A Style Guide To The Korean Office: Men
Handsome gents, it’s your turn for a style guide to the Korean office. After polling the male expat group, I’ve come up with a neat list to help you put your best foot forward. There’s no longer any need to stress over what to wear at the office! And, ladies, in case you missed the installment just for you lovely darlings, you can find it here (https://www.reachtoteachrecruiting.com/blog/how-to-dress-in-the-korean-office-5-womens-rules/).
- Try To Dress Up On The First Day
On the first day of school, you and the other brand new teachers in school will be presented to the senior staff. Depending on your school, it’s possible that an assembly will be held to present you to the entire school – which is the way my first day went down. I wasn’t told about the school assembly beforehand, but luckily I had thought to wear a simple professional dress on the first day. A few other teachers weren’t so lucky though and were presented to the entire school in blue jeans. While it isn’t the worst thing in the world to meet your new co-workers in denim, it sure isn’t following the rule that you can only make a good impression once. My advice is to dress nicely during the first week (just in case assemblies take place throughout the week) and save the casual wear for later.
- Depending on your school, you might be able to get away with casual dress
I suppose this rule rings true for any office, but I think a good rule of thumb is to dress professionally for a week and observe the senior staff during that time. During this time you can ask your co-teacher if jeans and t-shirts are appropriate attire.
- Avoid White Shirts
Unless you have insane chopstick skills, my personal advice is to avoid wearing white. The reason? Lunchtime can be a messy venture when you don’t have years of practice using chopsticks. My chopstick level is at about “medium – not a newbie, but will probably never be an expert” and yet I still would walk away from lunchtime often with kimchi stains on my pretty dresses. Once I realized I couldn’t slurp noodles or snatch up sides as well as my Korean counterparts, I began to avoid wearing white altogether. Also, keeping a stain removal pen or wipes at your desk is a great idea. You’ll thank me someday for that tip.
- No Flip Flops As School Sandals
If you’re uncomfortable wearing guest slippers at school (which may or may not have been worn by dozens of other foreigner teachers before you), you can always bring your own pair. It’s strongly advised not to bring flip-flops as your school shoes. Apart from looking extremely unprofessional, flip-flops are often associated with Japanese culture and some of your older co-workers may not like the reminder. If you do bring your own, try to get something simple.
- Avoid T-Shirts With English Writing
Another personal preference here, but please for the sake of English, don’t wear t-shirts with English writing on it. Maybe that’ll convince Korean teens to stop wearing clothes with random English that makes no sense. “Maybe partying will help” “I love cocaine” “Come da f*ck down” Those are just a few of the English sentences that I witnessed sprawled on the apparel of teens clothes in Korea. Don’t add to the awfulness of this trend with your own t-shirts please. Making the trend stop in Korea starts with you!
If you’ve taught in Korea, what rules would you add to the list for men’s style in the Korean office? Tell us in a comment below! We’d love to hear!