Thursday, 2 January 2014

Dark mori

Mori kei and dark mori has found their way onto my clothes pinboard.

I'm not mad about clothes. To me they're not something to spend a lot of time and money on. While there are clothes I absolutely love and drool over, lamenting the fact I can't afford them, I'm not like many other girls/women who seems so very dedicated to clothes or at least to shopping for clothes. It's even worse with shoes, though that's partially because I can't find the type of shoes I really like and the one type of shoes I do love, the clogs, aren't suitable outside the farm. Of cause it's partially a money and body issue: if you don't bother to look at clothes because you can't afford them anyway or the designer clothes doesn't go up to your size, you don't develop an interest in them.

It doesn't however mean that I've got absolutely no interest in how I dress or in finding a good style. If I had the money, I would go hunting. Not for a lot of clothes, just enough to have a wardrobe for various occasions in a style I feel comfortable in. And that's the thing: without money to buy that style and relying mostly on a handful of plain, cheap clothes (some of which I've had since the 90's) for any occasion when I interact with other people and a bunch of boring mainly hand-me-downs of some sort or other for wearing around the farm. I have no clothes that really express, nothing that says something about who I really am. Well, of cause they do to some extent, especially my long skirts that family members and relatives "complain" about (I wear long skirts in winter if I want to, thank you very much!). But it's just skirts similar to what I like as I make due with the cheapest skirts, not the skirts that are the most my style. What I wear is plain and I don't really want to be seen as plain when that's not really who I am. Shy, yes, but not boringly plain as my clothes seem to signal to others.

Of cause, it would be easier to wear something my style if I could find my style and find the clothes that express something I want to express. With just a small interest in clothes, you don't always pinpoint a style as it's more about finding something simple and cheap that will do, something that can be used for a long time and is acceptable e.g. in school or at work. I have of cause found pieces of clothing I like and that's a start and I do drool over certain styles like goth and steampunk, but while I love the drama they haven't felt like an all around look for me. Those clothes are good for dressing out, but not dressing up so to speak. Love them, but couldn't see myself in them every day or even every weekend.

But recently something happened. Enlightenment.

Just before the new year, I happened to stumble over a new word, mori, and a search later, I found something that really struck a chord with me: dark mori. This japanese street fashion style is also called strega or black forest mori. It's a darker version of mori kei ("woodland style", often just called mori or, when referring to someone wearing the style, mori girl), which is a very romantic and rustic countryside look in white and light pastels, vintagesque and boho, layered and loose-fitting -- many times crinkled or slightly tattered -- clothes in natural fibres. Frills and laces can often be seen, though some seem more prone to love the sweet look with lace and subtle prints while others seem to prefer cleaner lines and solid coloured fabrics. Mori can be dreamy, victorian-inspired or modern minimalist with nature, countryside and green living as the common denominator. Some would probably see it, and especially dark mori, as a boho style and others would spot american hipster styles in the japanese street fashion style. It also share a characteristic with lagenlook what with the focus on loose, layered clothes. It's similar but not the same as the fashion style natural kei. The lifestyle associated with mori is one of closeness to nature, a love of reading and writing, bike rides, forest walks and tea drinking. Perfect for daydreamers and introverts with its focus on the little things in life and activities in solitude as well as meeting friends.

Cutesy mori kei and white-is-the-only-colour rural romanticism can be too sweet for me (and is far from the countryside as I, a farm girl, know it!) and that's where dark mori comes in. Sure, mori kei can include earthy purples, montana blues, burgundy, brown, deep green and other colours than white and beige but it's still a lot about those bleached neutrals. Dark mori adds a bit of darker colours (goth black as well as other colours, e.g. purple, brown and red), depth and a raw, worn look -- and it has an extra dimension that's really my style: it draws inspiration from the dark, shadowy forest rather than the light, sunny forest of the mori girl's daydreams. Fairytales, magic, mysticism  and european folklore/folktales are some of the sources the style finds inspiration in. All of mori is inspired by fairytales, but dark mori brings out the darker and more dramtic sides of them. If the ethereal mori girl is the sweet princess waiting in a sunny glade for her prince, the dark mori girl is the nyctophiliac or witch who doesn't shy away from the shadowy parts of the forest. It's more goth, to compare with another subculture.

