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Who are the mori girls?

The mori girl blog gives a beautiful introduction to the lifestyle and closet of a mori girl.

In the simplest terms, they are girls who look like they live in a forest.

Most mori girls wear loose-fitting clothing – comfortably, floaty tops and long, wide A-line skirts. They have a predilection to wear a variety of fabrics emphasising a natural look with practical yet rustic grace (akin to stepping out of the fairytale woods). Light cotton blouses and heavier cotton skirts and with lace accents (such as lace sewn on the hem or adorning the collar). Crocheted scarves and socks. Plaid or checked patterns are sometimes used. Straw hats and wooden or woven travelling cases.

The colours are never lurid or startling. A mori girl’s palette (such as her clothing) reflects a natural state of calm; more often than not she prefers subdued hues of brown (both dark and light), faded dark or light pastel/denim blues, green, cream and white. The occasional red colour, whether it be in her hat or a pin, adds fresh perspective to her outfit, like a cluster of new forest fruit amongst the branches.

Walking amongst the grass may not appeal to some mori girls

The lifestyle it advocates is calm, relaxing and idyllic, with a child-like, fairytale-esque innocence. The pace of life a mori girl dreams of and tries to achieve is unapologetically slow-paced. We lose the concept of time in a forest and similarly, in our walks in the neighbourhood. The mori girl lives in quaint corners far removed from the hustle and bustle of a demanding ‘now’ society. Where one hears the birds in the morning. Where, taking a stroll around, one sees streets with rows of small shops – owned by families over generations, perhaps. A bakery, a book-store, a cafe with a news-stand, a florist with her own backyard nursery. A small village church a little worn; someone watering plants in her yard. Such a life encourages us to ‘slow down and breathe and take in our surroundings’.

It tugs at the sleeves of the wondering child inside us, at the dust-caked nostalgia inside our hearts.

A mori girl is…

A list of points/characteristics I have observed in the mori girl community. In a general sense, while scanning the blogs, or community posts of most mori girls, this is what I think the lifestyle reflects.

1. Practical – From hiking boots to Oxfords, brogues and brown boots, the shoes of a mori girl are made for walking miles and miles and handling rough terrain (as the forest floor might often be) while ensuring her feet stay comfy.

There are no rigid rules about it – simply what is best for oneself. Try plain canvas shoes:

2. Versatile – One of my favourite facets about the mori girl is how her wardrobe might change with the seasons or the climate in which she lives and yet enable her to be recognised as a forest dweller. This also contributes a lot to the practicality as seen above. Layering is a favourite of mori girls, to keep them warm during their wanderings in cooler climates. However, what happens when summer arrives, or when a mori girl finds herself in hot and humid surroundings? Mori girls have a knack for improvising while still staying true to their lifestyle.

Warm hats, woollen scarves and boots for cooler weather.

And coordinates for the summer: a lighter feel with less layering and accessories such as a hat or a necklace to add detail. Try on a crocheted vest.

The light cotton fabrics also puts the summer mori girl at liberty to experiment with layering while being under the sun.

3. Calm and relaxed – Mori-themed photoshoots in Spoon or Mori Girl typically depict mori girls with fairly neutral facial expressions: a touch of dreaminess with a slight smile, or a space-out look as if she is lost in thought. Mori girls are quiet when they have to be, and peaceful individuals. They settle like autumn leaves and dust in cafes, trains or quiet nooks, or a favourite spot of hers to sit down. The calming nature of walking. Never too flustered as there is always a secret space, a world of her own inside her mind or in her surroundings, that she finds gladness and beauty in. Inside herself houses a deep joy for simple things.

4. Sensitive to the world around her – Whether it be wading through a particularly intense paragraph or embarking on a lone expedition, she notices the little, elusive details. The hidden shops, the dandelions growing by the roadside. She pays attention to how things (and herself) interact. She breathes in the meaning of things. Some things may be beyond comprehension – her ready admission that one cannot truly know everything more than anything shows her maturing outlook towards her world.

5. Open to experimentation – not every girl is solely a mori girl alone. Before encountering this lifestyle each girl has probably been a part of other styles of clothing and these little influences become a part of us since we know what it means to be dressed in a certain style or rather what living a different lifestyle with a differing outlook on life or personal philosophy means. A mori girl may never forget what it meant to her a year ago when she was a lolita. Or reading Anne of the Green Gables and dreaming about that period in time. Somehow, these preserved memories find their way into her being. Who she is and where she comes from shapes her perception of mori and after all, she is her own mori girl.

