Fashion Face-off Friday: K-drama Women's Office Wear

I know you've probably forgotten all about the tracksuit fashion face-off we had because it's been so long, buuuuuut in case you've been dying of curiosity this entire time, Secret Garden's Joo Won won in an absolute slaughter in the battle of trendy tracksuits. I can't say that I'm surprised, but I thought having FOUR tracksuits in Rooftop Prince might put up a better fight.

This time around, I want to talk about women's office wear. K-drama styling often drives me insane. Okay, so I get that the hardworking poor girls have to dress like they picked up an eight-year-old boy's hand-me-downs because it will make the inevitable makeover that much more effective, but there are women in dramaland who have real, actual jobs, and their styling often goes to extremes.

In my observations, the styling for female leads in the professional world tends to fall into a few categories:

1. The Dorky Slobs. Their shirts are never tucked in, they have weird mullet-y ponytails going on, and they wear the largest glasses humanly possible just in case anyone missed the memo that THEY AREN'T COOL. We get it.

Prime examples: King of High School, Scent of a Woman

2. The Serious Girls.  Next, you have the girls who just want to be taken seriously. This, in the drama world, means wearing dark suits. And only dark suits. Then they get androgynous bowl cuts to go with said black suits. Because bowl cuts = respect.

Prime examples: Pride and Prejudice, Prosecutor Princess (the second female lead)

3. Power-hungry Monsters. Powerful women are scary! And can't control their need to accessorize! It seems like the more competitive the female lead becomes in the business world, the more over-the-top her outfits get. Fur trim, sequins, rhinestones--you name it. If she can buy it, she will wear it.

Prime examples: History of a Salaryman, Queen of Reversals

What strikes me as odd in all of this is that it's not like there are no normal, classy, professional outfits in K-dramas. In fact, they're all over the place, but for some reason, office-appropriate clothing is usually reserved for the villains. Want to wear a tailored pantsuit? Well, you'd better get ready to murder some people because that's second female lead territory right there.

But there's hope! Recently, some female leads have actually been allowed to look--gasp--stylish and professional as they go to work! Let's celebrate these fashion-forward females with a face-off:

Contender 1: Yoo In Na as Nam Sang Hyo in My Secret Hotel

I gasped when she first came on the screen. It's something people might actually wear to work in real life! It probably doesn't hurt that Yoo In Na hosts a beauty show, so she had a reputation to maintain.

Contender 2: Yoo In Na in My Secret Hotel

This white-on-white ensemble is gorgeous. Given my own habits of dropping half of my food on my lap, I would never dare to wear white pants, but she's a fancy lady at a fancy hotel, so she does what she wants!

Contender 3: Yoo In Na in My Secret Hotel

It's shockingly normal. Pants and a blouse. Who knew that was so hard?

Contender 4: Yoo In Na in My Secret Hotel

If I owned this lace skirt, I might never take it off. Seriously.

Now that you've seen the worthy challengers, it's time to vote! Who do you choose as the queen of work wear?

Best K-drama Women's Office Wear free polls free polls

Okay, okay, I know that My Secret Hotel wasn't the only drama with normal female office clothing, but it was the first and only one where I have literally clapped at my screen upon seeing an outfit, so that's got to count for something.

Sadly, as much as I enjoyed the styling and the first few episodes of this series, I dropped it around episode 10. As I said when I started watching the show, I appreciated that it was a reconciliation drama where they had regret and longing, but they weren't complete jerks to each other. Unfortunately, I felt like Hae Young gradually got worse and worse in this regard until almost all of his scenes involved him shouting "Nam Sang Hyo!" and dragging her around. The whole thing just got sluggish after a while, and when I went out of town and missed a couple of episodes, I didn't have the energy to keep watching.

Did you enjoy the series? Did you enjoy her outfits? Let me know!


  1. Ah, I love Soo Young from King of High School. I didn't watch My Secret Hotel, so i can't comment on her clothes, but I think Ban Ji Yeon from Witch's Romance definitely had great style. I loved a lot of the things she wore, and she always looked very put together and classy.

  2. The character Song Cha Ok (In ha's Mom) in Pinocchio is always in a business suit, on point, very fashionable. Also, in Secret Love Affair, Oh Hye Won wore the most awesome fashionable outfits to the office. Both of those characters have style.

  3. Oooh Witch's Romance was a good one!

  4. I haven't been up to date on Pinocchio, but all of the images from that show seem to have solid professional styling. It's interesting that you mentioned Secret Love Affair when the previous commenter mentioned Witch's Romance. In both cases, the female lead is significantly older than the male lead. I wonder if that's a factor in highlighting the age difference.

  5. While I'm no fan of Yoo In Ah's acting ability (I don't consider pouting, baby-talking and displaying how thin she is to be "acting") I did rather enjoy "Secret Hotel" due mostly to Jin Yi Han, who I love and will watch in anything as well as enjoyable performances by several of the supporting cast.

    I don't mean to go off on a rant here but at the moment I'm finally gertting around to watching the final "season" of the 4 parts, "Spring Waltz" starring the eye-poppingly gorgeous Seo Do Yeong and a very young Han Hyo Joo. I seriously nominate Ms Han's wardrobe in the drama to be the single most horrendously ugly bunch of throw-aways I've ever seen in any drama and I've seen a bunch of them over the years. I know it's an 8 year old drama but honestly - the stuff she's made to wear is grounds for some sort of criminal complaint and that includes her working wardrobe as the pianist's road manager. Check it out if you've never seen it, the adult actors take over from the kids around Ep 7. :-)

  6. Come to think of it, I really loved Yeo Chi's wardrobe from History of a Salaryman too. What can I say? I like female characters who look like they got dressed in a dark closet, lol.

  7. You didn't miss anything, her wardrobe dropped in quality the more she was dragged around. lol I agree, she started out so beautifully dressed, I was shocked. lol My second nomination would be the dean from Tomorrow's Cantabile. She was a fashion QUEEN. She reminded me of Doris Day a la Pillow Talk. Beautifully dressed from tip to toe. She was gorgeous.

  8. Ugh, I HATE her baby talk! And I haven't seen Spring Waltz, but you made me curious, so I had to look up the wardrobe. Yikes. You were right. Not good. Not good at all.

  9. Oooh I missed out on Tomorrow's Cantabile, but now I'll have to check the clothes.

  10. Nju, nowadays fashions are very much important to ladies... I quite agree with you. Every women wants to be beautiful, an elegant fashion dress could make them stand out from the crowd. Best regards, wholesale womens clothing

  11. I love the work clothes for women dress ideas and the photography is really useful thanks Nice post.

  12. kdrama gonju princessJune 12, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    i loved my secret hotel love story ..cast..& fashion & even saw it twice without boredom


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