Landing on You
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t seen Crash Landing on You, or has had friends pester them to watch the drama usually accompanied with a proclamation that’s a variation of “This show will change your life”.
The story of the starcrossed lovers follow South Korean heiress Yoon Se-ri who finds herself in hostile North Korean territory after a paragliding accident. Her clothes in the show act as an armour. They help her blend in with the other North Korean villagers when she’s trying to pass off as a citizen (pretending to be Captain Ri Jeong-hyuk’s fiancée *swoon*), and present an unflappable, no-nonsense image when she gets back home and takes charge of her business from her conniving family members.
Se-ri’s a billionaire in her own right so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that her wardrobe was filled with suits from Miu Miu, Off-White, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, and Celine. If you want to cop her style, make sure you keep it sharp and luxe. When in doubt, remember how Se-ri paired her downtime outfit of an oversized white shirt and loose pants with stunning Manolo Blahniks.
Hong Cha-young from Vincenzo
Hard-headed lawyer Hong Cha-young knows how to win, by hook or by crook. Her impeccable styling reflects her sharp sense of justice and fearlessness. Cha-young’s wardrobe consisted of stylish power suits in neutral and pastel shades that gave her a softer edge to lure her opponents into a false sense of security.
While there were many big international names peppered throughout her wardrobe, including Bottega Veneta, Max Mara, Alexander McQueen, and Thom Browne, there were quiet a few Korean brands highlighted too. These include Jaybaek Couture, Moon Choi, Recto, and Avouavou. A balance between soft feminine elements and sharp silhouettes is what makes a perfect Hong Cha-young outfit.
Jang Man-wol from Hotel Del Luna
The caretaker (or manager, as she would like you to call her) of the legendary hotel of the dead, Jang Man-wol is an ancient being who had been cursed to take care of lost souls and send them off to their after lives. The ancient Goguryeo era resident is appropriately dramatic and extra with her outfit choices.
Her style comprises of timeless vintage pieces with a flair and an accessory or two. If you want to cop her style, make sure you have a hairpin on hand. Man-wol uses the elegant accessory to, not only, look fabulous and put-together but also vanquish vengeful ghost spirits.
Reportedly IU’s wardrobe for the show costed 10 million Korean won (INR 6 lakhs approx) per episode. Man-wol loved the finer things in life, whether it’s sports cars, diamonds, or her outfits. The designers and labels featured on the show include Chanel, Alexander Wang, Ted Baker, Zimmerman, Givenchy, Gucci, Dior, Moschino, Giambatista Valli, Longchamp, Max Mara, Lanvin, and Emilio Pucci.
Sung Deok-mi from Her Private Life
The art curator who led a secret life as a hardcore K-pop stan had an enviable wardrobe of outfits we wish we could steal to wear to office everyday. The looks were sophisticated, fuss-free, flattering, and super stylish.
Deok-mi usually favoured power suits in neutral or pastel colours, featuring cinched waistlines, structured shoulders, and relaxed trousers. Her job (the real one) required her to rush around the art gallery and be available to fix art installations herself at the drop of the hat, and her outfits reflected that. Think streamlined silhouettes that make it easier for you to move effortlessly.
Yu Na-bi from Nevertheless
As an art student struggling to figure out how she wanted to express herself though her work, Yu Na-bi naturally didn’t have the time to dress to the nines. But her comfortable, laidback style is enviably chic and cohesive. Her usual uniform consisted of a cozy, oversized pullover paired with a fitted, knee-length pencil skirt.
The character’s feet seemed permanently encased in high-top sneakers that went with everything. If you’re a student, or someone who prefers their style to be less flashy, Yu Na-bi is your girl. The colour palette consisted of warm neutral shades, with an olive or green thrown in the mix to add interest.
Jung Seo-hyun from Mine
Look no further than Jung Seo-hyun if you want to look like a HBIC all day, every day. One of the main leads of this intriguing drama, Seo-hyun works as an art gallery director and her fashion forward outfits reflect her creative side well.
You can spot big names like Alexander McQueen, Ports 1961, Max Mara, EENK, BAI by Bride and You, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, and Dior in her wardrobe. Channel her energy with exaggerated shoulder pads, experimental silhouettes, and rich (both in texture and colour) fabrics.
Seo Dalmi from Start-up
Seo Dalmi wanted to be Korea’s Steve Jobs so it makes sense that she opted for her inspiration’s more utilitarian style as well. Thankfully, she gave us more looks than one black turtleneck!
The character can be seen in a variety of business casual outfits consisting of printed hoodies, linen dresses, and knitted cardigans, from designers and brands like Maison Marais, IRO, AVAM, Lemair, and Ralph Lauren. But the budding entrepreneur’s style focal point lies in her jaw-dropping bag collection. Dalmi can be seen toting around iconic bags from brands like Dior, Lanvin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Trifolio, Loewe, Bottega Veneta, Roger Vivier, and Giorgio Armani.