Compared to North America, where many office workers look more like they’re off to a home improvement store, Koreans in downtown Seoul were very fashionable. Men wear suits and ties, nice belts and shined shoes. Refreshing to see, and we were certainly motivated to up our sartorial game a notch.
The women – all tiny and well-coiffed – were very couture. Even the children wore coordinated outfits. Bangkok is a different story. Folks are either conservative dressers or outlandish and ‘out there’. Aside from skin colour, a lot of the tourists stood out due to their clothing – boring footwear, no accessories, wrinkly (wrinkle-free) shirts, zipper pants (who thought they were a good idea for anyone but archaeologists) and cargo shorts of many pockets.
Every storefront has televisions playing K-Pop girl bands and boy bands, and after a while, you realize the dance steps and arm gestures are the same. For many Korean youth, cuteness rules. I’ve never seen so many selfie-sticks. Everyone mugs for the camera – posed with broad smiles, fingers extended in peace signs. Lots of giggling involved. And because everyone has a cell phone, the barrage of picture-taking is constant.
Like Canada, Korea has four seasons. Folks get to refresh their wardrobes quarterly. Skinny-legged jeans and trousers are all the rage.Parkas – some with logos from Canadian Tire and SportChek, are racked beside designer garments with stratospheric price tags.
What was really surprising was the cosmetic culture. Every street was crammed with shops advertising skin and hair care products – for men and women. Many of the street vendors/hustlers were young men with, I must admit, flawless skin and great hair cuts. Older men – some with obviously coloured hair – rocked the windblown look without appearing fake. Loved it all.