Monday, November 16, 2009

Winter Coat Shopping

Winter is practically here already. The air is chilly and already the ondol (floor heating system) has kicked in.

I am not a winter person as I find it tiring to put on all the different layers before leaving the house. But this will be my second winter in Korea and I am happy that I know what to expect. Last year I didn't really know how cold it would get or how many layers work when it is snowing outside.

Nowadays I wear a sweater with one layer underneath and that seems to be okay. The more stock of sweaters and long sleeve shirts the better off you will be. Since there are a lack of dryers in Korea one needs to keep a cycle of drying clothes and dried ready for use.

Shopping for winter is whole other territory that can be frustrating too. I know that Korea's winters tend to be chilly and windy so it makes sense to find a coat that cuts out the windchill and keeps you cozy. Logically you would think that finding a winter coat in a country with the winter season would be easy.

But of course it isn't. Instead most of the jackets that are sold here are more about design than function. I went shopping at Lotte Department Store in my area for a new coat and tried on about 6 without buying any of them. I have also checked out Myeongdong and Emart but nothing lived up to my ideal image of the right winter coat.

The problem was mainly that they were too thin. I wondered how I was suppose to stay warm in such coat. The body of the coat would be padded but the arms weren't. My current coat is like one of these and in order to stay warm I need to pack in more layers. Last year I gave up trying to find a warm and practical coat and stuck with the one I had got.

Here is an example of the typical Korean coat. Although padded it isn't very warm. However very stylish~



This year, however, I want something new and functional. Since my search at Lotte failed I figured I really wasn't going to find what I was looking for here in Korea. So I went online hitting REI (an American company) and figured might as well pay for a decent coat and get it shipped here.

I came upon this coat: The Marmot Chelsea Coat in "wine" color
I am keen to that there are shops here that cater to brands like the NorthFace and Marmot. These are the shops that sell the mountain hiking gear. Now I could go around to these shops and search for this coat but I have a really big feeling that they aren't going to have it since this coat is really meant for the everyday instead of hiking up a mountain. Also I did a Gmarket search of it and got no results.

So I managed to find an online shop in America that will ship internationally.

All right that takes care of the coat now let's move on to the business of sweaters. It took a while for me last year to find a shop that sold basic thick sweaters. I loved that shop because the style was simple and the prices were reasonable. Now I am in search of a new shop or area to find the similar situation. In my opinion sweaters are too thin here or styled in such a way that make them impractical.

But really in this department of winter wear it is about what look you are going for and how much you are willing to pay. One warning I would tell people is that have a knowledge of how to wash your sweaters. Since most clothing bought here doesn't come with a label it is hard to know the material content such as wool or synthetic. Therefore be careful washing them. I have had a few shrink or get twisted out of proportion in the washing machine.

Don't forget about hats, scarves and gloves. Once inside you have to take all this stuff off and put it somewhere.

For those new folks to Korea if you like winter well then you are definitely going to enjoy yourself here. Actually the winters here are not as harsh as Northeastern US but still chilly.

Therefore I wish everyone a warm and cozy winter.

9 comments:

  1. I love winter time. We don't really get much here in Arizona but just it being cold is wonderful. I'm the opposite of you, I love layering up, and looks forward to bundling up in jackets and sweaters and etc. I feel like you can be more stylish in winter than summer because of layering.

    I like the coat you picked out. All though I like the cold weather. I'm really only used to AZ weather which I am sure is way milder than what I will get in SK. People say SK is like NY, and since I was there this past March and it wasn't too bad I'm hoping I will be okay with the stuff I am packing.

    Does it get less cold by February or worse?

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  2. I wanted to ask, if you would write a blog entry about your outlook of being a foreign woman in SK, as far as safety, discrimination, and anything else you can think of.

    I would like to hear what you think, and I am sure others would appreciate that.

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  3. Hi :) I would love to write a blog about that issue. I think I will need to ponder what to say first. Certainly I have some things in mind now.

    I'm not sure when it will happen as I am busy these days planning my OSaka trip but I will hope to get around to making a post with that them.

    Thanks!

    Oh it gets down to -13 F here in February ... basically you won't see spring till April and it is still cool spring.

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  4. Hi :) I would love to write a blog about that issue. I think I will need to ponder what to say first. Certainly I have some things in mind now.

    I'm not sure when it will happen as I am busy these days planning my OSaka trip but I will hope to get around to making a post with that them.

    Thanks!

    Oh it gets down to -13 F here in February ... basically you won't see spring till April and it is still cool spring.

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  5. Very nice coat & great red shoes....together???...hmmmm???

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  6. May I humbly remind readers that dressing in layers is still quite important - presuming you're not hiking or otherwise spending many continuous hours outside, being able to shed your jacket while on the subway or a bus will be important as well. One thick jacket may well keep one warm while walking outside, and be easier to shed while on the subway.

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  7. Julianne, before coming to Korea, was living in Atlanta, Georgia. Needless to say she finds the temperatures here COLD!

    We went to Itaewon to the North Face and got her a 700 down fill wind proof water resistant winter jacket for 400,000won--WORTH EVERY WON!

    If you are susceptible to every tiny cold draft, snow flake, and cold anything and everything THIS is the kind of winter coat you should buy.

    Julianne and I call it her 'space suit' cause when she's in it with the hood up and face guard zipped up she's warm as a Korean in a sauna hot room!

    That's my two cents on this....

    It may be expensive, but you'll have this coat for 5-10 years if you take care of it, and believe me it's worth the price.
    J

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  8. Hi there! I'm going to Korea middle of December this year. It's just a 6 day vacation so I don't really want to buy any heavy winter coat for it --- or will I regret not doing that? The warmest coat I have is a knee-length wool coat, it's basically because I hate puffer jackets and haven't really been anywhere that requires wearing those bulky coats. I wonder if I'll survive with a thermal, a knit sweatshirt, a hooded jumper on top of that and then a wool coat? (Plus gloves, thick scarves, and all that of course.)

    And yes, I agree about how searching for pictures of Korean winter clothing does not help because they all look more stylish than just practical.

    Thanks and sorry for the sudden question :)

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  9. Sounds like you will be warm enough. I would say it gets colder in February January time. Bring an umbrella too.

    If you are too chilly you can find a cheap extra layer here while you shop. But I think you will be ok. And have a fun trip!

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