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Is there a dress code in South Korea?


South Korea is known for its distinct culture and customs, which includes a strong emphasis on appearance and fashion. As such, it is natural to wonder if there is a dress code in South Korea. In this article, we will explore the topic in detail to provide a comprehensive answer.

The Traditional Dress Code

In the past, South Korea had a strict dress code that differentiated between social classes, genders, and occupations. However, with the modernization of the country, this code has become more relaxed. Nevertheless, traditional clothing such as hanbok is still worn on special occasions and cultural events.

The Workplace Dress Code

In the workplace, South Koreans tend to dress conservatively and formally. This means that business attire is expected for both men and women. This includes suits for men and blouses with skirts or pants for women. However, some companies may have a more relaxed dress code depending on the industry.

The School Dress Code

Schools in South Korea generally have a strict dress code that includes uniforms. The uniforms are usually gender-specific and differ depending on the level of education. Students are expected to wear their uniforms at all times during school hours.

The Street Fashion Dress Code

Street fashion in South Korea is known for being trendy and edgy. However, there are no specific dress codes that dictate what one should wear on the streets. As long as the clothing is not offensive or inappropriate, individuals are free to wear whatever they like.

The Conservative Culture

It is important to note that South Korea is a conservative country. As such, clothing that reveals too much skin or is too revealing may be considered inappropriate. Additionally, tattoos are still stigmatized in many parts of the country and may lead to discrimination.

The Influence of K-Pop and K-Dramas

K-Pop and K-Dramas have become increasingly popular in recent years, and this has influenced the fashion trends in South Korea. Many young people look up to their favorite idols and actors for fashion inspiration.

The Importance of Appearance

Appearance is considered important in South Korean culture, and as such, individuals are expected to dress well and look their best. This is particularly true for women who are expected to wear makeup and style their hair.

The Globalization of Fashion

With the globalization of fashion, South Koreans have become more exposed to different styles and trends from around the world. This has led to a mixing of traditional and modern clothing, resulting in a unique fashion sense that is distinctly South Korean.

The Rise of Sustainable Fashion

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in sustainable fashion in South Korea. This has led to a rise in eco-friendly brands and a focus on ethical production practices.

The Future of Dress Codes

As South Korea continues to modernize and adapt to global fashion trends, it is likely that dress codes will become even more relaxed. However, traditional clothing and conservative values will still play an important role in the culture.


In conclusion, while there is no strict dress code in South Korea, there are certain expectations when it comes to appearance. Understanding these expectations can help visitors and expats navigate the culture more easily.

Is it OK to wear leggings in Korea?

Wearing leggings on the streets in Korea may attract unwanted attention and is not recommended. If you wear leggings to school or work, you might receive blunt stares and some may consider your outfit inappropriate.

What to wear and what not to wear in Korea?

When in Korea, it is advisable to avoid wearing tops that expose your shoulders, stomach, or are low-cut. Although styles like cold shoulder, off-shoulder, and crop tops are gaining popularity among young Korean women, it is still best to limit tops like tank tops in your wardrobe.

Is it OK to wear shorts in South Korea?

It is acceptable to wear short skirts, dresses, and shorts, and it is not considered inappropriate to show off your legs. However, it may be wise to consider the length of your bottoms, especially if you will be visiting a more formal restaurant. Men should avoid removing their shirts in public and try to dress in a presentable manner.

What is the attire in South Korea?

Hanbok, the traditional clothing of Korea, has preserved its fundamental traditional elements for over 5,000 years while also adapting to changing styles, forms, and social conditions over time. Its evolution has been influenced by the aesthetic tastes and lifestyles of the times.

Do you have to dress modestly in Korea?

Koreans value hard work, respect for family, and humility. Traditional gender roles and expectations of filial piety dictate certain etiquette customs for women in South Korea, including dressing modestly and avoiding form-fitting or revealing clothing.

Can you wear off the shoulder in Korea?

When in Korea, it is important to avoid revealing your shoulders or cleavage, as it is considered inappropriate. This applies not just to teaching but to everyday life in the country.

It is important to note that fashion trends in South Korea are constantly evolving, with new styles and looks emerging regularly. This is particularly true for streetwear, which has become increasingly popular among young people in recent years. From oversized hoodies and baggy pants to bold prints and bright colors, there is a wide range of street fashion styles to choose from in South Korea.

In addition to fashion trends, beauty standards in South Korea are also a significant aspect of the culture. Korean beauty products are known for being innovative and effective, and there is a strong emphasis on skincare and makeup. Many Korean women follow a rigorous skincare routine that involves multiple steps and products, such as cleansers, toners, essences, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreen.

The popularity of K-Pop and K-Dramas has also led to a rise in celebrity fashion and beauty trends. Fans often emulate the looks of their favorite idols and actors, leading to a trend known as “K-Beauty” or “K-Fashion”. This has resulted in a booming industry for Korean fashion and beauty brands, both domestically and internationally.

Despite the emphasis on appearance and fashion in South Korea, it is important to recognize that these expectations can also lead to pressure and stress for individuals. Body-shaming and discrimination based on appearance are still prevalent issues in the country, particularly for women. As such, it is important to promote body positivity and inclusivity in the fashion industry.

Overall, the dress code in South Korea is not rigidly defined but is influenced by traditional values, conservative culture, global fashion trends, and an emphasis on appearance. Understanding these factors can help visitors and expats navigate the culture more easily while appreciating the unique fashion sense of the country.

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