At some point or another, we have all envied Kdrama fashion and applauded characters for their incredible fashion sense. Some of us might even end up questioning whether every Korean person has a dream wardrobe and impeccable fashion sense. And while that part is certainly… questionable, it should come as no surprise that what we see on TV doesn’t always match reality.
For example, have you ever seen a character struggle to make means and somehow sport a designer bag on a first date? Or questioned why most male protagonists seem to reach out for a crisp white shirt or a tailored suit, even when they’re not exactly carrying out CEO duties?
Well, these are precisely the type of styling mistakes that we will be calling out in today’s article.
And although we would love nothing more than to go through all the incredible Kdrama fashion in existence, today we will limit the analysis to one of the most popular in the past couple of years. Our first analysis of where the styling choices could have been improved will be for ‘Crash Landing on You’ outfits.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
How reliable is the plot?
We’re starting off with a drama that perhaps could do with a lot of fact-checking in the plot department, as well. The reality is that it isn’t quite as easy to keep a Kdrama set in North Korea very down to earth as the people who actually get to visit the country, will have a narrower vision of the reality.
It is said that North Korean defectors worked as advisors on the show, particularly in which pertains to plot points and lifestyle portrayal. Many consider this to be the closest depiction of the North Korean reality that there is in fiction, but stylists might have gone a bit rogue (as they tend to do). There’s no arguing that the styling of the characters made us fall in love with them even more. But could it have been improved? Absolutely. And we will let you know how ‘Crash Landing on You’ outfits could have matched the reality of the plot a bit better.
What is North Korean fashion like?
There are two dimensions, if you will, for North Korean fashion: Pyongyang’s (the capital), and that of the surrounding rural areas – which is where a big portion of the plot is set.
The biggest point to keep in mind is that the vast majority of North Koreans are far too poor and hungry to even consider such superficial indulgences as clothes and trends. Another is that foreign brands and trends aren’t so easily accessible, even in the capital.
But you might be surprised to learn that Pyongyang displays more texture and color than you might expect. Even children will swap their school uniform’s plain white shirts for ruffled blouses, wear striped socks, and colorful jackets or backpacks. And when they hit the sports field, they look just like any other kids, geared up in jerseys and polo shirts. So there is a hint of fashion expression, unlike the outdated muted outfits we are accustomed to envisioning.
In the city…
A journalist for The New York Times who was fortunate enough to visit this city told that younger women tend to favor high heeled shoes. Even those who stay standing hours on end on their waitressing or hosting jobs. Formal staple colors like black and grey seem to be the most common. Yet white, pink, and purple hues seem to have gained popularity. But these women still keep their makeup very muted, some don’t even wear it at all. Also, skirt lengths tend to fall just above the knee.
When it comes to men’s fashion, you wouldn’t be able to tell the Foreign Ministry officials in Pyongyang apart from ordinary businessmen in any other major city. Blue blazer with matching trousers and white buttoned shirts. Plaid jackets with black pants and the same white shirt. Even a colored or patterned tie over a nice jet black suit.
In the country…
Away from the city, most people wear clothes made with vinylon. This is a synthetic fiber that’s regionally produced and is a symbol of North Korea’s philosophy of self-sufficiency. However, the material is very stiff (similar to that of Fjallraven Kanken backpacks) and difficult to dye.
But let’s delve into this Kdrama’s fashion mistakes…
Fact-checking Yoon Se-Ri’s Pyongyang Look
Any fashion choice for Se-Ri would be able to fly in South Korea (where she is a very successful CEO). Our first ‘Crash Landing on You’ outfits fact-check will be perhaps one of the most memorable on the entire show.
Her Pyongyang look is a perfect example of good conception but a poor execution. The stylists clearly nailed it on the hairstyle choice and even the crisp white-colored shirt, with all the buttons done up. In fact, adult women are meant to have neither too short nor too long hair, preferably put up in a neat hair-do. But in most recent years, North Korean women imported the Chinese trend of perming only the lower part of their hair, shaping it in glamorous loose curls.
