The Western world has been taking inspiration from South Korea for quite some time now. From dewy skin and straight brows to oversized everything, Korean beauty and fashion has rarely missed the mark. So what better way to learn more about Seoul’s street style than to take a trip over to the Korean capital and learn from the locals firsthand?
We compiled a list of major trends and got the best beauty and lifestyle tips from makeup artists, stylists and fashion connoisseurs alike. And just in case you’re not making your way to SK any time soon, we’ve got it all here help you out.
BRING ON THE MIST
Instead of the usual matte approach we see here in Canada, a refreshed and dewy complexion is all you can see on the hundreds of billboards, posters, and makeup brochures in downtown Seoul. In the bustling shopping district of Myeongdong, makeup artist Yeona talks about their top seller, a face mist. Used by people of all ages and skin types, the face mist appeals to practically everyone. “The shine makes your skin appear more plump and less wrinkled because the skin looks very hydrated,” she explains.
LOVE THE WAY YOU ROLL
You might be thinking that jeans rolled up to ankles and cardigans bundled across elbows are a strictly ’80s affair, but guess again. In the busy Namdaemun Market, we see this trend in full force, only with a more relaxed feel.
Jeans are shuffled haphazardly above the ankle, showing a bit of leg for both guys and girls, even in the winter. Blazers are cuffed to accentuate the fact that they are oversized, which brings us to our next trend…
OVERSIZED IS THE RIGHT SIZE
You know that sweater that goes all the way to the tips of your fingers and the top of your thighs? Even though your friends may have called you out for being frumpy, in Seoul, you’d be called cute. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, coats, and jackets that engulf your frame no longer have people assuming you’re wearing your sibling’s hand-me-downs, but instead that you’re fashion-forward and practical.
Forget your gloves on a coffee run? Just hold a handful of extra material from your sweater and you’re good to go.
NO LOGO, NO PROBLEM
It’s hard not to walk by hundreds of advertisements on your daily commute through the city, especially as a tourist. However, big and bold graphics on clothing items to promote a brand (flashy brand logos included) are virtually nonexistent in the streets of downtown Seoul.
Clothing shops get their audiences interested by putting out an assortment of oversized, trendy pieces outside their store to entice customers to come in for a fitting. Instead of using a well-known brand name to elicit attention, tags on products have clear, concise washing instructions and information on the fabric and materials. You can see small, nondescript logos on accessories like backpacks and shoes, that don’t take away from the favoured classy put-together look that’s almost always office-ready.
(STRAIGHT) BROWS FOR DAYS
Walking past pedestrians, shoppers, movie-goers, and tourists alike — just about everyone has adopted a form of straight brow. The sleek, stunning brows are usually heavily accentuated with brow pencils and gel to keep them looking thick and natural.
Although we’re wary of ditching brow arches all together, Yoonah, a stylist at Lotte Market in Jung-gu convinced us otherwise. “The careless look to the brows help create a youthful look,” she stated, nodding at the posters decorating the brow aisle, “Sora [a popular model from Stylenanda] is famous for this look that shows off a doll-like complexion, and helps to bring attention up towards the eyes.”
“NO MAKEUP” MAKEUP
Following through with the porcelain doll trend, there were no contour kits or bronzing palettes in sight. Bridal makeup artist and stylist Soojung Li advised, “Why would you want to have dark spots on your skin? Natural, round shapes are seen as effortless and beautiful by themselves.”
She directed us over to the soft blushes and subtle peach lip crayons in the cosmetic aisle, “We enhance, instead of changing the shape. This gives you some colour and a pure, easy-to-recreate look.” She also tells me that most of her customers — even in bridal photoshoots — prefer nude and pinky toned lipsticks (rather than bold reds and fierce purples) to complete their “angel-like” appearance. Colour correcting contouring is South Korea’s answer to the Kontoured Kardashian look we so heavily favour today.
BOYS ALSO WANNA HAVE FUN
With the rise of Covergirl’s new male spokesperson, James Charles, we’re getting to be quite familiar with the fact that makeup and the passion that comes with it holds no boundaries between the sexes. In Seoul, we speak with Junho, a makeup artist and fashion blogger, who lives by the philosophy “Why not do what looks good?”
As for whether or not men should be wearing makeup, he says, “Do men have uneven skintone, acne, scarring, and redness? Of course!” He then introduced us to the subtle world of BB creams, tinted moisturizers, and subtle tightlining, “We have fun and feel good with small changes to improve.”
THE CUTEST PACKAGING EVER
Seoul is not only famous for the quality of their skincare and makeup products, but also for the way they’re packaged. From Pokemon face masks, Gudetama egg moisturizers, and Disney character eyeshadows, it’s hard to pick a product based on what you need versus what would look good on your dresser.
We ask about the functionality of the tiny wings on each It’s Skin Babyface product, and It’s Skin makeup artist Taemin admits “the cuteness factor is a big selling point, definitely! The wings bring up production costs, but customers come and love the look of it, so the payoff is worth it at the end.”
Something that you adore on your face, and in your room, sounds like a win-win to us — as long as you’re willing to dole out up to $75 for a set of Pokemon creams.