Women's Fashion in the Joseon Dynasty

Seok Juseon Memorial Museum, Dankook University

Shaping the body thru reduction and exaggeration: the dramatic change of the female silhouette across time as seen in traditional jackets and skirts  

The Style of Woman in the Joseon Dynasty
In the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), women 's clothes have been changed and fashioned with chima(skirt) and jeogori(jacket) as basic and centered. Even within the strict identity society, they actively accepted fashion for beauty as a woman.
The 16th century
At this time, the female jacket is long enough to cover the waist. The clothes are wide and cover the body completely. The skirt with the jacket was tied around the waist.

Jeogori, Madam Kim's Jacket
1482 - 1520

A long Jeogori excavated from Lady Kim of Gangneung (region), died at age 38. She is assumed to be a person lived in 1520’s. It is a padded winter clothes with lotus and auspicious patterned silk fabric on the outer layer. The length of Git (collar) is same on each side and there are gathers under the point that collars meet. It must have been worn as an outer garment over a short Jeogori.

Jeoksam, Unlined Jaket
1481 - 1538

A Jeoksam excavated from the tomb of Jung, On (1481~1538), a 5th class officer in the reign of King Joongjong (The 11th). It is made of single layer gauze fabric that has scrolled lotus pattern with the Buddhist motives such as Bodhisattva, Heavenly figures, Dharani Sutra on the front panel, and the three spirits, a Bodhisattva, Buddhist scriptures, lotus petal, characters and etc. on the rear panel and sleeves. It is assumed that the wife of Jung prepared it as an offering for the eternal life of Jung’s soul.

Chima, Skirt
1481 - 1583

A single layered Chima also excavated from Jung’s tomb. It is made of fine tabby silk and has various Buddhist scriptures around the knee portion. This suggests that this Chima was specially made for a placement in coffin as an element of the burial, and also as an offering for the late husband’s soul to rest in peace.

Hoejang-jeogori, Madam Song's jacket
1509 - 1580

This ceremonial jacket is Madam Song's (1509-1580) Hoejang-jeogori (jacket) . The wide git (collar), Seop (front patch for overlapping), and the Kkuit-dong (cuffs) of the Jeogori are embellished with gold patterned satin damask. The golden damask are made with satin damask woven with gold supplementary weft in the pattern of lotus petal. It is a typical 16th century woman's jacket form.
Excavated costume from the tomb of Madam Song

Jeogori, Madam Kim's Jacket 1520s

An outer jacket worn over a short Jeogori, thus long enough to cover the hip area. It is made of lotus and auspicious patterned silk, and padded with batting. The collar is straight wood block-shaped. This is excavated from the madame Kim's tomb (died at 38). Her husband was Song, Sehun, from the family of Eunjin. He was the minister of Anak region, under the reign of King MyungJong--the 13th King of Joseon dynasty.

Chima, skirt of Madam Han
1501 - 1600

This unlined ceremonial Chima was worn by Lady Han of Cheongju (region), a great-grand child of King Joongjong. It is made of satin damask with a lotus and seven treasures pattern and is decorated with two lines of satin tapes made with supplementary golden wefts to create a lotus and child pattern. This particular type of long skirts were worn with the front rolled and tied up with waist strap, so that the front hem to hollow and back to become a trail.
Excavated costume from the tomb of Madam Han

Shin, shoes
1482 - 1520

A pair of women’s shoes from the tomb of Lady Kim of Gang-reung(died at 38). The upper is made of plain silk fabric and the insole is made of leather. The toe is adorned with braids and tassels, and the heel is trimmed with braids. The inner side of heel is also lined with flower patterned satin to prevent the blister. Based on the fact that these shoes were allocated next to the feet of the deceased, these must have been worn by the person.
Excavated shoes from the tomb of Madam Kim

The 17th century
After the Japanese invasion of Korea, practical changes began to appear in women's clothing. Compared to the 16th century, it was smaller and shorter in length and wore a jacket that fits the body and a skirt that still wore around the waist.

Wonsam, Ceremonial Robe of Madam Yoon
1660 - 1701

This is Dae-rye-bok, a ceremonial robe for the big events. It was worn on the madam Yoon of Hae-pyeong's body as the outer. The body length is longer at the back thus to create a trail. This is made of a thin, louts-patterend silk and unlined. The collars are symmetrical and there are Saek-dong (multicolor) trimmed in a double line and Hansam(the part to cover the hands) attached at the end of sleeves.

Jeogori, Jacket
1581 - 1633

A women's jacket excavated from the tomb of Shin, Gyeong-yu, a military officer of 17th Century. It is a double layered Jeogri made of pheonix patterned silk. The collar is straight block-shaped with round-pointed edge, which is particular to 17th century. The moo, side panels patched underneath the sleeves makes the sideseams curved. The body becomes wider at the hem thus suitable to wear over puffered skirt.