However, we see her sporting a classic brown Miu Miu S/S 2020 double-breasted coat and a Fendi Karligraphy bag. Let’s assume that Jung-Hyuk’s rank in the military makes him able to afford designer pieces. Even then, it would be very unlikely that such a recent piece as the Miu Miu coat would have made its way onto North Korean department stores.
Kim Jong-Eun presumably increased the importing of luxury goods after assuming the position of Head of State in 2012. Even Chinese counterfeits have made their way onto the country. But some rules are still regularly enforced. One of these is big disapproval of roman lettering on any clothing or accessories. And even if a more subtle embellishment, the clasp on Se-Ri’s bag clearly displays a pair of Fs.
Fact-checking Seo Dan’s Airport Look
The runner-up in this ‘Crash Landing on You’ outfits analysis is that of Seo Dan. This look is shown in her arrival in Switzerland to visit her then-fiance Jung-Hyuk. Despite that, she was likely wearing the same when she boarded the plane back in Pyongyang. It is composed of an Alexander McQueen Pre-fall 2019 trench coat, Pinter bag, along with a lovely Rimowa suitcase. A beautiful contemporary look, no doubt.
Whether indeed she could afford and access the pieces here is not in question. After all, she is the daughter of a department store owner. The white is even on-trend, as we explained above! What’s culpable here is the last thing you’d guess: the blue denim jeans.
Not that color had anything to do with it. The fault lies in the material and the fit. The blue jeans are perceived as a sign of Western decadence. And tight-fitting garments, even in the slightest, are considered unconventional. Women are allowed to wear pants, yes, but these should be loose in cut. Otherwise the North Korean ‘Youth League’ would certainly censor the outfit.
You see, despite clothing options being slightly more inclusive than in the olden days, individuals still do not have much power over what they wear. There are strict policies and regulations that moderate how one manages themself, what they wear and how they display themselves to the world. And fashion has historically been a way of expressing dissatisfaction with rules and authority.
Other Recurring Mishaps
When Se-Ri landed in North Korea, she had to undergo a style change that would help her not look so obviously like an outsider. There’s not really a mention of how and where Jung-Hyuk obtained the clothes he gave her to wear, but there were a few items that seemed quite out of place.
As we’ve covered before, rural areas are significantly poorer than the capital. Here, people tend to value comfort (or even being able to keep warm) over style. However, we saw the protagonist wear numerous colored and patterned items. Also, there was barely any vinylon on display, which is quite unusual considering that’s the most common textile.
The stylists did a wonderful job at keeping the wardrobe quite modest. Did these mistakes bring color and help lighten the mood in the drama? Without a doubt. But perhaps that could also have been achieved while still staying true to real life.
‘Crash Landing On You’ Outfit Inspo
This a perfect example of a quintessential Korean fashion look. A fitted blazer over a nice breezy shirt that’s tucked into form-fitting skinny jeans. Finishing it off with leather knee-high boots and a cross-body bag.
On a complete style reversal, we’ve got Seo Dan with a chic-er look. A beige trench coat paired with oversized glasses and a classic handbag. The patterned blouse ties this spring look together by adding a much-appreciated pop of color.
Lastly, we have a cozier, more feminine alternative. The layers make it possible to dress up and dress down, matching the current climate or season. We have a fun floral dress layered over a warm white turtle neck. The pink cardigan and the sided braid also help with bringing that more jovial vibe.
Stylists tend to be quite experimental when it comes to Kdrama fashion. But there will always be slips that will stand out to the trained eye. And that ended up also being the case for these ‘Crash Landing on You’ outfits.
Still, it’s safe to say that we all love and appreciate the looks we see on the small screen. We even draw inspiration from our favorite characters!
Check out our ‘Crash Landing On You’ store page so you can replicate your favorite looks! And if you would like to get up-to-date with the latest trends, we invite you to read our posts on Korean Spring Fashion Trends 2021 and Korean Fashion Essentials Kpop Idols Swear By.