In other words: Remy acts like a Fool by trying to talk about fashion.
Before we jump into things, however, I must put out a disclaimer that this isn’t a sponsored post (which is obvious given the quality of aforementioned content). I also probably don’t know what I’m talking about since I’ve never studied fashion outside of skimming over a few blog posts and websites.
This post is for fun, really, but I hope that it proves to be both educational and entertaining.
What is “Mori Girl?”
Mori Girl is a Japanese fashion subculture (and lifestyle) that literally translates into “forest girl.” It places an emphasis on comfy outer garments (like cardigans and floaty dresses); extensive layering; vintage motifs; natural fabrics; and earthy colors.
The style started in 2006 when a girl with the username, choco, started a Mori Girl community on a Japanese social network (Mixi). choco also included an exhaustive list that outlines the do’s and don’ts (and it consists of 62 rules, which is crazy! More on that later).
Mori Girl style, like all sorts of fashion, can definitely be customized for personal preferences. Feel free to interpret the style to your own liking as well as mix and match other styles in order to create a unique image! However, the following section only covers what I consider to be the staples to the “traditional” Mori Girl style.
Ideal materials and fabrics for your clothes in no particular order: lace, linen, cotton, crochet, corduroy, knit, faux fur, wool.
- 1-2 base dresses
- 2-5 “fancy dresses”
- 1-3 oversized shirts
One of the key components to Mori Girl style is the layering. This is where the minimalistic, simple dress piece comes in as the core basis to your look. Even though the base dress (which should be in muted colors) looks plain, you can add things over it and underneath it; it’ll be the add-ons that makes your outfit pop! That’s why such a low-key piece is crucial – you wouldn’t want your outfit to look too busy with a myriad of clashing patterns so you gotta mix the loud pieces in with the quiet pieces. That’s the golden rule of layering!
The fancy dress (which typically has more color, print, and patterns) can be worn over the base dress, as a substitute for the base dress, or just by itself! This is where your individuality can really shine! If you’re aiming for a more traditional Mori Girl look, pick dresses with “more detail, lace, ruffles, or embroidery.”
Petticoats in Mori Girl style are meant to add more layers and/or length. They also enable you to not worry too much about the length of your dresses. Choose petticoats that are lacy and in shades of whites and creams.
An oversized shirt can act as a dress when paired with petticoats or a skirt! These can be versatile and the amount you purchase depends on the individual, but I think I recommend stockpiling on blouses and letting the actual dresses be the dresses instead. Ideally, these should be shorter-sleeved to enable more layering.
- 2 “petticoat” skirts
- 1-2 “skirts you can tuck a shirt into” (think high-waisted)
- 1 quirky skirt
Skirts are also very important to this style. They can be substitutes for petticoats (or used alongside petticoats for even more layers), worn under blouses or paired with long shirts! Pick long skirts or mid-length skirts for the Mori Girl style.
“Petticoat” skirts are long, lacy, and neutral in color. They share a similar function to the base dress since both articles of clothing are primarily used for layering.
The next category of skirts are for when you’re rocking a cute shirt. Make sure they’re not neutral/tan/beige/white (since those are probably the color of your shirt).
The last kind of skirt should also not be in muted colors. This is to be paired with your base dress when you’re feeling too lazy to coordinate a perfect outfit, so make it flashy! Quilt patterns, embroidery, you name it!
- 1-2 white blouses
- 1-2 colored blouses
- 1-2 somewhat long-sleeved plain shirts
The white blouses go well with cardigans and should be collared and fitted. Same goes for colored blouses. Just remember to pair color with muted when it comes to blouses and cardigans. Lace decorations would be a nice touch, but you have a lot of flexibility here so just choose what you like! I personally am a fan of Peter Pan collars.
The shirts should be fitted and ideally half or 3/4 sleeves (optimal for layering and showing off bracelets). Pick ones in shades of white and neutral. Darker shirts are fine, too. Just think of a basic, fitted shirt you can find anywhere.
Turtlenecks, while not part of traditional Mori Girl wear, could work, too.
- 2+ cardigans
- 2-3 oversized sweaters
- 1-2 vests
This section is what defines the iconic look of the Mori Girl! They love their cardigans and sweaters!
Look for fitted cardigans. They pair nicely with your fitted, collared blouses. Shawls are also lovely.
