The History Of K-Pop: Styling And Trends For Boy Groups Throughout The Decades
K-Pop style has definitely evolved over the years. Currently, the trendy themes for boy groups lean more towards androgyny and embracing youth. Gone are the days (well, getting further, at least) of toxic masculinity in styling. Boy groups are now also encouraged to keep their skin as clean and hairfree as possible. Exhibit A? The increased use of shorts in recent styling exposing smooth skin.
Armpits are also cleanly shaven and lightened. Up to the 2nd or 3rd generation of boy groups, it was only common for female idols to groom their body hair.
The lavish and princely look, with European influences are also high in demand.
Makeup is more experimental, with boy groups also making use of plenty of glitter.
Crop tops expose lean waists and tans and six-packs are no longer “essential” for male idols to pursue a sexy concept.
Gone are the days of ripping one’s shirt open for sex appeal. (2PM, anyone?) A light show of skin or form-fitting outfits can do the job perfectly without making anyone feel uncomfortable.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of current trends, walk down memory lane with us and learn about the history of K-Pop boy group styling.
1. 1st generation
We’re talking the very first generation of idols here. Not singers, but idols. We have groups such as Seo Taiji and the Kids. You can spot YG Entertainment founder Yang Hyun Suk on the left in the photo below. The “sporty cutie” aesthetic was favored, with loose overalls and baseball uniforms.
Idols back then wore whatever was trendy for young people. Rather than setting trends, they followed it.
Wide pants were essential for the look.
With the launch of H.O.T, they were one of the most versatile groups in terms of styling. The iconic “Candy” styling went viral, with the boys dressed in bright sweaters and white overalls. The ski goggles also became a trend.
Headgear was very important in this era, as was spiky hair.
Shinhwa went for the punk vibes immediately.
They later took on a more approachable look and the 5:5 hair became a trend.
2. 2nd generation
Hair was very important with the 2nd generation. TVXQ was known for their long ‘dos and frosted tips.
Jaejoong sported long hair for the longest time.
As years went by, they got more experimental.
Hairstyling really had its ups and downs in this era.
As we approach the later half of the 2nd generation, the gentle and princely look became more in trend. Think Boys Over Flowers.
Side-swept bangs were almost a must for every boy group.
BIGBANG‘s G-Dragon later started a trend with his use of headbands.
Concept was very important for boy groups back then, and groups rarely strayed from their initial concept. 2PM was famous for their beastly charms and often wore suits, sporting the side swept bangs style.
SHINee was more experimental and emphasized their youth.
The bangs and leather combination was definitely a trend.
3. 3rd generation
With the 3rd generation came an emphasis on eye makeup for boy groups. Check out BTS‘s Jimin with heavy kohl.
EXO‘s Baekhyun also created a huge buzz when burgundy eye makeup became his signature look. This prompted a whole slew of makeup tutorials for it.
4. 4th generation
In the 4th and current generation, as mentioned earlier, what was previously limited to female idols was no longer “off limits.” More colors were used in boy group makeup.
They began to explore the use of obvious glitter.
Heavy blush was used to emphasize a youthful theme.
They even began to experiment with “Pinterest” style makeup involving blush across the nose, and the use of stickers.
Crop tops helped show off lean muscles rather than washboard abs.
A more sleek frame became in trend for “sexy concepts.”
Corsets also became trendy for male idols.
Piercings were utilized in lavish and extravagant ways.
Lace and exquisite details were also trending for a while.
Tweed, sparkling beads and embroidery completed a lavish look.
The use of chokers paired with v-necks also increased.
Currently, it is also in trend for boy groups to do nail art.
Compared to the 2nd generation, hairstyles have also been tamed quite a bit.
The styling only gets better and better! We’re excited to see more walls being broken and boundaries torn down with each generation.