Nikki’s Inbox: Korean Style for a Jersey Boy

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Hi, I’m 5’8.5, 135 Ibs. and a junior in high school. The weather here is cool during fall, winter, and early spring, and becomes too hot (at least for me) for pants after that. I’m trying to emulate the everyday look of a Korean high school boy and I need some tips on clothes to buy. I’m still in high school so I don’t want to wear anything crazy, but at the same time I don’t want to wear a T-shirt and jeans everyday (a couple days is ok though). I’m looking for fall and winter clothing (e.g., sweaters, T-shirts or long sleeves, pants, button downs, and maybe shorts) that is diverse enough to fit into 2-3 different outfits so that I can keep a reasonably sized wardrobe without wearing the exact same outfits every week. These clothes will be worn with New Balance 574 shoes and a parka/ puffer jacket.

Jesse, 16/New Jersey, USA

Wow, Jesse! You certainly know what style you want to rock in school! If you’re a regular Ask Nikki reader or at least hang around YesStyle, then you’ll know that Korean fashion uses layering as a primary technique to build up an outfit.

Outerwear is just as important as all the other elements in an outfit, regardless of the season. The same goes for your other layers such as your T-shirts, shirts and sweaters, plus your bottoms like pants, jeans and shorts. Don’t neglect your shoes and other cold-weather essentials like hats, scarves, socks, gloves and more! Let’s work our way down the list, shall we?

Get Great Outer Coverage
Since you requested something for fall and winter, outerwear is very much necessity. You mentioned parkas and puffer jackets, which are all good and I hope the colors you have will work with everything in your closet. A fresh take on the varsity jacket is a puffer version with a hood, which makes it a perfect and non-boring option for cold weather.

Adding a little textural element such as a faux shearling or fleece collar won’t hurt either. For both puffer jackets and parkas, look for similar extra touches such as faux leather details (patching, pulltabs or lining at the collar), color insets (better than just plain black or navy blue), and traditional or unexpected designs such as classic Nordic print or a botanical print lining. I actually like these better than having too many pockets, which may visually drag your look down.

Add Color to Inner Layers
While you can also opt for more colorful outerwear, chances are, you’ll always end up removing your outermost layers once you’re inside the school or elsewhere. So make sure your inner layers count when you need to show them off. Button-downs and basic sweaters can be in solid colors such as rich burgundy, deep purple or cobalt blue, or with simple patterns like stripes or minimalist prints. Your knit vests and cardigans can be color-blocked, classically argyle or in cable-knit to add textural contrast and flavor. If you wear a plain base layer, team it with a textured or patterned second layer. If you want to stick to a monochrome palette, make sure you add color somewhere in your outfit, like a cranberry red scarf to go with gray and black outerwear, shirt and jeans, or a mustard yellow beanie and logo sneakers with shades of blue.

Use More Contrast
Aside from using color and texture to amplify your outfit, your fall and winter layers can also benefit from a kind of “opposites attract” partnership by pairing something fitted with a looser piece. A slightly baggy chunky turtleneck sweater with your jogger pants, or not-too-baggy harem pants with a fitted graphic print tee and vest, or with a hoodie and blazer. For this type of volume contrast, color and texture will add more dimension and make your gear pop! You can also use varying lengths in your layers so that the visible overlapping will create more interest.

Not Just Clothes
While you mentioned your sneakers, don’t limit yourself to wearing that pair every single day with every single outfit. If you have boots, wear them with an outfit that looks rugged and street-style, and your New Balance with something preppy to emphasize the opposites game. Your scarves, hats/caps, and socks can also be easily paired with the rest of your major pieces by simply choosing something in a similar shade or to match a secondary color. Doing so will make you look emphatically and smartly put together. Good luck!


P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body, your tastes or personality. You can include a photo (link only please) of yourself or your clothes (which we won’t publish without your written approval). Thank you!

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