Dang-ui, Jacket of Queen of abdicated King Gwanghaegun 1700s

A Dang-ui worn by the Queen Yoo (柳氏), the wife of deposed King Gwanghae (3 June 1575 – 7 August 1641; reigned 1608–1623). This is written in the lining. The outer layer, collar and sleeves are made of green satin damask with phoenix, chrysanthemum, and lotus pattern.

Dangui, Ceremonial jacket of Madam Yoon
1660 - 1701

Dang-ui is a semi-ceremonial jacket longer in length that upper class women wear over Jeogori (top). In comparison with the previous century, the Dangui looks narrower with the shortened sleeves. The side hemlines form an outward curved lines.

Neul, Veil of Madam Ahn
1551 - 1609

A face veil for the noblewomen. Neul is never worn alone but together with Ip-mo, a frame hat, then secured with the knots.

The video showing the neul, the veil of the Joseon dynasty

Jang-ot, Coat Style Veil of Madam Ahn
1551 - 1609

A lady's outerwear excavated the madam Ahn of Soonheung. The squared collar and the armhole, hemline is patched with the fabric of different color for aesthetic purpose. A large side panel attached to the side seams are enlarging the hem, thus suitable to wear with puffered skirts.

Soo-jeogori, Embroidery Jacket
1660 - 1701

This embroidered Hoejang-Jeogori excavated from the tomb of Lady Yoon. This double-layered jacket is made of satin damask with a lattice work and small flower pattern, and richly embroidered with spring and treasure motives on the cuffs and armpit patches, in the same style as other Hoejang-Jeogori. The square-curved up collar and the neck-band is a typical Mokpan-danko-git of the 17th century.

Chima, Madam Yoon's skirt
1660 - 1701

The Chima, the skirt is the most basic item of women's clothing together with Jeogri jacket. The pieces excavated from the tom of lady Yoon of Haepyeong includes a Pyeong-chima, of normal ankle length, and a Gin-chima, of floor length for formal use. The length of Jeogori in this period was long enough to cover the waistline, thus the skirts were wrapped around the waist.

Baji, Pants of Madam Yoon
1660 - 1701

This is an underwear for a skirt. The piece was excavated from the tom of lady Yoon of Haepyeong. The outer layer is flower patterned satin, the lining is silk taby, and the waistband is trimmed with circular crane patterned fabric. The width of pants are wide as much as that of skirt,

The 18th century
Compared to the previous period, the length, width and sleeves of jeogori  become shorter and narrower. Following the length of the jeogori, the skirt goes up above the waistline and the waist of the skirt is revealed and the figure of the woman gradually begins to be revealed.

Hoe-jang-jeo-go-ri, Woman's jacket 1700

These three pieces of Jeogoris (jacket) were layered together when they were discovered from madam Yi’s tomb. The Jeogori at the bottom, Hoeijang-jeogori is the smallest in size among three and has the decorative color combination on the collar, cuffs, underarm gussets and ties. The outermost layer is in solid color with small cloud patterns, and the Jeogori worn in between those two pieces is quilted. The Toshi (wristlets), also unearthed together with other pieces, completes the entire look.

Jeogori, Jacket of Madam Yi
1684 - 1753

This narrow and straight-shaped sleeved Jeogori is short in length and width ,thus reveals the waistband of skirt when worn together. It is made of silk fabric with small flowers and treasures pattern, in a plain design--thus assumed to be worn as a daily wear.

Jang-ot, Quilted outer garment of Madam Yi
1684 - 1753

This is a reproduction of quilted Jangot of Madam Yi. The basic form of Jangot (coat) remains the same throughout the centuries. Only small changes like the narrower sleeves and tighter width with minimized underarm gussets are noticeable. The underarm gussets gradually became so small that they are hardly seen. The madam Yi’s Jangot is quilted with tightly spaced stitching lines without any padding in between.

Video showing the Jang-ot, women's coat of Joseon dynasty

Jeogori, Madam Yoon's Jacket
1735 - 1754

The straight and narrow sleeves with smaller armholes are the basic features of the 18th century Jeogoris (jacket). In this period, Jeogori was too short to cover the entire waistband of Chima (skirt), revealing the bottom part of the waistband.

Baeja, Madam Yoon's vset
1735 - 1754

A padded vest worn over Jeogori for warmth. It is sleeveless, and has a squared-edged collar. There are buttons place in the front center for closure, and a large bands connecting the side seams.

Since the 19th century 
The woman 's jacket is curved in various parts, and the femininity is emphasized. The length of the jacket became shorter, and the width and the sleeve became narrower. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the shortest jacket was worn. The skirt was tied around the chest, and the skirt became longer and richer.

