Underwear Coming Out: No More a Taboo
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Underwear Coming Out: No More a Taboo
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2005.09.01 00:00
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▲ 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.
   Up 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 outside."
   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 anymore.
   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.


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