Commentary: American vs. Korean 'Street Style'

I tried to find pictures from the same season: Spring/Summer 2013. 
Click all images for an HQ version.

Street style is something every fashionista pays attention to. It's a more realistic expectation of the fashion status-quo, unlike celebrity's outrageous event clothing or the crazy no-one-would-actually-wear-that-in-public looks produced for the runway. How does street style change depending on the country? Beauty standards in Korea certainly vary from than those in America. But how?

Check out this video from EYK, which does a good job explaining some of the differences.

So let's look at some pictures of street style:

Seoul street style according to 'La Mode Outre
Seoul street style according to 'Sol Sol'
California street style according to 'Streetgeist'
New York street style according to 'Harper's Bazaar'

South Koreans tend to wear looser clothing.
Now of course, even within a country there are differences between the city and rural areas, or even between different cities. For example, California is a bit more boho than New York-- that means less structure and earthier tones. This is a bit similar to South Korea. But, one major difference in Korean and American street style is the presence of neutrals. Many times, Americans incorporate an abundance of patterns, while Koreans tend to stick to solids. If they have a pattern, it is normally on one item. Of course there are some exceptions, but generally, American fashion is "louder"; than Korean fashion. 

South Korean street style tends to be a bit more relaxed. Korean body types are a bit different than American. Girls tend to be shorter and Korea is more homogeneous. Since America is a "melting pot" there is more diversity in skin tones, facial features, body types, and even perceptions of beauty. This in turn creates a wider variety of clothing styles. In the New York picture, you can see the beachy blonde on the bottom left, who completely contrasts the neo-gothic girl on the bottom right. Now, I am not saying that Koreans don't differ, but there are less branches of Korean fashion, at least to which I've been exposed. As you can see, in Sol Sol's Seoul picture, the girl at the bottom left dresses very differently from the guy at the top right. 
South Koreans often wear tennis shoes
with fashion outfits.

Something the jumped out at me about the girl on the bottom left was her shoes. The purple tennis shoes in America are not seen as high fashion, or super hip. Tennis shoes (except for converses, vans, or designer trainers etc) are work-out shoes; so, while they may get a pair of cute running-shoes for the gym, they would not wear those shoes with more up-scale clothing. Maybe it's because Korea is very urban, so many people walk from place to place, though I'm sure some people wear sneakers in congested NYC as well. It's just not considered as fashionable in America; it's more a practical choice. Generally, one wears work-out trainers with other workout clothes.

Similarly, in America, dresses are generally more formal than pants, so you may notice that the amount of dresses in the New York picture vs. the Seoul pictures is very different. Now, we do have to keep in mind that the New York pictures were from fashion week, while the Seoul pictures were from every-day life, so that could definitely create a gap in the formality of clothing. 

I think it is just interesting to look at the differences between Korean street style and American street style, even if it's hard to put your finger on just what exactly is different. Is is the hair? The color palette? The types of clothing? Maybe it's the brands? Or the shoes? I can't always tell the difference, but I can definitely notice that something is different. So, I'd love to hear your opinions. 

What do you think are the difference between American street style and Korean street style? Or maybe just the East Coast/West Coast individually vs. Korea? What street style do you like the best?
Tell us in the comments below.


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