Class is in session, folks!
School concepts have always been a staple in the world of K-pop. It’s tried, tested and timeless as new idols and their fans go down the high school path one way or another. And what’s a better way to capture the best essence of youth than to look the part? School concepts can even be a rite of passage for each K-pop group. Whether it’s for a new song or a funny variety show, almost everyone had to come out in uniforms at some point in their career.
But as the industry grew, influences changed the way school uniforms are worn, adjusted and styled to the point that they come up with many variations and many names. Of course, these idols live in a perfect world where we have the power to customize uniforms, where this supposedly rule-abiding apparel can be decorated and worn to your heart’s content. But in a whole ocean of blazers, pleated skirts and trousers, how do you stand out? Scroll along to see how these groups executed the best K-pop school concepts.
High Teen Sweethearts’ bold colors: Tomorrow X Together and Weeekly
The typical approach to the concept is as pure as its gets, aiming to bring out the innocence of youth and teenhood with clean-cut uniforms. Take notes from TXT’s sweater vests and nicely fitted trousers from Run Away. The entirely clean ensemble gets a break from their white polo shirts and white sneakers, but Yeonjun defies the rules and comes out with a vibrant blue hairdo while Beomgyu rocks his mop in ash grey.
Meanwhile, the girls of Weeekly are young and fresh for their debut in Tag Me. They trade skirts for shorts for their navy blue uniform set with large, white bows and gold hardware to give it a more polished and refined look. But they balance it out with neon orange knee-high socks and white sneakers, a welcome twist that would have any school principal (imaginary or not) seething. But the bold color completes the look—a cheeky edge shining behind the prim and proper persona.
Teen Crush Rebels always accessorize: BTS and BLACKPINK
In school come different crowds, sectioning off the student body into cliques—the honor students, the athletes and, of course, the rebels—and the world’s most prominent groups, BTS and BLACKPINK, play their part as the edgy kids so, so well. For Boy In Luv, BTS goes rugged as each member keep their shirts untucked and pair their uniforms with the latest skateboard sneakers. Then they bring it to the next level by wearing their neckties loosely or switching it up with bolo ties, as seen on V and RM.
Meanwhile, BLACKPINK in As If You’re Last thrives as each member plays the role of baddies with their nicely accessorized outfits. Jisoo’s long and dangly pink ribbon earring stands out, while Lisa pairs a tactical belt and a thigh bag with an asymmetrical pleated skirt. Jennie lets her thick, baby pink necktie hang around, and Rosé adds bling to her uniform with two chains across her skirt. Instead of the prescribed sneakers, the girls come in rocking translucent, knee-high tights and chunky boots for more flair and attitude.
The American Teen’s plaid dreams: SOMI and STAYC
As stylists, companies and idols themselves gain more influence from around the world, they’ve been leaning towards channeling their American teenage dream. Think Clueless, High School Musical and The Heathers with carefully coordinated sets, full glam makeup, extravagant hairstyles and heels. SOMI channels her inner Cher Horowitz in Dumb Dumb. But instead of the staple yellow plaid look, she sports a blue one that bares her midriff. For a daintier finish, she rocks a collared cropped top under the sleeveless top.
STAYC in Stereotype follows the same path by matching unique plaid sets with white tops. Again, we see variations of the Clueless yellow patterns, but it’s now mixed in with red, baby blue and black hues, a risky and bold decision that they were able to pull off. But the best look comes from Sieun, who dazzles in her simplified uniform with a decorated Chanel bow.
There’s no telling how new K-pop groups will be reinventing the coveted high school uniform. But one thing’s for sure: we’re all excited to see them add sugar, spice and everything edgy and nice into this industry staple.
Did we miss any group that rocked the K-pop school concept? Sound off in the comments below.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver