“Big Size” Shopping in Korea

Ahhh, being larger than a Size 0 in Korea is tough. I *suppose* a woman could be a Size 3 and have an all right time finding clothes…I SUPPOSE one mustn’t be a Size 0.

In Korea, I am guessing that any Size bigger than a 5-7 is “BIG SIZE.” That’s what they say in Korean…”BEEG SHY-JUH.”  When I walk into a store, I ask, “BEEG SHY-JUH EE-SIGH-YO!?!?  Translation: You peeps got any clothes larger than a bloody zero in here!?!?!

I realized that my wardrobe is severely lacking (in style and options) and does nothing for my self-esteem. I hardly brought any winter clothes from home (organizationally-challenged while packing, can we say?) and so I ended up buying some ugly shirts in Hong Kong because all of my friends in Korea said–“Oh!  Buy clothes in Hong Kong! They’re cheap and they have bigger sizes!”  WELL. I ended up paying about $30 per shirt. That’s not cheap in my opinion. I’d say that’s AVERAGE. If they were selling shirts for $10 bucks, I’d say…Whoohoooo!  Holla!  A Ten Dolla’ shirt, y’all!! Party time. Excellent!  But no. They were $30 and lame, Chinese-cutesy-dorky-fashion. Taylor fashion does not consist of anything FLORAL (little daisies?!?!)  Eegads. I had enough of that when I was 12 years old.

Why am I talking about the clothing I bought in Hong Kong if this is a blog on shopping in Korea?  BECAUSE. I most very unfortunately needed to go shopping HERE in KOREA (Land of the Size Zero), because I have been getting irritated with my lame Hong Kong clothes. Thus, I needed new clothes. Hence, I went shopping in the most nightmarish place in Korea: the dreaded (gasp!!!!)  MYEONG-DONG. Yes, this is Myeong-Dong on any given weekend day. Fun times. So, I fought the crowds to check out some “Foreign Stores” that have opened up there. This is how desperate I was. Anyway, the first store, Forever 21…caters to the teeny boppers (IMHO) and well, I haven’t shopped at that store back home in the U.S. since I was in college…yahhhhh. So, why would I be shopping there now? Desperation.  The second store H&M (which is actually Swedish) had a LINE of people waiting outside (imagine Disneyland). And my friend and I took one look at the line, laughed, took a picture and then went on our merry way. Seriously? Waiting in line to SHOP!!?!?!?  I DON’T THINK SO, dorkos!!!  It’s bad enough having to wait in a checkout line…but I mean…to simply GO INTO THE STORE??!?!  Dumb, Du-dum-du-DUMB!!!!

So, I was depressed because every rack I was thumbing through at Forever 21 had nothing but  SMALLS. I would rummage through a t-shirt display (starting with the bottom shirt…SMALL….next one–SMALL. Next one: SMALL. SMALL. SMALL. SMALL.






S M A L L.

Imagine…if you can…walking into a store with a glimmer of hope. Hope that was instilled in you by your friends from your home country. “Ah, yes! Forever 21!  They have our sizes!”  “Cool,” I say.  Ummmm?????  Sure. They MIGHT HAVE had some MEDIUMS and LARGES  on the racks at one point, but clearly the Non Zero-Sized girls hit the store right when a shipment came in and well, there were none to be had by me. 😦  Boo hoo. Pity party of “1” present and ready to go!  It was just a disappointment, that’s all I am saying. The only shirts that fit me well and looked FINE (not great…) were $20 and I wasn’t willing to pay $20 for a simple shirt with an Asian-style pattern on it.

Like this one. Ummm, not my style. And imagine a shirt like this on a 30-yr old with hips and a chest. Quadruple LAMEEEE. I refused to go back to work on Monday without a new shirt to wear. So, what did I do? Seeing as my ego had been deeply stabbed and left to bleed to death, I decided to go to a store in the city I lived in last year. It would be 2 hrs out of my way, but I KNEW they had clothes from America at a shop there. I knew they would have my size. Desperation. Ego. Ahhh, what a wonderful combo. I got on the bus. At least at the beginning of the day I had my friend to help reduce some of the sting I felt when I wasn’t finding any good clothes. But, she had a party to go to and I was then on my own for the remainder of my miserable shopping day.

In I went to Apple Plaza. I saw my store…ahhhh, I saw brands from back home. I saw my size! Everywhere! Yippeeeee. But alas, as I had found out when I *tried* to checkout;  all of the clothes that interested me were New Arrivals and only 50% off. At this particular store, the clothing prices are anywhere from $175-$225 for a shirt or pants…they are Ralph Lauren, I.N.C, etc but still…probably merchandise from 2+ years ago?  Yah. But this store usually sells things for 85% OFF. So, if a shirt is marked $194 I can get it for about $30. Totally proper. 🙂  So after spending 1.5 hrs trying on gads and gads of clothing…I found 2 pairs of pants and 2 shirts that I was *satisfied* with. I wasn’t ga-ga-goo-goo over them…but I liked them enough to spend about $30-$40 bucks on them. But, since they were NEW ARRIVALS…they were only 50% off and I wasn’t willing to pay $75 for a shirt that I thought looked OK on me. You know??

