Hanbok Woman

All about Hanbok for women

The hanbok for women consists of a chima (enveloping skirt) and a jeogori (top or blouse). Its silhouette is different from that of all other traditional dresses for women. While cultural dresses such as the Vietnamese ao dai feature a form-fitting silhouette that hugs the body, the hanbok is more fluid and free in its cut .

The variations of women's hanbok mainly come from the different types of jeogori that exist. For example, there are jeogori banhoijang and jeogori samhoijang which have different color patches on various parts of the blouse, and jeogori saekdong (sleeves with multicolored stripes).

In this description of our hanbok collection, we will cover the main components of women's hanbok and see which parts you need to wear the hanbok beautifully at a Korean wedding, family event or party. . This is your introduction to Korean women's hanbok fashion .

What does women's hanbok look like?

The hanbok is a traditional Korean outfit consisting of a jeogori (hanbok jacket or blouse) and a chima (skirt). Tight on top and floating on the bottom, the hanbok harmonizes opposing forces. The spirit of balance is imbued in the hanbok. The jeogori features soft curves while the skirt flows as naturally as the breath. Stylists often say that jeogori is the epitome of curve aesthetics . At a glance, it is easy to understand the aesthetic preferences of Koreans through the flared bottom hem and the gentle curves of the jeogori's drop sleeve.

The tight top and loose bottom became more pronounced towards the end of the Joseon dynasty . Although the jeogori shrunk and became more constricting, women continued to move around without difficulty. This is why the bottom hem of the jeogori has taken on a curved shape to conceal the chest.

Also, the shape of the skirt differs depending on the underwear worn. The traditional layered underpants appear bulky compared to thin Western undergarments and some say the shoulders down to the rounded midsection of a hanbok reflect a Gorgyeo dynasty celadon. This striking silhouette extends to the bottom of the skirt. Neither too low nor too high, the overall shape is natural and pleasing to the eye. The tasteful shape of the skirt is considered one of the most elegant attributes that complement Korean women.

The adaptive nature of the skirt's shape is also noteworthy: an H-shape when stationary, an A-shape with a slight adjustment, and a V-shape when stretched. By picking up the hem of the skirt with one hand, each silhouette appears serene. It's hard to think of another garment that produces such a grand effect.

What are the components of a women's hanbok?

1. Chima (skirt)

The chima is an enveloping skirt composed of pleats and drawstrings at the waist. You wrap it around your waist, depending on your size, then secure it by tying the waist cords. The hanbok skirt is thus very comfortable and easy to wear , since it does not have a restrictive tie.

korean skirt

2. Jeogori (blouse or top)

Jeogori is composed of gil, somae, git, seop, donjeong and goreum. The front of the jeogori is open when you first wear it, so you need to fold it from left to right and adjust the closure with the goreums.

hanbok top

But before we get into the different types of hanbok, let's review the basic hanbok terms:

Basic Hanbok Terms

  • Baerae : Lower curves of the sleeves of the jeogori, to be more precise, the part going from the end of the sleeve to the jindong.
  • Boseon : The traditional socks worn with hanboks and hanbok shoes. They are traditionally white with floral embroidery.
  • Gil : The wide part of the body of the upper garment.
  • Git : The neck part of the jeogori
  • Godae : The back of the git which is tied between the shoulder seams.
  • Goreum : Two strings attached to the front part of the jeogori or durumagi in order to fold the clothes.
  • Gyeotmagi : The part of the jeogori located under the armpit.
  • Kkeutdong : A different colored cloth attached to the edges of the sleeves of jeogori.
  • Seop : A cloth attached to the front part of upper garments such as jeogori or durumagi, in order to prevent their opening.
  • Sunuk : The seams of the beoseon.

The different types of Jeogori (Hanbok blouse)

This is where the fun of fashion comes in! There are many types of jeogori that women can wear. While chima stays the same length (for traditional hanbok; modern hanbok is a whole different story), jeogori is diverse and each has its own distinctive look.

1. Min Jeogori

This blouse is short and unicoloured . It is a plain jeogori that is usually worn with an everyday hanbok. It conveys a casual vibe and is preferred during summer when people want to wear lighter and cooler fabrics like linen for hot summer fashion.

jeogori hanbok

2. Jeogori hoijang

The hoijang jeogori is a jeogori that features patches of different colors on various parts of the blouse . The colored spots can be on the edges (cuffs) of the sleeves, on the collar or on the fasteners of the blouse. It is usually two-tone, ie there is a primary color for the blouse and a secondary color for the sleeve and collar patches. It is considered a classic of Korean hanbok that the colors are contrasting, yet not tasteless or contradictory.

hoijan hanbok

3. Jeogori Samhoijang

Samhoijang jeogori is a jeogori where the collar , underarm area (called gyeotmagi), and sleeve cuffs are a different color from the main part of the jeogori . It is similar to jeogori hoijang, but is seen less often.


