Q&A: What to Wear in Seoul, Korea

January 29th, 2009

Q: I’m planning a week-and-a-half long trip to Seoul in late April/early May. I want to pack light so I can (hopefully) carry on my luggage. What would you recommend for a stylish and comfortable travel wardrobe?

what-to-wear-in-seoul_012709
Pictured: Seoul-ready looks from Banana Republic’s Spring Collection.

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: What a wonderful time to visit Seoul.  The weather should be beautiful in April and May - somewhere between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Style in Seoul is all about dressing up.  Korean women love to dress to impress.  They’re very sophisticated and dress up for all occasions - be it going to the office, out on a dinner date, or even out running errands on the weekend.  Meticulously groomed, Korean women are known for their conservative and feminine style.

Key takeaway? 
Bring your A game - and a bag full of versatile, dressy clothes.  And feel free to indulge any girly impulses you may have while dressing on your trip.

What should you pack? 

  • Lightweight dresses, which are easy to pack and wear. 
  • One suit that can be dressed up or down.
  • A lightweight sweater or two for layering.  For maximum versatility, choose a neutral color like grey.
  • Blouses with a conservative cut.  Nothing too low cut, nothing too revealing.
  • One knee-length skirt for pairing with the blouses.


A couple of final notes on accessories: Wear comfy shoes that you can slip on and off easily, as shoes are often removed in restaurants. Sunglasses can be considered rude, since wearing them prevents you from looking others in the eye.  For sun protection, try a hat.

Have a great tip about what to wear in Korea? Share it with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Shopping Guide, Women

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sally So  |  January 29th, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I love your website so helpful with great ideas and tips

  • 2. Sal  |  January 29th, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Wow. Makes me wish I was headed to Seoul myself!

  • 3. Shauna  |  January 29th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    I lived in Korea for a year and a half, and I agree with Colleen’s assessment of Korean women’s style. Modern Korean women take feminine dressing to the extreme–emphasis is on looking as young and girlish as possible. Lace, ruffles, frills–the more the better! However, you also see a lot of young Korean women dressing in the flashy, colorful, club-influenced “J-Pop” style, with emphasis on lots of layering, leggings, pop-art t shirts, and shirts with interesting statements (often completely unintelligible English). The one thing I don’t agree with is the statement about sunglasses. Seoul is a very modern city, and I never found any issues with wearing sunglass.

  • 4. deka  |  January 29th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    i never travel without an umbrella
    jcrew has cute ones

  • 5. Daisy  |  January 29th, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    I am so jealous of you right now because while you are away enjoying nicer weather, I am stuck in the very cold, icy and snowy weather in Boston, which by the way, the post about clothes in Boston weather helped. Thanks. Also, the easy breezy outfits are so nice and makes me pray for warmer weather soon.

  • 6. Trisha  |  January 29th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Makes me wish for warmer weather too. And a nice long trip abroad!

  • 7. Ellen  |  January 30th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Yes, Korean women absolutely dress up. You’ll not find a Korean woman in t-shirts and sweats at the grocery store. Even the grandmas are decked out. They love designer labels.

  • 8. Jen  |  January 31st, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Agreed with the whole Korean women dressing up for anything and everything. There’s no way they’d be caught dead in sweatpants or sweatshirts or anything remotely casual. Heels or decked out flats are a must - no sneakers!

  • 9. Msjean  |  February 3rd, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Agreed! In Korea, you will see women in cocktail dress, chanel handbag and high heels running around the subways and airports. You can never overdo it in Seoul. Even students who are casually dressed in a polo t-shirt and khakis look as though their clothes were pressed. They look fabulous, but if you try to pack typical travel wear you will feel very underdressed and unchic next to them.

  • 10. Heather  |  February 5th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Having lived in Korea for two years, I agree with most of the comments already posted. The ladies there are just lovely and they live for looking gorgeous and for being very girly and well groomed! It’s all about glamour and looking fabulous!
    If I were you, I would definately bring an umbrella during this time, however, as if my memory is correct there is a fairly significant rainy season during April and May.
    You may be hitting rainy season during that time of year and when it is rainy season, it doesn’t just rain, it pours! Don’t bring shoes that you aren’t araid to get wet and be sure to pack light clothing as it can be quite humid during this time of year as well.

  • 11. casper  |  February 7th, 2009 at 2:02 am

    what to wear in seoul, korea.

    i lived in the Philippines which is a tropical country. Im goin to attend a Conference in seoul on March. Can you give me an advice what to wear?

    Thanks.

    casper

  • 12. manohar Ghyar  |  April 5th, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Very good in formation .Excellent.

  • 13. djah  |  March 1st, 2011 at 6:34 am

    well, I have a question for you…can you tell me what clothes suitable for me to wear during my trip to Korea in this October

  • 14. mailad  |  June 26th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    nearlly in september i have plane to visite seoul so i am little confuse what men wears there will it be hot or cold weather plz kindly give me suggestion

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