Putting it all together

By Ásfríðr Ulfvíðardóttir/ Rebecca Lucas.

This is the 'dress diary' section of this project, where I document my first attempt at making a possible 16th century outfit.
Complete... for now! (See below for all the things I would like to do-over.)

Headwear and Face


Completed 21st May, 2009

Originally I was planning to buy a cheap black wig, get my 'hair done' and then simply pop it on when I was going to wear the entire hanbok. After getting my hands on a floor-length wig and trying to put the hair into a ponytail and braid, I realised that to get the keunmeori hairstyle from a ponytail I would probably need twice as much hair again. I gave up, carefully cut the hair off the wig cap and made a darae fake braid.

The hair was tied together at one end with an elastic hairband, because the synthetic hair was too slippery, and then tied together with a red ribbon. The ribbon was then plaited in to the braid, and used at the other end (along with another elastic band) to tie the plait off. The ends of the braid were then neatened up with scissors.

Darae (hairpiece)Darae (hairpiece)

Following the example at the Culture Content website, I tied my natural hair into a ponytail, which was braided and tied into a bun. I then used hair wax to make sure there weren't any fly-away bits, with the bonus side-effect of making my hair look darker. Using the bun as an anchoring point, I then wrapped the braid around my head, tying the ends together at the forehead, before wrapping the remaining ribbon around the braid, and tying it to the bun. The extra ribbon meant that I could secure the darae in place with bobbypins.


Completed 2nd July, 2009.

In guessing how to construct a garima-type veil, I eventually turned to stills from the series Dae Jang Geum, which is not an authentic 16th century Korean costume drama, but was the only images I could find that showed how it was attached to ones' head (unlike the 18th century-based reconstruction by Culture Content.)

In the end, it is simply a rectangle of stiffened silk, with the corners sewn down at one end, and a ribbon attached so it can be tied on to the head. I suspect, instead of wearing this veil on top of the darae, it may be worn with the braid passing over the veil, so that it is more securely attached. I soon discovered, that every gust of wind seemed to pick up the garima and fling it into my face, which was not a pleasant nor refined experience.


The Immortal Geisha forums have a FAQ, discussing traditional Japanese cosmetics, and the cheaper, modern make-up that can be used for the white face. I've taken the modern, cheaper route, using Manic Panic's Dreamtone foundation and Virgin pressed powder. A black eye-liner pencil for colouring in my eyebrows, and red lipstick help too.
One thing I discovered while experienting, is that having well-moisturised lips helps immensely when applying the foundation and powder. Otherwise I found my lips looking cracked and craggy, and difficult to fill-in with the powder.
I have also mentioned this previously, but I will say it again -- unless you have unnaturally white teeth, your teeth will appear yellow.



Cut identically to the jeogori out of a medium-weight bleached cotton tabby. Handsewn.


Completed 2nd June, 2009

Handsewn with silk thread, this partially lined jeogori was made from two shot-silk tabbys. The cuffs, collar and overlap were a blue overshot with the same fucia pink as the chima while the main body was a silver silk, shot with a dark blue. I know of no examples of shot silk being used in Korea, however this was a perfect time for me to reduce the amount of fabric in my stash. Especially silk fabrics, which I never use in large quantities in other projects.

The front panel of the jeogori in hindsight is too wide and long when compared to extant examples. This is further compounded when it is also obvious that the collar is too narrow in width and too short in length. The collar only reaches as far as my collarbones when it should be the same height as my armpit. So, although it looks impressive, my first attempt at a 16th century jeogori does not look entirely correct.


I strongly suspect that the short-sleeved wonsam I made is also incorrect.
Pieced together from two slightly different yellow silks, the wonsam has short sleeves which I had copied from the 1585 Giyeonghoedo painting. After I had used all of my yellow fabric, I discovered the Gathering of State Examination Alumni at Huigyeong Pavilion painting, which had long-sleeved wonsam so I am now unsure.