But don't take my word for it, I'm a newbie in the mori world and hardly the one to describe or define it! You can read more about this relatively new style for example in this Goth (Stereo)type infographic, at Carnevale Salt and Strega's Forest. Notice that there is a certain width in the style and the three examples offer slightly varying definitions. The last one being more goth than the first two, for example, and focusing more on the dark or sometimes even grim strega, i.e. witch, while the other two focus more on romantic dark fairytales and nature.Of cause, you can see styles that would fit in the dark mori style, but which aren't called that and created by people that have never heard about mori or dark mori.There's also no definite line between mori and dark mori, it's more of a sliding scale where some are more drawn to lace and romance and others to the darker sides of things.

To some extent, I've always dressed a bit mori-esque at home with layered clothes and a love for long skirts, natural materials and at least a partial love of muted colours such as linen/sand and puce. (And an attitude against ironing as unnecessary, resulting in crinkled skirts.) And it's always been mixed with my love of nature, the countryside, poetry, fairytales and the calmer joys in life (reading, picnics, hot cocoa, sitting with a cat in the lap). Though my look has been rather plain with more jersey and other cotton knits that anything else at it's cheap and widely available in the mainstream mail-order catalogues and mall stores -- and that's all I can afford.

On the other hand, I've had the goth side of me since my teens, which has always loved the total opposite or the mori kei colours: black, dark purple, burgundy etc. And while I still drool over dramatic goth clothing, the dark mori style is so much more me. It even ties in with my penchant for (or rather, on-and-off relationship to) the steampunk style with it's more earthy layered and tattered victorian-inspired styles in shades of brown and brass. It might seem a bit boring to some, but I really love it.

For me, this was an epiphany of sorts. Not only did someone just put together so many of the things I love and find interesting into one concept for me to define with, but it also helped me find a focus on my style and a new keyword to explore. Not just my style of clothes, which was great, but my style of everything from interior design to jewellery. Not that all my jewellery is dark mori style -- far from it! -- but it's the kind of stuff many of my WIPs are about and defining a focus on a style has really been inspiring for me. It brought back some things I haven't thought about in a while such as runes, magic and the old witchcraft traditions which then mixed with the love of dark fairytales, which is always in the back of my head. And with a word or label to put on something, you can suddenly search for more things in the same vein and you can use it to find others who like the same things you do.

So really, I'm starting this year by taking up some of the thoughts, ideas and styles that have floated in and out of my life the last 15-20 years or so, tying them together and -- hopefully -- being able to more firmly express myself and shape my own style. Some start their year by finding a word to live by, I'm starting my year with a concept to explore!


  1. Hello! I stumbled across your blot via reading the different creative entries in Vintaj's steampunk contest. I have never heard of Mori, but am thankful of your pointing it out as I never knew the hodgepodge of clothing preferences in my head actually had a design category. Might make it easier to find a few items now and then. I'm still looking through entries, and like the thought you put into your words and creations. The wool rovings are gorgeous in photograph aren't they? I've not bit that bullet yet either, but have come close a time or two. Now to peer at more of your beautiful creations. May your muse glow as brightly as the sun kissed moon!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment!

      If you like specifically the layered look of mori and dark mori, you might want to look into lagenlook too. I'd never heard of it before going looking for mori clothes on Pinterest, but had seen the type of clothes it refers to before (as you most likely have too). Lagenlook isn't a specific style per se, more of a broad term for layered, loose-fitting clothes so there's quite a range of clothing styles and designs called it. All isn't mori or dark mori, but many mori girls find clothes from lagenlook designers (Rundholz was the first one I stumble over -- via a mori pinboard). Some could probably work for someone looking for an everyday goth look and some lagenlook skirts remind med of the gathered steampunk skirts I keep seeing.

      I'm glad you liked my steampunk necklace/pendant. It was a fun piece to make, even if I still wish I had had the materials and know-how to make it one with interconnected and spinning gears, not just a few riveted gears and sprockets. Well, one day... Have also thought of adding a leather cord instead of the beading wire, but last time I thought of that, I picked it upp and hesitated. So I left it as it was. Maybe I'll do another version of it instead.


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