How to Dress Like a K-Pop Idol
There’s no denying that K-Pop music, while varied enough to avoid stagnation, still has distinct qualities that differentiate them from other countries’ pop offerings. However, it can’t be denied that the K-Pop industry is also reliant on visual appeal. K-pop Idols need to look the part. In fact, the K-pop idol visual style is so distinct that you can look like an idol if you know how to dress like one. Here are a few steps to get you started:
1. Come Up With a Concept
The first thing you need to do is come up with a theme or a concept. There are K-pop idols look like they threw a bunch of mismatched items of clothing together, leading to an explosion of colors, but you have to admit that it all comes together and gives them an identity. The keyword here is identity, you won’t get that if there isn’t a central theme to the clothing.
As for concepts, there are many to choose from:
- You can go with a sexy theme, a geeky theme, a kiddie theme, or maybe even a bad boy-oriented look.
- Your theme must have one “signature piece” in it that will serve as the focal point. For example, a nerdy theme could use thick-framed glasses, or a rock chic look could be built around a leather jacket.
2. Mix Different Genres
The mish-mash of different items of clothing that don’t seem like they should blend (but actually do) are not haphazard attempts to just wear everything they can get their hands one. Sometimes it’s because they mix different genres together. For instance: a semi-formal with casual ex sneakers with an office blazer, or you could go with streetwear and party dress ex t-shirt and evening party skirt, or a long chiffon skirt with a printed t-shirt. Maybe even a party short dress and army jacket.
3. Layer Your Wardrobe
Layering clothes will allow you to get all sorts of new looks from the same old clothes, simply by mix-and-matching your tops, dresses, and skirts to create a brand new look without having to buy a new set of clothes. Of course, if you’re going for the K-Pop idol look, you won’t have to worry about maintaining the same color scheme. You can choose loud, bright colors and even ones that contrast with each other.
4. Look Undone Instead of Sophisticated
Instead of trying your best to look like someone who just got off the runway during Fashion Week, you’d look more like a K-pop idol if you stray away from the perfectly polished look. You can look glamorous even when using clothes with colors that don’t sound appealing (dull ochre, sludgy pink, dirty brown, etc.) Going for an “undone” fashion statement proves that colors don’t have to be bright and complementing in order to be beautiful.
Layering isn’t just for your clothes. K-pop artists are also known to wear a TON of loud, colorful, and even shiny accessories and makeup. Nothing is forbidden if you can wear it confidently. In the music video for I am the Best, CL brandished spiked armbands and a replica of Jon Cena’s WWE Championship belt, and she looked good. We don’t recommend going that far if you’re not in a music video, but you get the basic idea: accessories can make and break a K-pop dress ensemble, so make sure they are noticeable. Some ideas include mismatched earrings and colorful pieces of jewelry.
6. Cute, Colorful Prints
When wearing shirts in bright colors, make sure they stand out and look exciting – find shirts with pop art prints and cute designs. The more colors there are, the better. The prints need to be sleek. Avoid tie-dye shirts. There is a difference between a K-pop Idol and a 70s hippie when it comes to fashion sense; the former looks uncoordinated, the latter looks unkempt.
7. No Need for Tight Outfits
There’s no denying that K-Pop idols are sexy, but when it comes to clothes they don’t shove it in people’s faces. They wear skinny jeans and tight tops, but they balance it out with loose, layered clothing. It’s common to see leggings being complemented by a loose buttoned-up shirt.
8. Be Inspired by School Uniforms
For a basic idea, you can look to school uniforms. This means knee socks, necktie, and pleated skirt. You’re not going to cosplay as a schoolgirl, but your clothes should remind people of a school uniform.
9. Complicated Cuts
You can also try to make your clothing look “busy” with shirts and jackets that have lots of buttons serving as built-in accessories. Other things that will also work include zippers, buttons, and removable parts.
The dress draws attention, but it can paradoxically give you some sort of privacy as well: you can try clothes with hoods, hand warmers, collars that can cover the mouth or a thick scarf and sunglasses.
11. Use the Color Wheel
The color wheel has been an important part of many designers and artists’ toolkit for hundreds of years now, and it will serve you well when trying to dress like a K-pop idol. If you have clothes that you’re not confident mixing, you can refer to a color wheel. Colors that have the same base will look really good. For instance, purple and pink complement each other because they both have red as their base color.
12. Forget About Era, Trends, and Generations
Don’t be afraid to mix and match items from different eras and trends. Plaid shirts are not just for cowboys, a scarf around the arm or head is not exclusive to the 80s, and pink does not necessarily mean soft.
13. Unique Piece
You also need to avoid being generic by including a unique piece in your ensemble. It could be anything from a unique pair of sneakers, to a unique belt buckle or a really distinguishable print on your t-shirt coupled with a cute jacket.
Contrasting elements work well in this case. It could be anything from colors—bright colored jacket on an otherwise all-black ensemble—to the items of clothing themselves. Long sweaters and short skirts, Loose shirts and tight jeans, long skirts and crop tops, complex cuts with monochromatic colors, etc. The contrast will help attract eyeballs.
Last but not least, you need to have swagger. None of the examples above will work if you don’t have this important part of the ensemble. You want to know the reason why clothes that are mismatched and contrasting work really well with K-pop idols? It’s because they know how to carry themselves. It’s all in the attitude. If you dress with a concept in mind, you have to act the concept itself. You’re not going to look good unless you see yourself as someone who looks good. Confidence is key.