Nikki’s Inbox: A Cuter, Sweeter Style Like Do Bong-soon’s

I’m 21 and over the last year, I’ve really been wanting to change my style but I’m not sure how to do it. Since middle school, I’ve always dressed in a lot of black and had what people would probably consider a “dark” or “edgy” kind of look. What I don’t like is the looks crossed with my resting face seem to make people think I’m mean, unapproachable, etc., when I’m actually very kind, sweet and welcoming. I really would like to have a cuter, sweeter and more approachable style. (Even a little quirky, something like Do Bong-soon’s — she’s so cute omg!) I was hoping you could offer some ideas?

For reference, I’m 5’2, very pale with dark hair and green eyes. I’m a size 8 (US/CAN), 36A with a 70cm waist and 98-99cm hips. I’m pretty self-conscious overall and don’t like to show much skin, but I’m still willing to try different styles!

I really like K-fashion trends (oversized, layering, streetwear, mixed fabrics or prints, etc.) and have been getting a lot more into them in the last few months but would definitely appreciate absolutely any guidance you can offer.

Thank you so much for your time and have a great day!

Rachel, 21/Canada

I cracked up when I read your comment about your “resting face” (RBF) because I can totally relate! But you know what? I wouldn’t worry too much. I’ve found that people who are brave enough to approach you even if you have RBF, and take the time and patience to really get to know you are the ones really worth keeping. So think of it as your built-in people filter!

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon now available at

I fully support your wish to look more approachable. However, it’s not only clothes that will attract more people to you. It also requires self-confidence. That said, I followed your suggestion and looked up Do Bong-soon’s outfits from the hit K-drama “Strong Woman Do Bong-soon.” Here are my suggestions based on them.

On Neutral Ground

Don’t toss your black clothes just yet! While wearing lighter colors can certainly give you a more favorable impression, it may take time for you to adjust to wearing a different color palette. This is where your current closet comes in. Use your blacks, blues and grays — especially if they’re jeans, leggings, skirts or outerwear — to ground all those brights and pastels. It’s an easy way to make your outfit pop since you’re playing with light vs. dark colors. Bong-soon does the same by wearing simple tops or bottoms in grays, denim blue and black. These do a great job in complementing vibrantly colored pieces.

Fit and Layering

If you read my advice to Jamie, I was honest enough to tell her the reason why most of her clothes look unflattering on her. I hope you’ll also keep this in mind. Your heroine Bong-soon cleverly uses layers and boxy fits to her advantage — mainly to emphasize that she has superhuman strength despite being so petite. Notice, however, that she doesn’t wear very oversized outfits. They’re probably just one or two sizes larger than her usual clothing size.

By wearing thinner layers, you have more room to be playful with your pieces. This is where you can mix prints, patterns, fabrics and colors. Winter is the perfect time to do it because you’ve all these rich textures at your fingertips, which add dimension to your entire outfit. A rib-knit turtleneck looks perfect topped by a velvet camisole and a fleece-lined leather jacket. Babydoll dresses cut with a high waist are also something that your K-drama idol likes, Rachel. Try a plaid or floral version that hits mid-thigh and pair with patterned tights (you can wear a thicker pair of leggings underneath for warmth) and a tulle skirt underneath, worn like a petticoat. Finish with a double-breasted coat to add some classy architectural flair.

Details Make the Difference

Sometimes, you don’t need to wear a lot of colors to make an impact. Even if you’re wearing a plain colored sweater, adding a decorative collar can instantly transform it. The same goes for hints of lace, embroidery, applique or prints on your outfits. A front-zip mini skirt looks bolder than the conventional back-zip version. Lace-up sleeves on a sweater convey an edgy look and give you the option of wearing something brighter underneath for effect. You can also go for quirky socks or tights to go with your shoes, a nice pink suede beret, or an eye-catching purse.

Here’s to the all-new Rachel!

P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body type or shape, your tastes or personality. You can include a selfie (link only please) or a photo of your clothes (which I will never publish without pre-approval). Thank you!

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