What is Hanbok:

The Ultimate Guide to the Korean Traditional Dress

What is Hanbok?

Hanbok is a Korean word that refers to traditional Korean clothing. Hanbok is one of the most beautiful fashion styles in the world and has been beloved for over 2,000 years. You may have seen the hanbok in your favorite Korean drama, or your favorite K-Pop star wearing hanbok and wondered: what are they wearing? What kind of fashion style is hanbok? Where can I buy a hanbok

Hanbok is commonly worn by Koreans during major holidays, birthday celebrations (like dol), and weddings, but not many Korean people actually know about the deep history and significance behind traditional hanbok. Let’s explore what is hanbok in this ultimate guide to Korean fashion. 

Where does hanbok come from? its origins & history

The hanbok is thought to have been designed during the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BCE-668 CE) and was worn in different ways and materials by all. It was originally made so that its wearers can have freedom in their movements.

Although there have been changes throughout its history, the hanbok is still worn today in Korea for celebrations, weddings, birthdays, and milestones, and represents the aesthetic of the Korean people. People all over the world have fallen in love with hanbok, and have incorporated it into their fashion to make the hanbok haute couture


The embroidered patterns and the colors used on hanbok represented the ceremonial nature of the hanbok and social status. (The Korean royalty wore different hanbok than the commoners did.) Peonies, for example, are often found on wedding dresses to represent honor and wealth, while dragons and phoenixes were Korean hanbok patterns reserved for royal clothing.



The hanbok’s overall structure consist of the jeogori and chima (skirt) — for women, and jeogori and baji (pants) — for men.  At the point when worn together, the thin top and wide bottom make a shape like a bell—a one of a kind and rather an exceptional feature of the hanbok that separates it from other traditional costumes.




The classic Korean stylish is portrayed on the hanbok through a soft flow of lines and angles that can be seen on the outfit’s baerae as well as the clean-cut angles of the dongjeong.


The hanbok may look flat, however, whenever it’s well used, it accomplishes dimensionality and even adds beauty to the wearer, as the wide and adaptable skirt shrouds the movements of the lower body—to such an extent that the person wearing it might appear to be floating on air. 




The hanbok has been made with different materials all through its over 1,600-year history. Contemporary designers keep on trying different things with various kinds of fabric for their oeuvre. 


Traditionally, however, the material of the hanbok speaks to the wearer’s particular place in the so-called social hierarchy. Those naturally born to royalty families wore hanbok made with the best materials like satin and silk, featuring their power and authority. The same goes for people of nobility and high-positioning officials. On the other hand, those common folk wore hanbok produced using hemp and cotton at best, recommending their humble backgrounds.




The colors of the hanbok assume an integral part in characterizing the wearer’s character and societal position. 

Those from royalty or nobility wear hanbok that is typically colored with bright colors, while ordinary people wore hanbok that came in light and earthly shadings, which can likewise be credited to the materials used to make their modest hanbok. 




Emblematic patterns were weaved on the hanbok, primarily to express the wearer’s wishes. For example, a wedding hanbok may highlight peonies for honor and wealth or pomegranates for fertility. Ground-breaking emblems, for example, phoenixes, dragons, cranes, and tigers must be seen on the hanbok of royalty as well as high-ranking officials.




There’s always a wide selection of footwear that goes with the hanbok. For ladies, kkotshin (silk shoes with blossom weaving), unhye (low-cut silk shoes that are decorated with cloud-formed silk pieces), and dinghy (low-cut leather shoes with scroll designs) were the absolute most regular footwear. On the other hand, men typically wore heukhye (fleece and leather shoes) and taesahye (animal skin shoes fixed with silk). In spite of the fact that commoners—paying little heed to gender—wore jipshin or straw shoes. To protect their feet, people likewise wore white socks known as beoseon. 




The hanbok may look elegant all alone, yet people, particularly ladies, who can stand to enhance their look and outfit sure have a huge number of accessories to browse and choose from. This incorporates the norigae, an ornamental tassel with an appeal, which is attached to the goreum, coat strings, or the midriff of the skirt; daenggi, a thick enriching ribbon tied toward the end of a lady’s twisted hair (daenggi-meori); baesshi-daenggi, an enlivening piece worn on one’s head with the daenggi-meori; and the binyeo, a pin produced using wood, jade, gold, or creature bones—among numerous others—that holds the bun together.

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What makes hanbok unique?

1. The hanbok is structurally beautiful.

The women’s hanbok has a short jacket called ‘jeogori’ paired with a full skirt that is called ‘chima’. The men’s hanbok has a short jacket, pants called ‘baji’, and usually a short coat called ‘baeja’. It is the same structure for children’s hanbok, with the girls’ hanbok being the same as the women’s and the boys’ hanbok with the men’s styles. 

(To learn more about the varieties in style, read this guide: The Different Types of Hanbok.) 

The balance of the structured top with the full bottom gives the hanbok a simple structural beauty and rhythmic flow that complement the movement of the wearer’s body.

Korean women's hanbok fashion style floral spring top

2. The hanbok is not restrictive, and allows for graceful movement.

Hanbok expresses natural physical beauty in its attractive silhouette and lines, which allow for free, graceful movement of the body while wearing.

3. The hanbok is a wearable piece of art.

Western clothing is characterized by its straight-lined fabric and stitching techniques, but hanbok is completely different in its composition and design. Hanbok is made with flat fabric in a linear shape that only achieves dimensionality when someone wears it. In union with its wearer, the hanbok comes to life to be natural, elegant and flowing. It is a piece of art that you can wear and the hanbok becomes completed with your bright smile.

Korean women's hanbok fashion floral dress

4. The hanbok carries a deep heritage and culture behind its design.

The hanbok features straight and curved lines, which are representative of a uniquely Korean aesthetic and design. The graceful, harmonious movement that the hanbok allows, its deep hues and patterns, and its resemblance to nature come from over 2,000 years of the hanbok being worn by the Korean people.

5. The hanbok is meaningful in every stitch, design, and color.

The colors used in hanbok come from the Korean “five colors theory” (“obangsaek” in Korean), which are based off the harmony between yin and yang and the five elements. The hanbok is traditionally dyed with naturally-occurring colors, not synthetic. 

6. The hanbok shows the beauty of nature.

The curved lines of the hanbok, its full and loose silhouette when worn is designed to create a free-flowing effect. This is especially true for the hanbok dress or skirt. Hanbok’s design also highlights the textures of the natural, hand-woven fabric and the decorations that mimic flowers, butterflies, and other elements of nature.

There is a hanbok for every person and occasion. Come fall in love with the hanbok together with us. Take a look at our collections to learn more.