Whether it be on the characters you love or love to hate, Penthouse fashion is an incredible and genuine reflection of South Korea’s class division. Its strong main characters have been tangled in a web of secrets, grief, and vengeance. But this show has managed to escape the constraints of realist fashion, truly dressing up these personas to match who they are and what they are going through.
Penthouse has become a massive hit since its premiere late last year. It was the best-rated and most-watched Korean show of the year, and the numbers only escalated for season 2. Its veteran cast and the astounding script has kept us at the edge of our seat for 3 seasons now. But we guess it’s fair to say that the outfits have also played their part in taking our breaths away.
Today, we will be analyzing Penthouse fashion. Although we would love to keep this post-spoiler-free, it is probably best you bookmark this page and return to it later if you haven’t yet watched the show. Because in true storytelling fashion, clothes will always say more than what we give them credit for.
Shim Su-Ryeon: elegance through and through
If we could summarize Shim Su-Ryeon‘s wardrobe with one word, that would be ‘elegance‘. Lee Ji-Ah’s character in Penthouse is the absolute exception to the rule of the 1%. In a social class in which most wealthy individuals make their mark in the world through conniving endeavors, Shim Su-Ryeon remains pure at heart and fair, despite the tragedy surrounding her life.
When we first see her in the scene that foreshadows the main plot of season 1, we are instantly made aware of her wealth. But the blush pink gown Shim Su-Ryeon wears greatly differs from the theatrical, over-the-top outfits the other Hera Palace residents are wearing. This lets us know right away that she’s in a whole category of her own.
Shim Su-Ryeon favors lighter color palettes, both in her outfits and makeup. She does not feel the need to dress in order to stand out or flaunt her social status. Whether it be on casual or formal occasions, we can count on simple yet sophisticated looks that truly reflect her modest and caring nature.
Cheon Seo-Jin: arrogance incarnate
Cheon Seo-Jin is one of the main antagonists of the show. She’s been dubbed by many the Penthouse fashion queen. And, indeed, she always dresses like she has something to prove – which, incidentally, she does. A perfect contrast to Shim Su-Ryeon, whose husband and home floor she covets.
Although we may not be very fond of her or her actions, we must admit that she understands fashion. Cheon Seo-Jin does not dress in ridiculously extravagant designer pieces as other Hera Palace residents do. She understands that power lies in the way you command attention and not the clothes you wear.
But the renowned opera singer’s cold and arrogant nature bleed through her choice of black fabrics and bold statements. Even down to her trademark red lipstick. She’s intimidating, ruthless, and accurately embodies the feeling of untouchability.
Oh Yun-Hee: executive class
If there is one thing that Oh Yun-Hee’s wardrobe can tell us about her is that she means business. From the very early days of failed real estate ventures up until her ascension to Hera Palace resident, no one can say she was ever poorly dressed.
As Oh Yun-Hee’s vendetta journey progresses, her outfits become more and more expensive. She is the most realistic depiction of the Korean upper class. And because Yun-Hee has always maintained a carefully curated business casual aesthetic, her evolution is not so drastic and the untrained eye might miss it.
Unlike the other two protagonists, Oh Yun-Hee’s style tells us more about her story progression than it does about the character’s personality. She never had the money or power to push her ambitions forward as her nemesis did. This is why Yun-Hee’s wardrobe is symbolistic of how hard she had to work to get to the top.
What were some of your favorite looks from Penthouse? Make sure to let us know in the comments. And if you’d like to snatch some of the Penthouse fashion pieces for yourself, go ahead and browse our dedicated category to find the best matches.
Happy shopping, and until next time!