In my opinion, the cardigan is the ultimate sweater due to being easy to take on/off to the point that the pullover can’t even compare, but having a few pullovers for lazy days would be a good idea. They should be cozy and oversized; heck, if you’re good at knitting, make some yourself!
I don’t think vests are part of the traditional Mori image, to be honest, but they’re great at making your silhouette look sharper while completing your look. So why not?
Ponchos and boleros are also good to wear, but I don’t know much about those.
Socks and Tights
- slouchy socks (that go up to your calves but can bunch up at your shoes to look baggy)
- knee highs / thigh highs
- socks with lace
- floral / light-colored tights
- darker leggings / leg warmers
Just think of nerdy socks if my wordy description for the first category of socks isn’t ringing any bells. At least one pair should be beige while another should be a color that isn’t neutral.
Try to aim for thicker, knitted material for the knee highs and thigh highs. Girls living in the forest have to keep warm, after all!. But that sort of fabric isn’t mandatory.
Socks with lace at the top are probably the cutest kind of socks I’ve ever seen in my life.
I outlined the kind of tights and leggings are typically worn up in the list that’s perched above, but I personally think that’s up to personal preference and style. The more traditional Mori Girl would probably spring for heavier leggings (it gets cold in the forest), but I’m more fond of tights in lighter shades.
Brown round toe shoes are the staple! Nothing wrong with oxfords or lace up boots, either. I’m keeping this section intentionally vague because I believe comfort is what’s most important when it comes to footwear. I couldn’t really enjoy the trip I made earlier this year because I was wearing uncomfortable shoes so I’m speaking out of personal experience and regret here!
Purses and Bags
A leather satchel is probably the safest bet. But this is another category where you’re free to experiment to suit your own tastes. I would personally spring for purses and bags that invoke nature and DIY vibes – novel animal shaped purses and quilted bags would really add some quirkiness and individuality to your outfit!
Gold, silver, brass jewelry are all fine, Choco’s checklist be damned. Pocket watches, key necklaces and the like add a bit of vintage flair to your look. Scarves and mitts can protect you against the rhetorical forest frost. Ribbons and flower headpieces can decorate your hair. Again, feel free to experiment!
“What if I don’t want to read all those words?”
Well, fear not! Here’s a quick and easy tutorial!
- Wear a white A-line dress.
- Slap on lacy skirt underneath dress to add more layers and exaggerate silhouette.
- Put on cardigan over dress. Pair with shawl and scarf.
- Grab a quirky purse.
- Look like the most basic Mori Girl ever, yay!
Cathy Ngo, who wrote a Buzzfeed article about Mori Girls, claims that “[t]he Mori Girl lifestyle encourages girls to slow down and appreciate the outdoors. Other typical activities include: reading, sketching, photography, crafting, gardening and more. Buy unique pieces at vintage stores or flea markets. Wood furniture is great because there are different hues to match your tastes. Real (or fake) flowers can brighten up your neutral palette.”
Another article (on AminoApps) declares that “the lifestyle of Mori Girls is really important (…sometimes more than the fashion itself).” This is actually quite believable considering how the founder of this style launched such a big checklist which is as follows (as of 2009):
- You like loose-fitting dresses
- You always wear dresses and skirts
- You prefer slightly quirky clothes over simple ones
(but you don’t like loud and flashy clothes)
- You look natural, but with your own style
- You are particular about fabrics
- You like ethnic clothes, too
- You wear A-line clothes
- You like wearing dresses that little girls would wear, too
- You like smock-like dresses and blouses
- You don’t like super sweet fashion
- You like deep colors like Burgundy, Fukamidori (dark green, #00552e), Koniro (navy blue, #223a70) and Chairo (dark brown, #965042)
- Warm colors look good on you
- Short nails feel more comfortable
- You like fluffy hats made of knitwear or fur
- You like ear muffs
- You like ponchos and boleros
- You want to have leather bags
- You use pochettes for everything
- You prefer gold accessories over silver
- You feel attracted to old things
- You like pocket watches
- You like necklaces with magnifying glasses or large designs
- You like designs featuring animals
- You like designs featuring sweets
- You like plaid and polka dots
- You like old-fashioned flower patterns
- You like lace
- You like tights and leggings
- Your shoes are basic and flat soled
- You like round toe shoes
- If you wear sneakers you wear them like loosely fitting cute slip-ons
