Friday, April 24, 2020

Cottagecore vs. Mori Kei: What's the difference?

Cottagecore has become wildly popular on the internet recently, and, as such, has attracted a bit of attention from the mori community. Due to their similar aesthetics, many mori folk have begun asking, what is the difference between the two? Is cottagecore just another version of mori kei?

I personally am uninvolved in the cottagecore movement, so when these questions started coming my way, I was a bit confused about how to respond. What exactly was cottagecore? Was it different at all, or just a new name for mori kei? So I went down a rabbit hole of research, and I think now I can safely communicate the differences between the two and what sets the two communities apart.

I will say, one person actually beat me to this, so I will link their post on the subject here, but they didn't go into as much detail as I would like to, so I still feel like I have something worth posting.

Also, before I begin, I want to first say I won't be touching on the various cottagecore controversies that have popped up on tumblr from time to time. I have no idea what the consensus is on these issues or their validity, and as I'm not involved in the group at all I don't feel like I am qualified to speak on these issues. Instead, I want to focus on what the aesthetic looks like and how it is similar/different to mori. If you have questions on these issues or come across them, I suggest asking those actually in the community who can speak better on them than I can.

That being said, let's take a look at the differences, and similarities between cottagecore and mori kei!

What is cottagecore?


Cottagecore is a visual-based microgenre and aesthetic based tag that originated on tumblr. While aesthetics are predominant on many social media sites, including Instagram and more recently, TikTok, the community is thriving especially on Tumblr with a rather large following and many blogs. However, cottagecore content has also seen a rise on sites like Instagram and TikTok as well.

The cottagecore aesthetic, according to one person in the community, is, "all about softness and being gentle, and kind, and nurturing." Another said it is like animal crossing in real life. It usually includes photos centered around (usually, although not always) girls, who live on farms and raise bees and sheep and pick flowers. That is a very concise version of cottagecore the best I understand it. But we'll get into the details of what the aesthetic looks like more in a moment.

Similarities and Differences in Aesthetic


Cottagecore's aesthetic is almost identical to mori, as it has many similarities due to its nature-based focus. For example, both commuties promote a focus on slow or simple living, a love of nature, and similar lifestyles or photography aesthetics (such as cottages, pastures, foraging, fields, flowers, etc.)

However, although the aesthetic is very similar, there are a few, small differences between the two. For example, the mori aesthetic focuses more on the actual forest, and often includes slightly more toned down themes compared to cottagecores always sunny aesthetic.

Let me explain. To give an example, think of mori magazine snaps. Similar to cottagecore, they may have pictures of models in cottages. However, when it comes to pictures in nature, you are more likely to see a model posed in an actual forest, amongst the trees, then in a field or near a farm (although those would certainly also count as mori as well.) Whereas for cottagecore, the aesthetic is based around the cottage, around the bright sunny field, and around the fields of flowers.

This distinction is barely noticeable, and honestly doesn't really matter all that much, but it is important to know that cottagecore's central image is this always bright and sunny aesthetic. If I could compare cottage core to a color, it would be a bright, but light, yellow. Whereas mori's color would be more along the likes of a deep bark-like brown, or deep leaf-like green. Again, a small, subtle difference. To me, cottagecore's aesthetic feels kind of like mori mixed with shabby chic, and topped off with a ray of sunlight!

Some other small differences in cottagecore that are worth noting are that it focuses much more heavily on agricultural life or farming, than mori kei. Also, uniquely tied into the aesthetic is the idea of self-care, and more of a direct connection to environmental activism than mori kei (although many mori do also care about the environment and self-care as well).

Where cottagecore actually starts to look quite different is when cottagecore fashion is involved.

Similarities and Differences in Fashion

Like with aesthetics, there are certainly some areas of cottagecore fashion that share similarities with mori, but these similarities are much smaller. Some examples of similarities include that both use natural colors or floral colors, both use similar patterns like floral and gingham, and both are likely to include embroidered details to clothing, handcrafted accessories, lace, or aprons (although aprons are much more popular in PINK HOUSE style/natural kei than mori).

