||▲ Underwear which were hidden under outerwear are now coming out. Women nowadays do not hesitate to wear "showy" lingerie. [Photo by Kim-Ji-sun]
When you walk down the streets near Ewha, it is easy to find
women's clothes that are hard to define as either underwear or outerwear.
Colorful prints and ornamented bra straps all proclaim that what used to be
underwear, hidden under other clothing, is now also meant to be shown.
Reflecting the recent trend toward softer and sexier looks,
underwear fashion has changed accordingly. Above all underwear coming out is a
reflection of the risen status of women in Korean society. If transparent
shoulder straps were only the outset of the change in underwear fashion, now
various colorful and ornamented shoulder bra straps show how contemporary women
have become more open in demanding that their needs be met.
until just a few years ago, it was looked on as shameful to reveal your bra
shoulder straps. However, many lingerie shops around Ewha now show that the
underwear market has changed significantly in a showy manner. "Yanagi,""Golden
Point," "Ellesse," " Yes," and "CK underwear" are only a few of the many
lingerie shops around Ewha. The representative shop which reflects the current
trend may be the "Yes" shop, which has lingerie in bright pastel tones and
flowery prints. Song Da-jong (Liberal Arts, 1), a customer there says, "Wearing
pretty and colorful underwear gives me self-satisfaction and it also feels good
that there is hidden beauty that others can't see." The shoulder straps at "Yes"
come in a variety of colors. New styles such as halter necks attract people's
eyes as well.
Professor Cho Kyu-hwa (Clothing and Textiles)
calls this recent underwear trend the "underwear becoming outerwear phenomenon."
Professor Cho says the phenomenon of underwear "coming out" has been on going
for centuries. In Professor Cho's opinion, underwear has become more erotic to
make the body's dream of being free of any obstacles come true.
The trend is also tied to Korea's Westernization. Before Western style lingerie
came into Korea, Korean women wore "sokgot," traditional Korean women's
underwear. "Sokgot" is a general term for underwear covering the lower part of
the body. As the characteristic line of "hanbok" (Korean traditional clothes)
flattens the upper part of the body and expands the lower part, traditional
Korean underwear was worn in multiple layers on the lower part of the body. The
more a woman's skirt expanded, the better-off she was. Therefore, women wore as
much lingerie as possible under their skirts. However, it seems the opposite is
true nowadays as more women try to wear less inside. As Professor Cho says, "The
history of apparel has developed in the direction of exposing more skin
Exposure of more skin also came along with the rise of
women's status in Korean society. Timid Korean women have broken out of their
shells and now demand fulfillment of desire, which were previously hindered by
social standards. So, underwear has come to be seen as just a natural way
of expressing oneself through one's body, something certainly not a taboo
Summer is on its way out and the lingerie look may not
be so hot. However, as the underlying trends will not change, underwear fashion
will continually develop in a form that meets women's needs better.