- Instead of regular buttons you like hand-made buttons
- You want to wrap your stole or muffler around yourself
- In winter, a turtleneck design is your basis
- You like layering garments
- Puff sleeves make you feel emotional
- You love fairy tales
- Your hair is loosely permed
- Bob cut x straight bangs
- Straight bangs x long loose perm
- You like FELISSIMO
- Of FELISSIMO, you especially like the brands Syrup and &sloe
- You like the feel of Q-pot “sweets”
- You enjoy chilling out at cafés
- You like walking with a camera in your hand
- You unconsciously end up at variety stores
- You can’t help starting collections of things you like, you are a collector
- Finding cute books at the book store makes you happy
- You get excited when you visit a furniture store
- You like making things by hand
- Autumn and winter are your favorite seasons
- You’d like to visit Scandinavia one day
- You like to have round cheeks
- If you use perfume, you prefer faint flower scents best
- (You long to be) a girl that exudes a soft mood
- (You long to be) an uncomplicated girl
- You have been told you come across as laid-back
- You consider Hanamoto Hagumi of Honey and Clover to be a Mori Girl
- Satonaka Shizuru from Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru is also a Mori Girl
- You have been told by a friend that it looks like you are in a forest
Personally, I think this list is more of a guideline
I can agree with and relate to parts of this checklist, yes. Vintage stuff has always been interesting to me and I love cardigans! So there’s definitely some overlap between choco’s beliefs and my own tastes.
But if you look closely, you can see that choco has included her own preferences in the list. Which is fine, but it’s a bit arrogant to assume one person’s interests is what defines an entire subculture. Even if said person is the one who came up with subculture in the first place.
These rules are also tailored to a Japanese audience since a lot of the mentioned products are only widely available in Japan. “If you don’t live in Japan, you will find it hard to buy magazines like Fudge, Spoon or So-En every month anyway. It is also extremely difficult to buy shoes made by Cocue, Long Johns by Fur Fur, long knitwear by Frapbois, or loose dresses by Par Avion or Bulle de Savon. These labels are only for sale in Japan,” notes JapaneseStreets. The author also provides a very thoughtful interpretation that should probably be the slogan for Mori Girl enthusiasts world-wide:
But, be free to learn and love the intelligent and wonderful rules about loving antiques, being careful with your clothes, spending your time reading at a café, taking a walk with a camera.
Because in a society that goes too fast, we need to go back to a slower way of living. We need to learn how to be sweeter. We need to learn from the old ways of living, from our grand-parents.
I think that Japanese girls are looking for something that they never knew. Tokyo is a megalopolis where life moves too fast. It tells us about a possible future that turns some people crazy. Perhaps the city’s inhabitants are looking for something different by looking back in time and cherishing the old things they have.
Being a Mori Girl is about lessons we need to learn. So, feel free to look into your own country’s past, collect old things, and cherish your grand-mother’s accessories. I guess there are different ways to be a Mori Girl. You have to find your own.
When you think about Mori Girl subculture in a nutshell, think: whimsical, quirky, earthy, vintage, layering, comfortable
…But Why am I Talking about Mori Girls in the First Place?
Well, for a few reasons. I guess the most important one would be the fact that I believe some anime characters are Mori Girls! The list choco provides lists Hanamoto Hagumi from Honey and Clover and Satonaka Shizuru from Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru as Mori Girls. Personally, I never watched either series (well, Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru is a movie) but I think choco was onto something here! I can definitely see aspects of the Mori Girl subculture in both characters.
I would also consider Matsumi Yuu (from Saki: Achiga-hen) and Hanato Kobato (from Kobato.) to be Mori Girls. Both characters favor layering as well as dresses and cardigans as their casual attire. Yuu just happens to dress that way because she’s always on the search for warm things while Kobato just has a hat she can never take off (or so it says in the story but her hat always seems to be changing). Hagumi and Shizuru are probably closer to being Mori Girls compared to Kobato and Yuu, however.
Well, that’s all I really wanted to say. Sorry that it became such a long post. If you disagree with the subculture or my opinion about anime Mori Girls, I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section! I guess you can comment, too, if you agree, wahaha.