Sadly, these never we made in the end. I wore a pleated sokchima underneath my chima. It was knife-pleated onto a cotton waistband. The photos at the end of this page show the white ties peeking over my skirt, in imitation of the King Sala's Rebirth and Buddhist scent pouch embroideries. I strongly suspect that the white ties seen in this images are from the outer underpants, as the ties on the extant chima appear too short to form long dangling ties.

Outer underpants

Weren't made, this time. See notes for underpants.


Completed 3rd May, 2009

This chima was made from a second-hand silk sari that had been accidentally spotted with bleach stains (so was very cheap!) In imitation of Important Folklore Materials 114-1 (the skirt with the brocaded stripes), I measured the distance from my waist to the ground at the front, back and sides, and cut the top of the sari so that the lower brocaded edge would form a ground-length border.

Feet, Hands and Accessories


The socks were made from pre-quilted cotton fabric with a cotton batting inside. Ties (like on childrens' beoseon) of the same blue silk as the jeogori were added, because I was having trouble wriggling my feet into the entirely closed style. These were like wearing my very own slippers all day, as my feet were kept warm even when outside in the rain and wind!
Patterning was acheived by trial and error. The basic silhouette of the extant Important Folklore Materials 109 was traced on to newspaper, and then enlarged so it would be able to fit my foot.


I intend to be inside most of the time while wearing this outfit, so only the padded socks would be needed. However, when outdoors I will be wearing a pair of straw sandals. I found them on ebay, and they are not quite jipsin (Korean) nor waraji (Japanese), but something in-between.


Completed 12th March 2009

These tosi, like most of this outfit, were made from fabrics already sitting in my stash. This outer fabric was a remnant piece of silk satin that I'd held on to, waiting for the perfect small project to come around. The pattern is better suited to the 19th century, but as it will be hidden underneath my jeogori, it hopefully will not be noticible. It is lined in a very thick, fluffy wool, which was supposed to be the inner padding, however I could not find any small left over pieces of silk fabric that I could sacrifice for the lining.
These wristlets are very warm, and extremely comfortable to wear, and are great around the house!
Tosi (wristlets)


These hand-covers are much smaller than modern dance hansam used in Korean dances. In fact, they are only twice the length of the tosi. They were made from a white cotton tabby remnant. There are no photographs for the simple reason that they were difficult to photograph.



The Norigae is a modern one, purchased from Arts and Crafts Korea. I was inspired by the romantic idea that the lady in the 19th century portrait Miindo was supposed to be the 16th century gisaeng Hwang Jin-i.

Putting it Together!

All of the layers worn together All of the layers worn together

After all the fuss, I completely forgot to wear my hand-covers, nor my make-up was not 100% perfect, but nobody seemed to mind. Wearing a layer of cotton under two layers of silk kept me warm outdoors, in a temperate-climate winter, although without the tosi every chilling breeze seemed to travel straight up my sleeves. As mentioned previously, the attempted garima worked brilliantly when inside, but outside in the wind was inclined to be blown up and into my face.

The most surprising part about wearing this outfit, was that most people mistook me for Japanese. While there are similarities between the 7-8th century dress of the Asuka period, and hanbok due to significant contact between the two cultures (Chung 2005, 400-1; Hong 1994, 153; Takamatsuzuka tomb mural), it soon became clear what made people think 'Japanese!' was primarily the cosmetics. Many people suggested that next time I wear Japanese I should remember to wear tooth black as well, which I found to be an interesting comment -- possibly indicating that the general knowledge of medieval Japanese dress in my local group is reasonably high? Another unexpected question, was (if even only for the day) I had another persona name. So, for the day I was known as the gisaeng Hyang-su (향수, 香水, 'perfume').

This outfit was a lot of work, but there is still more improvements I could undertake. Fixing the ratio of collar to front panel on the jeogori and sokjeogori is probably the most important. Followed by sewing more accurate underwear.


  • Chung, Young Yang Silken Threads: A History of Embroidery in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005)
  • Hong, Wontack Paekche of Korea and the Origin of Yamato Japan (Seoul: Kudara International, 1994)