The differences are much more distinct. Mainly, cottagecore fashion is a very wide variety of styles. Although some outfits may look like a more casual or stripped down mori look, more often then not they will more closely resemble an outfit from Little House on the Prairie, or natural kei, or a 1950s housewife, or even more bold looks with patterns like paisleys. To sum it up, cottagecore fashion is anything that fits the aesthetic, so it is very varied in type and often focuses more on vintage fashions than anything else. For example, a floral 1950s house dress with an apron, or a modern outfit with a vintage twist, would be more commonly seen in cottagecore fashion than a mori-esque outfit.

Again, mori could be considered compatible with cottagecore fashion, but not all cottage core fashion could be considered mori.

Personal Thoughts

The best way I can think to sum up the differences between cottagecore and mori is this: cottagecore is aesthetic and visual-based, but mori is fashion based. The two communities can certainly overlap and exist together, and do with no issues, but they are also distinct from one another due to this fact about their core focus. Despite the growing movement of mori lifestylers, it cannot be denied that mori kei started as a fashion first and foremost, and the fashion is what sets aside the community. Without the fashion, mori would not exist. 

This is why I always say mori is a fashion first and lifestyle second. Some people don't like that distinction, saying that it pushes out those who don't wear the style but still want to be a part of the community, but I think the distinction matters. And I don't think it means we can't have both fashion and lifestyle members of the community. It makes you no less mori to be a mori-lifestyler, but I think we can also still say that what sets mori apart is the fashion first and foremost, whether or not you participate in that aspect of the fashion.

So what are your thoughts on cottagecore? Do you enjoy the aesthetic? Are you a part of both communities? Are there any other similarities or differences that you've noticed? Either way, I hope I was able to explain cottagecore correctly (please let me know if there is anything I can improve on!), and I hope you learned something new.

Until next time, my deers!


Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Almost Sister Fashions

This is going to be a relatively short post, but recently, as I was browsing some older mori resources, I came across a few unrealized fashion styles. For nostalgia's sake, I thought it might be fun to talk about these styles, and what they might look like! Who knows, maybe one of you will end up making these substyles a real thing?

Desert Girl

One mori person suggested creating a version of mori that reflects the desert. The idea would include shades of brown and cream, to reflect the desert sands, as well as a heavier focus on light layers. It would also probably include less thick fabrics, and lighter cuts more fit for the heat.

When I imagine this style, I picture Rey from Star Wars for some reason, even though I've never seen the movies. What do you think a desert girl would look like?

Numa Girl

Numa girl, whose name comes from the Japanese word 沼 (ぬま) meaning "marsh," is a proposed variation of dark mori. Discussions around it proposed a version of the style focused on dark greens, blacks, and greys. The style would also include more distressed clothing, maybe even with purposeful rips and tears. Basically, it would look like a swamp witch, climbing out of the swamp.

Although this style was actually quite popular in discussions for a few years, outfits for the idea were never created.

Dryad Girls

This idea was much less fleshed out than desert or numa. In short, the idea was to include more fae elements into regular mori fashion, to invoke the feeling of dryads in mythology. However, no clear ideas on what this style might look like were ever given, so it is unclear what it might have looked like should it have existed.

What types of mori variations would you like to see? Could you ever see yourself wearing any of these ideas? Let me know your thoughts below. Until next time my deers!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Substyles Mini Series: What is Casual Mori?

Welcome back to another substyles post. This one wasn't planned, but recent discussions made me realize that there is a lack of information on casual mori kei. So, why not make a post on it! Hopefully, this post gives you some new information and is helpful for you.

So, let's take a look at casual mori!

Common Points

Casual mori, also sometimes referred to as mori inspired, is a substyle of mori kei. Because of its connection to the style, it obviously has many common points with mori kei that tie it to the style. So let's explore those common points in detail first.

1) Natural colors

Like regular mori fashion, casual mori sticks to mori's rules of natural color palettes. Browns, creams, greens, light floral colors like pinks and blues, and other similar colors are the most popular. Unlike regular mori, most casual mori coordinates stick more strictly to these colors, avoiding uncommon colors, to stay closer to the mori aesthetic.

2) Natural fabrics

Natural fabrics are a common staple throughout casual mori. However, they are often regulated to main pieces with other more non-natural fabrics thrown in. But, in most cases, natural fabrics will feature prominently in casual mori outfits.

