There has been a recent influx of so-called “Tom Boy” photo shoots in the Korean fashion world lately.  The social implications of crossdressing in Korean entertainment has recently been discussed here on Seoulbeats, and it is clear that men are dressing as women for a comedic effect, though the same is not true for women.  While being a “tom boy” is not explicitly the same as crossdressing, some of these shoots lean closer to dressing as a man than others, with the models sporting eyebrows thickened by make-up and short wigs.  The overall effect is definitely not comedic, but the tone is light and does not come across as an attempt to be cool and sexy.  In fact, the majority of the shots are the exact opposite, with the clothing being bulky, hiding any hint of a feminine physique.

Jae-kyung appeared in the December issue of InStyle magazine in what they dubbed as “tom boy” gear.  Sporting a dramatic black bob, the Rainbow singer was shown in plaid prints on thick fabric and chunky knit sweaters.  In the first photo, a military-style garrison cap sits jauntily atop her head.  In the final picture, she looks more like a normal teenager than anything else.  Her ensemble includes just about any trend imaginable, from the black framed glasses, faux-fur vest and bold graphic tee, to the arm warmers, waist-tied plaid shirt and checkered boots.

 SM‘s resident actress Go Ara will be premiering two new movies, “Papa” & “Pacemaker“, in the new year and is therefore kicking promotions into high gear as 2011 comes to a close.  One of her many magazine features for January include her version of the “tom boy” look for Elle Girl.  She is seen in a more traditional representation, with an emphasis on sportier looks and props while maintaining a feminine charm.  One shot shows her possessively clutching a trophy while wearing suspenders and skinny jeans, while she gives bottomless fashion and boxing gloves a try in another.  She also wears a delicately printed romper under a long wool coat, a scooter helmet perched on her hip.  Messy hair and barely-there make-up are used throughout the shoot.

Finally, Kim So Eun, who currently plays one of the leads in the dramaA Thousand Kisses” gives the “tom boy” look a spin in the January issue of Nylon.  Each shot has a distinctly different look, with a different hair style and take on the concept.  With a light, shaggy bob, ball cap & collared shirt she evokes the image of a sweet little boy, while another shot features an unfortunate bowl cut and baggy clothes that make one think of a child playing dress-up in their parents clothes.  There is also a look much like one of Jae-kyung’s, where the actress is being swallowed up in heavy fabrics and knits.  The final shot is the most subtle, with a button-down dress shirt and men’s-style cardigan layered over the more feminine acid-wash overalls.

The definition of “tom boy” fashion is widely varying, but Go Ara’s subtle variation is a clear winner over the other two’s more literal looks.  Which shoot was your favorite?  What would you consider “tom boy” fashion?

(InStyle, Elle Girl, Nylon)