71 Artist’s Journey: What influences your own fashion sense? Yvette Cruz: I usually find ways to be trendy on a budget because I’m realistic with myself. I know I’m living off an entry-level salary. In the States, I always found cool and cutesy finds at the thrift stores, and I go crazy at Seoul’s underground shopping spots finding accessories, clothing or trendy shoes — basically, I turn up my wardrobe a notch or two on a budget. If I get something expensive, it stays with me for a long while. What makes good and bad fashion? People tend to underdress or overdress, instead of just keeping balance. No matter what your style is (quirky-fun, trendy-chic, edgy- cool), remember to make it easy by complementing your outfit with one or two basic colors. how is Korea’s culture reflected through its fashion? One hint of this is the lack of color in clothing — warm bright reds to cool shades of blue. Whatever the tint, it’s typical for Koreans not to add too much pop-of-color power into their dress. Within Korean culture, standing out tends to be disapproved of. It’s important to follow order, and the general rule of thumb is simple, basic and con- servative. But one question lingers on my mind: What’s with all the miniskirts? how have you found your own fashion adapting to Korean cul- ture? My best friend, DGal editor Michelle Ibarra, called Peter Pan col- lared tops, colorful bows and headbands the “trends that I would wear in Korea but would never wear at home.” Korean women tend to dress innocently and flowery — although these days a bit edgi- er — so I have to be conscious about what I wear to work or when I head out to Seoul. Koreans are conscious about how much skin they’re exposing, heavy eye makeup, flats or heels, the amount of lint on a jacket; fashion here is much more conservative. While living here, I’ve adopted some of the cutesy girlie aesthetics, but I’m still a Western girl with my own identity, so I’ll put on a pair of ripped, rugged jeans if I feel like it! how does the fashion differ in each district of Seoul? Apgujeong, Cheongdam, Gangnam and Sinsa are home to many high-end Korean and international brands or boutiques. They are a bit pricey, but the glamorous hotspots always are. These areas have the highest-priced apartments, perfect date-night spots, etc., which resemble SoHo in New York or, for me, Gold Coast in Chicago. Be- cause these areas are so hot, you might bump into chic, rich and famous Korean celebrities. It’s also promising that you’ll find cool clothing within your budget. A few shop favorites to mention are 8ight Seconds, Up & Over, Uniqlo, Forever 21 and Kim’s Boutique. If you want to go cheaper, head over to Express Bus Terminal in Seoul’s Seocho district, and you’ll find countless sale racks. I should also mention that Jamsil is only a few minutes from there, famous for another underground shopping area. Underground and street shopping is a bit hectic, but the savings are worth it. You can get a whole outfit, including heels, for under $30. Plus, if what you bought doesn’t work out, you won’t feel guilty since you didn’t spend a lot. Some places to try are Dongdaemun, Ewha Womans University, Gasan Digital Complex, Hapjeong, Hongik University, Myeong-dong, Sindorim and Yeongdeungpo Station. One of the toughest problems in Korea isn’t the prices; it’s not being able to try stuff on. Buying something, then trying it on at home and finding it doesn’t fit, or it doesn’t look as good as you thought — is frustrating. It takes time to get to know your figure and personal style. Getting to know what styles suit your body type is a matter of trial and error. how can local independent stores maintain their influences over big-brand labels? There are more than enough ways for shop owners to reach out to their niche markets via the Internet or offline. Big-brand labels will always be the staples in the industry, as they’ve been around for decades, but that doesn’t mean local brands don’t have the power to connect and show power-branding! Diane Von Furstenberg is rec- ognized for the practical wrap dress for women to wear for any oc- casion, whether for work or a date night — and the functional dress boomed over big brands in the fashion industry. Fashion is all about uniqueness for each generation. how important is fashion today compared with in the past? Fashion has always been a reflection of history and the values of that era; in today’s world, women can express themselves and dress uber-sexy or keep that classic conser- vative sort of vibe. Fashion is all about showing off your unique personality and what you want to portray. There are positive and negative sides to this, and getting approval of how we look, today or in the past, is still a vital part of our image and lifestyle. how can fashion be used as a form of self-expression? It is how one shows their unique culture or identity. Fashion is mixing and matching in a way that makes you happy and confident. But why do we need clothing as a form of expression? Fashion will never hurt the individual (unless you’re wearing 6-inch stilettos) and it allows you to express who you are or who you want to be. We all want to wear something stylish and comfortable; it doesn’t have to be expensive. For women, a dress alone without all the bling speaks volumes! And men, this is also your fashion world — whether well groomed or rugged-chic, looking good will work for you. is fashion an art form? Of course! Fashion is much more than what you see on the hanger. Designers, craftsmen, illustrators and printers spend a lot of time de- signing, constructing and researching history or architecture to sup- ply a piece of clothing with a one-of-a-kind touch and feel. Garment combinations season after season, year after year, are made with inspiration and imagination to keep you in tune with modern times. Fashion can make you a live, beautiful, walking piece of art. ‘Fashion is all about showing off your unique personality and what you want to portray. There are positive and negative sides to this, and getting approval of how we look, today or in the past, is still a vital part of our image and lifestyle.’ Yvette Cruz Artist’s Journey brings you daily doses of inspiration, including weekly podcasts featuring artists from around the globe. Learn more at facebook.com/ myartistsjourney or www.artistsjourney.org. — ed More info Visit Yvette Cruz’s website at www.districtgal.com.