So, I walked out there with my head between my legs. It seemed to be the theme of the day. REJECTED!! DENIED!!! You think you can buy clothes here?!?!? Well, think again BEEG SHY-JUH GUL (that’d be girl…) I know I *could have* bought those clothes from Apple Plaza but I wasn’t willing to spend $300 on 4 articles on clothing that didn’t make me feel like a Rock Star!  😛

In the general vicinity of Apple Plaza there are a number of Outlet Stores. They are mostly Korean brands but with some Western brands (DKNY, NIKE, etc) mixed in with the national brands. So, I walked down the street…far down the street to where I knew there’d be outlet stores with hopefully BEEG SHY-JUHS and cheap prices. (insert eye roll)    I walked into the first store (which I am figuring by all of the non-stop staring that  I was the first Non-Korean to EVER walk into that store–EVER and I saw a couple of shirts that would be do-able…but then looked at the price tag:  $376 dollars. Ummmmm??? Outlet Store? I think not. I asked an employee if there was a discount on the sticker price and she said, “Yah…30%.”  Oh, boy. What an amazing discount! WOW!  So, instead of paying $376 for the ugly, barely do-able (I know…once I knew how much the shirt cost it quickly became ugly and barely do-able…) I would only have to pay $263.20. Whew! What a relief because I was worried there for a second that I would be charged an arm, both hands including my fingers, and half a leg…

I knew that SOME Korean clothing shops charged exorbitant prices for their clothes but I was at an outlet mall for goodness’ sake. There was a woman who wanted to charge me $90 for a shirt at her little kiosk-type shop in another mall one day and I looked at her and wished I knew how to say, “Oh you must be on something” in Korean. So instead I stuck with my simple, “Ohhh, that’s expensive!!!” line I usually use only to see her face scrunch and look at me in a confused manner. I know why now. $300+ bucks for ONE shirt. Do you know how much fun I could have at a Ross, Marshalls, or TJMaxx back home with $300!??!  A heck of a lot of fun. Maybe that’s why I always see Koreans in those stores back home spending $1,000’s of dollars. They would normally walk away with 3 or 4 items for that same amount of cash. In the good ol’ U.S. of A   they can leave a store like that with 2 shopping carts full outfits, including shoes to match!!

Anyway, a full day of shopping later, I found myself getting really irritated and negative. And then I remembered, my mom was crossing her fingers AND her toes back home for me–hoping that I’d find SOMETHING. So, on I went. (I will spare you the other horrid details but let’s just say they involve me walking in and going out of about 20+ outlet stores empty-handed…all the while having Koreans try and sell me shirts that were made of silk and polyester-blends that had been attacked by a Bedazzler gun) In the end, I bought a vest for $105 from a store called Scarlett O’Hara. I found it apropos. At that time of the day, 9:30 pm-ish I found MYSELF saying, “Frankly, I don’t give a damn.”  So, the vest fit me and gee…it was a bargain basement price at $105. I scooped it up after the kind saleslady (at least 45 years old and still a Size Zero) tried pinning a shirt on me that was clearly tailored for someone with shorter arms and a much smaller bust than me. So, I thought…I’ll get the vest and hopefully can work something out with another shirt I already own. I’ll see.

All in all, my shopping experience taught me a few things:

1)  Don’t go clothes shopping in Korea

2) Stay away from Myeong-Dong on a Saturday afternoon

3) Just pay the extra money and order from stores back home and BE DONE WITH IT.



I like this quote:

“People seldom notice old clothes if you wear a big smile.”  ~Lee Mildon


March 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized.


  1. December McMahon replied:

    I guess you could spend about $600 for a ticket to Guam and buy some decently-priced American clothing:)P

  2. Emac replied:

    Why didn’t you go to the H&M in Hong Kong? They had some decently priced, non-flowery stuff last spring. And what about Zara? They’re not super cheap, but not ridiculously expensive either. Or there’s a place in Itaewon, upstairs from some shoe place I think, that has American brands & sizes for very good prices. I can get better directions for you if you want.

    • grasshoppergrrl replied:

      Zara is frickin expensive!!! Unless I find something on a sale rack…Over $100 for a shirt or a skirt that would be $30 back home. Anyway, thanks babe. I know about the place you are talking about in I-town. I went a few weeks ago and bought 2 shirts…but they’re summer shirts and it’s still COLD! 😛 By the time I actually find shirts for winter/early spring, I won’t need them. GRRR

  3. Lynn replied:

    Darling, if you had been more prepared while packing, you could have packed more winter clothes. Seriously, after 3 years, there should be a better work-around for freshening up the wardrobe.

    • Mags replied:

      I have been here for two years and while things from home are awesome and fit well, sometimes you just need something new.

      Too bad Korea is not the place to find something new. Glad I am not sailing alone! This rant is awesome.

  4. Jenn replied:

    I loved reading this! It cracked me up, not at your misfortune but just at the utter ridiculousness of Korean fashion and the price tag that goes along with it! I am more than happy to pop into an H&M and send ya some cute shirts!! Atleast NY hasn’t gotten to the point of a line outside yet! 🙂

    • grasshoppergrrl replied:

      Awww, thanks Jenn!! I will see what I can find over here first. Thanks! I am planning on going back to the H&M one day before work…so there shouldn’t be a line! Keep ya posted. xoxo

  5. Sher replied:

    For now all I’ll say is “OYYYY VEY”

    :::insert laughter here:::

  6. jenny replied:

    I know this is a bit late but the saying for “r u on something is” “yak muh guh suh yo?” meaning did u take your meds?!

  7. zahra Aubrey replied:

    english.gmarket.co.kr sells ‘big’ sizes : )
    cute stuff and pretty cheap

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