Deconstrucing Gangnam style

What exactly does it mean when PSY tells us to “dress classy”?


With the K-Pop megastar in the country and a Jil Stuart collab in the works, we take a closer look at real-life Gangnam style – district by district. You’d be mistaken to think side-partings, dapper dinner jackets and sunglasses after dark were all there was to it ...

(But first, if you haven't watched this yet, as Molly Meldrum would say, do yourself a favour)



A playground for the nouveau riche, Cheongdam is affectionately known as South Korea’s Beverly Hills. The neighbouring Apgujeong even has a street named after Rodeo Drive. The district is crammed with couture-clad young professionals and shiny shopping malls. Women favour luxe, look-at-me brands such as Gucci, Etro and Prada, and wear them with Ferragamo pumps and Chanel pashmina shawls, or opt for designs by local labels such as Lie Sang-bong, Lee Suk-tae and Ko Tae-young.

Then there’s the most noticeable aspect of Gangnam style – bigger eyes and more pronounced noses – with one of the highest number of plastic surgeries per capita in Cheongdam. A Real Housewives spinoff wouldn’t go astray ...

1. Diane Von Furstenberg dress

2. Prada Spazzolato bag

3. Etro jacquard top

4. Hermes cuff

5. Elke Kramer parasol


With so many universities and private schools in the area, Daechi is known for its urban preppy, Ivy League-esque style. Think crisp shirtdresses, knitted sweaters and satin or velvet loafers – everything your collegiate dreams are made of. The look is slightly more casual than in Cheongdam, but Burberry backpacks are still the carryall of choice.

When school’s out, Daechi dwellers exude a more understated vibe, wearing unfussy floral dresses in summer and long skirts on brisk autumnal evenings. Try pairing yours with leather booties or a sweet pair of plimsolls.

1. J.Crew collared tee

2. Charles Philip Shanghai loafers

3. Jil Sander appliquéd sweatshirt

4. Paul & Joe Sister floral dress

5. Burberry backpack 


Gangnam Station is an office district by day and club hub by 9pm  ­– “noble at the daytime and going crazy at the night time” as PSY puts it. Women who head to Gangnam rev it up with velvet-rope worthy dresses and embellished clutches to add just the right amount of glitz. Be prepared to cut a rug and let loose, but steer clear of anything too raunchy. As the song goes, “A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all.”

If you do ever visit Gangnam, make sure you swing by Club Eden, Harlem and NB, three of the district’s biggest clubs. Yes, they will play that insidiously catchy song. And yes, you will get up to phantom pony in your body-con dress.

1. Sass & Bide dress

2. Zimmermann skirt

3. Manning Cartell blazer

4. Sportsgirl ring

5. Anya Hindmarch clutch