For my past 2 language exchange sessions, while conversing, something interesting came up and it was then, I started considering the differences between Japanese and Korean fashion.
First of all, let me talk about the trigger, I was invited to my language partner’s place for sukiyaki and she also invited a friend along. And while we were talking about fashion, this friend asked where I bought my clothes and mentioned that the top I was wearing is very Japanese, and then we started talking about how Singaporean girls dress and then I realized that the local fashion is heavily influenced by Korean fashion.
Next, before my last language exchange session, me n my language exchange partner went shopping together. And after trying a piece of clothing, she mentioned something that made me think about Japanese fashion again, she said that some details were lacking from that particular piece of clothing. And then, this is when I decided that I’m going to do a post on Japanese and Korean street (or perhaps mainstream) fashion for ladies (youths in particular, so that’ll be teens to maybe 30?).
I visited various Japanese sites which talked about the differences between Korean and Japanese fashion and have to admit that there were some whose comments were SO brutally honest about either. Well, regardless, I think there are good points about each~ I mean at the end of the day, fashion (your clothes, makeup and all) should be a tool to enhance your body and make you look confident. Anyway, let’s start.
From the above, I think you can more or less have a feel of how Korean fashion is like, shorts, short skirts, short dresses. Koreans girls like to show their legs, i.e, their shorts, skirts or dresses are short (this style is also very common in SG) and usually accompanied by an oversized jacket.
Japanese girls/ladies, almost never show their legs, even for high school girls who are well-known for their short skirts, will wear their socks so long that almost most of their legs are covered. In the event where they are wearing shorts, they tend to wear leggings. (In case you are wondering why, cos sexiness is a big no-no for Japanese ladies.) So it probably looks like this:
Well, yet having said this, there are also girls who show their legs (n usually these girls have really nice legs) but I think most ladies are quite conscious about showing their legs, cos they have the mentality that if they have legs that “aren’t too pretty”, they would not show their “bare legs” for all to see. I think becos of this, it’s quite common to see Japanese ladies with leggings.
So much about the leggings, now let’s go back to Korean fashion again. I realized that Koreans have adapted the American hip hop look into something quite Korean. First of all, the hip hop cap, usually with an oversized t-shirt, then tights or shorts.
The other piece, is the sweatshirt. I realized again, quite a few Korean girls like to wear oversized sweatshirts over tights or shorts.
And the next item is the famous New Balance shoes, which I like to think that most Korean youths wear them, or at least own a pair.
And lastly, the spectacles look. This style is very common in Korean. However, spectacles is not so for girls in Japan, though there is a trend of growing popularity for メガネ女子 (girls in spectacles).
Now, if you ask me about Japan, I don’t think I can tell you if there are fixed items that almost even wear. Rather, depending on the season, a certain item, design, or piece might be popularbut it’s not common to see most people wearing something the same way. To get a feel of what I mean, check the image below:
Here, you see the item scarf used in totally different ways.
And before I forget, there is also this amazing skill that I think the Japanese possess, and that is, the skill of layering. Honestly, I think Japan is the only country who does this SO well.
Oh, one more thing, and that is the colors. The Japanese tend to prefer colors that they can match easily so it’s common for them to choose colors like white, black, brown, or beige. It is also said that these [are the colors that suit their skin tones better. On top of that, wearing all black ot white or anything one color is something that you will almost never see in Japan. In a way, I think you can attribute this to individualism n creativity again. They don't like everything to be the same and prefer to be different.
2) Makeup (including hair)
Before I start, check out the video below:
I think this is very obvious even for a makeup noob like me. One look at the makeup n I’m able to tell straight whether the person is a Korean or Japanese.
Korean makeup tends to focus on producing the natural look while Japanese makeup tends to focus on producing the sweet look . Well, yet having said that, it’s not as if the natural look is not “in” in Japan as there is this entire fashion subculture in Japan known as the Mori Girl, where the whole focus is on a natural look. Anyway, in case you are curious, here’s a look at what Mori Girl means:
Anyway, let’s go back to the differences about Korean and Japanese makeup. To confirm what I think is true, I went to various sites to check out if what I think is true and the points that I thought were actually brought up by this blog:
- strength of eyeliner depends on type of gyaru (some are subtle, some are heavy)
- sweet pink cheeks
- glossy lips
- brown, arched eyebrows
- focuses on creating innocent, doll-like eyes
- almost no shadow
- heavy, eye shape altering eyeliner
- usually only upper false lashes/mascara
- dewy complexion
- dark, thick, straight brows
- focuses on creating sultry looks (most of the time)
And now for my observations~ from my 6 times in Japan n 2 times in Korea (might not be entirely true).