Varieties of mori girls:

Swamp Girl – A variation of the mori girl, they embrace the look ‘for all the wrong reasons‘. No pictorial examples at the moment but since they are apparently a subverted type of mori girl I suspect they wear just about the same, though how different/skewed the Swamp (Numa) Girl fashion is I frankly can’t tell. ”Who calls us girls? We’re not girls at all. People often say we look like we’ve crawled out of a swamp or up from the bottom of a well.’

Dark Mori– Also known as ‘dark forest mori’, or ‘black forest mori’; in accordance with their name they take on a more intense, darker twist to the mori girl lifestyle/fashion. If the Mori Girl delights in forest glades and the illuminated/shaded part of the woods, the Dark Mori Girl finds her abode in the neck of the woods where little sunlight reaches, where wolves howl, amongst the gnarled trees with their bare-branched limbs upon which ravens alight. The wolf to the Mori Girl’s deer, the witch in the ancient fairytale.

ShadyOaks wrote probably the first official introduction and concept to Dark Mori. Strega’s Forest has a dark mori checklist which I stumbled upon here.

Natural keiMoss Garden has written a wonderfully detailed piece about the various facets of the natural kei style. I shall not attempt to add to it because, really, I think it covers almost everything and I’m not too experienced with natural kei myself. See also hierstoria’s article on the ‘difference between mori girl and natural kei’.

Mori lolita – Similar to dolly kei in the use of vintage-looking fabrics and styles with the ‘structured’, formal look of (classic) lolita. The mori lolita also employs antique pieces such as clock-necklaces and key pendants. The mori element in the look comes in the form of breezy scarves and a notable earthy tone to the outfit (browns, brownish reds or greens, even dainty floral patterns) which softens up the usually strict palette of the lolita, giving it a more natural inclination.

(via here, here and here)

In the end of it all there is (fortunately or otherwise) no strict formula to becoming a mori girl. Personally, it is as much a life lived as clothing worn. It is apparent that mori girls are identified mainly by the media and members of the public as just another subculture as documented by their closets. However I would like to think there is something more, and perhaps greater, than being a mori girl on the outside alone. Truly being a mori girl means having a mindset which may be different from the conventional worldview. We imbibe our own notions on the meaning of living life, at a slower pace, pausing intermittently for reflection and simple means of relaxation while feeling for our surroundings. As one mori girl observed, it is ‘really about bringing the magic of the forest into everyday city life’. There are influences about what it entails or what to wear, and some general ideas about living mori that I have tried to outline. Ultimately though there are no exact lines not to cross, nor a list of rules with which to follow. It is this curious notion about the lifestyle which makes mori girls unique and each quite different in their own way.

Credits:
Most pictures are found on pinterest and tumblr (search for ‘mori girl’).
This post would not be possible without ameliecafe and aliceisaninja on the livejournal morigirls community, who contributed their thoughts on mori girl to this article. Thank you!

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Following my first attempt purchasing clothing on taobao (especially of the mori sort) and the satisfaction I derived from them I have decided to do a little review. I might attempt more of these as I patronise other shops.

Pudding House ( 布丁家) is located on taobao. Contrary to the raison d’etre of this blog, it does not specifically stock mori girl coordinates. Rather, it offers a selection following a minimalist, casual style. Some pieces do fit the mori girl look – their quilt-work skirts, rustic, faded denim blouses and a few tops embodying the general loose-clothing trend – if one does intend to add a modern, more structured and less detailed vibe to the traditional layer-heavy mori girl. (Or if you’re curious with the mori girl aesthetic and want to experiment with it a bit.)

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on scarves

It is amazing how a print scarf adds a rustic look to an otherwise modern outfit.

This is from Mori Girl Lesson 3, I think.

I love scarves, though at times it may be too hot here to put one on. They do so much.

(scan via yumepony)

Image

Mattie (mountain-daughter) has compiled a pretty, folksy and subtly magical playlist of mori girl music.

Visit it here.

