Passion for Fashion

[quote style=”1″]Photos courtesy of Keely Kernan. Check out her photography on Facebook at Keely Kernan Photography.[/quote] [frame align=”center”][/frame]

When you move across the world for a long period of time, inevitably you are going to learn some things both about yourself and about life in general. For example, before I moved to South Korea, I never realized how long a single tube of toothpaste lasts when it’s only you who is using it. When discovering new things, you may find out things that you like and things that you don’t. When it comes to Korean fashion, I have been both inspired and appalled. Allow me to explain.

I have seen some outfits that no human being should have to see. There have been times when I have spotted an outfit, and my corneas started melted away. I’ve seen some things— things my eyes will never forgive me fo—most of which take form in fashion choices made by the elderly women of Korea.

[frame align=”left”][/frame]The old women (“ajummas” as Koreans refer to them) in Busan, South Korea, have some serious explaining to do when it comes to the items of clothing they drape over themselves. A popular choice for these women is the visor.  Visors in general are causes for concern, but the “Korean” visor makes you lose sleep at night. This visor is massive. The bill of this beloved hat extends farther out than Kim Kardashian’s ass. The visor looks like something you might see if The Kentucky Derby had a “casual day”.  It’s like a walking target for birds to poo on, which might also be the reason some come equipped with eye shields. The Korean visor is completely outlandish yet insanely popular. It’s a staple in elderly women’s wardrobes. The visor is to ajummas, what a bejeweled flower broach is to American grandmothers.

[frame align=”center”][/frame] [frame align=”left”][/frame]If massive visors were the ajumma’s only fashion miscue, I might be able to look past it and send them a Facebook friend request, but that’s never going to happen because the fact of the matter is that they don’t know how to dress themselves. Not to mention, most ajummas don’t have Facebook accounts.  Another popular catastrophe you will see is the ridiculously bold, patterned shirts paired with multiple scarfs and pants that don’t come near the top of the Korean version of the Sketchers “Shape Up” shoes.  While I understand a respect for one’s elders is important, to all of this, I’m forced to say, “Enough is enough, ajummas; get a full length mirror.”

The younger generation seems to have a much better handle on their fashion choices. Actually, for them, fashion is a huge deal. The motto for young Korean women is, “Even if you don’t feel well, you always look your best.” Fashion is their passion. After being here for 5 months, I am certain it was the young Korean women demographic that started the “take your own picture with your cell phone, and share it to all possible networks” craze.

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The younger generation of women doesn’t believe in the gym shoe. They wear heels, and they wear them everywhere. I have climbed a mountain next to a Korean woman in heels. I have walked along the beach next to a Korean woman in heels. No matter the season, no matter the time, no matter the dress code, these women wear heels.

For me, this is something I just can’t get on board with. For one, I value my feet too much. In addition, I think it’s completely uncalled for. You would find me in a pair of Crocs (a shoe I foster extreme repugnance for) before you would find me in a pair of heels on the beach. I would rather climb up a mountain in scuba flippers than attempt to climb up in heels. At the end of day, it comes down to safety. These women I speak of are twigs. In most cases, the weight of their shoes is equivalent to the weight of their entirety.  One misstep and these girls are down for the count.

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For the most part, I happen to like the clothing choices Korean women make. The items they choose I find to be very creative, daring, and inventive. They tend to revitalize vintage pieces by pairing them with something more modern. Big, retro sunglasses are popular. You’re also likely to see plaids, a variety of cardigans, industrial-looking boots, classic trench coats, blazers, and, of course, leggings this season.

They simply value their appearance here. They like to look put-together. Women tend to get married young here, so perhaps they think dressing up will afford them more opportunities for encounters with the Korean fellas. Who’s to say? I do know this, though; I have taken little value away from my experience with Korean fashion. I save my heels for weekends only. Weekdays are for flats, sandals, or gym shoes.  I am a fan of the vintage-inspired style here, but it has only manifested itself into my wardrobe by way of jewelry. And while completely inexcusable and 100% unnecessary, I did, in fact, purchase a Korean visor, because every now and then, I need a good laugh.

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