Second hand can also mean second to none. I’ve found so many treasures in Gwanmun traditional market this past year. I thought I could give you some inspiration on what you can find at your local traditional market this spring. This spring, traditional market fashion offers inexpensive, statement, and classic pieces, transforming your wardrobe and elevating your style without breaking the bank.
Shopping in Korea
Korea is not the most accessible country to shop in when you’re a sista (black woman). I have curves – hips, thighs, and a bum – things you don’t naturally see on too many Korean girls. Things are beginning to change because I remember when a US size 8 or 10 was an “L or XL” in Korea. Korean girls are getting bigger and broader, and many stores are accommodating the need for larger sizes.
Generally speaking, we are built differently. Koreans are long and lean from neck to navel. I am not. So even if the clothes can get on my body, they are an ill-fit at best.
Spring Fashion at Gwanmun Market
This spring, I am looking for things that can be layered and worn under or over spaghetti straps, short sleeves, or dresses. I also love to add depth and interest without creating bulk or fuss. This includes sweater dresses, jumpsuits, and knit coordinates.
First, I look for condition, quality, and price, in that order.
Look for a long metal pole with a hook on it to bring things down off the wall. Don’t be afraid to sort through everything – including the piles of clothing on the floor.
Why I Love Traditional Markets
Gwanmun Market is a treasure trove of spring fashion – second-hand, vintage, and unappreciated clothing. You never know what you’ll find on a given day, but I always walk away with something.
- Flea markets are an inexpensive alternative to shopping online. There are times when something “new to me” is better than waiting two weeks for Amazon Prime.
- Traditional markets inspire me to be more creative. When would I ever buy a knee-length fur vest? But I did at Gwanmun traditional market, and I love it! It’s yet another way of reinventing myself while I travel.
- Before I buy, I get to see the color, touch the fabric, and try it on. If the shop owner does not allow you to try it in first, walk away from it.
- This is the perfect opportunity to practice my Korean bargaining skills. I can also spend my money locally – hopefully contributing to the shop’s longevity.
- And finally, I feel good. It’s my chance to re-purpose something that won’t end up in a dump or landfill somewhere.
Inexpensive (or Cheap)
Surprise – not everything is inexpensive at the traditional markets. Make sure to take a look at the price and compare it to similar items you’ve seen at normal shops. It doesn’t make sense if you have to pay more than a normal shop at a traditional market.
Accessories are often a great find at these types of places but are normally overlooked when people put an outfit together. However, these are the things that differentiate your look from someone else’s. So I love sifting through the pretty scarves, novelty bags, sunglasses, and jewelry (necklaces, pendants & rings).
I bought a knee-length fur vest, a near psychedelic floral kimono, and more animal prints than can be found on an African safari. And I make it all work because I don’t take myself too seriously.
I’ve developed my own style that is fun and flamboyant. Plus, because it is so different from typical Korean fashion I have access to endless cheap but high-quality finds.
You cannot imagine how happy I was to come across this beautiful suede duster. Not only does it perfectly match a pair of tan suede boots I already own, but it cost ₩ 15,000. That’s a little over $12 USD. I own a similar one in black that I paid $69 USD on Amazon for a few weeks prior.
If you are willing to go a little outside of the typical Korean fashion trends, traditional markets are a fashion treasure trove. Don’t be afraid to develop your own style and stand out from the crowd this spring!
Looking for more spring fashion inspiration? Click Here to read about two brands offering girlish elegance, the perfect addition to your spring wardrobe.