Mori Girl magazine

Mori Girl magazine is perhaps the staple magazine for mori girls everywhere. Each magazine is (usually) termed a ‘Lesson’, so issue one is named Lesson One, and thereafter. Apart from the Lessons, some issues are also called Mori Girl Note (1 issue), Mori Girl Papier (2 issues). There is even a Mori Girl Hair and Makeup issue. If I am not wrong there is a magazine called Papier too so it is really quite confusing.

In Singapore, it can be found (where else?) at Kinokuniya.

Where to read/download:

The J-Magazine scans LJ community is usually my first spot to look for downloads.

Moko Moko’s blog has a generous collection of almost all the issues, plus a Mori Girl Room issue which is new to me. I chanced upon her site only this morning.

vvshu.com is a Chinese website with a staggering collection of magazines. It resembles a manga site such as mangareader in terms of how it works. The only drawbacks are watermarking and that the scans cannot be saved on your computer. Click on the issue you wish to read and it would load. Navigations to go to the next page or backtrack are at the bottom (labelled ‘previous’ and ‘next’ respectively). I have linked directly to the Mori Girl magazines page. Here is the full catalogue of Fashion magazine scans, with other categories at the top of the page. (I also spy related magazines such as iedit and spoon. Yay.)

Reading online may be fun but personally nothing beats the feel of a real magazine beneath my fingers!

Thanks to a recommendation at All In One Place*, I met this fun singer. It would be a shame if I haven’t, because I would be missing out on a lot. Tsuji Shion‘s music has been more or less on my active playlist for almost a month since the time I found her and thus I think she deserves a thorough review from me.

Tsuji-san started playing the guitar at 15, and then composed music to fit lyrics which she had written at nine. She recorded her first demo CD at 17. This is her only studio album for now.

(To clear things up a little, Shion is her first name.)

Catch! is a bright, upbeat and lively collection of tracks, fitting these adjectives well and more so than any albums I have heard. The majority of these songs are cheerful, with a handful of ballads to even things out when you need a respite. It resounds with optimism and summer feelings, like the opening song/playlist of a Japanese campus movie or school life anime. Despite its relatively calm-looking, conventional album art, its name right down to the last exclamation mark belies the surprises in store.

Surprises which are very pleasant.

Pronounced drum beats and a electric guitar dominating the music backdrop to her voice makes Runaway a definite summer song. Listening to it, I can’t help but imagine a movie sequence when teenagers race barefoot along the beach on a hot afternoon with the sun hounding them overhead. Her vocals come out strong in this song and a perfect match for the demanding beats. Runaway has a pop-core with music tending towards the ‘Rock’ end with the very apparent use of electric guitars to drive the music. From this number it is apparent she fits the genre in which she sings. As a first track of the album is makes a strong impact by truly highlighting her abilities as a more than competent pop-rock singer.

Candy kicks has less of the impulse to dance. It is softer than the opening track but retains enough energy to be catchy and happy. Less rock influences prevail in Candy kicks. She sounds especially nice when she prolongs the last syllable in the second stanzas. I notice voice tends to change to a slightly sharp-cum-airy sound at some high notes, depending on how she sings, which I find jarring on my part. However it does not ruin the song.

Hello Goodbye is more acoustic than the previous two tracks, paired with louder music at a slower pace. I like the quieter lull where her voice is clearly heard amid the acoustic guitar’s light strumming before the heavier drum playing enters a few seconds before the chorus kicks in full force. The chorus was a little too loud – it drowns out her voice a little and I couldn’t decide if I ought to turn the volume up to hear her singing or turn it down. Near to the end when she goes ‘dadada…’, her voices regains a more nasal quality that I find hard to describe in its entirety but I find very unique.

Take Me Home is a more reserved song – not as driven by a catchy tune as it is by the emotional content. At this point in the album the tone takes a slower, more deliberate pace. I am not sure what the producers meant by Album Version – I suppose it means she might have had a single with a different version of this song. I like this one, though. It strikes me as more melancholy and introspective in expression (I am only going by the tune) since the previous three sound more lively. Take Me Home is almost more ballad-like; I speak relative to the others aforementioned since they are pretty much like portable concentrated live concert atmospheres. There are a few lines sung in English; while her pronunciation is not entirely perfect, I managed to figure out her words without consulting a lyric sheet. Admittedly I didn’t know they were English until the third listen… From this song it’s clear she can do emotional pieces as well as up-beat. I didn’t like how it ended at ‘you take me away’, where I felt she was singing in her spoken voice a bit too much that it sounded throaty. Her attempt to end on a breathy note sounded like she was out of breath.