3) Slightly loose silhouette

Like regular mori kei, the loose silhouette is common. However, with casual mori, the silhouette may not be as extreme. But, it is always slightly baggy and never draws attention to the body or creates a sexy silhouette.

4) Lace

Although not required, many casual mori coordinates also contain lace details. Usually, the details are less extreme and more subtle. For instance, larger, crocheted lace instead of more delicate options.


Although casual mori is related to mori kei, and can even be considered a part of the style, there are a number of things that set this version of the style apart.

1) Minimal layers

A key difference between regular and casual versions of mori is its treatment of layers. For regular mori, extensive layering is key. However, for casual, the illusion of layers, or minimal layers, are common. Most coordinates have only one or two layers, instead focusing on the silhouette over the layering.

2) Use of mainstream fashion pieces

Although mori kei can occasionally contain mainstream pieces, casual mori makes those pieces the center of any outfit. For example, a t-shirt with a cute nature or nordic print, or the use of your everyday, average sneaker. These things are an easy way to tell casual mori from regular mori.

3) Would look normal on the street (most often)

Usually, casual mori doesn't really stand out as a J-fashion, or even as J-fashion inspired. With its toned-down look, fewer layers, and use of mainstream pieces, it could often be considered a more natural version of your everyday wardrobe. Generally, it tends to lean towards vintage and natural looks from the viewpoint of those who have never heard of mori fashion.

4) Fewer details

Like with fewer layers, casual mori also has fewer details. Details are still important, but it isn't uncommon to see a casual outfit with only small, sparse details, like buttons, a single scarf, one strip of lace, and so on. Casual mori can of course also have very detailed outfits as well, but as a rule, it tends to lean towards simpler, everyday looks.

How do I know I'm wearing casual mori?

So now that you know what casual mori is, you may still feel confused if you are indeed wearing casual mori. Don't fret! The answer is exceedingly simple. If what you're wearing resembles the fashion, but you don't quite think it qualifies as full mori kei, then it's casual mori. That's it. There are no rules for casual mori, or even any guidelines, so it is very much up to individual interpretation.

I hope this helps a bit and gives you an idea of what mori inspired and casual mori is. Do you wear casual mori? I often wear it when I don't feel up to creating full coordinates. Until next time, my deers!

For more information on mori substyles, check out the posts below:

Monday, March 16, 2020

Casual and Inspired: Using What You've Got to Make a Mori Outfit

As someone who has thrifted almost all of my wardrobe throughout the years, I am fairly skilled in the practice of using mainstream and seemingly "normal" clothing to create a mori coordinate. I hear many mori folk complaining that they haven't found the "right clothes" to wear mori, or that they don't have time to create "full" outfits. However, in my experience, most of those who think they can't make a mori outfit are simply not aware of how to make what they have work well for them. So, today, I want to share some simple tips to make an outfit mori without purchasing special pieces or spending a lot of money or time.

These are certainly not the only ways to be mori, or even the only easy ways to create an outfit. In fact, you can do the exact opposite of many of the things I am going to share and still create a mori coord. However, these are the easiest ways I have found to create mori in a casual and easy way. Hopefully, some of these tips may be helpful to you. 

So my deers, let's begin!

Add a little bit of lace:

One of the simplest ways to give a regular outfit a mori flair is to add a bit of lace to your outfit. A lace scarf, an underskirt with lace trim, a lacey collar, or a shirt with lace trim. Any of these ideas will add a certain mori aspect to an outfit. However, this can be the hardest aspect for most, as lace pieces can be hard to come by. My advice, if you can't find anything lacey, purchase a simple lace scarf online (Aliexpress has a number of affordable options), or create a simple lace underskirt by creating a simple slip with lace trim.

However, if lace isn't something you want to wear, or can find, don't worry! There are still plenty of other options.

Add a few layers:

One easy improvement for any mori outfit is to add more layers. These layers don't need to be anything special. Simply wear a dress with an underskirt, a few skirts on top of each other, a long tunic top with an oversized sweater or a vest. The more layers you can use, the more mori it will seem! 

