Footwear a shoo-in for under the big top

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Footwear a shoo-in for under the big top

If you have to wear a suit every day at work, you probably don't want to wear a shirt and tie outside of the office if you don't have to. But these days, in the evenings and on weekends, the people dressed in three-button suits with a silk tie or in a Chanel skirt and one-button jacket, strutting through the party districts of Seoul, are most likely to be teenagers.

"I want my boyfriend to show up in suit and tie for a date," said Choi Eun-hee, a 17-year-old high school student. "It just looks cooler than beaten-up sneakers and a T-shirt."

At a glance, Ms. Choi looked like she was in her mid-20s, sporting an almost perfect "office-lady" look, complete with thick makeup, especially for a typical Korean high school student.

The major giveaway, though, that she was still a fun-loving student ?her shoes. Instead of a sensible pair of pumps or anything appropriate for the office, her shoes were incredibly long and pointy, like something out of a Middle Eastern fairy tale.

It's no surprise then that her shoes are called "Aladdin shoes," as are her boyfriend's. The key quality for Aladdin shoes is size: they should be at least 1.5 times bigger than proper-fitting shoes, and twice as big is even better.

Ms. Choi and her boyfriend, however, are a little behind the curve on this trend. Kim Ju-han, a member of the planning department at Sieg, a local menswear brand, said that the Aladdin trend is now a bit passe. "The latest trend now is a pair of shoes that have much wider tips -- still extra-long soles, at least for men's shoes," Mr. Kim said. Aladdin shoes have been around for the last a couple of years, but the trend ended around three months ago. Now, these "circus clown" shoes, gunboats with wider tips but still extra-extra long, are all the rage.

Lee Ju-hee, who sells shoes near Ewha Womans University in Sinchon, one of the major shopping districts in Seoul, confirmed the circus clown look. "Young men, mostly teenagers, like to hang out dressed up in suits that fit tightly about their slender forms. The right look should be completed with shoes that are at almost twice as long as the normal size," she said.

At least the newest trend is better for the health of your feet than Aladdin shoes. According to Dr. Park Si-bok, a professor at Hanyang University hospital, the best shoes for your feet should have 1 centimeter of space at the tip. "Wearing Aladdin shoes can cause problems and deform the feet," he said.

Against the doctor's warning, however, Ms. Choi wants to remain looking like Princess Jasmine, and to keep her boyfriend looking like Aladdin. After all, what's the point in feeling good if you don't look good?

by Chun Su-jin

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