I think Korean girls tend to do their eyebrows straight, just like the one below.
As for Japanese, their eyebrows tend to be arched, like the images shown below.
Japanese girls spend a lot of time on their eyelashes. This is either done by putting on fake eyelashes or having a mascara to create the “bigger eyes” look. Japanese girls also put on eyeshadows. On top of that, some girls actually wear contact lens to create the bigger eyes look.
Korean girls, however, spend more effort on the eyeliner. As for eyelashes, it’s mainly the upper eyelashes that girls spend effort on. Eyeshadows~ not that I’ve really recalled seeing Korean girls in that. I think most Korean girls rarely put eyeshadows.
From this video, you can also see how the natural Korean makeup look looks like.
I think most Japanese girls I’ve seen would put on a cute, sweet blusher.
Usually the blusher is quite obvious. Now for the Korean girls, I think partly due to the natural look they are after, I rarely see Korean girls with blusher. Yet they tend to have this glow on their face, which I attribute to BB cream.
Japanese girls tend to go for the cute and sweet look so the colors used tend to be the cuter shades like pink or orangey-pink (refer to the images above) while Korean girls, it’s either the natural look kinda shade, or the bitten look (refer to the MAC video posted above) or bright red .
I think I mentioned this before in one of my blogs. Most girls (at least 80%, I think) in Japan have brown hair. As for Korea, I think the number of girls having black hair is much higher as compared to Japan.
Other than color, now I shall talk about the style. I think on the whole, it’s quite rare to see girls in both countries with short hair. I think the “common” shortest hair is the bob hairstyle.
In any case, I shall start by talking about Korean first, becos it’s easier? From the 2 times I was there, I find that most girls are spotted with straight hair.
Again, I attribute this to the natural look that they are after. Yet having said this, they do spend time to put on hair accessories like hairbands or clips. I tend to find these accessories to be more on the cute side.
As for Japan, I think Japanese girls spend a lot more time on their hair. This can be in terms of either creating the natural curls look, or braiding or just styling.
Perhaps the one common style I see is the hair bun that quite a few Japanese girls wear.
But other than this, I find it difficult to pinpoint a certain common style for Japanese girls cos I think there isn’t a common one? Haha, here’s a cute pic of the various Japanese hairstyles (though there are more!)
I think there’re many, many different fashion styles that you can see when you are walking in the streets of Japan, particularly Tokyo.
Finally, I will talk a little about I think these differences exist. I think this is mainly due to trend setters. The trend setter in Korea are celebrities. As a result of this, girls tend to adopt these trends from female celebrities they look up to. In a way, I think “blending in” is key in Korean fashion. This means wearing similar style of clothes, hair n makeup.
Japan fashion, on the other hand, focuses on individualism and creativity. This means Japanese tend to adapt the style in such a way to suit themselves. When a new season approaches, Japanese (particularly those from Tokyo) spend a good amount of time to look at clothes for the new season and then, they purchase items that they think are suitable for them or that they can adapt this style in some ways to their style. To add on, accessories is a very big thing in Japan, or maybe I should say, details. When I say details, this can be your hair, the accessory you are wearing, your shoes, socks, or things hanging on your bag. And I think this is the reason why, Japanese fashion magazines spend a good coverage on accessories. I feel the main point is to be different and not like the others.
To conclude, I appreciate both Korean and Japanese n think the emphasis of each is different. And since I’ve been exposed to Japanese fashion for a long period of time, I tend to think like the Japanese too, look at the items and see if they are suitable, n if they are, adapt them. Anyway, before I end, I have to emphasize that the above are all my observations, and they are more of a generalization, I mean, there are also many other different subcultures in each culture, which I can’t touch on in this point, otherwise it would be too lengthy. Well, that’s it for this post! Not language-related, but hope you enjoy it!