Hanbok for Women: Lee Se-ryung’s Style

This is actually a random post made after browsing the post that featured Boong-Do. I was searching for a female drama character that has worn every type of hanbok and suddenly, it hit me: why didn’t I think about Se-ryung? She experienced almost everything in her life; from a noble woman to a princess, before demoted to a slave and finally, a commoner. That gave her the chance to wear the hanbok for every social class and for that, she’s one lucky woman. In conjunction with the premiere of several sageuk this week, I present to you: Hanbok for Women, featuring Lee Se-ryung of The Princess’ Man.

Another purpose of this post is to make people start watching The Princess’ Man. Seriously, go and watch it, peeps!

The basic clothing for women in Joseon Dynasty was the sok-ot (속옷), or the undergarments. Sok-ot consist of sokbaji, sokchima, and sokjeogori. As you can see, each item has the prefix ‘sok‘ (속), which means undergarment. Hence, sokbaji (속바지) means underpants, while sokchima (속치마) and sokjeogori (속저고리) mean underskirt and underjacket respectively.


Se-ryung with her sok-ot

The color of sok-ot is usually white and the difference lies between the material used for making them. The royalties and the noble women get to wear silk sok-ot while the commoners usually opt for the durable, cheap cotton, but most of the commoners can’t afford to own sok-ot. As for the sokchima, the nobles usually have several layers of it on to giver the skirt a fuller look compared to the commoners. For special occasions, they will have a petticoat or mujigi (무지기) on to replace the function of the multilayer sokchima. Sokbaji will be worn before sokchima and then sokjeogori is put on top of the sokchima, covering the underskirt’s belt.

Another important part of the basic clothing is the socks, or boseon (버선). These white socks are worn regardless of the status. Unlike the men who have to tie their pants onto the socks, women wear their socks without any restraint, probably because there wasn’t any need for them to move around a lot and lift their skirt, except in certain situations. It’s a good thing not to have the socks tied to anything as it will be convenient for punishment purpose, as in Se-ryung’s case.


This is one of the examples of those ‘certain situations’: riding a horse and lifting your skirt, showing your boseon

Just like the hanbok for men, women wear jeogori (저고리), the top jacket. As we can see in dramas, jeogori for women tend to be shorter in length compared to those for men. Although the term is similar, there are some differences between men and women’s jeogori. Those worn by the women of Joseon Dynasty are more colorful compared to men but it also depends on the status of the wearer. While the noble family’s daughter have the opportunity to choose jeogori  from different colors and types of fabric, the female commoners are restricted to white colored hanbok and only wear more colors during special occasions such as weddings.


The parts of a women’s jeogori is quite different from men. The string used to tie the overlapping panels of a jeogori or goreum (고름) is made from different colored fabric. Git (깃), or the collar, also have different colored fabric from the rest of the jeogori. The color of the collar usually matches the cuff of the jeogori, or kkeutdong (끝동).

Jeogori differs according to social class of the wearer. Women of the noble and royal families get to wear a variety of colors and good fabric, for instance silk. Commoners, on the other hand, are restricted to colors like white and pale, earth colors. The fabrics of their choice are cotton and hemp, since these fabrics are affordable during that time. Lower class people such as the slaves are only allowed to wear cheap fabric and sometimes might only obtain the old jeogori that once belonged to their owner. As for the entertainer or gisaeng, they opt for the flamboyant and attractive colors (think of those neon colors). They also prefer to use the thin and revealing fabrics in order to attract people’s attention.


Se-ryung borrowing the hanbok that belongs to a gisaeng


…and it’s a see-through jeogori 😉

The skirt, or chima (치마), worn by women in the place of men’s baji or pants. It is worn on top of sokchima before the jeogori is put on. It can be of different colors, contrasting to that of jeogori. The combination of colors can give several meanings, showing the status of the wearer. Same with the jeogori, there are more choices for noble women and royalties in choosing the colors and fabrics for their usage. The female royalties have geumbak (금박) or golden patterns sewn on the chima to be worn with the dangui.


Dangui and chima with geumbak

There are several attires worn by the Joseon women, according to the ceremonies or their status. Dangui (당의) is the ceremonial topcoat for women of the palaces: princesses, queens, and the concubines. Geumbak is embroidered together with flower or dragon emblems on the front, back, and both shoulders of the dangui. The female royalties wear dangui as their everyday clothing on top of the jeogori.


Se-ryung wearing a pink baeja

For the noble women, they sometimes wear baeja (배자), a short vest worn on top of the jeogori. Durumagi (두루마기), or a long outer coat, is worn when they go out of their house. Both baeja and durumagi become more popular during winter as protection against the cold weather, with baeja sometimes lined up with leather and fur to provide warmth to the wearer.


Jangot (장옷) is a long coat used by women to cover their faces when going out. This is because women aren’t supposed to show their faces to other people outside their family circle. Jangot resembles a long jeogori, with collar and sleeves. For the lower class women, they sometimes wear sseugae chima (쓰개 치마), a coat that bears resemblance to chima to cover their faces.