Jeogori, Princess Deok-on’s Jacket
1822 - 1844

A ceremonial Jeogori (top) won by Princess Duck-on (1822~1844) in her childhood. The outer fabric is pea green color gauze with peach and pomegranate pattern, and the ling is starched and pounded ramie clothe. Chinese characters 壽,福 (longevity and good fortune) are gilded in gold-leaf all over the clothes. The white overlaid cuff, Geodeul-ji, is made of white ramie. The length of Jeogori is very short thus a wide waistband.

Magoja and Jeogori, Vest and Jacket (reproduction)

Dang-ui, Ceremonial Jacket of Princess Deok-on

A Dangui, worn by Princess Deokon (1822~1844) in summer season after her marriage to Yoon, Uiseon. Dangui is a semi-ceremonial jacket longer in length that upper class women wear over Jeogori (top). It is a gauze weave with golden weft with Chinese character 壽(su), 福(bok), for longevity and good fortune.

Jang-ot, Princess Deok-on’s Coat Style Veil
1822 - 1844

Jang-ot was worn as an outerwear until mid-18th Century, but it evetually evolved to a face-covering veil by the end of Joseon dynasty. This Jang-ot is made of green gyeoggwangju(tabby silk) and lined with a light pink starched-and-pulled ramie cloth.

Chima, Ceremonial skirt
1801 - 1900

A ceremonial skirt. It is longer than the dailywear Chima to create a trail. This double-layered Chima is made of a thin navy gauze with cloud pattern, and lined with finely pulled tabby silk. There are decorative taping done around the waistline and the hem(lining) with the outer fabric in 6cm width.

Wonsam, Ceremonial Robe for women
1800 - 1850

Wonsam was a ceremonial robe for the royal household and wives of high government officials below the queen. However, later Joseon dynasty it was allowed to commoners to wear as a bridal robe. This piece was worn by a Sang-goong for a ceremonial use. It is single layered and made of a clud-patterned gauze of black-like dark purple color.

Wonsam, Women's Ceremonial Robe
1900s

The unlined matrimonial robe in Gaeseong area is different from other wonsam in general. The hem, vertical hem, side slits and cuffs are bordered in red. The wonsam is made of green satin damask with peony motif. The sleeve is consisted of five colored stripes in indigo blue, red, yellow, burgundy and off-white, and an additional white piece, hansam. It is different from other general wonsam that the sleeve end is rounded under the opening.

Hwal-ot, Women's Matrimonial Robe (front view) 1900s

The Hwal-ot for noble women is made of embroidered red satin and lined with yeongcho(blue tabby silk with motif). Waves, rocks, lotus pip, lotus pair of snowy herons and peony symbolizing wealthy are embroidered on the lower part of the robe, as well as the Chinese characters mean 'the unity of two families' 'the source of great fortune' on the shoulder.

Hwal-ot, Women's Matrimonial Robe(back view) 1900s

The length is short in the front and long in the rear. The sleeve is decorated with indigo blue, yellow and red stripes in satin damask, and an expanded white satin piece(hansam). The auspicious phoenix. and peony motif are embroidered from the rear part of hansam to the upper part of the sleeve.

Baeja, Vest

The Baeja (vest) is worn over the jeogori.

Durumagi, Dr. Seok's Coat
1801 - 1900

A durumagi coat worn by the late Dr. Seok, Ju-seon in the opening of her memoria museum at Dankook University. It is made of a tabby silk with cirular motif and lined with silk. There are a pair of Chima and Jeogori left in the museum, which are made of a same fabric.

Jeogori, Jacket
1900s

This Jeogori was worn by a bride. It is made of a green, big-flower patterened silk and lined with plain fabric. The collar, tie and sleeve end are adorned with red satin and silver leaf. The sleeves and the edges of the jacket are heavily curved.

Jeogori and Chima, Jacket and skirt
1900 - 1970

Women's traditional garments consisting of jeogori, a jacket and chima, skirt in this style were worn by brides since 1900s. Please note that jeogori covering the chest and the round sleeves are unique to the style.

Jeogori, Fur Lined Jacket
1900 - 1935

A winter jacket with wool lining and poplin interlining. It is made of dark navy silk fabric of small flower pattern. Sleeve ends and hemlines are also adorned with wool. It is an outerwear thus generous in the length and width.

Durumagi, Coat for Julia (the daughter-in-law of the Crown Prince, Yeongwang)
20th Century

A Durumagi worn by Julia, the wife of Yi, Gu and the daughter-in-law of Crown Prince, Yeong. This coat is made of burgundy satin damask with a clouds and treasures pattern, and was probably stored in the royal palace, due to the rarity of the fabric.

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