4. Jeogori Saekdong

The saekdong jeogori is a jeogori that has multicolored striped sleeves . You will often see this type of jeogori worn by toddlers, children or young adults as it conveys brightness and liveliness. Adult women can also wear it, especially for happy occasions such as the Korean Lunar New Year , but it is more common among children or single women, as the color conveys social status and is important in Korean design.

hanbok saekdong

The royal blouse, the Dangui

There is one type of top that is particular and beautiful, so much so that it deserves its own section in this article: the royal dangui. The dangui was part of the dress of the Korean royal court and the ceremonial dress of women during the Joseon Dynasty . Today, the dangui is widely loved and a popular choice for hanbok wedding attire , due to its elegant shape, beautiful decorative patterns, and classic beauty.

If you've ever watched a Korean historical drama, you've probably seen how women in the royal court, such as the queen, queen mothers, princesses, and high-ranking court ladies, wear a type of hanbok top. different from that of ordinary women. This is the dangui, a semi-formal jacket with side slits. The dangui was worn by female members of the royal family as official clothing for ceremonies and for daily activities. It was also worn by royal court ladies who served royal women, but the materials and decorations were different. Women of high social status wore the dangui when visiting the royal court, and also as part of their formal wedding hanbok attire.

hanbok dangui

The dangui is similar to the jeogori , but the difference is in the narrow sleeves . The sleeve length reaches to the knees as the front and back panels are longer than the jeogori. The hem is curved and the side seams are open to the armpit, so it has 3 panels: 2 in the front and 1 in the back.

There are a variety of dangui colors: purple, dark green, yellowish green, and white. The yellowish green color was the most common. The lining of the dangui, however, was mostly red, and the ribbons on the chest were purple in color. White cuffs called geodeulji were attached to the ends of the sleeves.

The dangui of queens and princesses were decorated with geumback (gold leaf) designs from the shoulder to the end of the sleeves. They were also embellished on the front panel, back panel and goreums. These designs were traditionally flowers, bats, or lucky Chinese characters for words such as longevity, fortune, or happiness. The queen, however, wore a very special phoenix design.

dangui hanbok

The dangui also changed depending on the season . For example, there were these common types:

  • one layer dangui
  • double layered dangui
  • quadruple thickness dangui
  • one-layer dangui with a tapered bottom hem

Although no royal family walks around Korean palaces today, many women choose to wear dangui during their engagement photos or weddings to feel like members of the royal family. And who can blame them? The dangui is a beautiful traditional garment.

The evolution of the hanbok style

The hanbok tradition has changed over time to follow the trends and style of women of the time. We can see the evolution of hanbok through depictions in literature and drawings from different periods of Korea's past history.

Hanbok from the 16th century to today:

ancient hanbok

  • Late 16th century: The most classic and traditional style of hanbok clothing described in literature is a late 16th century silhouette. Scholars and historians deduce that the hanbok of this era was a ceremonial dress, worn for special occasions or festivals that had to be prepared. At that time, women were not allowed to participate in festivals or rituals. The flowing skirt and hem convey a sense of movement and lyricism.
  • Early 18th century: More than the hanbok of women in past regions, the hanbok of the early 18th century was a simple or plain dress, with the jeogori reaching down to the waist. The skirt was now a plentiful and roomy skirt. However, the skirt cut off at the ankle, exposing the wearer's shoes.

old hanbok

  • Late 18th century: At this time, the hanbok evolved into a narrow waist, with the jeogori being tighter on top and closer to the body (fitted). The skirt, on the other hand, becomes much rounder and fuller - like an inflating balloon. This silhouette features many curves.

hanbok evolution

  • Late 18th century: The comfort of the wide, loose skirt was intensified by the large fabric that people used to tie their chima around their waists. The hairstyle of the time consisted of a high, voluminous hairstyle, which went along with the jeogori and the chima. From top to bottom, the general figure of the person wearing this garment was wide (heavy) on top, then small in the middle of the body (light), and finally wide (heavy) on the bottom.
  • 19th century: The hairstyle became much smaller in the 19th century, and the general silhouette of the hanbok also underwent great changes. The pleats of the dress became much more numerous, the chima became more spacious with many pleats and longer, reaching down to the floor. While the previous silhouette of the late 18th century hanbok featured tension between the conflicting components of the hanbok, the 19th century hanbok gives the appearance of the garments flowing together from top to bottom, like falling waves. cascading over each other. The overall look has become very soft.
  • Late 19th century: The garment was originally narrow, not leaving much room for the wearer, but the top sleeves became much wider in hanboks worn by women in the 19th century. The chima, on the other hand, became simpler and more modest, eliminating the many folds and the wavy look of previous decades. The overall silhouette became more natural and seemed to drape the body very naturally from top to bottom, while maintaining its overall plumpness.
  • Today: Today, while hanbok is relegated to mostly ceremonial and formal attire, the traditional style of hanbok has not changed for a long time. It retains the look of the late 19th century and 20th century, as Koreans associate hanbok with Korea's tradition, history, heritage and ancient ways of life.

The silhouette has changed a great deal in the realm of modern hanbok , however, a term for contemporary hanbok styles that have been significantly altered by the incorporation of new silhouettes, components, and western shapes.

modern hanbok

In the past, the chima was a staple of women's hanbok, despite various changes over the centuries to the length, material, and volume of the hanbok. But today, female hanbok is no longer limited to a variation of jeogori and chima. Modern hanbok also features women in different baji (trouser) silhouettes that often mimic the look of a chima with its flowing layers (as pictured above) or in a straight style like a baji (trouser) hanbok men's hanbok .