Stick to mori color palettes:

Although mori can have many color palettes, the easiest way to create a simple mori outfit, especially when it comes to casual mori, is to use more neutral color palettes. For example, browns, creams, greens, and light floral colors are best. These colors are widely associated with the style and create an immediate mori look. If you do choose to use bright colors but are finding it hard to create a mori look, consider toning them down with neutrals and using the brighter colors sparingly. 

Here you can see a few casual mori examples that use neutral color palettes to create a mori look with little effort.

Use small floral prints in natural colors, or other dainty/natural prints:

Natural prints or vintage prints often give an otherwise normal outfit a mori look. Small floral prints with natural colors are always a good bet. However, patchwork prints, checked fabric, or small patterns in natural colors can also work well.

Wear a cardigan:

Probably the simplest trick in the book, but a cardigan will instantly change the look of your outfit. A knit poncho can also have the same effect. Again, sticking to natural colors is a safe bet, although a patterned sweater with nordic prints can also work as well and gives an old-school mori look to an outfit.

Scarves and wrap shawls:

Like cardigans, scarves and wrap-around shawls are another easy touch. Scarves are in abundance everywhere, so they are especially easy to add. Larger scarves in natural colors are best. However, vintage scarves like crochet or bright knits are okay as well. For wrap-around shawls, I recommend white, cream, or tan. 

If you can knit or crochet, this is one way to add a unique touch to your outfit! Find a cute free pattern and create yourself a scarf or shawl that will not only look cute but that you can be proud of! My favorite shawl I often wear was knitted from a free pattern, and it is one of my favorite mori pieces. It instantly brings together any outfit!


Another super simple touch, lace-up boots will instantly give any outfit a more mori feel. Try pairing them with bunched socks or lace socks for an even cuter look. Any size or length is fine, and any color. I recommend imitation leather in brown shades, but I have owned and used black as well before with a similar effect.

Wear baggy jeans and pants:

If you enjoy wearing pants, or want to make a more causal outfit, a good pair of slightly to very baggy pants are your best bet. Cuffing the hem of your pants is also a great touch. Your pants don't need to be extremely baggy though. I've used straight cut jeans and simply rolled up the hem, and it gives a similar look. Pair it with a tunic top, something lacey, or even a dress, and you have an almost instant mori outfit.

A few more casual examples:

Watch your silhouette: 

The most important thing about creating a simple, stripped-down, or casual mori outfit is to watch the silhouette of your outfit. Mori emphasizes a baggy, almost non-existent silhouette. Try to avoid tight-fitting clothing, things with a defined waist, skirts with no flow, and so on. This is what truly sets mori apart from other styles. 

For example, take the picture below. What might usually be considered a more "hipster/vintage" style can easily become mori when the fit is looser and flowing, with a focus on an a-line silhouette.

For those who are plus-sized or with larger chests, I recommend empire-waisted clothing. This creates the effect of baggy clothing with no shape, while still giving you some definition. 

Use natural fabrics:

Another easy touch that is extremely important is your use of fabrics. Mori uses almost exclusively natural fabrics, which creates its natural look. However, this doesn't mean you can only buy linen clothing from now on. Instead, simply look for clothing that appears to be a natural fabric, whether it actually is or not. 

A quick guide, avoid things like Rayon and fabrics that are shiny or visibly synthetic. These are hard to work into coordinates and can sometimes not work at all. Instead, look for linen-like, cotton-like, or other seemingly soft and natural fabrics.

A white dress does wonders:

One of my oldest tricks is the use of a white dress. It's ridiculous what a simple white dress can do for a mori outfit. Pair it with pants, or a sweater, or a shawl, or a scarf, and you have an almost instant coordinate. Again, watch your silhouette and fabric type, but you almost can't go wrong!

I hope this gave you some ideas to work with, and some new things for you to try in your next outfit! I use each of these tips constantly when thrifting or buying clothes. If you keep these in mind while shopping it can help a lot with avoiding regret purchases. Also, if you are more interested in what types of individual pieces you might need to start a mori wardrobe, you might consider checking out my post on foundations for a mori wardrobe.

Do you have any tips to add? I'd love to hear your thoughts down below. Until next time my deers!