For special occasions such as weddings, a red ceremonial topcoat called hwarot (활옷) is worn by the princesses or the upper class women. The topcoat is embroidered with auspicious patterns, wishing the bride good luck and fortune for her marriage. The cost of making a hwarot is very high, so the commoners cannot afford to own one. In place of hwarot, the commoners wear nokwonsam (녹원삼), another type of topcoat made from green silk but the commoner’s nokwonsam won’t have the gold patterns sewn on it. Underneath the hwarot, the bride will wear samhuijang jeogori (삼회장 저고리), a yellow top jacket and daeran chima (대란치마), a red skirt.

The finishing touch is the shoes. Depending on their status, women of the Joseon Dynasty can wear either jipsin or hye. Jipsin (짚신) or straw sandals are worn by the lower class women and commoners. As for the noble women, they get to wear hye (혜), a type of shoes made from silk and lined with leather. These silk shoes are sometimes embroidered and the price will be expensive. The brides will wear the embroidered silk shoes on their weddings.


A simple hye without any embroidery

Hanbok for Joseon women is interesting since there are different types of hanbok and the colors are not as subdued as the hanbok for men. So much pretty! However, I intentionally leave the headgears and the hair ornaments worn by the Joseon women since I’m planning to do a glossary post on them. There are a handful of them, hence repeating them again and again will make the posts redundant and boring to be read. For the time being, have a look at these posts for more information about hanbok:

source | 1 | 2 | 3 |


23 thoughts on “Hanbok for Women: Lee Se-ryung’s Style

  1. Moon Chae Won had a pretty great wardrobe in The Princess’ Man. Se Ryung was like the fashion icon of the Joseon era in The Princess’ Man. And I love that you’re making these hanbok posts, I learn so much from these.

  2. Wanna hug and kiss you when I see this post!! *virtual hug*

    Love all of your post about Sageuk >_<

    Thank you so much for sharing this dear *kiss*

  3. Great post, I was always sorta wondering about all of those layers that are underneath the outer layer O_O

    I generally associate the hanbok with really bright solid colors…maybe this is because they normally have these bright colored hanboks in the kdramas?

    1. I know, I used to wonder too, how on earth did they make the skirt so big? 😀

      Kdramas normally center around the rich and powerful noblemen or yangban, so that’s probably why the characters are depicted to wear bright colored fabrics 🙂

      1. I know it is so poofy!! Especially when they bow down/sit down, the skirt is huge!!

        Just a suggestion, it would be interesting if you do a post on the hair accessories someday. *w* The hair accessories in period dramas always catch my eye!

  4. Wow. So detailed and so educational!! Thank you! Kudos, chingu, kudos *dramatic slow clap*

    Also, great choice of Lee Se Ryung from TPM – she really did get to wear it all! ;D

  5. Thanks for all this information! I had no idea color was dictated by class along with fabric (I just assumed it was a cost thing). Perfect timing, too, because I’ve just started “Jang Ok-jung” which has a lot of beautiful hanboks so now I’m a little more informed. 🙂

    I look forward to your post on ornaments and headgear.

  6. Hello! This post was very informative since I’ve always wondered about the various workings of a hanbok. 😀 I’m digressing a lil bit here since I’ve no idea on how I should contact you so I’m just going to be plain clear,can you perhaps head over to the DB Malaysia thread and check on the latest update? Btw,I’m Belle3005. 🙂

  7. thanks, im ALMOST convinced to watch princess’s man, but does it not have a sad ending? i NEED an intermediate ending for my mental well being 😛

  8. I’m so glad you did another post on hanbok :D. You are freakin’ awesome! Your posts are so easy to understand, with amazing detailed information about traditional Korean clothing and society. And I so appreciate you writing the names of things in English (or whatever translated Korean is called) as well.
    Learning this stuff makes watching K-dramas more fun, because I understand what things signify, (like a binyeo, for example).
    Plus, I just love history, and would read this stuff just for learning’s sake. I’ve always been intrigued by European history, now I’m fascinated with the beauty of Korean traditional culture.

  9. Awesome post. Only one correction. The geumbak isn’t sewn on. It’s an extremely thin gold leaf they put on the clothes.

  10. Coincidentally I am also writing a post on hanbok. Do you perhaps know the rules for wearing coloured fabric according to age? I mean, I read that younger girls would wear pink/yellow and that for older/married women this is unacceptable but they wear red or brown more often.

    1. Hi! Sorry for the late reply ^^;

      As far as I know, young girls wore bright, colourful clothes like saekdongot, while teenagers and new bride would wear pink, yellow, and green. Older, married women used purple, dark green, brown, and darker shades of colours for their clothes. These were for the nobles and the commoners usually wore earth-toned colours because the dyes for other colours were expensive. Red and purple dyes were the most expensive (thus, the fabric were higher in price) so the king prohibited the usage of such colours among the citizens, but the nobles began to use them widely during mid-Joseon.

      Hope that helps 😉

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