Hello lovely people! My name is Amy and I own Fashion’s A Stranger. I am 21 years old (very close to 22 which I’m avoiding thinking about!) and am from just outside Manchester in the UK. I went to the University of Newcastle, same as the lovely Sian, and got my degree in English Language and Literature. Oh, how I miss being a student. Unfortunately though, all good things must come to an end; for the past 7 months I have been living in South Korea working as teacher of English. I’ve had some ups and downs and it’s been a shock to the system at times, so different from the 2 months I spent in the US or any other time I’ve spent travelling.
I came here alone, looking for some adventures and an escape from real life, and it’s certainly been a ride I’ll always remember. With a brief introduction to some of the culture shock I’ve encountered, I’d also like to share a bit of the shock I’ve had trying to fit nicely into the world of Korean fashion. As I quoted recently in my own blog, I don’t necessarily think fashion is my friend. I am still learning my own distinct style and think it’s like the most popular girl in school that you try and get to like you with limited success and many failures. I was beginning to learn my own look back home, and then I came to Korea and was struck by completely different options- some cute, quirky and weird clothing that get me a bit excited and confused at times. Like my blog name inspiration Flight of the Conchords said: ‘You think fashion’s your friend, my friend fashion is danger!’
What with missing home, realising not everyone will be your friend, trying to adapt to a completely new food and drink (difficult when you’re allergic to spice living in Korea!) and not being able to understand anyone around you thus feeling totally ignorant, being in Korea hasn’t necessarily been smooth sailing so far. You can read my ‘Top 10 (of my) Problems With Moving To Another Country’, which I posted on my blog back in November when I was just 3 months into my stay here, if you wanted to hear more of my difficulties. Of course, it has been incredible too, and now I’m over half way through my yearlong contract, I simply cannot understand where the time has gone! I’ve met some of the best people ever, fallen in love with the kindest man I have ever met, partied hard, earned some money, and helped over 200 students learn some English, if even just a little bit. I have to say, I’m really very proud of myself, and it’s an adventure I’d recommend to anyone and everyone!
When I first arrived in Korea and took my first trip to downtown Daegu, I walked around with my jaw dropped and my tongue out when I saw all of the small little boutiques full of treasures I just wanted to rummage my way through. I was immediately struck with the impeccable fashion sense and beauty of Korean women, and have to admit, I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in it. They certainly know how to take care of themselves here. While I shower 15 minutes before I leave the house and travel to work with soaking wet hair, you can guarantee some Korean beauties have spent a good hour or so grooming. And damn, do they look good for it.You can buy basic clothing easily; Primark style garments at a similar cost are on offer from shops at the bottom of the subway or on the high street. You can buy one-of-a-kind vintage specials, or even GAP or Zara if you’re willing to pay for the privilege. Hell, if you are willing to take the trip up to the country’s capital, Seoul, you can even get your mitts on Forever 21 and H&M. You’re never too far from home, and while people warned me it was going to be another world, well, I guess that the universe is shrinking too, for better or for worse. Move to Korea and get your home-style clothing at the drop of a hat? Of course, it was never going to THAT simple. The sizes are different; shoes generally only go up to about a woman’s UK sized 5 or 6 (fine for me at a 4), and this sentiment runs through most items, everything and everyone is just a wee bit smaller. I never thought I’d be classed as big anywhere in the world, but apparently here I am. I can’t count on 2 hands the amount of times I have been called ‘glamorous’ while the same person makes an hourglass figure with their own hands. It gets disheartening at times. Not because I don’t ‘dig’ my own body, I got over those traumas a few years ago, but because I can never buy any of the amazing dresses I spot every day here! And the curves, while they are somewhat admired, can’t be shown off too much. It is too sexy and inappropriate to wear low cut tops, spaghetti straps, and even your shoulders out are a bit too much, as well. Walking around with your skirt barely covering your bum and your sexy long legs ending in 3-inch heels? Well that’s fine, but revealing flesh up top is a no-go.
While it’s a country that is very fashion forward and developing every day it’s also one that prides itself on its long traditions. I, along with a few friends, was even lucky enough to have dinner at a Korean friend’s house, who insisted we try on their traditional Korean dress (hanbok). That was certainly an experience! These beautiful clothes are usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings and thanksgiving holidays. It’s incredible to see the old and the new Korea in such close quarters.
One of my favourite thinks about couples in Korea are their matching outfits. Yes, you heard me right, walking down the street and seeing a couple wearing exactly the same thing is an everyday occurrence. It’s one of those things you love to hate, like marmite or Paris Hilton. While it’s something I’d never do myself, I certainly appreciate the time and effort that they put in to their looks, and I have a series of such couples that is updated on my blog every week. Here is a teaser:
So, I could be here all day rambling about my observations about this wonderfully weird country. But I won’t. For now, I just have to admit, I love all the cute and quirky things Korea has shown me so far and I have purchased some items that I will treasure for many years to come. It’s a beautiful country and will offer anybody who visits it a unique and unforgettable time. Should you get the chance, get yourself over here. But in the meantime, can you just give me some advice as to how I’m going to get these millions of new clothes home?