Have you ever lived in a rural environment? If you have, do you think it influenced your Mori-ness? If not, do you think living in a suburban or urban environment influenced your style any?
I’m lucky enough to have lived in both country and city. With my Mum living in the country right next to the fields and woods and my father having a view on the Frankfurt skyline from his living room I had the very best of both worlds.
Funny enough both of my parents were influential when it came to loving nature and things that later would become mori-esque to me. My father took me on hikes and to museums, my mother let me play in the fields and built tiny houses for the little folk with me. My grandparents also played a role in this, teaching me about music, canning, crafting and baking and gardening, tadpoles and woodwork, respectively. It was not only growing up in the country, it also mattered with whom I grew up in the country, after all.
I would adorn myself with bean-stalk leaves – they stick to fabric which even today never ceases to amuse me, much to the confusion of my co-workers -, have packed lunches in trees, read in trees (and maybe leave a book out in the rain on one occasion… fittingly it was The Secret Garden), had a bit of earth to make a garden myself, grew things on the window sill and had the tallest and blossom-richest bean stalk in our elementary school class experiment (still one of my greatest achievements). I also had a thing for old-fashioned items and clothing and would eclectically wear dirndl-inspired dresses with my rubber boots. When I think of it: I had a pretty mori-habits enabling childhood.
But even living in the city doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the call of every little dandelion cracking the concrete or birch sapling growing on an abandoned factory roof. Both environments left me with a deep reverence for nature and her stubbornness. As for my style, well…
In the country, when I lived with my Mum, I discovered German eco-concious lagenlook, with linens and folk-inspired knits. I came to adore heavy parkas and sturdy boots and longed for the look of British landowners from the 20s. I stared at my grandparents black-and-white-life-in-our-village-long-ago calendar leaves and wished for the farm girl dresses on there.
In the city I was able to actually purchase clothing, to find things that matched my style and at some point went from rather gothy to a more Dolly Kei-inspired look that had elements I could well call “Mori”. I wore flat mary-janes made from organic leather and ruffly things that wouldn’t have been practical in the country at all, picking blackberries every summer and autumn, scavenging the harvested fields for interesting leftovers, and things like that.
Moving to the quaint town of Marburg later didn’t distract from Mori Kei and Mori lifestyle, either. I started thrifting more and more, finally knowing where to go for that, and acquired most of my Mori wardrobe there, too. I think living somewhere where you can actually go and buy things and material you need for your style helps a lot. I could take a stroll in whimsical outfits made of lace and leather and muslin and nobody batted an eyelash. I tend to find that the larger the settlement the less people care about deviations from the norm.
As I write this a red squirrel scurries over our backyard fence. I fell back in love with Mori Kei here in Hannover, at a population of roughly 500k not really something I could call a rural environment. We also live quite centrally, too. But I don’t see in any way how this could not make me love nature. I can watch all the wildlife in my backyard – aforementioned squirrel, Rat Inc., the peregrine falcon that sometimes visits, a woodpecker and the wild pigeons that Scoundrel regularly curses because he thinks their cooing is annoyingly uncreative at best.
If I found something of a “rule” to the influences on style I think I found that actually working in a rural environment, on the fields, in the woods or even just selling produce as I do on the market, you tend to dress way more practical. I have often seen the difference between Natural Kei and Mori Kei explained with “the Mori folk dwell in the woods and the Natural Kei folks live in town and can afford nicer fabrics” but in the end Mori isn’t exactly made for a life in the woods. At least not a realistic one. So I think that it is, in a way, a fashion for people living in a civilised environment – at least the very fashionable styles of layers and layers of whites and airy things and lace. I’m currently working on getting my work attire somewhere in a direction where I can call it mori and find that rather hard to do, but in the end,
yes, both rural and not-so-rural environment shaped my Mori Kei an my ideas and inspirations. And I hope that I will always have the privilege to have both of them do that, with trips to town, to villages and to the countryside.
This post is part of the 30 Question Mori Kei Challenge. For other posts from this challenge, please look here for all the questions!