6 K-Drama Outfits that Come with Tropes

By Stephanie Lemus

What is your favorite drama? Is it a historical drama, modern romance tales or rich boy meets girl? No matter what drama, there can be some recurring plot points and themes. The love-triangles, rare otherworldly love interests, the occasional emotional cheating, and all sorts of misunderstandings that tend to happen. Some tropes can be identified by what the actors are wearing. Here are six outfits to keep an eye out for when watching your next K-drama! 

The Laid-Back Style

The laid-back style can consist of simple clothing like sweatpants, a baggy shirt, or neutral colors. This could indicate a transformation scene later on, and who doesn’t love a good transformation scene? These transformations are as old as time, and common in rags-to-riches dramas. You can find these scenes in Boys Over Flowers, Oh My Venus, and Fated to Love You. A rich guy meets a girl and transforms her in order to meet their mother’s standards or perhaps this change happen out of revenge. A famous twist comes from She Was Pretty that changes the trope: While other transformations happen to either convince someone that the female lead is rich, Kim Hye Jin cleans herself up to show others who she really is. 

  • The Messy Bun and Pajamas 

The in-between stage where the female lead is questioning her feelings usually involves either ramen or a notebook and pajamas. Messy hair and a comfy pair of pajamas is an indicator that something is going to happen. In this clip from What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, Kim Mi So is sporting a ponytail but is still in her comfy PJs as she pines about Lee Young-Joon.

  • The Other Well-Dressed Male

Familiar with love triangles? If there’s another guy introduced early on that isn’t explicitly stated as the main lead’s best friend with no specific interest in the female lead, then there is most likely going to be a love triangle. They can be styled in various ways, like in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon; in which Gook Doo is styled similarly to Min Hyuk but the key is that his outfit is simple enough to not overpower the main lead but stands out to make you remember him from the rest of the background characters. This is an important rule went spotting another love interest. 

  • The Rich Mother Aesthetic 

All dramas need good antagonists, and the rich mothers tend to pop up more often than not. This trope tends to appear next to the transformation trope, though not all the time. These moms make for some of the most frustrating antagonists, but also some of the most stylish. They can be seen wearing flashy jewellery, blazers, some fur overcoat, and often a pencil skirt. A classic example being Gun Jun Pyo’s mother in Boys Over Flowers. She looks rich and acts like she rules the world, vicious and willing to do anything to keep her son from being with Jan Di. 

  • The Best Friend with Cute Outfits

Side characters deserve better in dramas, but alas, they usually don’t get much development. However, they do tend to get cute outfits! Over time the styles have changed from the colorful tops from the 2010s we got from Boys Over Flowers to the fashion-forward dresses in She was Pretty. What could these cute outfits mean? A typical story structure is to have the lead’s best friend fall in love with one of the other lead’s friends; and it's specifically for a close friend, not someone like a coworker. This trope can either turn out great or end up with a lot of pain for the friend. This is seen in Fight for My Way, where Seol Hee goes through a tumultuous relationship. 

  • The Mature Reunion Outfits 

The mature reunion outfits usually appear near the end of a drama. After a long fight or split, the two leads meet again. These various things could have made them part ways either an engagement to another woman, friendships collapsing, or a torrential break-up. This trope is a nice way of wrapping things up but also leaves room for the question of whether or not there will be a sequel. Reunion outfits can either be more mature to show a passage of time. Think along the lines of skirts and suits. As seen in this scene from Tempted (also known as The Great Seducer), Soo Ji and Shi Hyun meet after being separated for years. Their outfits matchup and the ending leaves you craving more. 

There are countless outfits to analyze and ponder about. Who knows? Maybe those earrings could represent a character’s status and future plot points. It’s interesting to see recurring themes in dramas that have had an impact on fashion. What are some recurring outfits (that come with tropes) that you’ve noticed in dramas? 

Cover Image: She Was Pretty (MBC)
Written by Stephanie Lemus

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