[Weekender] Surviving Monsoon in Style
By Lee Hyo-won
They say Korea has a fifth season, when the monsoon rain and tropical heat wave inundates the Peninsula. Weather forecasts say the monsoon will begin early, around mid-June and last a while.
For the fashion-sensitive, the wet season can mean limp hair, damp clothes ― a nightmare for silk ― and ruined shoes. But there are ways to work around the wet mess, with rain-friendly shoes, smart closet management and other general safety measures.
A solid umbrella is sure to shield the rain from atop, but keeping your feet dry can be a pain.
Rubber rain boots are classic. Jimmy Choo, which boasts an international cult following for his killer stilettos, has fallen in love with the tough Hunter rain boots. The chunky rubber shoes take on an exotic flair with Choo's signature crocodile embossing and leopard-print inner lining, and golden buckles give fine finishing touches. Visit www.jimmychoo.com.
Spai offers something more affordable and colorful, from pastel plaid and bright floral patterns to polka-dotted ankle boots and even ones shaped like equestrian gear. Visit www.spai.co.kr. You can easily spot similar rain boots at lower prices around Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun and other major shopping districts. E-Mart sells rainbow-hued rain boots for children, sized 140 to 200 millimeters and priced between 7,000 and 13,000 won.
If you feel uncomfortable wearing heavy duty rubber boots, then something lighter and even holed might be a fine alternative ― Crocs. These fun shoes widely adored by people of all ages have started to become increasingly popular in Korea in recent years, even with generic Croc-wannabes easily spotted around town. Visit www.crocs.co.kr for online purchases and more information.
If you are looking for something more appropriate for the office or formal occasions, then Melissa offers an eco-friendly solution. This Brazilian brand presents biodegradable plastic shoes that come in all shapes and colors, from clogs and Gladiator sandals to ballerina flats and stilettos. The collection also features creative collaborations with top designers such as Vivienne Westwood. There is no direct distributor yet in Korea, but www.melissaaustralia.com makes overseas shipments. Visit www.melissaplasticdreams.com for more about the brand.
After the Rain
Regular leather shoes get ruined in the rain because the dye or fat particles beneath the surface leak out, causing stains and such. In such a case, first eliminate the moisture and surface dirt, then spray benzene using a vaporizer and lay to dry in the shade. It is also helpful to stuff the shoes with newspaper to maintain the shape.
You can also prep for the showers with various water-resistant sprays and creams for shoes available in stores.
In the humidity, the claustrophobic wardrobe closet can easily attract mildew, bugs and other sworn enemies of your fashion items.
In addition to mothballs, the newspaper, like the one you're reading right now, can be a simple solution. Insert pages between piles of cotton clothing and lay some on the bottom of drawers so that they absorb the dampness instead of the clothes, according to Coh Hwa-yeon, a veteran housewife of over 25 years.
Humidity usually starts forming in low altitudes, so it is more effective to place moisture-controlling devices on the bottom of the closet. A lump of charcoal is a natural humidity controller.
It is advised to place synthetic fibers, which are more moisture-resistant, in the lower drawers, for example, and put delicate silks and wools on top, said Kwon Yang-sook, who has been running a dry cleaner shop in Cheongdam-dong for 17 years. Store knits and sweaters folded in drawers (rather than hang them, which can stretch them out) with mothballs. Mothballs are particularly a must for safekeeping wool items. As for drycleaned clothes, it is important to take them out of the plastic covers from the cleaners.
Used green teabags or coffee beans, can, if dried, act as deodorizers, as well as lumps of soap and leftover perfume bottles.
Doing the laundry in the hot, wet weather can be a nightmare, since you change more frequently. A pinch of baking powder can shoo off pungent odors from dirty laundry that pile up.
Before throwing your clothes into the washing machine, check sweat- and stain-prone areas of shirts such as the collar and underarm areas. According to one blogger, vinegar is a natural formula that can help remove stains ― dilute vinegar in water to make a 5 percent consistency and splash some in the area. Shampoo can be another good alternative, but some dark colored solutions can discolor the fabric.
1. Look around your house to see if there are walls prone to collapse under heavy downpour, or if there are items that might blow away in a storm.
2. Pedestrians should not use an umbrella in case of lightening, and should take refuge in a nearby building.
3. Drivers should switch to a lower gear and move parked cars to a higher altitude.
4. Farmers in remote mountainous areas should prepare for possible damage to orchards and greenhouses, in particular from landslides if farms are situated by sloping landscapes of 30 degrees or steeper.
5. Those vacationing by the mountains should pay heed to the weather and take safety precautions. Streams, no matter how small they seem, should be avoided since bodies of water can expand very quickly.