South Korea is known around the world for its skincare, makeup, and dermatological advancements. It’s also known for K-Pop and its idols, as well as its fashion. While all of these are things to enjoy and take advantage of while living there, it’s important to remember that beauty standards in Korea may be very different to what you’re used to at home. As a Canadian plus size woman, there were some things I found harder in Korea, while there were other things that I was worried about but didn’t even notice once I arrived.

What’s it Like Plus Size Shopping?

The biggest issue for me when shopping was finding clothes and shoes in my size. I love Korean fashion, and this was a huge disappointment for me! I had heard that this might be an issue, but was certain I could make it work. However, for the first few months, it was really hard to find anything that fit. I eventually found clothing in places that worked for me such as Zara, H&M and some thrift stores as well as the men’s section of certain stores, but it was definitely a frustrating process! As for shoes, I managed to find running shoes and sandals in the men’s section, but things such as boots and heels were much harder to find.

One thing I discovered was that the selection depended on where I was. I lived in Daegu, and found that even H&M was hit or miss for having my size there. However, when I visited friends in Seoul or Busan, I found that their selection was a bit more diverse! Seoul also has a couple of bigger-size stores including Romi Story, Mariang Plus, and Richmood Showroom. Hoya in Seoul makes beautiful plus-size hanbok (Korean traditional dress) inspired clothing as well. There is also Lady Plus, but they only have boutiques in Ilsan and Gyeonggi-do. Also, a lot of stores carry oversized clothing because that’s just the style in Korea, so you may be able to find something that fits in an average Korean store – just try it on and see. I found one of my favorite sweaters in a store in Gyeongju, and I didn’t think it would fit me until one of my friends encouraged me to try it on!

(A dress I scored at a thrift store in Daegu)

Can’t I Just Order Online?
There are a few plus-size Korean stores that only sell online, including 09Women and JStyle Evelett. I never used these websites personally because I’m more of a try-on girl, but I have friends who did. The only issue they had was figuring out how to return the items, but I’m sure a Korean speaking coworker could help if asked. If you’re down to do a bit more searching on Instagram, there are quite a few accounts that thrift and sell clothes, and most of them will deliver across Korea. Mikku xLarge, Modern&J, and DewA are just some examples, but if you have time to peruse, you can search #빅사이즈 on Instagram for more. A lot of these accounts will have links to their Naver stores which you need an account for, but signing up for one is simple. Another option is to browse on Coupang, but it’s a bit harder to sift through clothing on their website because of the sheer amount of stuff for sale.

A final option is to order from North American or European stores, but the shipping fee when ordering online from Canada or the United States can be atrocious. There are some companies like Ppali Ppali Express who can help you to ship things from the United States to Korea for a slightly cheaper delivery fee (by sending your items to their warehouse located in the USA, and having them send it to you in Korea), which I found worked best when shared with friends (which cut the delivery fee down significantly).

(Busan in one of the dresses I found at H&M, and sandals I ordered on Coupang)

So What Should I Bring With Me?
As you can tell, it’s not impossible to find plus-size clothing in Korea, but there are definitely more limited options. Because of this, I would recommend bringing jeans and other pants, undergarments, a bathing suit (if you plan on going to the beach and swimming) and shoes (if you’re above a size 6). Dresses, tops and skirts were easier for me to find since they’re often looser and less tight-fitting.

In summary, if you’re worried about finding clothes in Korea, just make sure to pack your favourite items and bring the basics that make you feel good. As for makeup, bags, socks and accessories: you don’t have to worry about bringing any of those. You can find those in nearly every other store in Korea!

(Some of my favourite jeans I’ve ever had that I ordered on Coupang, and my FILA Korea jacket that I got from the men’s section!)