Popcorn Night opens with drums and the electric guitar joins in before the entire song gains a faster tempo with her voice. Prominently are changes in tempo which happen for a few seconds, but she easily sings the lines at those points without missing a beat. Before listening to the song I thought it would be a ballad from the title and was surprised when it wasn’t.

Breathe With You is a tiny bit more beat-intense than Take Me Home, but I feel they belong to the same ‘variety’. The slowness of Hello Goodbye with the intensity of Candy kicks coming together in a song. This is one of my favourites within the album as she did much better in conveying the slightly moody expression than she did in Take Me Home. The higher notes she encounters in this were more controlled and thus well-sang than Take Me Home.

Shoudou Jet has traces of the laid-back mood in Breathe With You though the album begins at this song to pick up the pace yet again. The catchy melody makes this immensely likeable. She maintains strong vocals throughout the entire song; at higher notes she may turn airy.

With Sky chord ~Otona ni Naru Kimi e~, the album reverts to a more pop-ish feel especially with the sole electric guitar playing each note deliberately at the beginning of the song, which I thought matched with her lighter (pop) sound beautifully. I liked how innocent she sounds in this song which is most apparent in the chorus; this is probably because of the arrangement of the song as well. I’d label this as a summer song of another variety – the sort where one lies on a mat under the shade of an umbrella, listening to the waves.

Colorful was strange in the beginning; frankly I found the opening shouts a little…annoying? Anyway thankfully it leaps straight into a lively tune with electric guitar strumming in-between drum beats. This is fast-paced yet again, a little like Popcorn Night.

Comparing M/elody with the other songs covered through the album, this was a plainer. It has a definite pop-feel to it, unlike the harder drum beats driving songs such as Runaway. It sounds to me like a standard pop song, with vibes I received from listening to Ayaka’s songs.

As the name suggests, Digital Mode is dressed in light electronica but is thankfully retains the distinct flavour of Tsuji-san. I loved it from the beginning, from the subdued electronic beats which announce the opening of the song to her lower voice when she starts singing. The chorus was catchy, due in part to the lyrics as she repeated some words back to back and her high slightly breathy notes here were appropriate, somehow. The electronic accents tone down the Rock of this song so that it leaned more heavily on ‘pop’.

From Rain Song onwards, I did not pay much attention to the other songs (to do this review I had to listen to the following songs twice). Here and onwards the album seems to officially settle for its pop roots and definition. This is pleasant and light – her singing was gentler, bright but not too intense and hence completely suits the requirements of lighter, more neutral and near-ballad pop songs. She reminded me of Horie Yui at certain points of the song. The pace of the song is made for swaying – I could imagine her audience at a live concert waving their light sticks left to right in unison and in time.

Hoshii monou starts off so quietly I barely noticed it did – with almost shy acoustic guitar playing against a void backdrop. Compared to Rain Song, Hoshii monou takes on a slightly more upbeat tune with the constant, repetitive beat of the drums. I liked her ‘oh’s during the bridge of the song – neither too airy that they were in danger of disappearing, nor too loud to ruin the mood of the song. Overall a decidedly more simple-sounding but relatively relaxing and enjoyable song – like a train ride.

The album closes with Chikyuugi ni Kiss. It is fully acoustic, with her singing jovially and casually to the strumming. The combination works even with her usually sharp voice. Here she sounds sweet and innocent, like a small child. A tambourine enters the music at the last 20-30 seconds before the song ends, adding a bit of brightness before it comes to a quick ending (it is only 2+ minutes after all). It does not sound rushed, but it gives off the impression of a nursery ditty.

Overall, a gregarious, impressive first studio album that tapers off to a more subdued but still very positive note. It strikes me as paralleling that of maturity. Wonder if anyone else felt the same way.

Rating: 4.5/5

* All In One Place is a new Asian discography community over at livejournal, with artist recommendations and tracks. It mainly covers musicians who sing in Japanese, Korean or Mandarin. Chances are you’ll find something new there as it is fairly eclectic. Entries are locked to members only.

Hello world!

First post will be up in a few days.