Osharé Mie

Forest Fashion

All you need to know about Japan's "Mori Girls"

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By Charlotte Steggall
Published Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 (8:21pm)

A long, long time ago, a 13-year-old version of myself was asked what was interesting about Japanese culture. I was applying to a small cultural exchange, despite not knowing anything about Japan or its culture. The first thing that popped into my 13-year-old head was Japanese fashion: images of skinny, dark-haired girls posing in brightly colored outfits like nothing I had ever seen before.

Flash forward 10 years, and Japanese fashion still amazes me. Japanese designers constantly push boundaries and concoct new ideas and trends in their fashion. Did you know that one fourth of the world's designer goods are bought by Japanese people? Yup. The fashion world here is huge, but it can be a daunting place. However, I hope to bring some light to it; separate the gyarus from the Yama Girls, Comme des Garçons from Yohiji Yamamoto.

Today I'll focus on the Mori Girl (森ガール). What I like about this style is that it really reflects contemporary Japan right now. In a society where, according to Agence France Presse 36.1 percent of teenage boys between the ages of 16 and 19 have little to no interest in sex and in some cases even despise it — sexy isn't cool.

So a Japanese girl would be wasting her time trying to look that way. Enter the Mori Girl. Chances are, if you live here in Japan then you have seen Mori Girls about. They may be your co-workers, your friends or even your girlfriend(s). You can tell a Mori Girl by her loose clothes, natural colors and general relaxed tone. It's the style that one would imagine a girl living freely in a forest would wear, hence the name.

Loose silhouettes made by layering is the first key to being a Mori Girl. This can be achieved by starting with a pair of woolen or cotton tights or leggings in earthy shades, then adding perhaps a light skirt or a petticoat, then maybe another skirt. On the top half, a Mori Girl might like to layer a light tank-top under a light shirt, then finish with a long, loose cardigan.

If the Mori Girl wants to go full out, she might wear a woolen vest on top, and then make her legs more mori-fied by layering different knee-high socks and leg warmers. The rules are that all clothes must be in earthy colors, especially the outer layers which tend to be white or cream.

Also, the fabrics used in putting together the ensemble should be natural, like 100 percent cotton or wool. For shoes, look to Croc-looking shoes that are made from felt or other soft materials. If they cannot be found, the soft ankle boots compliment the layers of socks very nicely.

And lastly — hair. Whatever the length, mori hair can be left down, with maybe a few cute hair accessories that look like flowers or bows. If the Mori Girl has long hair, then she can make a nice high bun (also known as dango hair (団子ヘアー) on the top of her head.

Of course, this loose, baggy look does not suit everyone. Unfortunately, I am unable to pull of the Mori Girl look myself, but I urge the readers to give it a go if they think they are foresty enough!

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